Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
One of the less trumpeted features of the Internet is the unprecedented access it provides to really, really bad writing. Of course, awful books have always been with us, but nowadays a specimen of unkempt, puffed-up prose or stumbling, lugubrious verse doesn't even need to make it past an editor or publisher to glide slimily into the awareness of the unsuspecting public.
[. . .]
In the early 20th century, dinner party guests would entertain each other by reciting passages from the alliteration-heavy works of one Amanda McKittrick Ros (1860-1939), regarded by experts as the greatest bad novelist of all time. In Oxford, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friends competed to see who could read aloud from Ros' books the longest before cracking up. (Laura Miller, “Bad writing: What is it good for,” Salon, 11 May 2010)
I think if you laugh at prose so that it strips it of authority (what the Moderns did with their Victorian predecessors), so that your own artistic ventures feel more legitimate, it is a sound thing to do. More than this, it is a GOOD thing to do -- as laughter, mockery, is at the service of growth.
If you're laughing at prose without any real authority, then you're not servicing your own growth, rather, you're foreclosing it: as who amongst the legitimate would risk writing anything that would leave themselves open for laughter from their peers? None at all -- and so a culture freezes in its preferred prose, state of mind, and current grammatical correctness. Some time later, after they've crumbled away, a new generation emerges that laughs "their" way on toward unusual things. Or not -- and we're left with successive generations of elites against the mob, complaining of plagiarism, not knowing that IN ESSENCE, that is all they are.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
In fact, while it's possible that before Hunter started speaking on her own behalf, I might have entertained the notion that she was a slightly dopey lady who fell hard for a bad man who was running for president and got caught in a very unfortunate saga, I now feel quite confident that in fact she is a borderline simpleton, fame-seeking narcissist whose self-interested grab for attention is likely doing further permanent damage to the Edwards family, including her daughter and her siblings. If her appearance on the Oprah show seemed like an unjust setup, then Hunter proved that, every once in a while, someone so amply meets all expectations for awfulness that it's impossible to muster anything other than loathing for them. (Rebecca Traister, Rielle Hunter's undeniable awfulness,” Salon, 29 April 2010)
Good girls get their consolation prize
RE: "I now feel quite confident that in fact she is a borderline simpleton, fame-seeking narcissist whose self-interested grab for attention [. . .]"
Is this the consolation prize -- ripping her, ripping people like her, apart -- for your being a "classic good girl," for there not being any way for you to "alter [your] fundamentally conscientious, perpetually guilt-ridden, grateful-for-a-job sense that [you] should always be working harder than [you] were, and that [you] [were] probably already being overcompensated for whatever [you] [were] doing?"
By punishing her, do you feel even more the good girl, feel good at last being the good girl -- the person you ostensibly regret being forced to become?
Whoah, thank you for reading my work with such attention!
I don't think that my reaction to Hunter's televised revelations about her personal life have any connection to my assessment of my own professional habits. But I'm very flattered that you're such an avid reader.
Rebecca (Rebecca Traiser, response to post)
If you felt the same pressure to be a good girl in your personal life as you admit you did/do in your professional, then it strikes me that what you are doing here would be working to make your compromised state less compromise and more advantage -- it would be working against efforts on your part to free yourself of deeply ingrained "good girl" inclinations -- and that anyone who is at all good, who cares about your future journeys, should point this out.
Since you only feel/felt this pressure in your professional life, then I can understand this particular attack on the "bad girl" not seeming related to your very previous post, where you railed against all that hems women into the good girl mold.
The fact is, we tell women that being good people involves agreeability, cooperation and a little bit of self-sacrifice. In addition to telling them to be polite and deferential, we teach little girls from the beginning that life is going to be hard and involve compromise. This dose of realism is not terrible; it girds us for some hardship along the way. But it also lowers expectations for remuneration and recognition. Despite those who say that women have lately been told that they could "have it all," that promise has, in my experience, always been accompanied by caveats that a) we probably can't, b) if we do, it's going to be incredibly difficult, and c) that if we somehow do manage to achieve any kind of satisfaction or balance, we should be damn grateful. Gratitude, I've found, is not an attitude that results in promotions and raises. (Rebecca Traister, “A nice girl’s guide to getting ahead,” Salon, 26 April 2010)
I think we all need to remember that during the medieval ages, men did their best to become like women, so they might imagine themselves more worthy of claiming love from their mothers -- as Lloyd deMause explains:
Since Christians were bipolar, they were either manic (violent warriors) or depressive (masochistic clerics, martyrs), but in either case they risked “dying for God” their whole lives: “For Your sake we have been killed all of the day.” Martyrs would sometimes castrate themselves “to demonstrate their potency and devotion to God.” In fact, clerics were said to have “become female” when they gave up fighting, because “the male must become female in order to escape the moral dangers of his masculine state.” In fact, Christianity can be seen as a way for males to become more like females—thus priests didn’t get married and wore female dresses—because young boys experienced their mothers as preferring her more passive daughters to her “rough, impudent” sons.
I chased down this quote because I think this is about where we are today: men who do the the things that are supposedly lauded -- show initiative, refuse to kow-tow -- in truth go the Jerry Maguire route, ending up rejected and cloaked in failure, whereas men who try and make themselves women by showing in some fashion that they can be broken by whatever authority-figure they happen to be working for -- are allowed to pass on and on and on, on our current, good girl, A+ route of societal approval.
Male or female, if you grow up these days with truly healthy self-esteem, you'll be too busy dealing with the unleashed sharks to find any of those damned world-oysters you were expecting. Be glad you're still inclined to self-lacerate, Rebecca. Cover's better.