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“Quintessence” Part 2 January 23, 2011

Posted by FCM in books!, feminisms, PIV, politics, pop culture.
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in quintessence, mary daly puts the smackdown on pomo and what she calls “academentia” and its absolutely cracking me up.  it really is.  she writes about how BORING it all is, about the banality of mainstream thought, and how particularly academics are operating from a place of fear, and stagnation (which she hyphenates: stag-nation). HA!  (part one is here.)

and its true isnt it?  i cant even read mainstream blogs anymore, without actually feeling as if my head is going to explode.  for reals.  and this includes (of course) the nightmarish snoozefest that passes as “feminist” in teh mainstream interwebs…i was recently saddened to realize that i was about to blow a lobe (thanks twisty) reading sociological images.  damn!  another one bites the dust.  but where does this feeling come from?  it actually, literally, feels as if i am banging my head on a wall.  the pressure builds, as if i am actually experiencing some kind of trauma. 

mary daly describes whats known as the “four causes” where the end result becomes the intent: once you do something and document the result, if you do it again, its because thats what you want to happen.  it also includes visualizing a goal, then being moved to achieve it, by it.  its a closed circuit, that motivates most people to act, and causes most of what we know as “change” or invention.  but for something thats supposedly “creative” its all very boring actually, because it doesnt leave room for…spontenaity.  magic.  real creation.  something thats not going to bore the shit out of your reader for example.  something thats not going to make them long for sweet death, to stop the doublethinking brainpain (i am talking to you, feministing!)  luckily i guess, since reading this mainstream garbage is so painful, it also functions as its own sedative.

from quintessence:

loretta once commented here that women need to be free to go to the end of our thoughts.  and mainstream writers, including pomo-feminist and academic writers, arent doing that.  at all.  in fact, its a marker of patriarchal thinking, isnt it, to take your thoughts to the end of what benefits you, and then to stop.  no thinking about future consequences.  no thinking about unequal risk.  no thinking about much of anything really (except how to get yours, whatever that is, and then perhaps how to keep it.)

so reading feministing (for example) is so punishing, and so painful, because none of us are being allowed to go to the end of our thoughts, in that forum.  the fun-fem forum.  the patriarchal forum.  the head-banging feeling is our thoughts coming up against the “end” of a closed circuit (which is also the beginning!  heads are spinning!) and not being allowed to continue.  because of who we might offend.  because of what we might come up with, and what it might mean.  (like that PIV is problematic…oh hell no, hold the phone).  because of who we must pacify, and satisfy, before we can satisfy our own need to be free, within the confines of our own fucking minds.  to have the freedom of our own fucking thoughts.  to have that tiny shred of privacy, that tiny shred of dignity, to ride it out, to think an entire thought to its conclusion, no matter where it might end.  to jump off mary dalys cliff, as she says, to fall how you fall, and land where you land, and be surprised and amazed at what you find there.

thats not too much to ask, i dont think, and its not too much to demand either.  no, its not.


1. FCM - January 23, 2011

i think any single one of us could do a better job with those “sociological images” than that writer did! that was literally painful to read. just, ow.

2. sapphocles - January 23, 2011

This is a beautiful piece of writing, FCM, and a beautiful piece of thinking. I would only add that we *are* free to go the end of our thoughts; it’s just that it won’t get us any farther in academic-pomo-funfem circles than it will in any other realm of patriarchal society. It’s not easy to do, but assuming responsibility for going to the end of the thought seems to me like a good working definition of morality, and probably the beginning of wisdom. Neither of which is valued in any of those settings.

3. joy - January 23, 2011

And the commentary, jeesh. Ow. Hurts …

One of the benefits of questioning capitalism and consumerism is that one learns to mentally summarize advertisement media (which, actually, is all mainstream media, because that media does, it sells things) down to the bottom line.

One learns to decide exactly what the brainwashing is. For example:
“Women = Sex. Sex = Porn. Porn = Whores. Women = Whores. Women can be bought and sold. Every woman has a price.”
“Black = Wild. Wild = Dirty. Dirty = Bad. Black = Bad. [In the case of Black women, add to this ‘Black = Extra Dirty Whore.'”

And so on. These are just the obvious examples. If one gets really good at it, sometimes the ‘bottom line’ is even surprising, like Daly’s following the thought to its end. The end can be terrifying. It often is.

Of course mainstream and funfem blogs don’t go to the end of thoughts. Mainstream and funfeminism are prepackaged lifestyles. (As are a lot of countercultures, obviously.) They are consumerism. Radical feminism is not.

