Friday, August 26, 2005

August 1947

"Dearest Bupple,

The more I get into it, the more isolated I feel vis-a-vis the writers who I consider to be of any serious mind. I am enclosing this article entitled New Heroes by Simone de Beauvoir. Read the sides that are marked pages 121 and 123. It is what I have been thinking at the bottom of my mind all this time and God knows it is difficult to write the way I do and yet think their way. This problem you will never have to face because you have always been a truly isolated person so that whatever you write will be good because it will be true which is not so in my case. You immediately receive recognition because what you write is in true relation to yourself which is always recognizable to the world outside. With me who knows? When you are capable only of a serious approach to writing as I am it is almost more than one can bear to be continually doubting one's sincerity...."

Jane Bowles, "lesbian," in a letter to her husband, Paul Bowles, "homosexual," quoted in I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stuff. Happens.

"An Actor Stuff. Happens. The response of Donald Rumsfeld, the American Secretary of Defense when asked to comment on the widespread looting and pillage that followed the American conquest of Baghdad—Friday, April 11th, 2003:

Journalist What's your reponse, sir? Mr Secertary, how do you respond to the news of looting and pillage in Baghdad?

Rumsfeld I've seen the pictures. I've seen those pictures. I could take pictures in any city in America. Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots, and problems, and looting. Stuff happens! But in terms of what's going on in that country, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to see those images over and over and over again of some boy walking out with a vase and say, 'Oh, my goodness, you didn't have a plan.' That's nonsense. They know what they're doing, and the're doing a terrific job. And it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad tings. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here."

David Hare, quoting Rummy in his brilliant and signally disturbing play Stuff Happens

Monday, August 15, 2005

"For fifty years...

...I've been turning its crank.

The loudness depends on a big or a small horn. Metal horns are better for bands and the voices of men. And the wooden horns, they are better for the strings and the voices of the female. Die Sopranistin. And Edison's phongraph has in the needle a little sapphire.

Nicht Diamant, nur Saphir. And when it grazes the record it sounds so nice...

Even when I was a little child, no one wanted phonographs. Everyone said to me, 'It's so old-fashioned!' They all wanted radios. But what did I want with a radio? To hear Hitler babble? No, thank you! That is the reason that, even today, I don't have a radio or a television."

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in I Am My Own Wife, by Doug Wright

Monday, August 01, 2005

"Strongly woman-identified women...

...where love between women is open and possible, beyond physical in every way. There are lesbians, God knows . . . if you came up through lesbian circles in the forties and fifties in New York . . . who were not feminist and would not call themselves feminists. But the true feminist deals out of a lesbian consciousness whether or not she ever sleeps with women. I can't really define it in sexual terms alone although our sexuality is so energizing why not enjoy it too? But that comes back to the whole issue of what the erotic is. There are so many ways of describing "lesbian." Part of the lesbian consciousness is an absolute recognition of the erotic within our lives and, taking that a step further, dealing with the erotic not only in sexual terms...

While Black sisters don't like to hear this, I would have to say that all Black women are lesbians because we were raised in the remnants of a basically matriarchal society no matter how oppressed we may have been by patriarchy. We're all dykes, including our mommas. Let's really start getting past the shibboleths and taboos. They don't really matter. Being able to recognize that the function of poetry or any art is to ennoble and empower us in a way that's not separate from our living, that belief is African in origin."

Audre Lorde in "An Interview with Audre Lorde." American Poetry Review March/April 1980: 18-21.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Nay, nowhere, all the fulsome data of most uncovered and naked backrunning of Nature, nor in the Columns of our most jaundiced Journals, can be gathered the vaguest Idea of the Means by which she puts her Heart from her Mouth to her Sleeve, and from her Sleeve into Rhetorick, and from that into the Ear of her beloved. To the Ancients, Love Letters and Love Hearsay (though how much Luck and how much Cunning this was on the part of the Outrunners in the Thickets of prehistoric probability, none can say, for doubt me not but from Fish to Man there has been much Back-mating and Front to Front, though only a Twitter of it comes out of the Past) were from like to unlike. Our own Journals teem with Maids and their Beards, whose very highest encomiums reach no more glorious Foothold than 'Honey Lou,' or 'Snooky dear,' or 'my great big, beautiful bedridden Doll,' whose Turnabout it would seem, is only one side proper to the Lord."

Djuna Barnes, excerpted from "July" of The Ladies Almanack

"It may be true...

...that more men than women like to bloviate and 'bat things out'—socialization does count for something. So do social rewards: I have seen men advance professionally on levels of aggression, self-promotion and hostility that would have a woman carted off to a loony bin—unless, of course, she happens to be Ann Coulter. But feminine psychology doesn't explain why all five of USA Today's political columnists are male, or why Time's eleven columnists are male—down to the four in Arts and Entertainment—or why at Newsweek it's one out of six in print and two out of thirteen on the Web. According to Editor and Publisher, the proportion of female syndicated columnists (one in four) hasn't budged since 1999."

Katha Pollitt in 16 March 2005 issue of The Nation.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"It is no longer...

...the myths which need to be unmasked (the doxa now takes care of that), it is the sign itself which must be shaken; the problem is not to reveal the (latent) meaning of an utterance, of a trait, of a narrative, but to fissure the very representation of meaning, is not to change or purify the symbols, but to challenge the symbolic itself."

Roland Barthes in "Change the Object Itself" from Image-Music-Text, and quoted by Craig Owens in his fabulous essay "The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism"

"When I write essays now... an American, I feel that my responsibility is to say, 'I live in a house in which a crime is being committed and further crimes are being planned.' I don't for one moment imagine that I can stop these further crimes from happening by saying it. But I do so partly to preserve my own sanity, to preserve the sanity of others who are noticing what is going on here and in the world."

Francine Prose in a recording of a panel titled "Literature and Power," from the PEN American Center's "PEN World Voices" Conference

Friday, June 10, 2005

"Those of us...

…who are addicted to C-SPAN…find it the one truly, if unconsciously, subversive media outlet in these United States because its live coverage of the Senate and the House of Representatives is the only look we are ever allowed at the mouthpieces of our masters up close and is, at times, most reflective of a government more and more remote from us, unaccountable and repressive.”

Gore Vidal in The Nation