Okay, okay. 'Absolve' was the wrong word, even with the scare
quotes. But I also used 'sin' with scare quotes, and no one had much
to say about that word choice. I was being facetious, everyone.
Johnson cannot 'pardon' his parents, for there is no crime or misdeed
involved. His two poems (which I understood were previously
unpublished) seem TO ME to be steps toward reconciliation with the
mixed feelings his parents must feel (and provoke in him, as well) re
the inscriptions, moralizations, judgments, ____fill in your OWN
word______ that society bestows on families with difference.
>The inverted comma is such a fascinating thing don't you think?
Truly t'is, Laurence.
Johnson remarks that he doesn't
> have the power to "absolve" anyone; (if I did, would that mean that I'd have to think of
> myself as a "sin"?)
Yes. And that is one of the points that drives my research: If parents feel guilty or
obsessed with those '5 steps of mourning' that doctors and shrinks keep saying we
must feel after giving birth to a child with impairments, one of the major consequences
is the absorption of those feelings into the child's psyche. What
society would like dp to say, it seems, is "I forgive them (parents)
for they knew not what they did." The whole mentality of this
"parents who do not abort will have commited a sin" theory that has
made the papers recently (but perhaps has been unconsciously
practiced for eons), serves to make martyrs of dp, and essentially
uses the same grounds to burn the parents at the cross.
Johnson writes that 'absolution' is
> something Mom and Dad must do for themselves
> re: their guilt (which yes, they do admit to having)
But that would mean they would have to admit they were guilty of
some crime/sin--and this is what I, for one, refuse to do.
Carolyn, who claims to have read the two poems I'm talking about,
> Trust me, nothing is resolved in the poem
> and there is nothing to "absolve." There are, however, a whole bunch
> of issues exposed but that's pretty much it.
> The Birth Poem is about the shit Johnson's mom was fed by the medical
> establishment -- that Johnson was "wrong" and the she was to blame for
> his being alive (she should have let them kill him).
Excuse me, Carolyn, but we're not talking about the same poems.
And pardon me, everyone: 'absolution' was absolutely not the perfect
word choice. But then, whose postings to this list are polished and
revised essays, rather than spontaneous drafts or freewrites?
Dona M. Avery
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302