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April 12, 2005

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Patrick J. Mullins

Andrea Dworkin--I had completely forgotten about her.

Once Truman Capote wrote of Joyce Carol Oates, in his frequently screamy way: 'The most loathsome creature in all of America. To see her is to loathe her. To know her is to hate her. To read her is to absolutely vomit.'

I imagine he would have said the same about Andrea Dworkin had he thought her of any importance.

She was simply unspeakable.

Jodi

Truman C. had such a lovely way with words. I really neeed to memorize the quote--it seems appropriate for so many people.

Patrick J. Mullins

I agree--in fact, I think the most hilariously inspired phrase is 'in all of America.' Anyone else would have just said 'in the world.'

George W.

People loved to hate her, liberals specifically, and that makes me sad, and sometimes angry. It was all about tolerance for opinion, but not for those that questioned your fun, or talked in dirty terms, or were intolerant to what you did. I think what people could not stand most, behind the terms of crazy and man-hater, was her writing style, the violent obscene spark in it, the direct, aggressive, unashamed, painfully vocal, disturbingly personal style which always drew battle lines and always tried to draw you in, to make you choose, to make you locate yourself in what was happening, to make you have to defend against being complicit or hhypocritical There was no neutral position with Dworkin, and she never wrote just to be another text, another book, another Friday evening read, another empty opinion.

Her writing fucked with you, if you let it in, if you did not stop reading or joke it off as crazy metaphor. It made you feel wrong and violated and unclean, and most people ddon'tlike being made to feel that way, they ddon'tthink its right for anyone to make you feel that way about anything, and so they hated the messenger.

Her books made me angry, but it was her personal essays that made me cry no matter where I was. And some times I had to stop reading. And sometimes I had to forget. On rape, on Israel, on her mother; she spoke of pain and injustice that I knew was there, had to admit was there, and felt should not exist. I could not defend against what she said, or what I felt she tried to say. I had many arguments and defedefensest when she pushed, they all failed in front of what I was feeling.

Andrea Dworkin was one of the people that permanently changed my life: from a self-assured fiscally conservative Republican to a very confused liberal; and for that, I will always be grateful to her. I knew all the arguments, and all the good respresponsesrvival of the fittest, making money at the expense of others, moral relativism, not caring...they make all the "sense" in the world to a hurt and angry boy. But she wrote of things that I knew I did not care about, but felt that I actually did. There were things in her writing, in her pain, in her anger, in her desperation and sadness, that I could not ratirationalizey, that I could not find a distance from, that I could not say were or could ever be right no matter what was my or the bigger social gain; and at that moment I knew I had to change, in fact, she left me no other option.

Andrea DworDworkin be your superego (in the bad "Lacanian" sencsensehe can be your punishing masochistic whip, you door to self hating male feminism, your guilt tripping Jewish mother, or even a way to make porn even more trastransgressive exciting.

Andrea Dworkin can also be your concconsciencep;(if such a thing is possible in our psychoanalytic world). Your spark of feeling and passion and empathy that will force you to decide your side. Your inner guide to morals that you wont compromise on even if you cant make them sound logical. She can be your reminder that there are feelings behind ideas, and humans behind arguments, and consequences behind stances, and that neutrality is not afforded to most.

I follow the big name theorists. Before, Marx and Plato, now more Zizek and Lacan...but if I never learn to write like Andrea Dworkin, to try to do what she did with better arguments or worse ones, than I haven't learned much. And if my words ddon'tsomeday make people feel like hers did, either connect in pain or withdraw in disgust, and break down barriers, and make people connect to what I feel is right but hide in my ideas, than wont be much worth to my conclusions.

Andrea Dworkin did not have the best arguments, or the smoothest logic; she was even frequently wrong. But when I let myself be connected to her work, to her, when I did not use her words to whip myself but to help myself connect to another's feelings, even when she was wrong, even when she was extreme, or silly, or blinded by anger - she was still right. What she sucsucceeded conveying was that she spoke of something that I needed to think about, that I could not ignore, that I had to decide on, that she felt more strongly about than I did about other things; even when she could not say what she wanted to say. And if our theories do not learn to write like that, to speak like that, to think and feel and if needed scream like that, than still just amounts to intellectual masturbation at the other's pain. If we ddon'tlearn to communicate like she tried, or try and try and try, than I ddon'tthink things will start to change for the better, no matter how many evil empires will fall.

Perhaps all of us had or will have a different "Andrea Dworkin". Or perhaps I am alone in feeling like this. But Andrea Dworkin drew my battle lines, and that is how I will always remember her.

ozric

or capote might have had patrick j mullins in mind had he thought him of any importance

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