Yes, the NSA can intercept your emails.

I cannot emphasize the importance of such rhetorical analysis. This blog post dissects the fragility of our information, how easily jeopardized it is. But it also points to something larger: apparently, as we can see with the effort and means implemented to obtain the information of everyday American citizens as well as international citizens, our information–everyone’s information–is valuable. Why would such methods exist otherwise?

Hey, Bluffdale, hope you all are well!

(im)precision

You weave paint into a picture

honed finely in my camera’s lens.

“You can close your eyes,

but there is no illusion.”

If I follow, and you turn

around

to follow me,

where are we going?

Two beings walking

toward each other;

and what of beside?

Brother, sister, friend–

more human than humanity

touching as we know how

best to touch.

The softest sand still

etches memory’s friction

in palm and wrist

every time we rub our hands

t o g e t h e r .

I shan’t beg to be

encircled

in intangible eternity.

Because of the tomorrow

bristled in yucca leaves.

Winter suns don’t burn

its love in the spring.

For all change graces

time

with the luxury

of gradually.

Once you have lifted

the pockets of my jeans,

you’ll come across

not the coin of fortune,

not the promise of sign,

but what is worth more

falters in this rhyme.

A Candlelight Vigil to the Health of Humanity: Talking to you, pomo take two

Hello all, I am back! It is time to discuss how negotiation can, and may, allow us to normalize postmodernism. This post is going to be deep, highly political, and, in some respects, personal. I have been having a hard time conceptualising how to negotiate negotiation since I wrote “pomo blues”. The trouble for me comes from not knowing where to start, not knowing how we can collect difference into something concrete, something real. We are all too different, even for those of us that are the same.

          Here I am thinking about myself. I’ve often tried to see myself as special, if only in the “there is no one else in this world like me” way. But this can lead to egoism. And I don’t like my ego. Yet, I need my ego. I am different. I’m misunderstood—like every one of us are. I think weird at times. I see the world in my own special way. And, then, I am sad. Is there anyone that thinks similar to me? Will/Can I ever find a mind to connect with? If I’m different, I may never fully connect with anyone else. But if I’m the same; we’re all the same. Ahhh, circular reasoning. Dependent clauses and persons. What is one to do?!

          You see my inherent existential problem? I needed to find something to work from to gain perspective. Lucky for me, a very close friend posted a link to this article on Fox News that gave me a way to frame some of these ideas that I have yet to articulate. For context, go there, read, and come back. I’ll be here writing…

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/03/15/suicide-moroccan-girl-16-forced-to-marry-rapist-sparks-outrage/

          Hello again. I hope you all are well. How was that article? It is sad, haunting, isn’t it? I am assuming that you all think so, at least. I immediately drew upon the fact that this young girl is a minor, that she was raped, and then forced to marry her rapist—the title of the article made me read it this way. And I care about all three of those things happening, being a mother, a woman, and someone attentive to the detrimental causes of rape. But I’m also a student of legal discourse, and note the vastly significant imposition that laws place upon all of our lives. For every human, this is something we all have in common: we must abide by law, or face criminalization.

          The author, un-named, states, “Article 475 of the Morocco penal code allows for the ‘kidnapper’ of a minor to marry his victim to escape persecution, and it has been used to justify a traditional practice of making a rapist marry his victim to preserve the honor of the woman’s family” (“Suicide”). Here is what is at stake for both this girl, Amina Filali, and her husband. Her husband? Yes. He is a victim too. Before you get upset, throw your computer, or start cussing at me, just wait. I have an argument.

          The imposition of this law (all by the parents’ initiation, mind you) is a culturally fabricated view of “justice.” Since the Moroccan government adopted several cultural discourses—centuries in the making—it acts upon these ideas through law. This girl suffers the fate of being a girl, which means several things in this country (and, arguably, the world). Her virginity and femininity is her identity. Once she loses the first, she loses the second. She is no longer a girl able to negotiate her identity in a patriarchal society. Her only worth is her chastity. She is thingified. She is property whose only value is that which the men and her government have placed upon her. Of course, I feel this is wrong.

