Monday, March 24, 2008

feminist Bible translation: not "anything goes" but a lot more personal

Suzanne McCarthy has announced a series of posts on the translation of a Hebrew Psalm. She’s looking at a variety of issues, some of which I’ve found include the question of ambiguity. Ambiguity is something modernists and masculinists tend not to favor in language, especially when it comes to Bible translation. But, in this post, I am going to make a big deal out of ambiguity for better (Bible) translation. For a feminist translation, ambiguity is huge. Ambiguity actually and ironically helps the best translators disambiguate to make meanings clear, to make the text more “wholly” and personally meaningful. And, below, I want to explain that and then illustrate it with a feminist translation of a Greek language passage my pastor had us read for the Easter Sunday sermon. It’s just a snippet of a narrative: Luke 24:8-12.
Let’s make six things clear initially. First, McCarthy is not necessarily making the arguments I am. In fact, she states very cogently in a comment on her first post in her series that she “cannot perceive what relevance gender might have to this post”; I’d raised the issue that a particular Hebrew word is ambiguous in multiple ways, even with respect to grammatical gender. (In an update here, I note that McCarthy suggests ambiguity needs to be "resolved" in or by translation, especially of the Christian scriptures.)
Second, I’m not trying to invent ambiguity where it does not exist, but I will agree with Richard Rhodes that I find much more ambiguity in language than he feels is necessary or is necessarily there. Ambiguity, I must say, has its limits; even though we users of language enjoy what Nelson Goodman calls “radical relativism,” there are what Nelson Goodman says are “rigid restraints”
Third, then, the radical relativism of language, including ambiguity, is related to several things Kenneth L. Pike observes about language. [Pike’s a teacher of mine who’s profoundly influenced my thinking about these things. Pike is as much interested in the nature of language as he is how we human beings look at—i.e., theorize—and talk about—i.e., know—language. The first SIL staff member and Wycliffe Bible Translator to earn a Ph.D., Pike began with some very radical ideas; his acclaimed dissertation “A Reconstruction of Phonetic Theory,” completed in 1942, foreshadowed postmodern methods as it emphasized the need for reworking rigid, traditional and modern ways of viewing language. With one of his favorite books—Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of Human Behavior—Pike commenced emphasizing “a wholistic view.” In a later introductory book—the book Linguistic Concepts, which he had some of us his students read for a seminar on this “wholistic view” —Pike starts with the following one-sentence paragraph: “In this volume person (and relation between persons) is given theoretical priority above formalism, above pure mathematics, above idealized abstractions” (page xi).] Language, Pike says, is N-Dimensional with respect (a) to hierarchy of features; (b) to salient context and unity of features; and (c) to “fusion, merging, gradients, change, growth, education, and indeterminancies” (xi). Persons may and do determine whether to view language as (a) field, (b) particle, or (c) wave. Persons are above logic. One person can learn another person’s language, not in spite of ambiguity and not just by formal logic, but because of such ambiguity and because we all are above such logic. Persons make language ambiguous, and radically so.
Fourth, I think confusing (1) ambiguity with (2) postmodernism or with (3) feminism or with (4) gender difference is not helpful. Aristotle can be of help to us here; for he does not want confusion of categories (and absolutely, in language, he does not want ambiguity; and he does name ambiguity as a category of language to avoid). And yet, I can’t agree more with Cheryl Glenn who puzzles over the male-only histories of western rhetoric; Glenn, who reads the masculinist and modernist accounts of rhetoric’s history says that, helpfully, “[p]ostmodernism influences our resistant readings of the paternal narrative, particularly since it demands our awareness of situatedness, our angle (in my case [i.e., in Glenn’s case], reading as a feminist, as a woman)” (page 5 of Rhetoric Retold). Glenn, “as a feminist, as a woman,” and as a postmodernist, employs “three methodologies” which she calls “three angles”: “historiography (which informs the entire enterprise of feminist remappings); feminism (which specifically works to situate female rhetorical figures); and gender studies (which refigure gender as a category for historiographical analysis)” (page 4). Here we begin to see some methodology overlap. We might call it methodological ambiguity. For Glenn, ambiguity, postmodernism, feminism, and gender studies all “do” different things; and nonetheless they still all do similar sorts of things. For me, Glenn and Pike do similar things, even though Pike resists some rather non-Pikean forms of “postmodernism” and even though he never called himself a “feminist.” For that matter, Glenn and Carolyn Custis James do similar things. The former situates the predominately male history of classical rhetoric from the perspective of women; the latter rewrites the predominately male history in the Bible