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POETRYETC  2003

POETRYETC 2003

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Subject:

Re: "I will be a ghost, and you must pretend to be worried"

From:

Rebecca Seiferle <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 1 Jun 2003 12:35:30 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (75 lines)

Dominic wrote: "When it comes to some of the things of which we now like to accuse
ourselves
and each other - racism, sexism, homophobia etc. - there tends to be a
presumption that the accuser is innocent of the vice in question."

Well, it is certainly true that many make the assumption of
their own innocence of the vice they find in another, and
not just in regards to racism, sexism, homophobia. But
you say here, too, "of the things of which we accuse
ourselves," which would seem to argue against assuming that
we are innocent but rather the contrary. I think the sensitivity
to these issues occurs precisely because one does have the vice
in question within oneself and has become aware of the
resulting distortions and consequences. Just as you said,
the lecher and pervert might write the most compelling satire of sexual
mores, for instance, Byron's Don Juan. I think the problem
is when one says, you're just a racist, meaning end of the
discussion, or I'm not a racist, meaning end of the discussion,
because it is what you are, what I'm not, etc, though there
are other variations of this which you note. Which lets
the attitude, the thought, the mode of perception continue
to thrive, unaware, since the awareness has exempted itself
by definition. However, I don't think this makes good satire
impossible, just more difficult.

Best,

Rebecca

Rebecca Seiferle
www.thedrunkenboat.cm
-------Original Message-------
From: Dominic Fox <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 06/01/03 02:26 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: "I will be a ghost, and you must pretend to be worried"

>
> A difference between satire and some of the other forms taken by the literature of accusation is that the author of a satire on sexual mores
may
himself be an inveterate lecher and pervert; in fact, the satire will
probably go better - have more of a swing to it - if he is.

When it comes to some of the things of which we now like to accuse
ourselves
and each other - racism, sexism, homophobia etc. - there tends to be a
presumption that the accuser is innocent of the vice in question. This
presumption can go so far as asserting that members of ethnic minorities
*cannot* by racist, women *cannot* be sexist, queer people *cannot* be
homophobic (or if they are, it's because they've absorbed the negative
stereotypes of the surrounding culture: they need only return to
themselves,
restore their depleted amour propre, to be purified of that taint).

One might then go on to presume that members of ethnically privileged
groups
*cannot not* be racist, men *cannot not* be sexist, straights *cannot not*
be
homophobic, so that accusing them is rather like shooting fish in a
barrel:
one need only learn the appropriate rhetorical manouevres, and one can
winkle
guilt out of straight white males without noticeable effort, time and time

again. It's amusing - up to a point - that straight white males themselves

have proved quite adept at doing precisely this.

Whatever else it may be feasible to write in the context of presumptions
like
these, good satire is probably out of bounds.

Dominic
>

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