Writing, reading, watching, listening.

Writing, reading, watching, listening.
Life In : Recommendations, my own creations, and a place for a conversation.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Notes about EROS in old and older texts

EROS
From Companion to Literary Myths, Heroes and Archetypes 412-
Ann-Deborah Levy
“Eros is one of the divinities in the Greek pantheon who features most prominently in literature.” Painters and poets have developed his mythical figure. This figure has a strange duality: 1. The image of the young god of love. Imposed over: 2. The ancient abstract force of desire.
First appeared in Hesiod’s Theogony (7th century BC). He’s one of the three primordial entities that existed before the formation of the universe: Chaos, Earth (Gaia) and Love (Eros).
*He has the force of attraction necessary for reproduction (at first without tender love.)
*First union and reproduction: Gaia and her son Uranus Sky)-Uranus buried the children in their mother’s breast to prevent generation. It shows that when abused the power of Eros is capable of self-destruction.
*Orphic tradition: attributes creation to Eros. Aristophanes parodies Orphic beliefs.
*Parmenides and Empedocles-Another story: Zeus devours Eros and thus empowered creates the gods and the universe.
*
The breadth of Eros power extends to the elements and nature because he’s a primordial god. Aristophanes: Eros’s power is connected with outstanding beauty. Hesiod-the same.
*The association of beauty and power reflects the irresistible attraction of desire.
*Originally he was worshipped as an abstract power.
Eros and Aphrodite
He saw her being born.
Also-portrayed as her son. (According to Sappho Uranus was his father.)
5th century BC-Eros is the patron deity of ephebic love (a youth in ancient Greece who had reached the age of puberty). Personify abstract desire.
Aphrodite personified love realization and its physical pleasure.
Greek erotic poetry: the abstract influence exerted by Eros can be summed up as involving suffering.  Sappho attributes to him cruelty.
Plato’s Symposium-the dual aspects of Eros
Six speeches in honor of Eros. Can be grouped into three. Phaedrus-the most ancient god.
Agathon-the youngest god.
Pausanias and Eryximachus: Eros as double- (Aphrodite, his companion, too, is able to adopt two forms.)
He’s interested mainly in masculine love and spiritual matters.
Eryximachus extends the concept of doubleness to nature, art and science.
Aristophanes and Socrates: A “recounts the story of how men were originally double but were cut in two as a punishment for effrontery in challenging the gods and have ever since been desperately seeking reunion with their missing halves. Eros represents the instinct that enables men to rediscover happiness for an instant, along with their original wholeness” (416).
Socrates bases his theory on Eros’s nature on the teachings of Diotima, a priestess at Mantinea. Eros is a demon, a go-between linking gods and men. Poverty is his mother and Expediency his father. He procreates through heterosexual love and also creation of the soul through homosexual love. Moves from beauty to the concept of beauty.
…Western literature. Psychoanalysis.
PSYCHE
p. 982 The first version of the love story between Psyche and Cupid can be traced to Apuleius’s The Golden Ass. It’s an allegory, a fable. Psyche means soul in Greek. Based on oral popular stories.
The story is in my essay.

