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April 03, 2011


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More please...


I have always been reluctant to talk about too many personal items in my life - I usually mention intimate things to the extent they seem relevant to a political or philosophical discussion. But that is my choice - I have never really wanted to blogosphere to be a place for me to be overly intimate. Over the years you have seemed to have a good mix of both personal and intellectual.

Ultimately this is a space you have created that you allow others to share - you should you do with it as you please. So I am in agreement with the first commenter - "More please..."


"Am I not doomed to languish on this woman's side, the side of the undesirable?"

This is a heartbreaking statement. Whose values have you internalized? Cliched as it is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it's always very particular. On another note, I've noticed that I seem to recoil from women who style themselves in that commercial-fetish-faux glamour way. I don't know what to call it. It's ubiquitous in NYC. Daily I encounter women like this on the sidewalk, and when I do I move out of their way. I don't want them to touch me or brush against me. Of course, they're likely to bulldoze right over me if I didn't move, so maybe that's the real reason I get out of their way. Anyway, there is something very robotic and clone-like about this highly stylized look. Yesterday I was listening to a recent lecture by Zizek in which he references a muslim scholar's work on the 'reason' why women should not be free. It essentially boiled down to his claim that women are more easily seduced by messaging/propaganda. Of course Zizek did not agree with this, but I do remember a question Zizek asked in his 'Violence' book along the lines of, 'Is it possible that women actively participate in their own oppression?" I have to confess I sometimes think yes and this subjective truth, I believe, lies behind my reaction to these commercially-designed (Sex in the City) women. It's like I don't want to participate at all.

Robert Allen

Ok this is my topography, my home terrain. I write best when on the edge of giving up, when self doubt creeps into my psyche, and I write against it. I was disappointed the other day when a work friend, who is a talented musician, didn't want to hear a song I wrote. "What's it about?", he asked. "Well, it's about pornography, incest and masturbation, three of my main recent themes". "I don't wanna hear that. What don't you write something uplifting? There's enough of that crap in the world". Then I went into this lame defense "well it is a reflection of our culture, and it's true I often feel like giving up for exactly the reasons you posit, but then something kicks in and that's when I do my best", and sort of extricated myself from the conversation.
I agonize over whether my poetry will be misread as misogynistic,
I have a visceral reaction to women who participate in their own oppression and write of them using the most unflattering terms, but these women aren't "Sex and the City" types, these are real working women, who drag you to church or hang confederate flags on the windows of their trailers to show the Mexican neighbors they're not one of them (Oh yes I am friends and relatives who are more likely to have rebel flags on the wall than to have ever seen "Sex and the City"), but when I made a video of me and my mentally handicapped son jamming on some music I didn't edit out the rebel flag. Artistically, I felt it had to be there to show "place", to show what some of the anger that fuels my work is flowing from, even if "sophisticates" don't "get it". Like the sixties folkie Phil Ochs, I'm "just egomaniacal enough to take it all(the ideological blows of this era) personally".
Bottom line, writers write. That's what they must do.

The Mathmos

Don't let that Male Gaze construct take over. Anyway, great blog, good mix. In a world of cynical blasé bloggers, you sometimes strike as angry or doubtful, which is more more of what we need, in order for us to get out of this decades-long holding pattern.

Fay Furness

Jodi- Yours was the first blog I came across four months ago (I'm a late bloomer) that I found socially and politically inspiring, which moved me to start writing my own blog. What you repost are signs on a highway, stops I could choose to make, new directions I could choose to drive. If I have no time to read them, I skip them. But I take the time to read your personal entries. I don't fully understand why the "boring stuff about" you interests me; perhaps it's like how the light falls in a Caravaggio painting. If it weren't for the light I wouldn't bother with it. I wouldn't see that there's anything more there than just another nice painting.
As to women, I find folds and wrinkles highly desirable.
But where's the trap? Is it the subject of intimacy and how to steer it? Or is it the obligation to be intimate? I could see the obligation to write personal entries as a trap, but can only beg as a reader, "more please." But intimacy in general, the demands and needs for it, is always muddy. One day one could wish for more and feel utterly connected, and the next day wish to torch it all. This has nothing to do with Facebook or the cyber world any more than the real world, except that the virtual torch seems more alluring.

Jodi Dean

I really appreciate the comments, thanks everyone.

Bob--your neighbors remind me of some of my relatives. At an engagement party for my brother, my uncle, who brought the deejay equipment and dance floor up from Georgia played Dixie at the end of the evening. I was gobsmacked. That's not quite on point, but it came to mind. Anyway, your description of your video also made me think Joe Bageant and his sources of artistic and political passion--he wrote about where he was and the people around him.

On women, the male gaze, and participating in own oppression. I'm sure you are all right and that I need to slap myself out of this and get some sense. I'm not dealing very well with aging--I turn 49 at the end of the week, in particular the feeling of becoming invisible or becoming just a sort of figure (someone's mom, the professor, the speaker, the author). It's almost as if my sense of merge with work (the latter three entries in the series) is a response to feedback. This isn't entirely true, though. Since I was young I always was more comfortable with a task or project than with hanging out, small talk, etc. In fact, one of the characteristics I most cherish about my friend Amy (whom I wish I saw more) is her ability to talk about relationships, people's lives, choices and experiences. Saying this, maybe I'm just going on about being an adult: most of us don't talk to others about the details of our marriages, relationships, fears of death, hopes and dreams, successes and failures. Adults keep some things to themselves.

Which leads to intimacy. I've never felt an obligation to be intimate on this blog. But maybe that's not quite true insofar as I do feel compelled to add more than links (F Furness--your metaphor of signs on a highway is great). And it could be that not blogging much about day to day details (colleagues, friends, people in my household) is not just good sense (it's happened at least once that I've lost friends over stuff I've written here) but good practice; that is, it gives this site a particular kind of feel that would be different if I wrote otherwise (like a mommy blog, or a relationship blog, or a professor blog or something like that).

Anyway, thanks everyone, again, for your kind and thoughtful remarks.

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