Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Not One, But a Lovely Two!
April 17, 2008

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Brandi Homan reviews I’M THE MAN WHO LOVES YOU in The Cutbank Review today (an excerpt):

Even though King does something that there should be more of in contemporary poetry—addresses the sociopolitical aspects of life in the 21st century head on—I’m The Man Who Loves You accomplishes much more. It is disjointed, beautifully grotesque, and unsparing, yet it is ultimately hopeful, kind, and entertaining. In “I Used to Be Amy King,” King says, “…we are bred to be the best neglected fun, forthcoming” (32). Believe you me, King is this type of fun. I’m The Man Who Loves You is not to be neglected. This book is for anyone who has ever stepped into, or wanted to step into, their own “long black dream.”

Thanks, Brandi!

~~~

And Caroline Wilkinson reviews KISS ME WITH THE MOUTH OF YOUR COUNTRY over at Tarpaulin Sky (an excerpt):

Kiss Me with the Mouth of Your Country is a potent work not only artistically but politically, more so than King’s earlier poetry. Instead of loaded words, we get moments that bring us into a body where the borders shift. In this “country,” the “I” and “you” suddenly change because the line between the two keeps moving. The borders here are insecure because they are defended by private, piecemeal methods—“a pile of ash / that blows back into you.” This “country” is the body of a woman, and it stubbornly remains in quotes because it is a permeable thing, especially when trapped inside the home. Laws about rape and incest, ineffectual in practice, help keep it that way, as does the sexist culture. As a country, this body looks real enough, but because its borders don’t mean a great deal, it isn’t. Near the end of the chapbook, King returns to her earlier more cerebral style, turning images at a manic rate, but this idea of the body and its borders lingers. The poetry is haunted by it, like a house haunted by the idea of not being there.

Thanks, Caroline!

~~~

Aimé Césaire, Martinique poet, has died
April 17, 2008

Aime Cesaire

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PARIS: The esteemed Martinique poet and politician Aimé Césaire, a leading figure in the movement for black consciousness, died Thursday, the French president’s office and a hospital said. He was 94.

Césaire was involved in the fight for French West Indian rights, and he also served as a lawmaker in the lower house of France’s parliament for nearly 50 years. French President Nicolas Sarkozy successfully led a campaign last year to change the name of Martinique’s airport in honor of Césaire.

Sarkozy on Thursday praised Césaire as “a great poet” and a “great humanist.”