Michel Foucault, The History of sexuality vol. II
p.187 A problematic Relation
“The use of pleasure in the Relationship with boys was a theme of anxiety for Greek thought-which is paradoxical in a society that is believed to have ‘tolerated’ what we call ‘homosexuality.’”
Their boundaries were different. More between men addicted to pleasure (the tyrant Eros) with boys and women and those moderate, self-possessed, those who had morals.  (Plato).
Can we say the Greeks were bisexual? They had a dual practice but they didn’t recognize it as two different or competing desires/pleasures.
“What made it possible to desire a man or a woman was simply the appetite that nature had implanted in man’s heart for ‘beautiful’ human beings, whatever their sex might be” (188).
Made a young boy and a young girl dance and play lovers-the prize was for someone to have sex with a young boy.
To love boys was a free practice-permitted by law and accepted by opinion. It had religious guarantees and basis in literature.
Mixed with it there were other attitudes: contempt for young men who were easy or too self-interested, a disqualification of effeminate men and disallowance of shameful behaviors.
p.191 “it would be more worthwhile [than the question of tolerance and homosexuality] to ask how and in what form the pleasure enjoyed between men was problematic.”
We tend to think nowadays that practice aimed for pleasure between two partners of the same sex [gender] are governed by a particular structure of desire.
The Greeks thought differently. Appetite was nobler if inclined toward the more beautiful and the more honorable.
Desire called for a particular mode of behavior between two males. An ethical form. There’s the love directed at boys. (Why) this practice gave rise to an extraordinary complex problematization.
There was special concern for this relationships that implied an age difference, and status difference.
Passivity was always disliked.
In this type of relationships there was much at stake.
Homer: one was stronger the other more intelligent. (195.)
There was certain ritualization that gave it form, value and interest.  A reward etc etc etc
Matrimonial life:
Open to a certain point.
In economics and household there was a binary spatial structure: the exterior for the man, the interior for the woman.
Boy/man: common space.
The man could not exercise authority over the boy as long as he wasn’t slave born.
Strategies to allow for the other’s freedom, ability to refuse, and consent.
Timing. (p199)
This bond of love was doomed to disappear and become friendship.
Matrimonial morality and the sexual ethics of the married man did not depend of the existence of erotic relation in order to constitute itself and its rules.
##
            Sappho, Foucault; and Women’s Erotics
Hellen Green
“Feminist theorists have criticized Foucault on two main points: 1) his omission of the historical construction of sexuality as gender-specific and 2) his use of masculine forms of erotic practice as his model for ancient sexuality in general. “
These forms are not transferable to feminine behavior. His is a phallic mode of representation.
Teresa de Lauretis: gender blindness validates sexual oppression of women. To deny gender is to remain in “ideology” that’s self-serving.
Foucault shows the boy’s situation as the object of pleasure that can become a subject-could be understood as honorable. The boy received knowledge.
It’s erotic domination-and it has implications for women.
What’s the alternative?
Sappho expressed an alternative representation of desire. There’s not enough information so we can’t draw conclusions. However, she offers an alternative erotic practice and discourse, with mutuality.
Marylyn Skinner analyses it p.4-5
Fragment 94 by Sappho-a vivid illustration of Sappho’s poetry of mutuality, outside male assumptions. She doesn’t observe the lover but makes her a part of her own interior world. Punctuation is an instrument of poetic erotica. There is a dissolution between the self and the other. The woman is also described as independent-outside the narrator’s love for her.
p.11 Foucault fails to see the structures of domination and the discourses that produce sexuality as gender reflects a male-centered perspective. Isaac Balbus: Thus he implies that male has the meaning of a generically human orientation.
His text denies female subjectivity.
Marilyn Skinner: It’s the missing half of the Greco-Roman gender dialectic. Sappho’s poems circulated because they offered something not only to females but to males as well. It was an opportunity to enact a woman’s part. And yet, Foucault omitted her.
##
The Greatest Cryptographer of Contemporary Myths
Talks about Love
Philippe Roger interviews Roland Barthes
(Here is something that explains the cliché of reading Playboy for the articles-this one would have made me buy an issue.)
Barthes sees himself as a semiologist, critic and essayist.
Barthes wrote the book A Lover’s Discourse—about love. It’s a personal book, but there’s a major reference to Goethe’s Werther (1774).
Barthes: Love is out of date in the intellectual milieu. The popular attitude too is expressed in denigrating the lover as lunatic, a madman in jokes and remarks. Love as passion is almost frowned upon. It’s considered an illness from which the lover should recover. (He wants letters from the readers to prove himself wrong…)
In modern urban life there’s no place for the poses of the pathetic lover. In the 19th century there were paintings, lithographs and other forms to represent the lover. Now we cannot recognize him on the street.
*The expression “The beloved object” is one of principle: being in love is a unisex situation. In French “The Beloved object” doesn’t take sides (fem/masc.)
*The beloved is never a subject. An object indicates the depersonalization of the beloved. (unlike Sappho in the previous text). The beloved is the unique object (psychoanalysis).
*One is never in love with anything but an image. Love at first sight, ravishment, happens through an image. The ravishing image is alive, in action.
*Barthes’s lover would say yes to true love, but a “lifelong love” requires optimism. The expression has no meaning, because the lover is within a temporal absolute and doesn’t parcel time.
*He assumes and accepts suffering and unhappiness as a kind of value, but not in the Christian sense. It’s completely blameless. One would cease being in love? The books come to a halt here.
*Common sense says that some time being in love will split from loving. One puts aside being in love with its traps, illusions tyrannies, scenes…Become less possessive, less dialectical and jealous.
*There’s little jealous in the book, because there wasn’t anything original he felt he could say about it. Jealousy is a phenomenon of anthropological breadths. Everyone knows it.
*He’s skeptical about the attempt of “unpossessive” love. His young friends try it-he’s amazed at their shared sexuality, sensuality, property, but it’s always only the first impression. There’s much jealousy involved. An unjealous lover would be a saint.
*Loving several at once is delicious but it’s spreading oneself thinly and it can’t last long. That’s the end of flirting with others.
*The lover may struggle but will discover he’s completely enthralled. He suffers from the enslavement of the other, tries not to be tyrannical.
*Ideally-non-will-to-possess-borrowed from oriental philosophies Let desire circulate freely-not to possess-to master desire in order not to master the other.
*Successful eroticism is with the beloved and it can be transcendent. Sexuality remains within the experience-eroticism makes it stronger. It’s a sentimental value.
The film The Realm of the Senses is about love.
*The lover is the contrary to a cruiser-he’s imprisoned with the image. Some cruisers do it to find someone with whom to fall in love. Don Juan is the model cruiser.
*The POV is of a lover who isn’t loved.
*The lover is silly because he is situated in a dis-reality. His personal reality is his relation to the beloved. He’s asocial, apolitical because he’s much less invested in anything other than love. (Dionne Brand and Adrienne Rich disagree)
*The lover is a marginal being. There’s no need to place him in society through works that put him there because they are society.
*The lover is a natural semiologist-he reads signs all the time.
#
Adrienne Rich
Compulsory heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience, 1980.
Compulsory heterosexuality challenges the lesbian existence. Feminists need to examine heterosexuality as a political institution.
The world is hetero-centered and lesbians are marginalized.
Violence against women within the home especially grew while this political take strengthened.
There is a maintenance of inequality through many strategies.
Like Dionne Brand-politics interfere in love. They weigh on the lovers.
(Much more.)
The Double Flame/Octavio Paz
“The original primordial fire, sexuality, raises the red flame of eroticism, and this in tur raises and feeds another flame, tremulous and blue: the flame of love. Eroticism ad love: the double flame of life” (p.x).
Poetry lets us touch the impalpable, hear the silence (of insomnia)-Elizabeth Bishop’s silences.
Poetry is a bridge between seeing and believing. Relationships between eroticism and poetry: eroticism is the poetry of the body and poetry is the eroticism of the language.
Eroticism is sex in action while sexuality/pleasure is a tool of procreation. Poetry too diverts from its natural end.
8 Love should be distinguished from eroticism and sexuality.
Sex is the primordial source while eroticism and love derive from sexual instinct. Proust -for Swann and Odette the erotic love is detached from the sex act. Each of them feels it differently.
Sexuality is within the animate matter, shared with animals and plants.
Eroticism is exclusively human (Anthropocene studies would object here.) it’s an invention, imagination, a ma-made world.
Eroticism takes sex and places it in society-without sex there won’t be no society-b/c of no procreation.
Sex also threatens society like the god Pan. It’s creation and destruction.
Eroticism has a double face: fascination with life and death. Erotic metaphors are ambiguous. 913)license and repression, sublimation and perversion, ascetic and libertine.
Libertine communities are quite secretive. 14.
There are erotic religious practices. Tantric sects of India and other groups in China, Mediterranean -collective ritual copulation. Sin of Onan from the bible-perhas stopping in the middle.
Both emblematic and libertine eroticism reproduction is rejected. Both want salvation (16), both are social-individuals confronting society.
Chastity both in west and east is a test to strengthen us spiritually and allow us to leap from the human to super human. There are other paths too.
Song of Solomon -collection of beautiful poems about profane love.  It’s also read as a religious allegory. (Come on.) 19
Libertine splits between religion and eroticism. Sade. 20. Libertinism is a expression of desire and imagination, timeless. For them it is black light that speaks. 24.
Fertility is the luminous side of eroticism, its radiant approval of life. 26.




