Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My New Name For A Blog

What Digby Said.

I also think this campaign may have been a crucible for her in that she rediscovered her feminist roots. An awful lot of progressive women did. It wasn't so much because of a commitment or loyalty to Hillary Clinton herself but rather an unexpected and stunning realization that sexism still runs so close to the surface in our culture. Hillary didn't lose because of sexism but her campaign certainly exposed it. And it's had an effect on a lot of women. Certainly, last night, some of Michelle Obama's biggest applause lines had to do with women's equality (and it didn't just come from Hillary supporters.) Clinton's grandest achievement in this campaign may have been to raise that awareness --- and hopefully she will use her position as the most powerful woman in the US Senate to advance the cause.

I had a chance to chat a bit last night with E about how young feminists have perceived this election and the reaction some of us older feminists have had. She was taken aback by some blog commenters who essentially said, "We did our time. We're done. Now it's up to you."

And, of course, we all get fed up. I often cannot fucking believe that I'm having to debate a woman's right to choose or a woman's right to wear whatever clothing she wants to wear -- especially on purportedly liberal blogs. And yet, young feminists need us to, at the very least, be there for them, to let them know that we're behind them and not angry with them.

I was reminded, for reasons that aren't yet completely clear to me, of a poem by Adrienne Rich:

No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.

At most we’re allowed a few months
of simply listening to the simple
line of a woman’s voice singing a child
against her heart. Everything else is too soon,
too sudden, the wrenching-apart, that woman’s heartbeat
heard ever after from a distance
the loss of that ground-note echoing
whenever we are happy, or in despair.

Everything else seems beyond us,
we aren’t ready for it, nothing that was said
is true for us, caught naked in the argument,
the counterpoint, trying to sightread
what our fingers can’t keep up with, learn by heart
what we can’t even read. And yet
it is this we were born to. We aren’t virtuosi
or child prdigies, there are no prodigies
in this realm, only a half-blind, stubborn
cleaving to the timbre, the tones of what we are,
even when all the texts describe it differently.

And we’re not performers, like Liszt, competing
against the world for speed and brilliance
(the 79-year-old pianist said, when I asked her
What makes a virtuoso?—Competitiveness.)
The longer I live the more I mistrust
theatricality, the false glamour cast
by performance, the more I know its poverty beside
the truths we are salvaging from
the splitting-open of our lives
The woman who sits watching, listening,
eyes moving in the darkness
is reheasing in her body, hearing-out in her blood
a score touched off in her perhaps
by some words, a few chords, from the stage,
a tale only she can tell.

But there come times—perhaps this is one of them
when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die;
we when have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly,
and disenthrall ourselves, bestow
ourselves to silence, or a severer listening, cleansed
of oratory, formulas, choruses, laments, static
crowning the wires. We cut the wires,
find ourselves in free-fall, as if
our true home were the undimensional
solitudes, the rift
in the Great Nebula.
No one who survives to speak
new language, has avoided this:
the cutting-away of an old force that held her
rooted to an old ground
the pitch of utter loneliness
where she herself and all creation
seem equally dispersed, weightless, her being a cry
to which no echo comes or can ever come.

But in fact we were always like this,
rootless, dismembered: knowing it makes the difference.
Birth stripped our birthright from us,
tore us from a woman, from women, from ourselves
so early on
and the whole chorus throbbing at our ears
like midges, told us nothing, nothing
of origins, nothing we needed
to know, nothing that could re-member us.

Only: that it is unnatural,
the homesickness for a woman, for ourselves,
for that acute joy at the shadow her head and arms
cast on a wall, her heavy or slender
thighs on which we lay, flesh against flesh,
eyes steady on the face of love; smell of her milk, her sweat,
terror of her disappearance, all fused in this hunger
for the element they have called most dangerous, to be
lifted breathtaken on her breast, to rock within her—even if beaten back, stranded again, to apprehend
in a sudden brine-clear though
trembling like the tiny, orbed, endangered
egg-sac of a new world:
This is what she was to me, and this
is how I can love myself
as only a woman can love me.

Homesick for myself, for her—as, later the heatwave
breaks, the clear tones of the world
manifest: cloud, bough, wall, insect, the very soul of light,
homesick as the fluted vault of desire
articulates itself: I am the lover and the loved,
home and wanderer, she who splits
firewood and she who knocks, a strange
in the storm, two women, eye to eye
measuring each other’s spirits each others’
limitless desire,

a whole new poetry beginning here.

Vision begins to happen in such a life
as if a woman quietly walked away
from the argument and jargon in a room
and sitting down in the kitchen, began turning in her lap
bits of yarn, calico and velvet scraps,
laying them out absently on the scrubbed boards
in the lamplight, with small rainbow- colored shells
sent in cotton-wool from somewhere far away
and skeins of milkweed from the nearest meadow
original domestic silk, the finest findings
and the darkblue petal of the petunia,
and the dry darkbrown face of seaweed;
not forgotten either, the shed silver
whisker of the cat,
the spiral of paper-wasp-nest curling
beside the finch’s yellow feather.
Such a composition has nothing to do with eternity,
the striving for greatness, brilliance
only with the musing of a mind
one with her body, experienced fingers quietly pushing
dark against bright; silk against roughness,
putting the tenets of a life together
with no mere will to mastery,
only care for the many-lived, unending
forms in which she finds herself,
becoming now the sherd of broken glass
slicing light in a corner, dangerous
to flesh, now the plentiful, soft leaf
that wrapped round the throbbing finger, soothes the wound;
and now the stone foundation, rockshelf further
forming underneath everything that grows.

Picture found here.

(1977) by Adrienne Rich

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