“As a free and independent spirit, throughout his whole life he embodied the fight for the recognition of his identity and the richness of his African roots,” Sarkozy said. “Through his universal call for the respect of human dignity, consciousness and responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed peoples.”

~~~

From The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

Aimé Césaire: I’ve always had the feeling that I was on a quest to reconquer something, my name, my country or myself.

That is why my approach has in essence always been poetic.

Because it seems to me that in a way that’s what poetry is.

The reconquest of the self by the self….

I think it was Heidegger who said that words are the abode of being. There are many such quotations. I believe it was Rene Char, in his surrealist days, who said that words know much more about us than we know about them.

I too believe that words have a revealing as well as a creative function…

The Abbe Gregoire(1), Victor Schoelcher(2) and all those who spoke out and still speak out, who campaigned for human rights without distinction of race and against discrimination, these were my guides in life. They stand forever as representatives of the West’s great outpouring of magnanimity and solidarity, an essential contribution to the advancement of the ideas of practical universality and human values, ideas without which the world of today would not be able to see its way forward. I am forever a brother to them, at one with them in their combat and in their hopes…

I really do believe in human beings. I find. something of myself in all cultures, in that extraordinary effort that all people, everywhere, have made – and for what purpose?

Quite simply to make life livable!

It is no easy matter to put up with life and face up to death.

And this is what is so moving.

We are all taking part in the same great adventure.

That is what is meant by cultures, cultures that come together at some meeting-point….

I think it was in a passage in Hegel emphasizing the master-slave dialectic that we found this idea about specificity. He points out that the particular and the universal are not to be seen as opposites, that the universal is not the negation of the particular but is reached by a deeper exploration of the particular.

The West told us that in order to be universal we had to start by denying that we were black. I, on the contrary, said to myself that the more we were black, the more universal we would be.

It was a totally different approach. It was not a choice between alternatives, but an effort at reconciliation.

Not a cold reconciliation, but reconciliation in the heat of the fire, an alchemical reconciliation if you like.

The identity in question was an identity reconciled with the universal. For me there can never be any imprisonment within an identity.

Identity means having roots, but it is also a transition, a transition to the universal….

We are far removed from that romantic idyll beneath the calm sea. These are angry, exasperated lands, lands that spit and spew, that vomit forth life.

That is what we must live up to. We must draw upon the creativity of this plot of land! We must keep it going and not sink into a slumber of acceptance and resignation. It is a kind of summons to us from history and from nature….

And so I have tried to reconcile those two worlds, because that was what had to be done. On the other hand, I feel just as relaxed about claiming kinship with the African griot and the African epic as about claiming kinship with Rimbaud and Lautreamont – and through them with Sophocles and Aeschylus! …

I have never harboured any illusions about the risks of history, be it in Africa, in Martinique, in the Americas or anywhere else. History is always dangerous, the world of history is a risky world; but it is up to us at any given moment to establish and readjust the hierarchy of dangers. …

At any rate, it is for me the fundamental mode of expression, and the world’s salvation depends on its ability to heed that voice. It is obvious that the voice of poetry has been less and less heeded during the century we have lived through, but it will come to be realized more and more that it is the only voice that can still be life-giving and that can provide a basis on which to build and reconstruct….

* And yet this century has not been one where ethics has triumphed, has it?

A.C.: Certainly not, but one must speak out, whether one is heeded or not; we hold certain things to be fundamental, things that we cling to. Even if it means swimming against the tide, they must be upheld.

In other words, poetry is for me a searching after truth and sincerity, sincerity outside of the world, outside of alien times. We seek it deep within ourselves, often despite ourselves, despite what we seem to be, within our innermost selves.

Poetry wells up from the depths, with explosive force.

The volcano again.

No doubt I have reached the moment of crossing the great divide but I face it imperturbably in the knowledge of having put forward what I see as essential, in the knowledge, if you like, of having called out ahead of me and proclaimed the future aloud.

That is what I believe I have done; somewhat disoriented though I am to find the seasons going backwards, as it were, that is how it is and that is what I believe to be my vocation.

No resentments, none at all, no ill feelings but the inescapable solitude of the human condition. That is the most important thing.

~

1. Henri Gregoire (1750-1831), French ecclesiastic and politician, a leader of the movement in the Convention for the abolition of slavery. Ed.

2. French politician (1804-1893), campaigner for the abolition of slavery in the colonies, Deputy for Guadeloupe and Martinique. Ed.

–The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

~~~

Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises
April 2, 2008

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Daisy Fried on Poetry:

* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.

* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?

* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?

* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.

–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation

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ALSO, listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO

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A POEM A DAY BY DAISY FRIED

1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best

friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn

leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,

lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the

kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-“In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld
April 1, 2008

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“His work, with its dedication to the fractured rhythms of the plainspoken vernacular, is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’. Some readers may find that Rumsfeld’s gift for offhand, quotidian pronouncements is as entrancing as Frank O’Hara’s.”

–from Slate

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

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Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere
March 30, 2008

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Nominations To Begin For 2008 Poet Laureate of The Blogosphere

 

Billy is pleased to announce that BloggingPoet.com will again host the Poet Laureate Of The Blogosphere Election for the 4th year in a row with nominations beginning April 1, 2008. The Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere is the only laureateship chosen by readers.Previous winners are 2007 Amy King, 2006 Ron Silliman and 2005 Jilly Dybka.

Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley
March 30, 2008

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 DELIRIOUS HEM

The following excerpts are taken from “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”

It would be one thing if poetry were made of words alone,
but it is not–no more than words themselves are.

