September 16, 2008


"Human beings who have worked -worked hard- all their lives with no motive other than love and devotion, who have literally given their lives for others, out of love and devotion; human beings who have no sense of having made any sacrifice, who cannot imagine any way of life other than giving their lives for others, out of love and devotion. In general, such human beings are women."

p. 77 The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

"In a few short hours that evening, Annabelle had come to understand that life was an unrelenting succession of lies. It was then, too, that she became aware of her beauty."
p. 65 The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq

"She felt the weary need of our day to exert herself in love. But she knew that in fact she must no more exert herself in love... No, she had to be passive, to acquiesce, and to be submerged under the surface of love...

"He wanted her to give herself without defences, to sink and become submerged in him. And she -she wanted to sit still, like a woman on the last milestone, and watch. She wanted to see, to know, to understand. She wanted to be alone: with him at her side...

"And she was so tired, so tired, like a child that wants to go to sleep, but which fights against sleep as if sleep were death. She seemed to stretch her eyes wider in the obstinate effort and tension of keeping awake. She
would keep awake. She would know. She would consider and judge and decide. She would have the reins of her own life between her own hands. She would be an independant woman to the last. But she was so tired, so tired of everything. And sleep seemed near. And there was such rest in the boy."
p. 157 "The Fox" from
Three Novellas by D.H. Lawrence

"which reminds me
I shacked with Jane for 7 years
she was a drunk
I loved her

My parents hated her
I hated my parents

it made a nice

excerpt from "Some Picnic" in Play the Piano Drunk Like A Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit by Charles Bukowski

"'She's a good woman -a real woman.'

'She's a girl,' said Cal. 'It sounds funny you calling her a woman.'

'No,' Lee said softly. 'A few are women from the moment they're born. Abra has the loveliness of a woman, and the courage -and the strength- and the wisdom. She knows things and she accepts things. I would have bet she couldn't be small or mean or even vain except when it's pretty to be vain.'

'You sure do think well of her.'"

p. 743 East of Eden by John Steinbeck


Sarah said...

misogyny? that's a strong word.
i don't get the sense that many of the passages are about gender but about characters (except for the first Houellebecq quote, it's quite positive).
what are you trying to get at here? i'm not sure i know how to "continue the conversation" though conversations revolving around gender are usually very interesting to me.

i think your remark in the comments of the post below that identify that there is a difference between masculinity and being male, and femininity and being female, is an important one when discussing gender.

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

I dunno what I'm at getting at exactly.

I'm fascinated by women -beyond the obvious attraction; so every time an artist or philosopher I admire talks about women I pay close attention.

The reason I chose the quotes above is because all of those authors have been frequently accused of being misogynists. Especially Lawrence and Houellebecq. The passage I quoted from Lawrence's 'The Fox' is often cited as a particularly offensive piece of writing.

I've never understood those accusations. I thought maybe you would. I dunno.

Here's a thought related to my previous entry:

I don't have a lot of feminine heroes. There are women I admire, but not many who I see as having gone ahead of me on a path in life like the one I am on. It's like, I don't have many scientist heroes either -'cos why would I? I'm not a science person. But I admire many scientists, and I value greatly the contributions they make to my life. That's what I was trying to get at when I wrote, "I can't think of any women."

Like, when I was growing up and my Mom gave me advice, she was giving it as an outsider. It was of tremendous value for its objectivity and the fresh angle she offered. Whereas my Dad's advice was coming from an insider. Dad understood my motivations, so the texture of his advice was markedly different than my Mom's and had a completely different value. It's why if I'm about to make a big decision in my life I'll always try to get advice from both a feminine and a masculine person. The advice is almost always remarkably different even if it points in the same direction.

I'm fascinated by that phenomenon.

Sarah said...

The female character in "The Fox" certainly speaks to a submission which is key issue in gender discussions. In isolation I see it as a passage about one character, a submissive character. Where I to read more Lawrence and to see that all his female characters were valued by their level of submission, or some other quality, I might see the misogyny more clearly. There are women who thrive as submissives (and some men), but the rest of us don't want to have be submissive, nor do we want to have that expectation of us, or to be judged according to such a quality.
Each of the quotes, in context, might point to misogyny - I'm just not familiar enough with the context.
Because I often instinctively react to gender stereotypes, I consciously try to see whatever it is I am confronted with for what it is without my own assumptions. So, I'll read this isolated passage from "The Fox" for what it is as it is presented to me - and here, I see a character who happens to be a woman.
Is that making sense?

And I can see your point about not having female heros if you define a hero as someone who has "gone ahead of me on a path in life like the one I am on." Gender does define us in part (a large part, whether that is fair or not).

Matthew A. Wilkinson said...

Yeah, you are making sense.

Technically I'm a feminist, but I've been finding myself emotionally siding with authors accused of misogyny lately. It's a recurring thing for me. It weirds me out.