Thoughtful Revolution


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Literature category.

Poetry Break: Immediately After the Epitaph

Inspired by Emily Dickinson.

immediately after the epitaph

– and I know something about
alone, about finding sympathy
in a bird’s feathers or the cracks of a windowpane,
or in an exercise tape, all smiles and limber kicks –
or in tortilla chips, or coiled strings
or in a type pad with its hyper-used Enter key
jammed into limbo –

– and I can play the quiet contrarian too
at home, picking fights for the hell of it,
rational and prickly, all erudition no faith
and I can rub myself numb when I need to
with graphite and old paper –

– and when I walk my feet are unaccustomed,
like yours must have been, to the feel of strange ground,
and when I walk I am swollen like a rain cloud full to bursting,
vapor oozing from my ears, turning to fog –

– and you and I, we know the truth
in sailing away on hyphens, or hoisting uppercase;
there’s an escape hatch when we praise the folds
of a cherry blossom not yet blown, when our hands become the petals
and we can settle a new perch, peeking through sunshine
while we wait for winter to scatter us.

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New Look, New Pattern

First off, as I’m sure you can see, Thoughtful Revolution has gotten a new look. Though I must say I was attached to the old look, apparently white-text-on-black-background is a royal pain to read. What do you know.

Secondly, as again I’m sure you’ve noticed, my posting may become far more erratic over the month of November. This is a byproduct of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, wherein participants are dared to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. I will be participating this year, and I dare you all to do so as well (late starters are always welcome). If any current NaNoers would like moral support, or want to share excerpts of their work, I’d love to see some posts on the topic!

That’s all, folks. Happy noveling (if you are), and make sure to pardon your Thanksgiving turkey before you roast it at 450 degrees and stuff its innards with cranberry cornbread.


Gabo, Cacho and Art

This is one of the more difficult situations I’ve come across in a while — not because of its challenging subject matter, or its prominence, but because I admire one of the protagonists very much.  And that’s the protagonist I can’t bring myself to entirely side with.

Essentially, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 2004 novella “Memoria de mis putas tristes,” roughly translated as “Memories of my Melancholy Whores” (promising title, right?) was, like the more famous “Love in the Time of Cholera,” going to receive the silver-screen treatment.  This elicited considerable controversy from activists across Latin America, and as per the Post, “a human rights organization called the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean filed a criminal complaint with the Mexican attorney general last week, asserting that the filmmakers would be ‘responsible for acts that could be constituted as the crime of condoning child prostitution.’ ”   So the government of the state of Puebla revoked the $1.5 million in taxpayer money that had previously constituted 25 percent of the film’s budget; the film has been postponed until further funds can be scrounged up.  Since that move, Mexico City’s media has been rocked by the controversy, with well-known intellectuals publicly voicing their support for either side of the debate.

One of those intellectuals is the amazing Lydia Cacho, a world-renowned feminist activist primarily known for her work against the sexual abuse of women and children; she vocally opposes the film’s production, saying that “[her opposition to the film] is not about censorship or prudishness, but about the need of an in-depth debate about the ideological support for child exploitation.”

I agree completely.  Which is why I think that legally forcing the termination of the film’s production is a terrible idea.

And that’s hard for me to say, because in any given debate, I don’t want to side against Lydia Cacho.  I certainly don’t want to side against her by going with Gabo.  It must be noted here that I am one of the few people I know who wholeheartedly dislikes most of his work, particularly the vastly overrated, unremittingly prurient, seemingly substance-less “Cholera;” I also think that his novels are among the most (consciously or unconsciously) sexist I’ve ever read, and it shocks me how infrequently this comes up in critical evaluations.  Simply put, Gabo unfailingly characterizes his women as either hardbitten matrons or lush, dewy-eyed virgins, all of them happy to sexually pleasure male protagonists at a moment’s notice.  He is too willing to treat them as faceless entries on a list — in the case of at least two novels, they literally become sexual-conquest statistics — and far too willing to whitewash rape or present it as an act of love.  Finally, perhaps most disturbingly, many-if-not-most of his novels come close to lionizing pedophilia; there is barely a male hero in Gabo’s work that has not, at some point, sexually pursued a prepubescent girl. And it’s not presented in the gritty, morally ambiguous sense of “Lolita” — rather, it is romanticized, honored, shown with cascades of rose petals like a Harlequin paperback by way of Roman Polanski.  (“Memoria de mis putas tristes” is a prime example: the book concerns a 90-year-old man who “gives himself the gift” of sex with a 14-year-old virgin, drugged until completely unconscious.)  Lydia Cacho’s objections are well-founded.  This is not, in an era plagued with human trafficking and sexual abuse, the sort of thing we’d like to see circulated, much less praised as art.  Certainly, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of taxpayer funds being directed towards the production of the film — especially when granted by a governor who attempted to protect a known child abuser.

But it seems to me that, while concerns about the movie are absolutely well-founded, I’m not sure that legally banning it is the best path to take.  The most obvious, and perhaps most dangerous, reason is this: that it will attract more attention, and the wrong kind of attention, to the book.  Were all that attention coming from legitimately curious readers, I would have no problem with that; in fact, I’d be excited about the possibility of a greater discussion about Marquez’s work and the disturbing undercurrents therein.  But if a work is famously banned as child pornography, it will increase its appeal to readers in search of titillation — titillation that, if you’re already in search of it, Gabo’s books can provide, with a handy helping of moral exoneration to go with.  Nabokov was good enough to make “Lolita” ambiguous and ugly, unappealing enough to mostly negate the effect of readers in search of a cheap sexual thrill; “Memoria” and “Cholera” are not solely pornography but their truly distressing possibilities lie in their not-so-quiet okaying of pedophilia.  And not just quiet pedophilia limited to the realm of fantasy, but exploitations, manipulations, abuses, rapes, all romanticized past recognition until they seem desirable.  If the film goes forth, both book and film will be inconsequential, and when either comes up it will be primarily as a subject of discussion.  If it does not go forth, the book will become forbidden fruit, elevated to pornographic heights and singled out by the very readers on whom Cacho fears its effect.