 –Paolo Friere via James Scully (Linebreak 133)
 
…If essentialism means being able to name the rubrics within which we (women of color, African Americans, women, etc., etc.) may simultaneously be constrained, limited, subjugated by more powerful others and be nurtured, engaged, empowered by ourselves and our allies, then essentialism still has useful work to do in the struggle for social justice. I recognize the dangers it poses. I’ll stop identifying as an African American woman when most people in this society have stopped understanding me in terms of my proximity to those categories (and all the others that may be relevant to my subjectivity)–you first. Meanwhile, “networks of communities and…relationships” seems to be a productive model for describing my own activities in the world (of poetry). The focus on multiplicity potentially opens our eyes to connections that are predictable and unpredictable.
 …This move turns on the significance to BAM “black aesthetics” of asserting a (“black”) “self” in the face of the oppressive and dismissive aesthetic standards that have been imposed upon the writing of African Americans since the era of Phillis Wheatley. An important point related to the foregoing is how critical it is for us to recognize that sexism is racism, at times, without losing the specificity of either category in our analyses.
 

…Whether one believes that poetry can affect or change what readers believe, can articulate ways of seeing the world that could circulate in and shape popular culture, can mobilize people for political action, etc., or not, poetry represents an economy of ideas (political, social, aesthetic, cultural) in which the currency is more valuable than it is often given credit for being.
 

“I have become a lot more aware over the past year or two
how often gender dynamics operate in really screwed-up ways
within a community I had complacently assumed was a lot more
progressive and enlightened than it sometimes reveals itself to be.
Just at the level, for example, of how much men outnumber women
on tables of contents, or how women’s comments are ignored in blog
conversations, or how men get threatened and aggressive when women
speak up about these things.”

  –K. Silem Mohammad
 

…I’ll just add that the variety of forms that sexism takes is part of what gives it such reverberating impact: outright dismissals of women and women’s poetry; silence regarding the influence of women poets upon poetic traditions; lip service to the importance of poetry by women that doesn’t lead to structural change in the systems that construct and reflect what we value in poetry (the canon)–these are just a few of the forms in which sexism operates in the context of poetry. And, Tonya, of course, I deeply appreciate your extension of Spahr and Young’s observation about sexism to encompass racism and other structures of exclusion.
 

…If Audre Lorde is correct in saying that “poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought” (in her indispensable essay “Poetry Is Not a Luxury”), then it can be argued that envisioning and articulating what is desired but does not yet exist is one of the primary tasks–or, less prescriptively, primary opportunities–of the poet’s work.

…The very instance of thinking through the systemic reasons that result in or contribute to the inequitable representation of poets who are not white and/or not male will necessitate the consideration of factors that cannot be reduced to aesthetics, but have everything to do with aesthetics.

…I am arguing that avant-garde poetics need not be defined in opposition to either a discernable engagement with politics in the work or an interest in audience(s). Where did this avant-garde poetry/political poetry divide come from anyway? What motivated the surrealists? What motivated Dada? The high modernists? The Beats? The Language poets? Or should I be asking what distinguishes these politically motivated aesthetic movements from the New Negro Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, the Nuyorican arts movement? And how does the most obvious answer to this last question relate to the notion of “a more radical feminism” and the intervention it could make in the world (of poetry)?
 

….I love Retallack’s concept of “pragmatically hybrid poetry communities” both because it seems grounded in immediate action and because it suggests the importance of seeking and forming alliances that don’t rely upon a mandated (false) unity around every possible issue of politics and aesthetics that might be raised.
 
…Can we accept and act on the idea that “transform[ing] the circumstances or conditions of others” may deeply involve transforming who we are and how we occupy the world (of poetry)?
 
–CONTINUED in “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley — Braiding: ConVERSations: To, Against, For”

~~

3 Responses to “Dim Sum: Tonya Foster & Evie Shockley”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 5:12 pm eEver notice how Evie takes the foreground of
    pictures and the sound of readings? There is
    a direct presence. No other.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 7:43 pm eLooking over wrongs, I’ve noticed
    over the years that oafishness and
    subconscious deflection are often
    the cause than intention and aggression.
    Which is to say, maybe things are less
    deliberate, more subtle, but paradoxically
    harder to dig up. Just a thought from mulling
    the comments I’ve seen by editors of both
    genders for years. True Anthropology might
    find more natural things than the old wounding
    paradigms presupposed. If it could ever escape
    the hothouse of likely well over 100,000 trawlers
    trapped in an inland sea, and all the political
    3rd rails, that is.
  3. Jim K Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 10:05 pm eOops…I am out of sync with the
    aggressiveness thing that happened..
    sorry bout the babbling.