4. joy - January 23, 2011

(The commentary at Sociological Images, not here! Sorry for the lack of antecedent!)

FCM - January 23, 2011

yes i know joy. the commentary here rocks!

FCM - January 23, 2011

well, if you mean that we are free to do whatever we want, and only limit ourselves…then sure, we are all free to go to the end of our thoughts. i mean, we are the only ones that are inside our own minds. its the only thing women have actually, especially if we are having PIV with men! we dont have privacy even inside our own bodies. BUT. i think there are actual obstacles to this happening. mary daly talks about reversals, and the deliberate confusion (con-fusion) thats a critical part of patriarchal conditioning. black is white. up is down. and for anyone who needs help or support in learning how to critically think, well forget it! theres very little out there in the way of support. as in, someone who will listen to you, and keep asking questions, and challenge you to really do the work, if thats what you need. and some people do seem to need it. perhaps the only people who do this are very young children actually, and its fucking annoying as hell. they will ask “why?” until you tell them to shut up.

but even they can only take you backwards, so that you address the “because, because, because” but there is nobody out there to get you to go forward, and see the “then, and then, and then.”

FCM - January 23, 2011

and fucking feministing et al, if you try to work any of this out in the comments, or call them on their short-sightedness or reversals, will just call you transphobic! i know everoyne here already knows this, but damn. the head-banging quality just stuns sometimes, even now. the sociological images article nearly drove me to drink. and those people clearly arent going to the end of anything.

so anyway, we are free to go to the end of our thoughts, as long as we can do it naturally, without any help, in spite of numerous formidable obstacles, and in private? this is unlike any other “freedom” that i know of.

5. joy - January 23, 2011

About obstacles to reaching the ends of thoughts:

Yes, most people don’t do it because of conditioning.

And we’re not free to do it, even if we can figure out how to do it, or at least we can do it in the “privacy” of our own mind but we can’t talk about it, because if we do let on that we’ve seen the man behind the curtain we get labeled “transphobic” or “crazy” and possibly get sent to the gulag, I mean mental hospital/”psychotherapy.”

Also, apologies for any weird formatting/word choices in prior comments. Head cold.

6. rhondda - January 23, 2011

Thank you for this post. What a breath of fresh air it is. I found Mary Daly’s writings in the 90’s and they saved my life, literally. I do not even remember how I found them, but at the bottom of a pit of despair, there they were and I started to read and put away the suicide thoughts. It is not that she has all the answers, she knows the problem.

FCM - January 23, 2011

thanks rhondda. there is something very different about her writing isnt there? i think its just terrific. and she specifically addresses “despair” in a way that gives hope. i noticed that too. she says that despair and hope are opposites, so despair actually suggests hope. and there is just something about seeing her breaking all the rules by making up her own words, using capitals willy-nilly etc. you rarely think about “the rules” for writing being stifling of the actual message, but i guess they are, or they can be. dworkin mentioned this too. her own style was to write with all lower case letters (like me haha) and to use punctuation only as she saw fit. she said that when her editors changed her style, that it changed the meaning, and the message. how the words FELT on the page. there are so many ways that our work is compromised, even when we are moved to do it. mary daly wasnt compromised, or she doesnt seem it, to me. this is very unique indeed, and its absolutely inspiring.

FCM - January 23, 2011

and i agree with joy that dissecting media images is not that hard, and that it is formulaic. absolutely. that soc images can get something so basic SO WRONG is just more evidence i think that they arent being honest, at all. for example, the magazine covers they use…heterosexuality fetishizes female vulnerability, so the magazine covers with the naked (vulnerable) women is appealing to heterosexuality. the men “spoofing” it really arent, because they are completely covered, and so NOT vulnerable. which is the male part, and the first step in dominating someone else (not being vulnerable yourself, or at least not in the same ways).

both covers therefore support heterosexuality entirely, and transgress exactly nothing. done. i dont know why they had to go into the “acceptable male body types” at all. god what a fucking waste of words.

7. sapphocles - January 23, 2011

I didn’t mean to suggest that there are no obstacles to exercising our freedom to follow a thought to the end; what I meant was that it is unnecessarily limiting to define that freedom in terms of how someone else responds (or doesn’t) to the truth you find there. Why would you expect the funfems at feministing to take up the challenge your writing poses, when their whole community is based on *not* following certain thoughts even to the very next step? You may as well seek community with a bunch of white middle class church ladies…

You’re doing important work, and you’re not alone. Keep at the kind of thinking you’re doing here, and the community you seek will find you. Trust me, there will be very few feministing regulars among them.