          All of these views legitimize how girls and women are treated in Morocco. Because of their culture, their laws regulate the worth of them as women. And a woman can never escape this identity if she is entrenched in this culture. So what does she do? She does what her parents make her do; she marries her rapist, and suffers being beaten for the rest of her life. In the words of her mother, she needs “patience” (“Suicide”). Patience for what? That the bruises will fade? That she’ll die? That he will change, and love her? None of these seem optimal. Patience isn’t good enough.

          Along with Amina, her husband needs support. He, too, is embroiled in a culture that tells him his behaviors are mostly okay. Had he not been caught—had Amina not said anything of his raping her (silence!!!!!!)—he would have had the freedom (two ways of reading that tricky word there, do attend to that) to continue living as he pleased, raping who he may. And he probably will do both of those things because he’s a man in this culture, and he can.

          That’s the “funny” thing about the gender binary here. Once married, this man can rape young girls and not have to marry them because he’s already married. In some countries, he can marry more than one woman, or abduct them and hide them in a harem. Have you all read Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson? That book taught me so much about these sorts of cultural values. Coming back, it is socially acceptable for men to do these things, even if the laws are slightly against it. People in power will look the other way. I mean, the men in these governments also utilize these freedoms.

          There are several discourses being harmed here: womanhood, manhood, and marriage. All three of these depend upon culture and how we negotiate through it. The husband in this case was forced to marry a girl he did not love because he raped her. He was also taught from a young boy to treat girls as property. And Amina was taught that her worth was her “pristine” virginity. This tells us that one act of culturally imposed violence can control a woman’s identity for the rest of her life. And will continue to do so, for all women. This tells us that a man may have to pay for his actions, but he can still continue to commit them. You see the double standard?

          And how does this matter to us in another country where we do not suffer these fates? Do we turn a blind eye? Surely we can’t, it is news—and newsworthy. Do we tell them what they are doing is wrong? We can, and do, but it isn’t going to change their culture. So what do we do? Admonish them for their harmful culture and behavior? Something tells me no, not exactly…

          The fact is that we aren’t doing things completely right here either. Women are raped in America. Children are abducted and taken who knows where—maybe there. This tells me this is a more global, interconnected issue. Though our American laws are not complacent to rape, and our culture is on-the-outset resistant to this form of patriarchal violence, it still happens.

          So, I have an idea: we need to change our entire, global consciousness. It needs not to be okay to wreak violence upon women. It needs not to be okay to harm children. It needs not to be okay to rationalize another’s sufferings based upon geography and culture. We need to find a way to articulate through our differences and similarities to change the entire cultural stigma that plague women and men to this day. We need to change our collective culture to change laws that control us in harmful ways. Only this will stop rape and child sex trafficking!

          I don’t have any concrete suggestions because I’m just one girl, one woman, one mother. I can teach my child what it means to be a compassionate and conscious person, and that violence is simply not okay. I can know in my heart that any violence and laws meant to encourage violence are wrong. I have a good deal of people that are with me on this (hoping you all are some). But I have some suggestions. Maybe we can keep encouraging discussion. We should discuss this with each other—all others. We need to negotiate through the harmful effects of such cultural/legal decisions. People in power should be more attentive to the detriments of legal decisions that affect identities for people—female, male, and every single wonderful person in between.

          The cultural and legal discourses need to change, and the only way they will is if we talk about them. I, for one, am all ears. I want this mad violence to stop. I think the activist, Abdelaziz Nouaydi is another person. And I know plenty more. My friends are this way. My peers. Are you? Tell me what you think, please. Share resources and conversation with the people you know. Let’s get this discourse all the way across the world to Amina and all of the women and men being enslaved to their detonated identities. We can read books about each other’s cultures, and see our sameness: our humanity. Instead of placing blame, saying who is wrong and who is right, maybe we can say something else. Something that sparks change. I’m listening, waiting to hear what that is.