How To Frame Politics?
March 30, 2008

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 A New Frame: Strong Communities

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs for the American people when we have to boil our presidential election down to questions of race and gender. And yet, we’ve arrived: Are Americans more racist or sexist? We have to wonder aloud, so that we send the most able opponent up against the Great White Hope, suckled straight from the Bush camp’s teat, John McCain.Why do we wonder? So that we don’t make even more war, kill more of our own soldiers and people from Iraq and possibly Iran, and so that we start looking to the problems on our own turf, like that seriously-disabling fact that we have a nasty FOR-PROFIT healthcare system that is literally to die for if you’re not rich and just happen to get sick (not so incidentally, McCain will take us backward on that issue).

I’d bet my next check that this election is only going to get a whole lot dirtier than we can even imagine yet. The Bushs aren’t going to give up the Strict-Father family model of government without some hardcore down-and-dirty tactics, and I’m not so sure the Dems have the properly “dirty” arsenal to fight back. “The Left must get much better, not just at placing its issues in a compelling moral frame, but at exposing and holding the radical Right accountable for its lies and deception – without, and here is the tricky part, making those who have been manipulated feel ridiculed and put down” [Frances Moore Lappé].

George Lakoff has some keen ideas on leveling the playing field though, here and here.

~~~~

–Excerpts below from Black Man vs. White Woman” by Drake Bennett in The Boston Globe

“Gender stereotypes trump race stereotypes in every social science test,” says Alice Eagly, a psychology professor at Northwestern University…

As Clinton has discovered, gender stereotypes are stickier. Women can be seen as ambitious and capable, or they can be seen as likable, a host of studies have shown, but it’s very hard for them to be seen as both –

…When psychologists talk about bias, they use three technical categories: stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Stereotyping is cognitive bias, the tendency to ascribe people a set of traits based on the group they belong to (e.g., “black people are good at sports,” “Jews are cheap”). Prejudice is an emotional bias, disliking someone because of their group identity. And discrimination is how we act on the first two.

…”We’re finding that racial stereotyping and prejudice are extremely contextual,” says Correll. “You can see real reductions in prejudice, and sometimes it actually reverses,” crossing over into a sort of stereotypic affinity.

And this, Correll argues, works to the advantage of someone like Obama. “You look at Obama, and he represents himself incredibly well,” Correll says. “There are a whole lot of contextual cues that tell us this is someone you don’t need to worry about.”

…The researchers didn’t see a similar effect for gender. According to Tooby, “People can cease to notice ethnicity as a factor in how they conceptualize somebody in a way that they don’t seem to be able to with gender.”

…Women in these studies are typically judged to be less capable than men with identical qualifications, but it’s not impossible for them to be seen as competent. The problem is that if they’re understood to be capable, the majority of respondents also see them as less likable.

“The deal is that women generally fall into two alternatives: they are either seen as nice but stupid or smart but mean,” says Susan Fiske, a psychology professor at Princeton who specializes in stereotyping.

And unlike racial bias, there’s little evidence that these attitudes are softening.

According to Eagly of Northwestern, the problem isn’t that women aren’t traditionally understood as smart, but that they traditionally aren’t understood to be “assertive, competitive, take-charge” types. More than intelligence, she argues, this “agentic” quality is what we look for in leaders, and, as both surveys and experimental studies have shown, we find it deeply discomfiting in women.

“That’s what Hillary Clinton is up against,” argues Eagly. “She’s had to show her toughness, then people turn around and say she’s too cold.”

–From Black Man vs. White Woman” by Drake Bennett in The Boston Globe

~~

  1. andrew lundwall Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 6:14 pm eindeed! a very sad sad state of affairs!i remember having a conversation with my girlfriend about a month ago about this…i wondered whether america was indeed really ready for a hillary clinton or barack obama…
  2. Amy King Says:
    February 22nd, 2008 at 5:59 pm eI guess we’ll be finding out soon enough … though I’m not an optimist in this regard. Thanks, A~

How to Hate Hillary
March 29, 2008

“You can … discuss this avalanche of misogyny without endorsing her campaign …” –Bill Moyers in conversation with Kathleen Hall Jamieson

~~

Select excerpts from Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye To All That (#2)“:

—When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.