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Notes about books and texts about gender, postmodernism, the body, ethnicity, minorities post-colonialism and other good stuff


Feminism/Postmodernism edited and introduced by Linda Nicholson
Intro
From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, feminist theory reflected the viewpoint of white middle-class women of N America and western Europe. The voices of many social groups were silenced. Feminists replicated the problematic universalizing practice of the particular groups of thought to which their works was most closely allied. Academic scholarship failed to see the embeddedness of their own assumptions in a specific historical context. They sought basic ordering principles-like God’s in the past.

Because feminist scholarship had so much opposition, the scholars challenged the universalizing notion itself, claiming that all scholarship reflected the perspectives and ideas of its creators. (=No neutrality.)
Postmodernism argues that “a God’s eye view” must be situated within the context of modernity. It criticizes diverse elements such as the modern sense of self and subjectivity, the idea of history as linear and evolutionary, and the separation of art and mass culture.
p.3 Beyond historicist claims about “situatedness” of human thought within culture they go to the very criteria by which claims for knowledge are legitimized. Not only the questions are effected but also the answers.

Postmodern critique has come to focus on philosophy and the very idea of a possible theory of knowledge, justice, or beauty. The pursuit itself of such theories rests upon the modernist conception of a transcendent reason able to separate itself from the body and the historical time and place.
It exposes political agenda, Western supremacy, the legitimacy of science to tell us how to use and view our bodies, and separation art/mass culture.These ideas are overlapping with previous feminist positions.

Jane Flask: Feminist theory dealing with the notions of the self, knowledge and truth belongs more with postmodernism than with the enlightenment. It shouldn’t use one aspect of women experience (giving birth etc) as an underlying factor in human oppression.  It’s not inclusive enough-so it’s against the political objective. (This idea is related to intersectionality.)

Politics of Location
Sandra hardig and…Are worried that eliminating cross-cultural notions will take the basis from under the concept of gender.
Susan Bordo: theorizing needs stopping points and gender is one of them. (Post modernism is too relativist without it). 
Postmodernism may affect the same kind of the historical erasure of the body, and thus erases the (beneficial) positioning in space and time that was present in modernism. 
In the Cartesian world there is no place for the body, since the body, by situating a perspective, prevents an all-encompssing perspective.
The dance in postmodern writing, description of the body as fragmented and changing and invites confusion of boundaries.
Linda Nicholson: Metaphor-the body has boundaries-just like theories.
The question:
Are coherent theory and politics possible within a postmodern position?
Yes-if the theory is well-constructed.
Probyn:                                                     
We always negotiate our locales-working to make sense and articulate both place and event. Women are never fixed within locale. (Localization, unlike locale, is physical.)
We may live in patriarchy but the struggle to rearticulate locale continues at different levels and in different ways.
10 Probyn and Bordo:
Mere abstract invocation of difference is a political act that can be conservative.
Locale is a process, negotiable, and it has its specific characteristics.

Political implications of postmodernism
11 Donna Haraway-Cyborg-a phenomenon that violates certain previously established distinctions, particularly between humans and animals, humans and machines, minds and bodies, materialism and idealism. It rejects prior hopes of unity and wholeness as expressed ideas such as unalienated labor, pre-Oedipal symbiosis, community as family and female as goddess.
It reveals a heightened consciousness of boundaries, whose dark side is individualism.                
Prior means of control and representation give way to new forms. Dark aspects but a freeing aspect too. Liberatory-from certain definitions. Women of color-identity constructed out of recognition of otherness and difference. 12.
Domination is not based on normalization and medialization, but through networking, communication, redesign of stress management. WE need politics that embrace the multiple and contradictory aspects of our identities.

