Monday, November 27, 2006

Reprise of This I Believe and Do Men Ever Write in Women's Voices

Dear Commenters,

The thing that I love most about blogs is the comments. But sometimes they get lost. So today I'm bringing two of them to the top in order that they not be shielded from consideration by their depth of position.

1. Response to This I Believe
Cate said...
In response to your question, I do like the pronoun in the creed. I just read the Creed again (not just for the second time), and the pronoun immediately made me think of a fluidity of the Spirit. It is not incarnate (although we could say it may incarnate) and need not conform to our categories of male and female which causes such distress sometimes. By this I do not mean that the Spirit is androgynous, but wholly both and something more.

Just thinking about the Spirit and "incarnate" and associated to the belief (doctrine?) of transubstantiation. In Catholicism, the communion host becomes the body and blood of Christ...So the Spirit is not incarnate but is transubstantiated, or "becomes substance" as She reveals herself through the witness of one being (Being?)to another. Just a thought.

As for the sin before forgiveness, perhaps the order is spiritually correct. Forgiveness becomes meaningful when we realize our sin. When we are able to see ourselves as sinners--as much as our defenses will allow--I think there is a qualitatve shift in what it means to forgive others.

2. Response to Do Men Ever Write in Women’s Voices?
Anne G G said...
Here are some thoughts from Virginia Woolf about men's treatment of women in novels, which perhaps explains in part why they haven't historically created female protagonists very often. I bring it out as a historical relic, not as a comment on the way the 21st century man might write. But I think it's useful; it's also very long:

"That perhaps accounts for some of the characteristics that I remember to have found here, I thought, taking down a new novel by Mr A, who is in the prime of life and very well thought of, apparently, by the reviewers. I opened it. Indeed, it was delightful to read a man’s writing again. It was so direct, so straightforward after the writing of women. It indicated such freedom of mind, such liberty of person, such confidence in himself. One had a sense of physical well–being in the presence of this well–nourished, well–educated, free mind, which had never been thwarted or opposed, but had had full liberty from birth to stretch itself in whatever way it liked. All this was admirable. But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. it was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter ‘I’. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter ‘I’. One began to be tired of ‘I’. Not but what this ‘I’ was a most respectable ‘I’; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that ‘I’ from the bottom of my heart. But—here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter ‘I’ all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But . . . she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe. For Alan had views and Phoebe was quenched in the flood of his views. And then Alan, I thought, has passions; and here I turned page after page very fast, feeling that the crisis was approaching, and so it was. It took place on the beach under the sun. It was done very openly. It was done very vigorously. Nothing could have been more indecent. But . . . I had said ‘but’ too often. One cannot go on saying ‘but’. One must finish the sentence somehow, I rebuked myself. Shall I finish it, ‘But—I am bored!’ But why was I bored? Partly because of the dominance of the letter ‘I’ and the aridity, which, like the giant beech tree, it casts within its shade. Nothing can grow there."


brd said...

Because I didn't write this post but just composited it, I get to comment a lot.

Cate, the concept of incarnation in relation to the Holy Spirit is interesting, important. If the Spirit is incarnate, she is incarnate within humans, not as a human. Therefore, your mention of the Holy Eucharist is quite appropriate as we experience it. We take it into ourselves, ingest it, it becomes a part of our very cellular beings.

Incarnation, taking on flesh, enfleshment is really a dynamic thought when juxtaposed with the image of communion.

I guess I do owe an explanation for my use of the feminine in relation to the third of the trinity. I like it, am comfortable with it, am committed to it. And, I do not consider referring to God in the feminine as disrespectful in the least. Yet I know how uncomfortable the feminine pronoun, being used in relation to God, makes some people feel.

I really do believe that the female is part of what reveals deity to us, i.e. God's own image. I have gotten to the point in my own thinking that I want to say, how dare we not refer to God as she. But I do know that for many, this is a radical departure. It is a departure that I have made.

brd said...

Anne GG,

Thanks for the Virginia Woolf info.
"Phoebe--had not a bone in her body." That is the problem. Women written by men, and sometimes, even, written by women have so little substance.

Catherine, in Washington Square, is there, but who is she? Hardly anyone except in respect to her father and her lover. At least H.James allows her to grow a bit, develop, stand up against her father, against her lover. She gains some autonomy in the course of the book, but for the purpose of what? To quietly return to her quiet corner to work her quiet embroidery.

How about Kitty Vaught in The Last Gentleman? She is virtually nothing. She might as well not be there. Put in a plaster mannequin. It will do just as well.

Why is this? I'll have to work on a blog entry. I'll call it, "I want to be a cheerleader when I grow up."