from the perspective of women. Nonetheless, Custis James is not an academician using postmodernism, feminism, or gender studies per se. What is common for Pike, Glenn, and Custis James is this: language is ambiguous because of persons. Feminism as methodology set is also ambiguous because it speaks to feminism also as the aim or goal to be achieved by the method. Hence, Glenn can situate herself postmodernly “as a feminist, as a woman”; likewise, I can situate myself personally “as a feminist, as a man.” McCarthy, Pike, and Custis James might rather situate themselves as linguists and Christians and historians (who may or may not admit to doing the kinds of things I want to follow Glenn in doing, as a feminist). The personal, and the ambiguities created by persons, allow us to tease out and to embrace the differences as long as, feministically, our epistemology works out the self evident truths that all men and women are created equal. (Aristotle insists on formal logic that would dictate to us no ambiguity; his end is to confirm by objective observation what is nature—including the nature of males over females and of logic over subjective rhetoric and of an original Greek text over any translation into a barbarian mother tongue.)
Fifth, when I call what I’m doing “feminist translating,” I am emphasizing as much the methodologies as I am what the methodologies produce. I am not, for example, wanting to go “Beyond the Personal,” not wanting to go beyond the methods of feminisms, which is what Joy S. Ritchie and Gesa E. Kirsch want to do when one of their students turns to Christianity and when they conclude, therefore, that her move is now necessarily opposed to feminism, which their ultimate goal (but no longer their method) in “Theorizing a Politics of Location in Composition Research.” In addition, I am not wanting to use a methodology that is not also part and parcel of the aim of the method. This, for instance, is what Ann Nyland is wanting to do by using ambiguity in language combined with the applied “Relevance Theory” of Bible translator Ernst-August Gutt for her goal: a Study New Testament for Lesbians, Gays, Bi, and Transgender. Nyland may rightly challenge whether the “word arsenokoites in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10” in English should be “homosexual”; nonetheless, she turns to Gutt and even to E. D. Hirsch for methodology to say that “[t]he reader’s context determines how a certain passage will be understood.” What Gutt does (and Hirsch and Nyland with him) is to resort to a reader’s-context method of masculinist logic. Such logic (i.e., “this context but NOT that one”) may find ambiguity determined. Such logic is not—and I will emphasize this emphatically here—such logic is not a methodology that is lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender. (Generally, the Nyland translation gets favorable reviews by bloggers at BBB; it seems “accurate” in the places spot checked.) Nyland uses Gutt’s “relevance theory” for her method (to achieve her lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender translation) which is a method that is not Pike’s tagmemics nor is any of Glenn’s three angles either. Feminist translating uses both a personal methodology and also (by those angles) works the personal aim of valuing females as equally as males are valued; a feminist translation valorizes the personal connections that a person using language makes, regardless of and with regard to gender especially.
Sixth, when I call what I’m doing “feminist translating,” I am calling attention to what male-dominant logic in translation neglects methodologically and teleologically.
In Luke 24:8-12, there is attention given to women that does come across in the history. But in the Greek language that Luke uses there is more ambiguity than traditional English translators attend to because they tend to use masculinist logic. Masculinist logic wants to abstract the meaning to the text; masculinist logic wants to pretend objectivity (i.e., to say there’s no theological agenda even if there’s an attempt to say the a priori commitment to “plenary inspiration” theory of Christian scriptures is not a theological agenda); masculinist logic wants to be over subjective person; and masculinist logic wants to eliminate ambiguity when it drives some inclusive goal, such as Nyland’s NT fo LGBTs. As a consequence, traditional English translations can ignore the importance of women and their rhetoric. Sometimes, this is an unwitting consequence. Most Bible translators will very explicitly and publicly express their commitment to the value of women. And Bible translations born out of masculinist logic do not hide the fact that Luke gives historical attention to women.
So what difference does a feminist translation make? Well, let’s look. First we’ll look at the King James Version; the Revised Standard Version; and the Nyland. Then we’ll check the texts of Luke. Finally we’ll examine feminist translating. (My formatting of the texts is for purposes of comparisons and contrasts).
And they remembered his words,
And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

And their words seemed to them as idle tales,
and they believed them not.
Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre;
and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves,
and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.