Iris Young
Community-individualism: not as opposed as people used to think: both may negate difference. Liberal individualism: self-sufficient, not defined by anything or anyone other than itself. Community denies difference by positing fusion rather than separation as the social ideal. Discourages respect for those with whom they don’t identify.
Gender – the concept helps to understand human thought and behavior, which is a feminist accomplishment. It represents a refining of “humanity.”

15 Judith Butler-Gender trouble, feminist theory and psychoanalytic discourse             
A central basis of the essay is that gender identity is a regulative ideal which fundamentally assists the norm of heterosexuality. Notions of gender identity are not the point of our liberation but the grounding of our continued oppression.
(More later.)

INTERSECTIONALITY
Intersectionality as buzzwords/ Kathy Davis
The concept:
The interaction of multiple identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination.                 
It’s an important contribution for feminist scholarship. 
It has generated uncertainties, confusion and debate.
Davis claims based on Murray Davis that the concept's ambiguity and open-endedness are the secrets for its success, and it makes it good feminist theory.
68 Intersectionality refers to he interaction between gender, race, class and other categories of difference in individual lives, social practices, institutional arrangements and cultural ideologies, and the outcomes of these interactions in terms of power.
The term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 to address the exclusion of experiences and struggles of women of color both from feminist and anti-racist discourse.
A theory succeeds when it appeals to a concern regarded as fundamental by many scholars in a way that’s not only unexpected but inherently mystifying and open-ended.
70 This concept addresses the question of difference among women.
Matsuda 1991 :1189: suggested a method of asking “the other question”-when something looks sexist asks where’s the patriarchy in it/the heterosexism/class etc. (Already a cliché according to Davis.)
Intersectionality is related to black feminism and to postmodern feminist theory, and also to queer theory and diaspora studies.
History of it-p.73
What’s the TWIST?
It offered a novel link between critical feminist theory on the effect of sexism, class and racism and a critical methodology, inspired by postmodern feminist theory, bringing them together in new ways.  It solved the problems each group saw in the theory of the other, overcoming these incompatibilities, thus offering a new platform of collaboration.
Basic doubts:
Which and how many categories should be included?
Won’t the endless proliferation of difference be after all the weak spot?
Do we need to think across categories or focus on sites where multiple identities are performed?
What’s the scope of the analysis? Identity or detriment of social structure? Connection? Mobilization? Uncovering vulnerabilities?
It bridges between theorists and generalists.
77 Butler and Joan Scott- feminist theory needs to reach out to political objectives beyond these to which it was constrained.
Important notes-p. 79 with references.
81-Butler: categories: gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, able-bodiedness.
Luz Helma 2002: Categories: gender, sexuality, race or skin color, ethnicity, national belonging, class, culture, religion, able-bodiedness, age, sedentariness, property ownership, location (geographical), status in term of tradition and development.

The Politics of Postmodernism/ Linda Hutcheon 1990
Any attempt to define postmodernism would aim to say what it is and what it is not.
A phenomenon whose mode is contradictory and political. It takes the form of self-conscious, self-contradictory and self-undermining statement. A commitment to duplicity. It installs and reinforces while also subverting conventions.
Doxa=force of nature
Barthes: Doxa is public opinion or the voice of nature.
Foucault-power is not something unitary that exists outside us. It is spread across all fields of force.
Derrida-textuality and defferal
Layotard-intellectual mastery and its limits. 24-no unitary narrative but multiple ones.
Jameson 24-2.
Luiz Althusser-Marxist-notion of ideology both as a system representation and a necessary part of every social totality. 1969:231-2
By using and abusing general conventions and forms of representation postmodern art de-naturalizes them.
Postmodern critics acknowledge that the criticism is from their perspective.
Facts are events to which we have given meanings. (57)
We cannot avoid the past and escape it but need to access it through traces, come to terms and confront. (58) The history of representation.
About Narrative-p. 66
Postmodern theory doesn’t have an agency to cause change but it does question and does a de-naturalizing critique. It works to de-doxify.
In Hutcheon’s book the analysis focuses mainly on the ideological values and interests that inform any representation.

(Intersection): Nigel Wlliams’s 1985’s Star Turn (fiction) does not stop at the analysis of class difference: race is shown to enter into complicity with class on both formal and thematic levels of the novel. 5.
Postmodern theory and practice suggests that everything has always been culturally- mediated by representations.
No realism transparency.
No modern reflexive response
(Modernism-rationality, history as linear development, art vs mass culture centered subjectivity.)

