March 7, 2017

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

By Roxane Gay

One in all our such a lot critical writers . . . on every little thing that concerns

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Unlike Clio, we can’t punish those who would deny our accomplishment; nor can we afford to be amused by the folly of those brothers of Prometheus who claim to be the real innovators, treating us as imitators or usurpers. ) We can, however, point to an enormous written corpus, an imposing institutional presence, a substantial list of journals, and a foothold in popular consciousness that was unimaginable when Banner and Hartman published their book. If we have not taken over history, we have claimed a rightful position in it; once viewed as pretenders, we now have legitimate claim to Clio’s inspiration.

There is no shortage of writing about history in these terms: history as the result of empathetic identification made possible either by the existence of universal human characteristics or, in some instances, by a transcendent set of traits and experiences belonging to women or workers or members of religious or ethnic communities. In this view of things, fantasy is the means by which real relations of identity between past and present are discovered and/or forged. ∑ The limits of this approach for my purposes Fantasy Echo 49 are that it assumes exactly the continuity—the essentialist nature—of identity that I want to question.

Some ancient representations of Clio show her with a trumpet and a clepsydra (a water clock), perhaps heralding the passage of time. Time conceived as fluidity or flow—a particularly feminine representation—is not easily contained. Clio is also shown with writing implements, books, and scrolls, referring to the fact that she introduced the Phoenician alphabet to the Greeks. If Clio offered the tools of knowledge production, our task is to use them. We are not gods and thus cannot, like her, tell true tales, so we are driven by our critical faculty—which she inspires and arouses—always to revise, always to reach beyond our grasp for new knowledge, new stories to tell.

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