TfH Summarizes Critical Theory

Friends, I’m in the muck of drafting a study of Dana Spiotta for the Gale American Writers series and thought I’d share what’s been happening in contemporary literary studies since I’ve been gone.

Postmodernism: No stable, coherent subjectivity is possible given the way media technologies, the war machine, capitalism, racism and sexism have colonized everything about our experience as humans.

“Post-postmodernism” (no non-dumb name for this yet): Yeah, but we have to find a way to live anyway.

This is why people get so worked up about David Foster Wallace saying fiction is about what it means to “be a fucking human being.” And why people talk about feelings affect as suddenly mattering. And why the canon got splintered by people with non-normative experiences like being LGTBQ or black or women or generally  people who’ve had their identities smashed by mainstream culture forever and were like yeah, duh, when the white straight guys realized this in the 60s-90s.

Finding an ethics within fragmented subjectivity–> That’s Dana Spiotta’s work.

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The C word

I skimmed some of the potty talk about the Clinton Foundation’s treatment of donors and wondered if anyone perpetuating the Clinton Scandal of the Day has ever worked at a nonprofit before. You sweet talk donors. That’s how it works. You scrub up and buff and shine for them. You puff out air fresheners. You spend precious gen ops funds on feting them. You honey talk them and give them access and strategery and Feelings of Importance. 

Plus this reminder that the C Foundation saves lives. Lives ignored by most of us. 

How many lives have you saved today? How many Saudi princes does it take to cure AIDS? 

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It’s science! fact!

Science! found that supporting low-income couples with pro-family policies like subsidized child care, paid family leave, and flex time would strengthen the hallowed institution. Whereas marriage counseling does not. 

Thanks, Science! For proving common sense!

I’ll never tire of research verifying liberal truisms. 

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Phobicness (#Orlando)

My 2016 campaign will focus on eradicating the suffix “-phobia” from the language of our polity.

“Homophobia” and “transphobia” inadequately characterize the lethal hate our LGBTQ friends and family experience daily. We are anti-LGBTQ. Anti-trans. Anti-woman. Anti-child. Anti-black. We are not phobic. 

I have a phobia. It makes me scared while going along with apparently fun high-up enjoyments such as sitting in a stadium, riding a roller coaster, motoring around the Alps, white scarf aflutter, and drinking cocktails on a Brooklyn roof in July. 

My irrational anxiety about perching higher than evolution intended (I’m neither a leopard nor a sloth, not even in spirit) does not make me legislate rules keeping people off of roller coasters. It does not make me fabricate religious justification that cloaks my heights-avoidant neurosis in sham moralism. 

It does make me hand off certain heights-required tasks to non-phobic companions. But it doesn’t make me slaughter 49 people with a military weapon at the only place they feel safely and fully themselves.

 Irrational fear does not impel slaughter. 

A culture defining masculinity as dominance buttressed by firepower impels slaughter. 

A culture that fails to name domestic violence as terrorism impels slaughter. 

A culture that equates gayness with weakness, femininity and castration impels slaughter. 

These are decisions we make together. These decisions are not based on irrational fears. We decide to treat LGBTQ people, disabled people, women, and children as second class. Third class if they are people of color. We sell military weapons to people we’ve told are fully entitled to the minds and bodies of others. Then we blame another culture when the inevitable result of all our decisions turn out worse than we expected. 

We are not “afraid” of LGBTQ people. We actively constructed a society that deprives them of human dignity. We handed assault rifles to people who believed us when we said that str8t is gr8t. And then we blame “radical Islam” and “mental illness” for these decisions that we made together, thus relieving ourselves of the moral obligation to confront our actions. 

We call “senseless” a massacre that makes perfect sense, given the logics of supremacy undergirding our society from its founding. 

We made Orlando. 

I am Americaphobic. 

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Why?

I know why a dude who pummeled his wife daily might also gun down a gay club on Latin night: gender norms are f-ing  lethal. Plus racism. 

But why oh why are assault rifles sold to Joe Q Public???????

All I want is for my friends and family to feel safe. They don’t today. 

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