Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Impasse and Detour

I so loved reading Haraway’s A Manifesto of Cyborgs.  I like that the meanings I make  from it are implicitly creative and that the turnings in and backward and round about in the text are defiant of arbitrary naming of a meaning.   I like my own confusions in reading, the wild moves of theory and the momentary connections to the material.  The whole piece is a question.

In the same list of readings this week were parts of Patricia Collins’ Black Feminist Thought.  Her preface brought my hooray for Haraway to a puzzling bumpy place, which for such a text should not feel so out of place.  In the preface Collins carefully names her political purposes for “[not stressing] the  contradictions,  frictions,  and  inconsistencies of Black feminist  thought” (p. xiv).  Collins instead asserts a collective picture of Black Feminism(s) with particular political aims, which she names for doing so. 

I was caught when I read this by the power in this naming of the stances we are taking, naming that there are many other possible and useful stances, but that we, for named reasons, are taking this particular stance.  I suppose the danger here, which Haraway attempts to avoid is the washing over of such statements in the use and circulation of the text’s ideas.  Rather Haraway’s Manifesto makes a claim of instability its particular mission and political work.  The creative meanings of the text are not easily washed away by removing prefacing or footnoted or other periphery remarks that might (as in Collins) act to disrupt a sense of stability in the text.  Haraway’s Manifesto is the disruption itself. 

I do think Haraway’s political work of fore fronting the slipperiness and theoretical nature of meaning still gets washed over, just in different ways from Collins.  While Patricia Collin’s thinking might be taken up as any particular flag for Black Feminism, Haraway can just be erased as eccentric, radical and overly theorized, and so dismissed altogether.

I am painting a dim picture in my mind.  Everyone, all the women, washed away.  Another interpretation, and one that might be more useful, even as I should probably keep in mind the first, is that these texts, these stances, in tandem as part of a growing conversation among feminists are difficult to wash away as a collective, however settled or fractured the collective story might appear.

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