PS – I think Mary Daly would find the choice of “feministing” as a name for that site hilarious… as if feminism is something girls can go do once in a while, when they want to try out the new words they’ve learned in their Queer Studies class. She knew better than anyone that even accidental truths can often be found in the words we choose to express our thinking.

FCM - January 23, 2011

what I meant was that it is unnecessarily limiting to define that freedom in terms of how someone else responds (or doesn’t) to the truth you find there.

i dont think i did. ok so i whined a little about feministing calling everyone transphobic, which they do, and which is so totes lame etc. but that really wasnt my point. are you getting this impression overall, or just from that one comment? because this wasnt what this article was about, at all.

my point was that there are obstacles in the way of many people acutally doing it. patriarchal thinking and patriarchal “creation” is a closed circuit (the 4 causes) that you need to break out of, in order to be free. and patriarchy, including “communities” like feministing are deliberately setting up obstacles that actually prevent people from going to the ends of their thoughts. and regarding the fun-fem and other mainstream sites, THEY THEMSELVES, the people writing articles for these sites arent going to the ends of thier own thoughts either. which is why it feels like brain damage is occuring, to even read any of it. its an assault on your very THOUGHTS, which are prevented from leaving, or moving, or being, within that forum. its fucking painful. and i wasnt kidding when i said it also acts as a sedative. i think this is deliberate. its excruciating, but it also puts you to sleep. daly talks about this too. maybe i will post it later.

my point was NOT that if its not accepted at feministing, then it doesnt exist, or its not valuable or whatever. and i definitely wasnt “seeking community” with them, at all. i dont care what they think about me. my point was what *i* think about *them* and the effect i think that this patriarchal conditioning/regurgitating is having on others, where they are demanding that others continue to truncate their already patriarchally-truncated thoughts, and then showing them how, and using a system of reward and punishment to perpetuate it. GENERALLY SPEAKING. feministing does this to its own participants, but this isnt a post about feministing.

FCM - January 23, 2011

ok let me shorten that: it literally hurts to read mainstream writing, and especially fun-fem writing. more than one person has said this, and i just experienced it yesterday, when i tried to read that horrible article on soc images. why does it hurt? the pain is real. it really is. this article postulates that the source of the pain is the closed circuit of patriarchal thought, which is painful BECAUSE it truncates thought and stifles real creativity.

its something that mary daly addresses in her book very well. AND she presents a solution to break us free of the closed circuit: the fifth cause, which seems to be a kind of intuitive creativeness/courage that patriarchy lacks, to leap into the unknown. which made me think of “going to the end of your thoughts.” thats what this blog is to me actually. i pretty much let these posts write themselves, and i am often surprised at how they turn out.

8. sapphocles - January 23, 2011

Sounds like I misunderstood that you were using the feministing mindfuck as just one example of the kind of circular logic that precludes the imaginative leap Daly celebrates (and embodied). I suspect that’s because I am old enough to remember when breaking out of that kind of loop was a big part of how feminism was defined. It was a challenge to step outside the paradigm, but once you were able to make that leap it was like blinders falling away, and everything suddenly becoming so much clearer. In some ways, I think it must be harder for younger women who have grown up surrounded by the pap that now passes for feminist thought, if there even is such a thing any more — sometimes it seems like the whole pomo queer theory rubric has slowly but surely become the only game in town. And it’s so much more insidious when that kind of horseshit is being promulgated by the very people a young woman would likely turn to as natural allies. I thought I was hearing that kind of frustration in your post, but I guess that was a projection on my part.

Relating Daly’s exposition of Fifth Cause to the harm done by groupthink, regardless of who does it, is really a brilliant piece of work. I hope my appreciation for that also came through.

9. Sargassosea - January 23, 2011

“i pretty much let these posts write themselves, and i am often surprised at how they turn out.”

Precisely. I read this post late last night right before bed (which is to say that I wasn’t exactly at my sharpest) but was still just STRUCK by the absolute truth of the Fifth Cause; that there is a place where our creativity ‘gets away from us’ and ventures off on its own. Crazy, fabulous stuff happens!

My first experience with this occurred while I was writing my first (and only!) feature-length film script at college. No matter how hard I tried to stick to my Plot, the characters took over and started telling their own story and I’m all feeling like some kind of medium or something channeling some other reality somewhere. It was highly unnerving and kinda scary, too; I couldn‘t control my own imagination! The script was very well received – I was congratulated as a “natural” – BUT what I had produced was NOT at all what I had in mind when I started. Yeah, unnerving to think that there is something more at play when we open the thought/creativity door?