—John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?” with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.

—Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?

—Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .

The women’s movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments (www.womensmediacenter.com). But what about NBC’s Tim Russert’s continual sexist asides and his all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN’s Tony Harris chuckling at “the chromosome thing” while interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that’s not even mentioning Fox News.

—Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male and all women are white . . .

Surprise! Women exist in all opinions, pigmentations, ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences, and ages—not only African American and European American but Latina and Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arab American and—hey, every group, because a group wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t given birth to it. A few non-racist countries may exist—but sexism is everywhere. No matter how many ways a woman breaks free from other discriminations, she remains a female human being in a world still so patriarchal that it’s the “norm.”

—Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing their hands, because Hillary isn’t as “likeable” as they’ve been warned they must be, or because she didn’t leave him, couldn’t “control” him, kept her family together and raised a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the blame if Chelsea had ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of the Bush twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn’t bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She’s running to be president of the United States.

—Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they’re not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten thestatus quo), who can’t identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking “what if she’s not electable?” or “maybe it’s post-feminism and whoooosh we’re already free.”

—So listen to her voice:

“For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

“It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls. It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

“Women’s rights are human rights. Among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.”

That was Hillary Rodham Clinton defying the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Government at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (look here for the full, stunning speech).

–Select excerpts from Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye To All That (#2)

~~

From “All You Need is Hate” by Stanley Fish:

She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, for being an extreme leftist and for being a “warmongering hawk,” for being godless and for being “frighteningly fundamentalist,” for being the victim of her husband’s peccadilloes and for enabling them…

But the people and groups Horowitz surveys have brought criticism of Clinton to what sportswriters call “the next level,” in this case to the level of personal vituperation unconnected to, and often unconcerned with, the facts. These people are obsessed with things like her hair styles, the “strangeness” of her eyes — “Analysis of Clinton’s eyes is a favorite motif among her most rabid adversaries” — and they retail and recycle items from what Horowitz calls “The Crazy Files”: she’s Osama bin Laden’s candidate; she kills cats; she’s a witch (this is not meant metaphorically)…

The closest analogy is to anti-Semitism. But before you hit the comment button, I don’t mean that the two are alike either in their significance or in the damage they do. It’s just that they both feed on air and flourish independently of anything external to their obsessions. Anti-Semitism doesn’t need Jews and anti-Hillaryism doesn’t need Hillary, except as a figment of its collective imagination. However this campaign turns out, Hillary-hating, like rock ‘n’ roll, is here to stay.

–from “All You Need is Hate” by Stanley Fish

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And lest you buy into the notion that Clinton is “calculating” while the other campaigns are not, take a peek at “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington“:

That’s the key word in trying to figure out Obama: He seems like everything to everybody, which is not necessarily his fault. Much of the media coverage of Obama has been personality focused, as the story of the son of a Kenyan and a Kansan, the third African-American senator since Reconstruction. Because the media have not looked as closely at his political positions, Obama has taken on the quality of a blank screen on which people can project whatever they like. But he hasn’t discouraged this. A masterful politician, Obama has a Bill Clinton-esque talent for maximizing that screen and appearing comfortable in almost any setting. And, like Clinton, Obama has an impressive control of the issues and a mesmerizing ability to connect with people…

