not yet over it
Anne and I had designed tonight's class intending to diffract theory and action and to explore how Butler, Barad, Humbach and Welsh might inform and strengthen our work for social justice. However, our lesson plan (or apparatus in Barad's term) revealed a different dimension of this phenomenon. The political responses you shared at the end of class addressed (as we had hoped) important problems of gender and sexuality and were theoretically informed, but what struck me was their raw emotional power. I had not anticipated this irruption of emotion, for theory often presents itself as abstract, rational, distant and can be interrogated using just our intellect. What generated this more visceral response? Unquestionably, rape is a charged, emotional, non-abstract experience for too many people. Yet, we can write papers about rape culture, post responses on Serendip, critique representations in the media. But, perhaps those formats don't engage us the same way as what what we asked you to do tonight? In some ways, academic papers don't ask students to "appear" as whole people, but let them just engage intellectually. Perhaps, academic papers and postings on Serendip are not really public, not really private, but exist in some interstitial zone? I also wonder how much the reading of Ensler's litany and the power of repetition, the speaking out of the violations, the rhythm of her words resonate with our bodies and evoke a more embodied response? I remember the first time I went to a display of the AIDS quilt and how powerfully the reading of names of people who had died from HIV/AIDS hit me. The litany was like a drumbeat that took me out of my head and connected me with my body where I could feel the losses more fully. Although I don't presume to know what were the triggers for any individual tonight, I did feel how hard this class was for some of you and hope you find comfort.