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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Here in the Stag-Nation

This is just the dining room!
I have been trying to put my books into some semblance of order which always leads to trouble. However, all it takes is coming across one book I've been meaning to look at again, and off I go into another more engaging task. Mind you, we have been thinking about putting the books in order (and attempting to do so in a desultory manner) for the entire fifteen years we've lived in this house, but nothing ever comes of it. I have actually dusted them, sometimes with help, three or four times.

This time, the culprit book was Wickedary (A.K.A. Websters' First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language Conjured by Mary Daly in cahoots with Jane Caputi). This strange volume establishes once and for all that feminists -- even radical militant feminists -- do have a sense of humor. It also demonstrates that feminism is rooted in a way of thinking that suggests rather than prescribes behavior.

Wickedary, as the title suggests, is largely devoted to words (new, old, invented and deconstructed) and demonstrates their power to (re)form our thinking and (re)define self. Here are a few examples:

crabby adj : having the characteristics of a crab--active, pugnacious, tenacious, Self-sufficient, able to move in all directions. Example: Susan B. Anthony

goad-god n : the divine role model for the little goadfathers who goad, prick, spur, prod, and bore all natural creatures within their reach

methodolotry n : a common form of  academic idolatry: Glorification of the god Method; boxing of  knowledge into prefabricated fields, thereby hiding threads of connectedness, hindering New discoveries, preventing the raising of New questions, erasing answers that do not fit into Respectable Categories of Questions and Answers

phallocracy n rule by Godfather, Son and Company

stagnation n : 1 :  the eternally atrophied "Afterlife" of the Happy Dead Ones. 2 : nation governed by stag parties; the perpetually stagnant state
I love paging through this book and still being almost shocked by some of the entries, recognizing how many ideas have come closer to being held and honored by progressive mainstream thinkers (male and female), and being dazzled by Daly and Caputi's verbal cosmology. However, reading through Wickedary at the same time politicians are bullying their way through the airwaves is disconcerting. This is a book most of them would gladly burn, deeming it dangerous, evil, and destructive -- judgments that would surely provoke a hoot from its authors.

My problem with politicians is not so much that I disagree with them --  although I generally do -- but the degree to which they appear to resist real change and focus instead on solutions drawn from popular false dilemmas. We can either raise taxes or create jobs. We can attack Iran or invite destruction. Education can only be improved by raising standards or more testing. Like Methodolotrists politicians seem only arrive at solutions that sift  into prefabricated fields, thereby raveling the threads of connectedness, ensuring a return to old patterns of failure, turning a blind eye to painful realities, fleeing solutions that do not fit into Respectable Categories of How We Have Always Done Things here in the great Stagnation.


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