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The follies and follicles of Vee Levene
"My goal is to dominate people in their sleep."
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...is a place for me to post more personal entries than those on the public blog or to test out things I'd like to eventually post on the public blog.

The public blog: http://veethemonsoon.wordpress.com

You can syndicate the blog on LJ: http://www.livejournal.com/friends/add.bml?user=vee_wordpress
The futility of language is a concept which came up a number of times in the readings for this weekend, both through the abstractness/inaccessibility of the writings themselves and in the discussion of language directly. Specifically, Luce Irigaray opens “When Our Lips Speak Together” by saying that “if we keep on speaking the same language together, we’re going to reproduce the same history.... If we keep on speaking sameness, if we speak to each other as men have been doing for centuries, as we have been taught to speak, we’ll miss each other, fail ourselves. Again” (205). She proceeds to construct a text that I could understand only on some oddly confused “poetic” level.

I admire the desire and the practice of creating a new language. According to linguistics, a language fits the needs of its community. According to muted group theory, language is the product of the dominant/dominating group, a tool to perpetuate its domination by not allowing for expression the specific experiences of marginalized people. I do not see how these ideas have to be mutually exclusive. Local dialects can prove both, and perhaps offer an alternative, however paltry, to muted group theory, as do the attempts by these French feminists to recreate language, which are clearly much more elaborate and, therefore, revolutionary.

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In “Contingent Foundations: Feminism and the Question of ‘Postmodernism,’” Judith Butler claims that power is a never-ending, always-changing structure: “If the subject is constituted by power, that power does not cease at the moment the subject is constituted, for that subject is never fully constituted, but is subjected and produced time and again” (13).

This reminds me of Lacan’s rereading of Freud and, in particular, de Saussure’s Borromean knot used to explain a subject’s progression to and relationship with language. The claim there was that people are never complete, never stable, because they are always trying to get to a place (back to the “real,” the “baby blob”) that they could never possibly do. So, therefore, taking into account both claims, both inside and outside forces will always keep us as struggling, striving, incomplete, people.

This is an idea that needs to hit the masses, and quickly. After all, who doesn’t think we’re supposed to grow and mature until we are complete? How much existential turmoil is spent in this unending and futile process? (Although, I suppose, it keeps therapists in business.) As a twentysomething there has not been a moment when I have not struggled with this. For some years now, I have chalked it up to the fact that, because I am in between generations (I was born in 1981, right on the border between Generation X and the Millenial generation—the cusp, or fence, if you will), there are very few media outlets targeting my age group directly (I have a whole theory on this that I won’t go into now). As a result, there is little outside guidance as to what people my age are supposed to be like and do, except, of course, for having long since graduated college, but that’s a whole other theory, of the social clock...

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I do this thing in the bath, I plug my nose and curl up under water, on my back and my knees to my chest, so I don't float to the top. I recently discovered I can cover my eyes so light doesn't shine through my lids. It's like sensory deprivation. I don't strain too much--well, sometimes I do, but not these days--and sometimes I curl into the fetal position. I don't ever feel any kind of spiritual womb rebirthing thing, but for a few moments after I resurface, my mind is clear as my senses adjust once again to the stimulation they so love/hate/never don't have. And as my mind is never clear, that's pretty nice.

"I woke in bits, like all children, piecemeal over the years. I discovered myself and the world, and forgot them, and discovered them again. I woke at intervals until... the intervals of waking tipped the scales, and I was more often awake than not. I noticed this process of waking, and predicted with terrifying logic that one of these years not far away I would be awake continuously and never slip back, and never be free of myself again." (Annie Dillard, An American Childhood)
3/27/06 - WordPress.com
I hadn't realized WordPress.org hosts blogs on its site--WordPress.com. How novel. I've been wanting to use it for a while now, but never had the proper host or programming abilities.

So, I'm trying it out. Bear with me. I'm trying to find a new home, to incorporate both my blog and my main site. Something that's not a pain in the ass to update if I don't have internet access with my computer, which happens pretty regularly. Something pretty.

3/23/06 - "Irish" pubs
Ireland's "Crack" Habit - Explaining the faux Irish pub revolution.

Of particular interest to me (especially the readers' comments), as both an appreciator of "authentic" Irish-American pubs and a former American "barmaid" in the UK.
Delivery estimate: March 24, 2006

"Female Chauvinist Pigs : Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture"
Ariel Levy; Hardcover; $15.75

"French & Saunders - On the Rocks"
Dawn French; DVD; $12.99

I can't recall the last time I looked forward to a package quite this much.
(The last French & Saunders DVD I don't have.)

- -Amazon.com addict and proud of it, though I usually use the Marketplace, I didn't this time because they gave me free shipping with a free 3-month trial of a "prime" account, probably because I'm such an addict
damali ayo (creator of rent-a-negro.com) was interviewed in Bitch magazine's Fall 2005 issue.

I found a lot of it inspiring and/or paralleling to my own aspirations and/or practices in political art.

(I don't really agree with the very first sentence--on all art being activism [though that might depend on how you define activism]--but the rest is just beautiful.)
    "'I believe that all art is a radical form of social activism. In the art world and in our society, we've made the grave mistake of separating the two--sometimes, when we look at socially minded art, we think it's less artistic, when it's actually the height of art.'"

    "'Satire cannot exist without reality,' she insists, 'and only reality can be absurd enough to build solid satire. I find reality to be far more provocative than anything I could ever make up...'"

