Wednesday, April 14, 2010


is a great intro to the idea of "the essential subject" and "the other"--which, I should mention, is the most applicable-in-my-own-life bit of philosophy I've yet encountered.

I should also mention that I think the clip provides a really interesting example of something that may be hypocrisy--I find myself critical and sympathetic. The piece critiques something foundational to current gender construction, and at the same time uses current gender construction (maybe ironically, but functionally as well) to market itself. You can see this in the visual storytelling; the visual and comedic style constantly stops you and says, "Look! Pretty girl! Pay attention." Whether that undermines it's broader message or not (I think it does) is an interesting question.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

When I was nine, my father, against my will, cut off my long hair. With profound melodrama, I swore never to cut it again. This was a serious thing; it even survived my discovery of that terrible passage in Corinthians when I was thirteen.

That's why, at sixteen, my hair was down to my waist. I had promised myself not to commit suicide, but something had to change, so I hacked it off with my sewing scissors, coiling it in my hands and hiding it away like a keepsake. Then I sat through night prayers, breakfast, and morning prayers, before--after scripture study--my sister said, "is your hair pulled back?"

I still think that is the worst kind of loneliness; to be trapped in a room with people who should see you, but can't.

I thought of this during the keynote on Friday, called "what we owe the dead." He suggested that, contrary to Freud, we can never finish the work of mourning--contrary to Heidegger, we can truly mourn for each other, not just for reflections of our own future. We are composed, in part, of each other; when one of us dies, the rest loose a part of ourselves. The rest of us, then, must process the grotesque affront of life going on after death--after the death of a part of ourselves, after the death of someone we cared for.

In typical egocentric fashion I am terrified. Not of the death of others, though I worry about that too--but mostly, I'm afraid that when I die there will not be an absence left behind. I'm afraid I'm already gone, passing my life with people who almost never see me.

I don't mean this as a criticism, or an insult to my excellent family and friends; this fear may not be a rational one. Sometimes I feel I'm the only one, like I'm somehow by nature unseeable. Other times I think it must be everyone, that we pass by each other on the street like ghosts, each calmly and politely suppressing a Munch-like scream. Of course it has to be something else, neither of those extremes--but it is not a stretch to say that we would see each other better, in a better world.