Obama has a remarkable ability to convince you that his positions are motivated purely by principles, not tactical considerations. This skill is so subtle and impressive, it resembles Luke Skywalker’s mastery of the Force. It’s a powerful tool for a Democratic Party that often emanates calculation rather than conviction….

–from “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington

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All campaigns and politicians are calculated, especially in terms of appealing to people on an emotional level. If they weren’t, they’d flop. So let’s call out and then ditch the ad hominem woman-hating attacks and start dealing with what really separates Clinton and Obama. Please.

~~

7 Responses to “How to Hate Hillary”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    February 7th, 2008 at 10:39 pm eaaauuuuugh! Evil lizard-brain bastards…
    they have no clue they are reverting to livestock.
    WTF century is this?
    Great interview…it really is a primitive
    fetishistic thing. Astonishing.
    To see a collection of sayings more
    cringing and primal than even Freudian
    theory is depressing. The animal still
    lurks.
  2. Jordan Says:
    February 9th, 2008 at 1:54 pm eShe makes little kids cry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW7s8TuvZ8U
  3. Amy King Says:
    February 9th, 2008 at 9:47 pm eOh no! Going for the stomach … how could they? How could she? Arggh!
  4. Greg Rappleye Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 12:39 am eAmen.

    Thank you for this post.

  5. Amy King Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 3:02 am eMy pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!
  6. Paula Delaine Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 11:46 am eThe Misogyny of Hillary Hating

    What I have to say has nothing to do with which Democratic candidate would be a better president: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It has to do with the contest between Hillary, a woman who seeks to be our next president, and the “Hillary Haters”, people who have been relentlessly poisoning the public imagination with negative personal attacks against her. They don’t attack her politics, policies, intelligence or capacity to be president – only her personality.

    Hillary’s personality is no different now than when she held a comfortable lead in public opinion polls a couple of months ago and was favored to win. Recently, though, you’d think that she’s morphed into evil itself the way Hillary Haters on the radio talk shows, for instance, relentlessly portray her as: “evil Hillary”, “witch”, “ball-busting”, “prostitute”, “that bitch”, “mean-looking”, “untrustworthy”, “doesn’t know how to run her own home”, “she stuck with Bill just so she could use him for her own political ambitions”. These attacks (made mostly by men and some self-deprecating women) are unfair, sexist, and hateful. None of the male candidates are being demonized in this way. For those of us who have worked for women’s equality for so long, it’s painful to watch a qualified female candidate being trashed in this way.

    Here are some other examples of what has been said about her, but not the other candidates:
    • “I don’t trust her. She’s calculating and manipulative.” – What candidate isn’t calculating and manipulative when they want to sway public opinion and gain support…even the ones who are perceived as “honest”. It’s the nature of politics. Why berate Hillary for doing the same thing the male politicians do?

    • “I don’t know why I don’t like her. I just don’t. I mean, she’d probably be a good president, but she just rubs me the wrong way.” We’re supposed to be seeking someone who’s capable of running the country – not a personal relationship. Hillary Haters are being rubbed the wrong way because she’s a woman seeking power, going out of bounds of her expected sex role.

    • “I don’t like the way she talks or looks.” This is a personal projection having nothing to do with her ability to be an effective president. “Like-ability” is not the best measure of leadership. After all, George Bush was well-liked, and look what we got…twice.

    • “She’s a Washington insider, part of the Establishment. We need a change in the way things are done in Washington.” As members of Congress, all three of the leading primary candidates are Washington insiders…Hillary, Obama, and McCain. But a candidate’s status as an “insider” or “outsider” doesn’t guarantee we’ll get what we want. Uh, didn’t the “outsider” George W. Bush run for president with a promise to change Washington politics? He did, but not the way we wanted.

    In another example: when Hillary showed a little emotion in public – moist eyes – the media grabbed hold as if here was a true sign of her weakness and inability to be a strong president. Yet when Bill Clinton and George W. Bush shed a few tears while in office, they were perceived as positively human. It is mostly men who are concerned about Hillary’s emotions. Most women do not believe the public expression of natural human emotion is a weakness – especially when it’s as self-controlled display as Hillary’s was. In fact, it’s perceived as a strength.