 

For those interested, here are links to two great, healthy “pro men and women together” sites:

The Good Men Project: http://goodmenproject.com/

The Men Can Stop Rape Campaign: http://www.mencanstoprape.org

 

Feel free to send me more!

Citation

“Suicide of Moroccan girl, 16 forced to marry rapist sparks outrage.” FoxNews.com . Fox News Network, LLC, 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Are you speaking to me?

A dear friend of mine kindly asked to hear my opinion on these matters with exasperation. For all of my rants, I am usually more apt to imbed my own views inside quotes of other theorist’s thoughts, rarely devolving my own views too explicitly. One reason for this is the fact that I am not yet considered an academic. Being a grad student in an MA program is that liminal space where our views are licensed to us, and not trusted by academia.

But my voice is not necessarily appreciated in my own personal circles either. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been told that my diction (that’s word choice for all of you lovely non literary folk) is too pompous, that I think I’m better than everyone because of my vocabulary. Well, I say, not even. I don’t think I’m pompous. I love all of you people in this world, even the jerks et al. But I am required to adopt this academic discourse if I am to ever leave my liminal space and become a “real” scholar (whatever that is). What it comes down to is this: I’m tired of hearing both that I’m pompous, and that I must be appropriated into the university.

I resist both of these things—as my praxis (sigh, that’s the practice of my own personal philosophy).

Yet, I need to do them to dismantle them. That is the (t)ruth. This brings us back to Foucault, to McComiskey, and to Derrida.

I read a massive amount of theory. I have to as part of my education. And all this theory has infiltrated my discourse; I speak like them. Just goes to show you, kids, looking up words in the dictionary does do wonders! Yay! I believe that we are better humans if we accept difference, if we see each other as all others (Derrida: tout autre est tout autre). And as I was thinking of this, a statement made this morning by the great @NihildeNada lit up my Twitter screen: “Fear of the void is the root of all evil”. Huhm. What the heck does my aporia do with that?

Considering that one of my closest friends (you reading this?) is adamantly resentful of several choices I have to make in my life: leaving to pursue a PhD and researching the Internet for my thesis, meaning that I am always on my phone (nevermind how happy this makes me most of the time; that’s another post altogether), this leaves me to assert: we are too apt to fall victim to our fears.

She fears my leaving because she loves me. She wants my attention, thus gets frustrated by my seemingly lack of attention (I love multi-tasking!). Okay. I understand this. But it is hard to consider her feelings when she acts upon her fears. Those of us that study psychology know that humans usually react in unhealthy ways when they feel threatened. So I realized that my friend wants to dispel aporia; she fears the void—my absence, essentially. That is why she says hurtful things. That is why she tells me that I may not get into a PhD program. Doesn’t she know I am here? Loving her like only a friend can love? I am here. Do not fear. But I need to be other places too.

I need to learn how to do the very thing I am writing about—teaching students to maneuver through differing identities to compose themselves, all while adopting to dominant academic discourse. So I study this. I adopt techniques. I maneuver myself through as many identities as possible. There is a cost to this. I often lose myself in the process, weeks at a time sometimes. I also emerge from the abyss (as I call these moments) a reframed person. Good ol’ existentialism. And I have to do this so that I know what it is like.

For someone who wants to steal literacy from the whiteness of the Civil Rights Movement (this argument comes from specific legal articles on Brown v. Board—happy to send those to anyone interested!), I MUST know what oppression feels like. I have to hear the voices of oppression; I have to listen to them. To listen to the silence, I must attune to the wind.

Where are you? Are you unwell? Who is preventing your voice from being heard? How may I help? These are the questions I ask when I seek solace in the places I go for escape.

So, my friend, you are right to be angry with me. I know your fear. We are all afraid of that which we do not know. But I happen to think (today, and usually) that the only way to stop fearing the void is to go into it. I go in, with my discourse blazing. I would like it if you came with me.