    "'Intellectualizing and comedy both create an atmosphere where action becomes an option. This [book, How to Rent a Negro] is in between those two extremes--it is at once really funny and really not funny.' Following the modest proposal once made by Jonathan Swift, Ayo [sic] believes in the need for startling provocation in order to instigate meaningful change. 'We need to throw the pepper in the sauce [in order] for people to start tasting things. When you intersect the radical with the mundane, the socially weighted with the everyday occurrences, that's when things get really fascinating."
from BBC News- Slobodan Milosevic: Your comments

What is your reaction to the death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic?

"I think it is appalling that he didn't recieve the healthcare he required. He should of been kept in best health so he would survive the trial, then we could put him to death. That's just good, sensible justice, after all."
People seem really eager to dismiss my idiosyncratic behaviors- specifically, those that differ drastically from their own behaviors- as merely symptoms or "excuses" for underlying neuroses and character defects.

Many of these encounters are disguised as general concern and a desire to understand, so they are difficult to point out on a one-on-one basis. The ones that are brazenly obvious, the not-so-disguised, cause me to look back and see the parallels to other, more insidious (and often not conscious) misguided misattributions.

It might come from a need to categorize (well, dichotomize) behaviors as either good or bad, normal or abnormal, active or reactive. It might come from the inability to see any hint of an existence outside the norm (their own) as anything other than wrong in some way- even if the behavior itself isn't "wrong", it's the deviation from socialization that's seen as "wrong", and so the underlying cause must be "wrong". It might be the inability to understand complexities within people other than oneself, particularly if those complexities challenge one's idea of the finiteness of complexity.

It might actually come from the desire to understand, and when faced with not being able to understand, one negates as a way to maintain sanity and self-concept. (My personal favorite: "Everyone else I know who does this..." as though similar[ly-appearing] behaviors necessarily stem from similar sources.)

Whatever the reason, it's really fucking getting on my nerves. Just stop it, all right? It's perfectly natural to have such thoughts, but if you're willing to validate them to yourself when forming your concept of me, at least have the decency to express humility and encourage dialogue by using "I" statements, rather than just telling me about myself as though you had some sort of authority. I'll try to watch myself, too. Social psychology-for-laypeople is all well and good, but if you don't have any concept of the fundamental attribution error, then it might behoove you to acknowledge and embrace your ignorance.
A post on Antioch's intranet by Judith Kintner, who runs the gym:

Yep, it's today. Check out some web sites (World Vision is good).
Call your Mom if you have a mom, or your Grandma, or your fifth grade teacher.
It's a good day to remember that worldwide, women are still oppressed, discriminated against, and disproportionately economically disadvantaged.

It would be really cool if all of us women people today took a minute to acknowledge what we have, or plan to, overcome--for ourselves or for others-- to acknowledge what it's taken for older women to be where they are, doing what they're doing.

Remember: women are dying in disproportionately high numbers due to smoking related ilnesses--maybe skip a few cigarettes today.

Remember: 30 years ago we weren't allowed to play lots of sports, we weren't allowed to play with the boys, and a lot of now-grey-haired women made sure that changed. Maybe come over to the gym and work out, or play basketball or volleyball at noon. Come play or watch rugby this afternoon.

Happy International Women's Day, Antioch Women!
A number of years ago I attended a presentation by a women who worked in inner-city elementary schools. This presentation was of a project she ran with the kids. She’d asked them to draw themselves as they would look if they were a member of a different race. One black student drew a homeless person. When asked why, he explained that he saw white people as having no home, no community, no support network like he did with his family and neighborhood.

In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins, when paralleling white and black feminist epistemologies, brings up the idea of a supportive community: “While white women may value the concrete, it is questionable whether white families—particularly middle-class nuclear ones—and white community institutions provide comparable types of support” (212). Later, she says that “white women may have access to a women’s tradition valuing emotion and expressiveness, but few Eurocentric institutions except the family validate this way of knowing” (217). In contrast, “Black families and churches... encourage the expression of Black female power” (217).

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On the way there

We're in traffic right now so watching the scenery pass to The Decemberists is not a very inspirational prospect. We're driving to Knox College in Illinois for the Love Your Body Conference (hosted by SASS- Students Against Sexism in Society). We = me, Anat, Rachel, and Julie.

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In “Choosing the Margin” from Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics, bell hooks says that “Our survival depends on an ongoing public awareness of the separation between margin and center and an ongoing private acknowledgement that we were a necessary, vital part of that whole” (149). Often I see the undervalued qualities of oppressed groups remain undervalued in struggles against dominance. This was an issue with second-wave feminism: By making the solution to the housewife’s oppression letting her work for wages outside the home, domestic work—a “necessary, vital part of the whole”—remained undervalued. This led to either women working two jobs—one inside the home and one out—or the more economically privileged hiring people (usually women of lower class statuses) to take care of their house and raise their kids.

This has also been an issue within more contemporary class struggles. It has been established among these struggles that capitalism needs an underclass in order to function; it often has not, however, recognized that society needs a working class in order to function. There are a ton of jobs that are currently considered “low-“ or “un-skilled” that need to happen—domestic work being one, as well as service work, manual labor, etc. These jobs are mostly body-oriented, hence the tendency to see them as unskilled—everyone can use their body, right? It’s those that can use their minds that get the big bucks.

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