p. 141 Postmodernism and feminisms
Feminisms-awkward and accurate. A multiplicity of POV’s that possess at least some common denomination when it comes to the notion of the politics of representation.
Politicizing desire-fear of disease, fetishization of fitness led to recessionary erotic economy. Problematizing the body and its sexuality-and the erotic is a part of it.
The body cannot escape representation-here: the feminist challenge to a patriarchal underpinning of cultural practices.  
Gendered art. (142-3)
Postmodernism is politically ambivalent for its doubly coded-complicitous with and contesting of the cultural dominants by which it operates. Feminisms have distinct, unambiguous political agenda of resistance. Feminisms radicalize the postmodern sense of difference and de-naturalized the traditional separation of private and public, personal and political. Both theories are interested in representations.
Sexual difference is continually reproduced.
Feminisms focus on politics of representation of knowledge, therefore power.
They made postmodernism think about the female body and its desires, and how its socially constructed through representation.
Visual or linguistic-it’s always systems of meanings operating with socially produced and historically conditioned codes.
144 Both theories de-doxify the notion of desire as individual fulfillment.                
Desire is a value of poststructuralist theory. It is also a norm of consumer society. (Marxists deconstruct it.)
145 Angela Carter’s Black Venus-Jeanne Duval denied Bauldaire his advances and wasn’t treated kindly by biographers though he had syphilis. Also he might have wanted more desire than consummation while she wanted sex. (paradox?) Her not understanding his poetry-occured simply due to language + he forced it on her. Manet painted her without sympathy. The woman is just a mediating sign for the male. Carter codes and re-codes the colonized territory of the female body. Erotic masculine fantasy Vs female experience…For the West Indian woman the island paradise he imagines is “glaring yellow shore and harsh blue skies.” (Very interesting.) Carter allows her to have back her history. 
Feminist theory and postmodernism influence one another in regard to change. Parody is postmodern strategy.
Problematizing gendered representations.
##

POSTMODERN THESAUROUS
Discourse, deconstruction, fragmentation, representation, subversion, questioning the center/universality/nature/truth, context, corporeality, language, system of meaning, resignification, power relations, counter-discourse, marginal, resistance, subversion, access to knowledge and power, the investigation of social, cultural and historical production of meaning, ambivalence.


The Empire Writes Back
Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literature is a 1989 Bill Ashcroft, eds. Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin
Bill Ashcroft: Re-placing Theory: post-colonial writing and literary theory (chapter 5)
Post-colonial literature and postmodernism
Post-colonial writing and literary theory intersect with the movement of poststructuralism, and Marxist and feminist criticism among others. There is an undeniable interaction. However, the appropriation of these recent European theories introduces the danger of going back to internationalist paradigms. 
Literature in the 20th century is closely determined by its relation to imperialism. The best theory to analyse it is the post-colonial.
Modernism/colonial experience
Through modernism Europeans realized that their culture was one amongst the plurality of ways of conceiving reality and organizing its representation in art and social practice. (156)
African art, artefacts that arrived in Europe during the oppression generated interest and appeared in literature (D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow).
19th century: “primitive” “savage”
20th: re-discovery
This art called into question the European basic assumptions of aesthetics.
Slavic culture sought its roots and with this it questioned basic ideas of culture.
158 The African was unique, on the margin, positive and negative force in the European conception of itself. It was considered a prior stage, the dark side of the European (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.)
Yeats: "After us the savage God." (The true face of the savage, a threat.)
World War I dismantled the belief in civilization. A tendency toward postmodernism to deconstruct the culture and discover the “Other” in the form of non-European culture in order to produce and reproduce European art. There is an effect on BOTH cultures.
Indian and Chinese cultures were more respected than African.
Hegel: defines the African continent as being “outside history”. It could serve as a mirror, as a negative of the positive, the black Other to the white norm, demonic opposite. 
Two main views: either horror or a liberating form from “civilization.”
(Rimbaud—Nicholson-his relations to Africa)
“Discovery” of Africa by Europe heads to rediscovery and self-doubt.

New criticism and post-colonial theory
Influential modern movement called the New Criticism: a product of the post-colonial USA: their intent to establish a literary canon against the English traditional supremacy.
They begin again with each work.
 It emphasizes the individual work.
It gave validity to work previously denied, including African.
The negative aspect: assimilation of post-colonial writers, assumption of objectivity, unseen in their context, unseen as innovative and subversive of European values.
Thanks to it, post-colonial criticism began to investigate theoretical problems in a different model of literature. Comparative study reveals postcolonial characteristics beyond national ones.

Postmodernism and post-colonial
Exposing formations as culture-specific.
Foucault: casts doubts on objective historical consciousness: the fictive nature of historical reconstructions. Despite the recognition of “otherness” structuralism and poststructuralism sometimes operate like Western historicizing consciousness to appropriate and control the Other.
Rather than seeing poststructuralism and postmodern as decentering forces, they reaffirm certain lit as subversive thus allowing USA to recapture their own culture through Eurocentric assumptions.   
USA is postcolonial too, which means both appropriation and subversion.
164 Intellectuals want to define themselves against their colonial past and against international postmodernism. In general, however, USA tends more toward postmodernism than toward post-colonial.

Post coloniality and contemporary European theory
Jen Francois Layotard 1979: narrative is an alternative mode of knowledge to science.
(Less text and more context.)
In oral societies narrative dominates and it’s an integral part of society, not a category above
Science classifies narrative as savage. This is the beginning of imperialism.
For him postmodernism will articulate a weave of practices grounded in the particular and local.

Post coloniality and discourse theory
167 A discourse in the Foucauldian sense is best understood as a system of possibility for knowledge.
Edward Said proposes “orientalism” as the discourse which constituted the Orient in the consciousness of the West. “such locales, regions, geographical sectors as “Orient” and “Occident” are man-made.” (1978:5)
To him, identity is constructed based on the difference (King or Stewart Hall won’t agree?) distancing from the center and self-assertion.
Foucault: The post-colonial discourse is grounded in a struggle for power over truth, the power focused in the control of metropolitan language. What rules allows the construction of maps.
Homi Bhabha: this struggle may mimic the struggle for colonial dominance. Solution-only in a theory that embraces difference and absence as material signs of power and not of negation, of freedom and not subjugation, creativity and not limitation.
Post-colonial theory can appropriate what it wants from the European system discoursive formations overlap and intersperse.