And I hear what you’re saying about our thoughts being suppressed. It’s like *teaching to the test* and when the question has been answered to the questioners’ satisfaction then that’s it. That’s the End no matter that the question was flawed to begin with or that it was seriously biased or simply stupid making your ’correct’ answer completely arbitrary.

The people (women) who say “What if…?” are told that “what if” is not an answer, but without “what if” we CAN’T have “and then”.

10. FCM - January 23, 2011

well, i do feel a particular frustration with the fun-fem blogs, now that you mention it. but i dont think i see them as potential allies. i actually think its because the reversals are so sneaky, and that they are fucking infiltrators, and impersonators. they are using our words, but attaching completely different meanings to them. i take it personally. i am not that young anymore and i actually do remember feminism, before all this trans and gender-nonsense invaded it and started changing (ruining) everything. it makes me mad. AND i actually do sometimes wander over to fun fem land (like to soc images) to see what they are up to. which is my own mistake i suppose, and not something i regularly do with other mainstream sites. so there is MORE opportunity for frustration, because i read them more.

anyway, i also read your post as a compliment, so thanks. when i re-read the daly excerpt above, i notice that she mentions “words” as a creative medium. she also writes later on in the chapter what her own writing process was like, in writing quintessence. she didnt know how it was going to turn out.

11. joy - January 23, 2011

ss — I’m a sometimes-historical writer who has written fiction since as soon as I could work a typewriter on my own (age six).

The taking-over by characters that you described is something I guess I’ve always taken for granted, and maybe that’s why it was harder for me to suppress logical thought (ie, drink the kool aid) than it is for me to follow thoughts to their end?

(Not to say that it’s easy all the time. Either of those things. I still fuck up royally, a lot.)

My father, who’s lived his life pretty much under the thumb of head-banging, brain-damaged centrist-“liberal” thought (imagine having Keith Olbermann for a dad, except substitute passive aggression for the yelling), recently had a foray into writing. He wasn’t very good at it, but he wrote to me extolling the virtues of this very thing.

“It’s as though I was just … listening in on a conversation! The characters just TOOK OVER the plot!”

While reading this, I thought, “Yes, and? Tell me something I don’t know.”

An illustration of how foreign the concept of unrestrained thought is to those who live their lives inside of the box, and also how completely divergent man-reality is from our reality.

And, of course, it’s pointless to try to talk to them about it. And and, whenever some fool blunders down the rabbit-trail even a little bit, he always thinks he is the very firstest and only one to have ever done it.

12. Loretta Kemsley - January 24, 2011

Following one’s thoughts to their end requires courage to challenge what you’ve previously believed and the fortitude to defend doing it at all.

That’s why we are termed radical in the first place. It wasn’t meant as a compliment. It was meant to isolate us as too weird to take seriously.

But for those who do have the courage to follow their thoughts to the end and then continue seeking still another path to follow, the freedom created is enormous to the point of being overwhelming. It is not the safe path. It is indeed dangerous. But it leaves behind all the stupidity that we’ve dealt with our entire lives.

One of the reasons why my writing is controversial is because I have the freedom to lay it on the line with my own name attached. I’m old enough I don’t have to cater to an employer nor is anyone able to force me to cower in fear if they get angry. So women tend to love my work while too many men become very disturbed. Even though I rarely talk about the individual man, they interpret what I write as aimed directly at them — which tells me a lot about them.

I love this essay and Daly’s pages you shared. It does twist your gut to realize these things, at least in the beginning. But once you’ve digested them, they become a part of you and there is no turning back. You become separate and apart forever.

I suspect most of you already have reached that point or are ready to take that step. I did it long ago. Today, I cannot imagine being different. What others live with as normal seems so foreign.

13. Undercover Punk - January 25, 2011

Sisters, this causation shit is deeeeeep. For real. Thinking things through, beyond one’s own comfort level, is the hallmark of radical feminist theory, is it not? Yes.

14. joy - January 26, 2011

Heh, I got too carried up in the “ends of thoughts” concept that I missed out on “academentia.”

The education system as we know it was developed to train effective workers for industry, either blue-collar or white-collar. Getting up early, defying body impulses (bathroom passes, strictly set lunch times), learning to sit still and do as you’re told and not ask questions.