I’ve composed my pomo blues, and I feel fine

Like the last three chapters of McComiskey’s Teaching College Composition as a Social Process, I have much to say, and too much to think about when it comes to his text. This chapter culminates my entire view of what is at stake in not just teaching college composition, but in being human. To approach each other in symmetrical, reciprocal difference is to view us all as others—human each-others.

Maybe this comes from having read a good deal of Derrida on my own. Maybe it is because I’ve relied upon more holistic ways of thinking about a global culture my entire life, and never felt like disparity and segregation were ever positive means of treating each other. Like I said, it might be me.

I could quote this whole thing and go line-by-line through it to discuss all the interesting, inflectional turns my friend Bruce makes. But I don’t have time for that. And you all might be bored. Are any of you even reading this anyway? So, I’ll stick to two.

McComiskey says,

Discursive formations (networks of language, terministic screens that condition perception and organize power relations) normalize human agents, presenting to them modes of discourse that do not threaten the status quo and concealing from them potentially liberatory modes of discourse. (70)

This is a direct reference to Foucault’s work in our field. What McComiskey does by this is show how our dominant discourse censors us, and “normalizes” us into more verbally palatable sameness. This very act of normalization seeks to take away our inherent differences—our ways of being in the world—and lumps us into form-fitting categories. But this is a violation of human nature. We are different, collectively. In order to account and resist lumping categories that restrict our identities, we need to see things and every each-other’s differences differently.

Here we look, at great length, McComiskey’s take on Derrida (be still my heart):

This paradoxical practice, this opening of the heading to the other, this postmodern formation of identity in alliance with difference (rather than in modernist opposition to it) implies a number of duties: “welcoming foreigners in order not only to integrate them but to recognize and accept their alterity” ; “criticizing a religion of capital that institutes its dogmatism under new guises,” and “cultivating the virtue of such critique, of the critical idea, the critical tradition, but also submitting it, beyond critique and questioning, to a deconstructive genealogy that thinks and exceeds it without yet compromising it” (77); assuming “an idea of democracy” that is “never simply given” and “remains to be thought”; “respecting differences, idioms, minorities, singularities, but also the…desire for translation, agreement and univocity, the law of the majority, opposition to racism, nationalism, and xenophobia” (78); “respecting all that is not placed under the authority of reason,” such as faith (78-79). We all have the duty, the responsibility to “think, speak, and act in compliance with this double contradictory imperative” (79). Through these practices, Derrida argues, we can articulate postmodern subjectivities that are not mutually exclusive, and we can live in a postmodern world without being paralyzed by the violence of warring factions. (74)

 I suppose it is most useful to unpack this dense quote a bit. Derrida does something really different (pun!) with what most of us may see as the pomo blues; he actually rationalizes it—maybe even “normalizes” it. How is this possible?! C’est tres possible! Derrida pushes us to see postmodernism as the mechanism for change in regard to acceptance from the troubling “modernist opposition”. Because of the ruptures in structuralism and fragmentation within modernism, postmodernism’s lean toward deconstruction leaves room for difference. In a lot of ways, postmodernism is in constant deconstruction with itself. This is why we have trouble getting ourselves outside (or past) it. Yet for all of its chaos, postmodernism’s self-created ruptures are where the essences of difference reside.

            Postmodern identities are, I argue, sustainably uncomposed. This means that the very chaos that creates the pomo blues also requires that we consistently negotiate our identities upon reaching new information. This brings us back to McComiskey’s earlier argument (Chapter 2 was it?) where he says negotiation is necessary for social process rhetorical inquiry. I believe so. At any rate, this is what postmodernism mandates: negotiation. Without firm centres of information localizing us permanently, we must negotiate and renegotiate who we are within new discourses as they appear and resonate in our lives. And here is difference ever-seeking us out. Be it new cultural discourses, marginality, (dis)ability, ad infinitum, we are made aware of difference at every discursive venture and adventure. To submit to this (t)ruth is to normalize postmodernism, and thus, deconstruct it. How? Well that is another post, isn’t it?