Counter Discourse-Richard Terdiman
1986-recognizes in language the material site of text’s social production.
Against the view of Saussure that language systems can be split into system of meanings and nonsystematic.
Agrees with Foucault that culture is a field of struggle.
169 Discourse comes into practice in a structure of counter-discursive practices. The conflict is not a contamination of the language but a defining function in power relations.

Post coloniality and theories of ideology
The works of Marxist critics-Althusser, Michel Pecheux, and Frederic Jameson is relevant to the problematic relation between language and literary practice addressed by post-colonial critics. (Bhabha 1984, 257) and to the problem of building an identity within the self-Other imposed by imperialism.
=creation of subjects through ideological language and practices. (Foucault).
Pecheux: 1.The good subject-identification, consent
2.The bad subject-counter identification-refuses the image offered and turns it back on the offerrer. “What you call the oil crisis.”
3. "Dis-indification”-recognizes that ideologies are transformable-working of the subject form and not just its abolition.
The meaning of words change according to who utters them.
Jameson-literature is informed by the political unconscious. Reading=unmasking.
Led to - Postcolonial narrative as reconstruction.
172 Jameson: The text transforms the historical subtext which it draws up into itself=a symbolic act, relationships between authors and their societies,
A book is more influential than the experience itself. (Jameson or Bhabha?)
Reciprocity between Other and self. The identity of the other doesn’t emerge only from ideology or resistance to ideology. 
In post-colonial society there’s a hierarchy and set relationships.
European postmodernism labels the world-again constructing peripheral and central areas.
174 Feminism and post colonialism
In many societies women have regulated the position of the “Other”.
The same concepts: language, voice, silence, mimicry, other, difference. (subaltern-Gayatri Spivak 1981)
Feminist critics reject the patriarchal bases of literary theory and criticism, subvert them and show their relativity.
Feminist and post-colonial discourses both seek to reinstate the marginalized in the face of the dominant.
They question, unmask. No inversion.  Rereading. Subversion of patriarchal literary forms.
Binarism-if we lose sight of it we may lose the problem of racism among others.
The projects of both discourses are directed toward the future. Intersections between the two.

177 The Politics of Theory-Decolonizing colonialist discourse
Through appropriation of poststructuralist theory critics offer ways to dismantle colonialism’s signifying system and exposing the silencing and oppression
Gayatri Spivak: Colonized women-a double subjection. There’s no space from where the subaltern (sexed) subject can speak.” (1985:122) -extended to the whole colonial world. There’s an absent of text that can answer epistemic violence.
Homi Bhabha disagrees: the colonized is indeed constructed within a disabling master discourse. Colonial discourse of ‘reform, regulation and discipline’ appropriates bad mimicry and the Other. But the subaltern has in fact spoken and thus, properly symptomatic readings can recover the native voice.
“Parry invokes Fanon as classic and alternative model whose position she characterizes as constructing a politically conscious unified Self…” She rejects both Spivak and Bhabha’s work as still connected to the same signifying systems, but her main complaint is their political ineffectiveness. (Total independence from the past despite Fanon’s int. Ascroft: she doesn’t speak about more complex colonialism-less military…180)
Ashcroft: Critical and creative post-colonial texts are hybrid. There are multiple forms of post-colonial difference-so hybridity will continue.

181 Post-colonial reconstructions: literature
Different styles: for instance: inherited from traditional, oral literature. Not linear, goes in swoops, reiterates, digresses off a new sudden idea etc. (Rushdie uses such narrative structure in Midnight Children.)
Cross-cultural literature. Combination of English styles with oral etc.
Reading without essentialism.
Return to traditional pre-colonial (indigenous) forms – brings a renewed sense of identity and self-value.
Meaning-how to read: three pillars: author, reader, text.
The text is the event. The participants may be absent.
Value-like meaning is “not an intrinsic quality but a relation between the object and certain criteria brought to bear upon it.” 187

Post-colonial as reading strategy (189)
“A canon is not a body of texts per se, but rather a set of reading practices (the enactment of innumerable individual and community assumptions, for example, about genre, about literature, and even about writing.”
A range of ways of engaging with texts from the canon have emerged…
Reading strategies, reconstruction, uncovering silences, showing the repression of the economic basis to civilized practices. Seeing the context, seeing its effects, revisioning in the light of post-colonial discursive practices. Subversive accounts.
Post-coloniality seen as a reading strategy and not as texts.

STUART HALL
From the Net-Signification is the meaning a culture gives.
Representation-comes through the language that gives meaning and signifies. The production of meaning is not fixed.
The media is one of the most powerful circulators on meaning.
Ideology is an attempt to fix meaning. 
Stereotypes-an attempt to fix meanings as well.
What you see/don’t see/expect or don’t expect to see in images. The absence of information subverts out expectations.
Making meaning-interpreting (contextually what is represented.

Stuart Hall: 1932-2014 (Thinking Allowed, 12/2/14) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g70bqF_1xAo
Born in Jamaica in 1932. His words: He was the blackest of the brothers. In Jamaica, your shade of color is the most important question. His mother never wanted to be Jamaican but “properly English.” Got to Oxford and realized he could not be “a part of it.” You can’t learn “Englishness”each learned text is a part of life. Became interested in contemporary cultural studies.