    One could easily assume that curtained Republicans and/or corporate media moguls are injecting the virus of Hillary Hating into the media for ulterior purposes. So much of American media is now owned by a few people, most of whom are white, male Republicans. But I think the success of such a tactic points to a deeper problem than dirty politics or how a media message is skillfully crafted to favor one candidate over the other. If fear of Feminine Power weren’t so rampant in our hyper-masculine culture, and if the American public weren’t so susceptible to media manipulation and idol-worship, the Hillary Haters would not have found their seeds of slander so quickly bear fruit in the public imagination.

    Hatred of the Feminine is not always easy to see when you’re swimming in it. But thanks to blatant media bias during this long primary season, the non-objective choice of words and images that were fed to the public about Hillary and Obama starkly reveal our resistance in being fair to women. Why do we still silently stand by and accept this? Will our media be able to silently get away with racial bias against Obama if he wins the Democratic primary and challenges John McCain for the presidency?

    I’m glad that both a woman and an African American finally have a good chance to become president of our country. But misogyny should not be any more acceptable to Americans than racism. Reflect on this: if nothing other than gender changed, would Obama be able to gain as many votes if he were a black woman (unless, of course, he is Oprah)? Could Hillary Haters skewer Hillary’s character in the media as successfully if she were a white man?

    Barack Obama may inspire us because he speaks to our frustrations and longing to be better than we are. But If Hillary is a polarizing figure – as Hillary Haters claim – it’s not because of her politics nor even her personality. She’s a pioneer, a woman who dares to take on the most powerful leadership position in America, the provence of men. Pioneers always encounter resistance from those most frightened at the prospect of real change.

  7. Amy King Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 6:12 pm eWell put, Paula. Thanks very much for this. The fact that only a handful of self-identified feminists are discussing this bursting, publicized misogyny is shameful for us as an “advanced” nation. We claim to be purging ourselves of such hatred, but the truth is that those who attempt to even point it out, or even not to play along, get called names in an attempt to shut us up. Damn shame our advanced society is so backwards.

The Politics of Ashok
March 29, 2008

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Or rather, Ashok Karra’s thoughts on my political side. I am most grateful for his ongoing engagement and interest in my work.

Today, Ashok was moved by a recent poem that appears in Jacket, “Two if by Land, I Do”:

…As always, Amy King is well-aware of what I, as a student of Leo Strauss, would call the ancient/modern distinction. The fundamental difference between us and the medievals/Romans/Greeks is that we base politics on the fact men are not angels…

~~

In the past, Ashok has explored “Everyone Has a Decision To Make“:

I want to meditate on the above poem in order to see the relation between speech and coming to a conclusion within one’s own thought. My own feeling is that this has broad implications for how we conceive of politics. If we cannot be sure of our own moral stances, how can we be so sure others are wrong?

Many, many thanks, Ashok for your thoughts on and with these poems!

~~

“The true critic is he who bears within himself the dreams and ideas and feelings of myriad generations, and to whom no form of thought is alien, no emotional impulse obscure.” –Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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One Response to “The Politics of Ashok”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:00 pm e..wow, a Straussian (as in Leo, grandpop
    of the Neo-Cons), no less?!
    That’s a difference. But very
    thoughtfully analyzed…and the premises
    crisply laid out. Fascinating. And
    someone who follows the path back through
    the prisms to you… not like the reviewers
    who find mainly quirky lingo and mystery, eh?
    Another sees sense beneath shimmers..
    ..impressive. Some widely-studied codeword
    reader, maybe. To borrow a metaphor
    from Strauss, Ashok seems to work hard at
    seeing the shapes beyond the shadows!

    I’m a bit “open society”/Popper/Soros myself..
    ..heh..there’s a difference! But that makes Ashok
    all the more fascinating.

    I found you basically via phrase-tuning, Amy…
    ..I wonder if Ashok had some similar path.
    Or is it just the temptation of knowing there is
    something flashing at the bottom of your pools?

The Flâneur on Torture
March 29, 2008

charles-baudelaire.jpg

“The Question (torture), when considered as the art of discovering the truth, is a barbarous stupidity; it is the application of a material means to a spiritual end.”

– Charles Baudelaire, Intimate Journals