ithiliana: (Joanna Russ)
[personal profile] ithiliana in [community profile] future_of_feminism
I've been re-reading What Are We Fighing For with great glee and appreciation--have worked through the first chapter debunking psychoanalytical theory and how it's been used by feminists (Russ' first inspiration for the title was "reactionary" feminisms, and it's a good title for her approach), and am thinking major issues about how this work (unlike many more academically inflected work) does not assume the reader is familiar with the scholarship she's critiquing--that makes it much more hmmm approachable? Understandable? Accessible? And, given how often work by women is erased (arguably, work by women are are from working class backgrounds and/or marginalized ethnic groups more often than white middle class women's work), I think her ability to pull together groups of books and summarize their arguments and assumptions and critique them is incredibly valuable. More about that later.

Right now, because I'm swamped with grading and cannot develop the above, but was enjoying a friend's comments about reading On Strike Against God, I wanted to quote one of my favorite quotes from that work (I love it all, but this part has always stuck in my mind as PERFECTION. And here's the icon I just made for it, totally gackable:

Blue Pyramid Blue Pyramid
_On Strike Against God_, page 21 "mightn't you expect (at least) a little blue pyramid sitting in the middle of the floor"?

What did we talk about?

I don't remember. We talked so hard and sat so still that I got cramps in my knee. We had too many cups of tea and then didn't want to leave the table to go to the bathroom because we didn't want to stop talking. You will think we talked of revolution but we didn't. Nor did we talk of our own souls. Nor of sewing. Nor of babies. Nor of departmental intrigue. It was political if by politics you mean the laboratory talk that characters in bad movies are perpetually trying to convey (unsuccessfully) when they Wrinkle Their Wee Brows and say (valiantly--dutifully--after all, they didn't write it) "But, Doctor, doesn't that violate Finagle's Constant?" I staggered to the bathroom, released floods of tea, and returned to the kitchen to talk. It was professional talk. It left my grey-faced and with such concentration that I began to develop a headache. We talked about Mary Ann Evans' loss of faith, about Emily Brontë's isolation, about Charlotte Brontë's blinding cloud, about the split in Virginia Woolf's head and the split in her economic condition. We talked about Lady Murasaki, who wrote in a form that no respectable man would touch, Hroswit, a little name whose plays "may perhaps amuse myself," Miss Austen, who had no more expression in society than a firescreen or a pokler. They did not all writer letters, write memoirs, or go on the stage. Sappho--only an ambiguous, somewhat disagreeable name. Corinna? The teacher of Pindar. Olive Schriener, growing up on the veldt, wrote on book, married happily, and ever wrote another. Kate Chopin wrote a scandalous book and never wrote another. (Jean has written nothing.). There was M-ry Sh-ll-y who wrote you know what and Ch-rl-tt- P-rk-ns G-lm-an, who wrote one superb horror study and lots of sludge (was it sludge?) and Ph-ll-s Wh--tl-y who was black and wrote eighteenth century odes (but it was the eighteenth century) and Mrs. -nn R-dcl-ff- S-thw-rth and Mrs. G--rg- Sh-ld-n and (Miss?) G--rg-tt- H-y-r and B-rb-r- C-rtl-nd and the legion of those, who writing, write not, like the dead Miss B--l-y of the poem who was seduced into bad practices (fudging her endings) and hanged herself in her garter. The sun was going down. I was blind and stiff. It's at this point that the computer (which has run amok and eaten Los Angeles) is defeated by some scientifically transcendent version of pulling the plug; the furniture stood around unknowing (though we had just pulled out the plug) and Lady, who got restless when people talked at suck length because she couldn't understand it, stuck her head out from under the couch, looking for things to herd. We had talked for six hours, from one in the afternoon until seven; I had at that moment an impression of our act of creation so strong, so sharp, so extraordinarily vivid, that I could not believe all our talking hadn't led to something more tangible--mightn't you expect at least a little blue pyramid sitting in the middle of the floor?
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What Are We Fighting For?

June 2011

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