There is no authentic culture-culture is mixed and blended.  Mass culture coming from the US was also a significant place of culture-a lot of information. (Worked with Richard Hoggart.)
Looking at struggle and contestation.  
Class politics can’t be accepted. 
Came with coding and encoding, decoding images on TV-the hegemonic power transmits messages to people about race and class. 
Decoded in order to look at things differently.
In the end young people are going to be delivered into society as productive members but they can question.
Black politics-he wasn’t engaged in black community activity in the regular sense. 
The community found very little space especially in the academy. He focused on issues of identity and representation-realized there’s an opening (Caspar-resistance) resisting what the mainstream tried to impose upon people.
His disillusionment-a lot of rubbish mascaraed as culture. Didn’t want to interpret for others-they sought a new paternal role. He’s only interested in what can change the world. He is involved with cultural studies only in order to act socially, resistance -and not caricature, a generic study.

Lola Young: He kept negotiating different spaces and ideas regarding black people. Always in a dialogue with ideas and terms such as multi-culturalism (he rejected it because it became “harmony” fiction). 
He asked what kind of differences matter and how they are made to matter or to seem to matter in relation to race and ethnicity.
In the left people weren’t discussing race, gender et-as if asserting the classes everything else will fall into place, but he questioned everything.

Stuart Hall (Free Thinking, 13/12/04)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSCjcyqIL50
His family orientation was toward England-critical of the Caribbean. A generation that decided they had to do something and get out-in order to go back. Didn’t have a moment of decision not to go back. He’s a part of the diaspora. It’s how life turn out. Discovered his Careabeanism only in London. Discovered who he was in West Indian. His mother said-I hope they don’t think you’re an immigrant-but that’s what he was. She said-black-and he realized he was black indeed. (It appears in his lecture). Identity doesn’t grow inside you-it’s a response from something of the outside and something of the inside.
Was interested in Henry James: very in-between: not American or European, wanting to go back but never would.

Multiculturalism (In Our Time, 13/5/99)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzarDosXIHM
Hall’s books (then) concentrated on cultural identity, race and ethnicity.

"The divisions between people provoked and exploited because of differences in religion, culture, nationality and race seem to beset the planet the more information technology promises globalization. A recent estimate put the figure of people living in a country other than the one of their birth at 80 million. Does this mean that, amongst these eighty million people, their country of origin, their sense of self, and their cultural history are no longer as significant as they were? And how are those eighty million people and their descendants accommodated in the country to which they have moved - do their lives exemplify the success of multicultural policies or are they subject to racism? Is it possible to define how attitudes to race and identity have changed this century, given its vast shifts of population, cultures and peoples?”


Stuart Hall: Immigration. Problems of both England and the immigrants. Questions of co-existing. The English expected them to go home-Hall just chose not to. Questions: “Who are you? Where do you belong? Knows welll both cultures.
The dream of both sides that full assimilation will happen-that after a generation or two the immigrants will totally mingle clearly fell. No side actually wanted it. 
Multi-cultural: make a common life together. Multi-cultural drift-many ethnic backgrounds-it just happened.
Dr Avtar Brah (passed through many immigrations Uganda-Pakistan -US-England (?)) 
Assimilation into what? The dominant culture talks about it, but when outsiders enter, the insiders change too. 
Many kinds of Orientalisms have been directed at her, but in England she was soon called “Paki”. Subjected to discrimination in direct and indirect forms. 
The British never conceived themselves as a group of ethnicities. USA yes. 
Colonial relations in Britain make it different. Self-conception of themselves-USA make "Americans" out of many ethnicities. 
Both England and USA were slave societies but the British colonial is different. It constructs relationships in a different way. 
In the US there’s an intimacy between blacks and whites. England constructed it as if the relations started in 1954-as if they didn’t know where the colored people came for. Reconstructed as if there isn’t a history-but the history comes back.
Ethnicity-constructing a sense of belonging for a group, where the boundaries are shifting.  -The question is always there: how a group construct itself differently.

20 minute Melvyn Bragg (interviewer)-Jews feel obliged both to England and Israel and contribute to both.
Hall-the Jews are almost assimilated-or appear to be so, unlike African-American. This is because of the crisis of what is the British identity. We need public value that valorizes difference.
Brah: not only ethnicity but also class. Jewishness-which group? Black Jews? Then it’s not Jewish per-se. We cannot forget the color. There’s a European Jew-a different debate.
Hall: race – we think about genetic differences but need to be thinking about negotiating it socially.
Brah: Communality of experience-like football team unite a group: it creates belonging. But also there’s the construction of race-where you are talked about as different and outsider.
Stigmatism and pragmatism. In a global world maybe we should start with small local groups.
Hall: There are attachments, but culture is moving, changing, influencing and is influenced, and locality has a response to the globe and immigration. A multicultural being comes out of this context.