Institutions of higher learning are set up to put the final buffer on that entire turd. The proto-worker has just endured thirteen years (thirteen of its most formative years, and with no choice or opinion in the matter) being molded and battered and beaten into submission, and post-secondary education is simply designed to perfect that vision and solidify the brainwashing.

There is a system of obvious rewards set up. Can’t afford to finish your brainwashing? Languish in blue-collar jobs (conveniently unavailable to women because of sexism), or in retail positions, or as wives and mothers, for the rest of your life. Struggling to pay the loans you took out to pay for your brainwashing? Same deal. Only those people wealthy enough to fork it over out of pocket get to skip a few squares and go straight to the capitalist rewards.

None of this leaves much time or energy for critical thought and questioning. If one manages to explore such arenas anyway, then they’re easily discredited for being too uneducated, or being overeducated.

Does any of this seem accidental?

So clearly — no, academia does not serve the goals of justice and enlightenment. It leads at best to one gaining a lot of money that can buy the leisure time to pursue a life of justice and enlightenment, but mostly it leads to academentia.

And it self-perpetuates.

15. rhondda - January 26, 2011

Oh my goddess, woman, I saw your comment on Too much to say for myself and I so admire your courage for saying it. I just wonder how the menz are going to react. Let it be known that you are right and don’t let let the bastards get you down. Love it.

16. Undercover Punk - January 26, 2011

I second that Rhondda!! 😉 ❤ I don't do blogs where men comment. For that exact reason.

FCM - January 26, 2011

Thanks rhondda and up! I’m here all week!

17. rhondda - January 26, 2011

Joy, you are so right about university that it scares me. It was not until I retired that I truly could find the time to think about why I was so pissed off with everything. I fought with my professors at university, but you know they just ganged up on me and there was no women’s group. Same elsewhere, the divide and conquer mentality is everywhere and what pisses me off the most it is inside women’s brains too and as Robin Morgan predicted they are the ultimate weapon in the hands of the boys. However, it is so cool that there are young women on the net who can say their truth and that lets others know they are not alone.

18. joy - January 26, 2011

Thanks, rhondda. Maybe it’s self-deprecation, but I see a grain of truth in the whole “you haven’t been around long enough, you just don’t understand” that has been forced down our throats from all sides.
Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff I DON’T get (still trying to wrap my head around my own colossal fuckup over the whole “voluntary celibacy is actually an exercise in woman-hatred” idea) and that maybe all young people don’t get. But the stuff we do ‘get’, we ‘get’.

One of the things I “get” is — a university degree is a receipt from the sale of one’s soul. The reason jobs want to hire people who can show this bill of sale is because they don’t want any of their pesky little workers stepping out of line and stirring shit up.

I understand that a way for a woman to get out of patriarchy is to have her own money — obviously. And one way to make money is to have a career that takes a college degree. But if one doesn’t have the money to spend on a college degree in the first place, or the fortitude to spend another four to forty years having their very self ground down to nothing in a terrifying, VERY female- and radical-unfriendly hellhole … there has got to be another way.

Also, campus women’s groups these days are nothing but funfem indoctrination bullshit centers that teach young women that the way to empowerfulization lies through self-pornulation and degradation.

College campuses aren’t the place to find radical ideas. (Even the SDS, from which the Weather Underground famously derived, is a cesspit of misogyny and lame bullshit.) Trying to find them there is like trying to find woman-positive messages (or comfortable, non-exploitative clothing) at Victoria’s Secret or find counterculturalism through buying Apple products.

19. joy - January 26, 2011

When I say “get out of patriarchy,” I am grossly oversimplifying and don’t mean that literally. There is NO way to “get out of patriarchy.” Full stop. Had to clear that up.

FCM - January 27, 2011

i wanted to add that daly includes footnotes in her book, which further explain and expound on her created words and borrowed/expanded concepts like the 4 causes. for example, in the end, the ultimate “cause” of patriarchal creation appears to be the “attainment of happiness.” which isnt really a surprise is it? take your thoughts to the end of what benefits you, and then stop. and what makes many men “happy” is in reality fucking sick. WHOSE HAPPINESS AY?

this is just a note for anyone who has studied the 4 causes in depth and is saying “but but but!!!1111!1!” because daly simplifies it. she acknowledges the simplification in the footnotes, but i think her point still stands (and she obviously thought so too). the attainment of (patriarchal) happiness IS a fucking dead end/closed circuit. its also a moving target.