The other reason, of course, is a precedent of censorship.  I believe, of course, that child pornography should be banned.  But, though it might have that effect on readers who seek it out for sexual purposes, none of Gabo’s work can be placed under a conventional definition of pornography; certainly, however overrated his talents, his novels have enough “literary or artistic merit” to escape such a classification.  Legally, much as we may wish it, we cannot ban these books for their themes, nor should we.  Art can be disturbing, and not always purposefully.  Likewise, art can be sexist, racist, repugnant, and not always purposefully.  Art, as much faith as we hope to put in it, can be wrong.  But can we ban Marquez, or Rand, or Hemingway — or, hell, Margaret Mitchell — for themes that are repulsive, or themes that could have a pernicious effect?  It seems a societal slippery slope, and an undesirable one.  In part, I dislike the idea because it would give Marquez’s sleazier defenders ammunition, attention and support with cries of undue censorship; in part, I dislike it because to ban media without circulating it would be to eliminate any factual basis for genuine discussion, for shades of gray if you will.  Allowing the film to go through will do far less damage than banning it would (and, incidentally, is based on the fundamentally wrongheaded and vaguely condescending assumption that more people would make the effort to watch a mediocre, uncontroversial, inconspicuous movie on TV than to read a short, un-esoteric book around which controversies and accusations of child pornography swirl) — and might even, if handled with the expertise that Cacho and other prominent defenders of human rights have demonstrated, give way to an intelligent, meaningful reevaluation of Gabo and the mores that pervade his work.


Poetry Break: Dedicated to the One I Love

I read this today and felt it needed to be shared.  Why?  Because it’s gorgeous, that’s why. Sweet and vaguely satirical and gorgeous.

Dedicated to the One I Love
by Nin Andrews

It’s simply hopeless, isn’t it? Even if you begin
by postulating the existence of some exotic place —
a village of divine origin, or diabolical perhaps —
maybe a city of sin, or hindrances such as torpor and lust
(those are the ones I like best), whole days spent in bed,
wearing silk pajamas, sipping cappuccino, daydreaming —
going backwards in time (you could visit Paris in the first
half of the century if you wish), gliding down bannisters
and into the ballrooms of the past where, by some odd chance,
you already know the steps to all the dances, you, Darling,
would still become a politician, some charismatic figure
issuing proclamations at every hour. And no matter what you say
or said, it would create the illusion of making sense, inspiring shock,
warning of imminent and supreme crisis without end — and all
at once we’d be back in the dark ages, and then the desert —
and you would decide to leave (don’t you always?), slipping on
your coat and glasses, (alas) and rushing off before the part begins
with Jacob wrestling the angels, and all the patriarchs go limp —

but you wouldn’t resist gazing back (would you? just once?)
through the promised lens — to see me again, there where I am
forever lazing in bed, combing my long black hair over my shoulders
and nude breasts? Outside the sky is shimmering, and it’s dusk
in Jerusalem (or Valencia or Madrid?) and someone is ringing
the doorbell again and again, and I am imagining God is as happy
with the world (unredeemed as it is) as an ant atop a wet, bruised
peach.


The Thoughtful Revolution

This blog may or may not be interesting.

This blog may or may not be well-written.

This blog may or may not be about the following: feminism, politics, childhood toys, economics, food, global human rights, theatre, educational philosophy, electric cellos, DIY crafts, Emma Goldman, yoga, theology, dried flowers, collages, songwriting, Kurt Vonnegut, bellydance, acrylic paint, swimming, environmentalism, linguistics, Amanda Palmer, Michael Pollan, farming practices, rubber ducks, and/or my charming little heartland hometown, Washington D.C.

This blog may or may not be one of those dreaded teen poetry sites.  Or one of those dreaded teen art sites.  Or one of those dreaded teen catharsis sites.

This blog will sadly not blast the entire Rasputina discography if you find the right Easter egg.

But this blog will be religiously updated, very pretty, and even — sometimes — insightful.  It will always involve a good deal of thought, hence The Thoughtful Revolution.

Before we get started, I need to define my terms.  To change the world (and it’s a world that desperately needs changing, on countless levels and topics), there needs to be thought.  That little Captain Obvious moment is step 1.  But more importantly, that thought can do nothing but fester if it isn’t communicated.  That’s step 2.  Eventually, for it to achieve importance, it must (I think) be worked into something greater than itself, a new, tangible, productive way of sharing it with the world — step 3.  This blog is, I hope, step 2: a place to communicate thoughts, to keep them from rotting inside my skull.  Some of them may be rotted and worthless on arrival.  Hopefully not all of them will be.  But if I have a place to put them out, and if I can get enough feedback and trolling and interest and discussion and devil’s-advocate criticism, maybe together we can hoist them up to step 3.

And I hope dearly that any readers I can find will feel free to send or post their own thoughts, to be processed and shared in the same manner.  Send me things that occur to you, with or without provocation from anything on this blog, and they’ll take their place in the exchange.  Because that, that marketplace and development of ideas, is the thoughtful revolution — and a revolution of thought might be its own step 1 in finding and implementing the solutions that our world craves.

In conclusion, read.  Think.  Write.  Explore.  Treat this blog not as a vacuum — as the solitary writings of one teenage girl — but as a constant game of mental tug-of-war, or cyberspace give-and-take.  And if you figure out how to get the entire Rasputina discography on here, please feel free to let me know.