Thomas King
Thomas King was born in Sacramento, California in 1943. His father is Cherokee and his mother is of Greek descent.
The Truth About Stories - Thomas King - Lecture 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzXQoZ6pE-M


Gloria Anzaldua

Borderland
NEW PERSPECTIVES ON GLORIA E. ANZALDÚA
Shifting Worlds, una entrada / AnaLouise Keating
Nepantla means in Nahuatl “in between space”, indicating temporal, spatial, psychic, and/or intellectual point(s) of liminality and potential transformation. “During nepantla individual and collective self-conceptions and worldviews are shattered.” 
Apparently fixed categories based on gender/ethnicity/race/sexuality/economic status/health/religion/different combinations of these and others become more permeable and begin to break down.
Nepantleras: mediators, in-betweeners, those who facilitate passage between worlds (“(Un)natural bridges” 1)
2-her life as nepntlera
It shapes her work and life. She challenges and deepens through words.
A great citation p.2-“I am a wind-swayed bridge…” (205)
Multiple allegiances and worlds. She rejects the need for unitary identities and exclusive alliances. All is based on affinities-“new tribalism”. 
 She moves between ad among worlds, like her writing.
(Good for characters’ analysis.)
She says that Borderland is a part of a much larger project.
Autohistoria=autofiction, self-awareness employed in the service of social-justice work.
Nepantla…pathway to change-citation p.6
Intersecting selves p.7-we are the other, the other is us…alliance between us and others.
Expanding the vision p.8 knowledge shares sense of affinity…
Potentially transformative elements of the theories of mestiza consciousness and others.
New tribalism-the queer group- “the people that don’t belong anywhere, not in the dominant world nor completely within our respective cultures.”






















Friday, August 28, 2015

Review of Life In Life Out in Per Contra

Per Contra published a review of Life In, Life Out. It's an insightful and generous review by Antonio Carlos Santos, a Brazilian expert in translation and aesthetics.
The review is here:
It says:
  • Life In, Life Out

    Avital Gad-Cykman

    Wynnewood, PA, Matter Press
    2014. pp. 107

    review by Antonio Carlos Santos
Avital Gad-Cykman’s fine debut collection Life In, Life Out is a book of flashes, or rather, rapid illuminations of everyday situations. The flashes are divided into two parts: “Minute Life Length” tends toward realism and “Sudden Changes” is more surreal. In a general manner, this is literature of exile: an Israeli author who lives in Brazil and writes in English. It brings to mind the Russian Vladimir Nabokov and the Polish Joseph Conrad, both writing in English, their second language, working from within a space that allows for distance and perspective. The same comes through the writing in this book.
The flashes in Life In, Life Out are often narrated by women or are about women, wives, lovers and mothers. The interesting choice of not naming characters in general (calling them “husbands” “mothers” “son” “daughter” etc.) makes them anyone, or rather, any of us, involving the readers in the story and making us a part of it.
The flashes speak of women’s relationships--in “Once a Month We Play” these are mostly relationships with other women--but in “All of Them” the narrator says: "Serving tables is not as difficult as dealing with men."
Interestingly, in “Once a Month We Play” the narrator takes the first person plural to speak about women surrounded by war and death: “Each of us young women has gone through the first year’s mourning, the second year’s recovery, an attempt at new relationships, and then nothing, or rather ‘something’ that we can’t capture with words. We tried ‘loneliness,’ ‘void,’ and ‘vacuum...’” The entire narration takes place while the women play with toy soldiers and with children. The roles of men and women are divided here: while the men protect the borders and kill other husbands, the women produce children who one day will also be husbands who kill husbands.
The war is constant in Gad-Cykman’s stories: soldiers, border protection, and children's games. War sometimes appears simply as a quick reference but it is a constant situation so it determines the lives of the characters.
However difficult the situation appears to be, however, when the narrator speaks in the plural, as in “Once a Month We Play” or “Sudden Changes,” the group gathers power against the circumstances. On the other hand, the sense of a group threatens to diminish the individuality and the power to change.
In several flashes such as “The Bison,” sexuality and sensuality propel the story forward. In “The Bison” the character of the mother appears in relation to her body, pregnancy. The pregnant woman is involved with the senses: the olives she eats link her from the first sentence to the bison and to words spoken in Arabic by a shepherd who represents “the other.” The character is named Sara Frishman: Sara brings to mind Abraham’s wife, and Frishman means a vigorous man, healthy, full of life and active.  Everything revolves around the sensuous: there are smells coming from the vicinity: a child's dirty diaper, dates and the Arabian shepherd’s sweat. There is also a relationship here between the Arabic words and the female body: “It had been long since words played with her body like that."
In “Sudden Changes,” however, the narrator is a man: "The ocean has been generous to us, as well as the fields, the women, the rains.” According to the narrator, women arise between the fields and the rain like another element of nature: their bodies flourish like plants. The text is marked by this full-of-lust, rather inebriated narrator, surrounded by the sea and the smell of fish and fruit. To him, "Their [the women’s] bodies blossom and open like sea anemones, moving round and mature limbs.” Women’s legs open, exposing vaginas that resemble gleaming mangos full of juice, and he says, "they intoxicate us with the scent of the earth.” The narrator, unlike the women, appears to have "lost the command of nature’s signs."
As you go on reading, it is amusing to notice how often animals populate the flashes: a cat, buffalo, donkey, rooster, horse, wolf, bee, frog, as well as grasshoppers, birds, hyenas and fish. Sometimes they are elements of comparison and on other occasions they are key characters. In “Once a Month We Play” roosters and a donkey open the story, challenging what is generally considered to be their “true nature”: “The farm animals’ roles keep changing according to their preferences. We were wrong, wrong, wrong, to think that all donkeys or all roosters share the same nature.”
As a final observation, it is fascinating to find in “Mines” a comparison between words and mines: “Words blow off. As do Mines.” It is an approach we see in Homer: a connection between literature and war or between the arts and war (just remember Picasso and his Guernica - the frames are not made to decorate houses; they are weapons of war). “The Bison” as well as other flashes evokes a notion of vanguard. The words take shape and explode like mines, and in “The Bison” they blow off into the body of Sara.
This collection celebrates such words.