20. pmsrhino - January 28, 2011

I find the most difficult part of the pomo and fun-fem blogs is that even though they are supposedly feminist blogs everything always seems to circle back around to men. I still read some of those blogs (I guess I have a high tolerance for pain or I am really just that mind numbingly bored at work) and every once in a while I bother to comment to try and point out some of the bullshit. I’ve pretty much given up on that, though, ’cause no matter how polite my comment may seem people always get on me for trying to steer the comments away from it being about those poor, poor men. Sometimes I think it’s not that these women don’t want to finish a thought but men seem to leave them physically unable to finish a thought.

I was joking with a friend before about how these fun-fem bloggers write or feel everyone should write. I left a comment one time on a topic about men raping women and someone got angry with me because I didn’t bother to mention that men get raped too or that women can sometimes be rapists or that not ALL men are potential rapists because some are really women and I was being cis-privileged and on and on and on. So I was apparently SUPPOSED to write “Most men who are still biologically male and define themselves as male are potential rapists for women but we also shouldn’t forget that men also get raped or that women can also be the rapist in these situations even though it it less common but it seems to be a fact that we shouldn’t forget-oh my god what the fuck was I even trying to say?!”

They spend so much time thinking about the men and worrying about being too “harsh” or judgmental about men that they spend more time justifying a single thought instead of actually finishing the analysis they were making. Or if they are going to be a bit harsh on men they seem to feel the need to remind people that women do that thing too just not quite as much so they aren’t saying that women are BETTER than men just that men tend to do it more often so don’t-omg I lost my train of thought again.

You pretty much have to keep your thoughts simple because once they start getting too complex like that you have to start talking in circles so you don’t offend anybody.

Though, like you mentioned, I guess this is the fear and stagnation that causes most writing to be boring. I guess along with a fear of leaving your comfort zone there is a fear of losing men in the feminist cause since talking bad about them will just make them upset and feel unwelcome. I just get so tired of the constant focus and refocusing on men in most of these blogs, it really keeps any sort of real discussion about women and woman’s issues from happening.

Ugh, I hope that made sense, lol. I’m only running on about 4 hours sleep and a coffee I had about 4 hours ago so my brain’s a bit woooooooo…

FCM - January 29, 2011

yay! pmsrhino is back!

FCM - January 29, 2011

i also wanted to mention that theres been absolutely no fallout as yet from the comment i left over at cath elliotts place. just in case anyone was concerned. 😛

21. rhondda - January 29, 2011

Yes I noticed that. Being ignored is also a male strategy, especially when you have hit the truth.

FCM - January 29, 2011

i just wrote an entire post about the piv-contract, inspired by cath elliotts piece. its posted now. enjoy!

22. pmsrhino - January 31, 2011

Lol. I didn’t realize I was missed. 😛

I’ve been working on a blog of my own so I’ve been a bit lazy in writing comments on other blogs. I’ve become somewhat of a professional lurker now, though I have been trying to fix that a bit. 🙂

23. noanodyne - April 5, 2011

Finally dragging myself out of a 168-hour flu-related bog. Sorry to miss the convo in progress. So much to think about in those videos and this post!

Anyway, to the videos… I wanted to be a writer from a very young age (among other things!) and have studied it quite a bit in various forms, through various avenues. Gilbert’s ideas are kinda well-worn for me, but she was entertaining (the story of the poet was great) and reminded me of some things that a creative has to keep being reminded of. What she is above all is a reminder that personality/temperament are so much a part of what “creative” means and what the process looks like for any given person and whether it takes a terrible toll or is enlivening or both but doable or not even possible. I had a lover who was a brilliant novelist, well on her way to winning awards and adulation and she just quit one day. She said it was either her or the writing (which was killing her). Gilbert doesn’t seem quite so burdened.

I’ve seen Amy Tan in person a number of times and she always makes me think. (And the big plus, yes, she’s funny!!) She’s wrestled with how complex and how simple the whole thing is and conveys both and why she chooses to look in the directions she does and how and why a creative has to make choices in the process of creating. (And clearly we need anchors or touchstones or what-have-you — I’ve never seen her anywhere without her dog muse).

Her ideas about ambiguity and not belaboring the “about” but getting to the story and letting it happen are so important in going beyond closed-circuit thinking. But there is a difference in the form of being creative. Daly managed to be creative and to get so much said. But for me there’s been a division in the two kinds of writing I do. There’s the free-flowing creative type that leads me wherever. Anything and everything comes up. I enter the story. Then there’s the didactic writing I do on the web as Noanodyne. I think I’ll talk more about that in comments to my own post…

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