This is what goes on; J. and I are minding our business at the café when in walks our local famous gender theorist, followed by a respected philosopher in the Continental tradition who must be visiting from New York. They get coffee and salads and whatever and come sit next to us. The philosopher is speaking very slowly and carefully about his current work on embodiment, and the dignity of embodiment, and the passive body which cannot be controlled; the gender theorist listens attentively and asks if he’s taken Merleau-Ponty into account. Apparently sex is also a part of this, because the philosopher then starts trying to theorize rape, and what does it mean for rape to be an ultimate trauma, still in the slow and careful and sententious voice, and the whole thing was so hideously grating that I had to pack up my computer and go off to the bookstore next door. I suppose in a year or two the completed monograph on dignity and rape and embodiment will appear in that bookstore with an appropriate graphic on the front and some appropriate blurbs on the back, along with a $75 list price.
It’s not a matter of stupidity. Either of those people could argue rings around me on any turf I chose. It was just in terrible tasteand it’s not that the philosopher himself was being especially objectionable. It’s the whole discourse, the whole manner of thinking and living. Whose angels are we? What in the bloody burning world is worth this triumphant moaning?
So yes, apparently I am planning to walk into next year’s job applications with some kind of Little Lord Fauntleroy attitude about the whole institution. Ugh, for people like me they reserve studio apartments in hell.
you shoulda "accidentally" knocked off a cup o' joe in that sententious lap...that woulda been the embodiment of fun.
I disagree with you, in the sense that I agree with you. It means something when rape becomes a critical football, and it isn't a nice thing.
Indeed. The problem with what I wrote up there is that I disagree with myself; I feel bad taking the philosopher's earnest sentences completely out of whatever their context was, but I had my visceral reaction, and it reminded me of how much (say) Elaine Scarry's "work" on torture has done to mitigate my own country's practice of torture... so that gets you, like so much else, to Henry Adams's line about the mere grass-hoppers, kicking and gesticulating, on the middle of the Mississippi River.