And they remembered his words,
and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
Now it was Mary Mag'dalene and Jo-an'na and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles;

but these words seemed to them an idle tale,
and they did not believe them.

Then they remembered what he’d said.
They returned from the tomb and reported all this to the Eleven and to all the others.
And it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and their companions who told this to the apostles,

but they didn’t believe them,
because they thought their words were a lot of nonsense.
However, Peter got up and ran to the tomb.
He bent over to peep in and saw the strips of linen lying by themselves,
and he went off wondering what on earth had happened.
καὶ ἐμνήσθησαν τῶν ῥημάτων αὐτοῦ
καὶ ὑποστρέψασαι ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου ἀπήγγειλαν ταῦτα πάντα τοῖς ἕνδεκα καὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς λοιποῖς
(ἦσαν δὲ ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ Μαρία καὶ Ἰωάννα καὶ Μαρία ἡ Ἰακώβου καὶ αἱ λοιπαὶ σὺν αὐταῖς ἔλεγον πρὸς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ταῦτα)
καὶ ἐφάνησαν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ὡσεὶ λῆρος τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα
καὶ ἠπίστουν αὐταῖς
(ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἀναστὰς ἔδραμεν ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον
καὶ παρακύψας βλέπει τὰ ὀθόνια μόνα
καὶ ἀπῆλθεν πρὸς ἑαυτὸν θαυμάζων τὸ γεγονός)
Feminist Translating
The women remembered the sayings he’d spoken.
They returned from the memorial grave announcing every bit of this to the eleven men and to the other men.
(There were Miyam from Magdala and Johanna and Jacob’s Miryam and the other women with them, stating this to the men he’d sent out.)
They appeared in front of the men as if this were a bunch of silly sayings.
The men disbelieved the women.
(There was “Rock” standing up; he ran to the memorial grave;
bending over, he looked at the linen cloth only;
he left, amazed at what was birthed.)
As mentioned, the blip of history that Luke provides here does not obscure women (in his Greek or in any translation above). Women are the first on the scene at Jesus’s tomb; they’re the first to remember what he said (because they listen to the angels jogging their memories); the women are the first believers; the first apostles (i.e., the male apostles’ apostles); and the first disciples to follow Jesus’s kinds of rhetorics (i.e., parable that requires personal reflection; hyperbole that appears silly; and miracle that can make radical changes for and in a body). We might say Jesus’s rhetorics are feminisms. Luke and the translations are not masculinist with respect to these facts of history.
What Luke and the feminist translation do show (in contrast to KJV, RSV, and Nyland) are the following. The Greek gendered pronouns and verbs and played-on phrases (i.e., τοῖς λοιποῖς vs. αἱ λοιπαὶ) highlight whether the referents in English are females or males. There’s a bit of play also in the first action of the women (i.e., ἐμνήσθησαν or remembering) and the place they turn from (i.e. μνημείος or tomb for memorial). The main lines of action and the parenthetical comments are marked (i.e., in Greek by καὶ plus aorist verb for mainline action, by δὲ plus proper noun subject for parethetical comment; in English by “The [wo]men” or “They” for mainline action, and by the parentheses plus the existential there for parenthetical comment). What’s more, the initial main line for both resulting paragraphs is punctuated by a repeated clause object (i.e., τῶν ῥημάτων and τὰ ῥήματα); but even the repeated ταῦτα (i.e. “this”) following τὰ ῥήματα does not make clear whether the men think they are λῆρος because women are presenting them or because they were that way when Jesus first said them—there’s vagueness (not helpful ambiguity) in this bit of language. In addition, since the Greek proper names are common Hebrew names or peculiar Aramaic nicknames, the English tries to signal these personal connections (both to the people in Luke’s history here and to his later readers) with common Old Testament counterparts (in translation) or with scare quotes. (In showing the Hebrew senses of proper nouns, I’m following Willis Barnstone). Joshua (aka Jesus) had sent the men out to announce his kingdom, but they are hiding away when the women are sent to them; hence, “sent out” seems more personal and more to the point than a non-translation transliteration “apostle”. Finally, the final word here has a generative meaning in Greek that means something to those of us who are parents, or who have parents, especially mothers; hence, in English it’s “what was birthed”.

(Oh, one more little thing that Luke plays with, from verse 7 just before the lines noted above: He has angels reminding the women of the sayings of Joshua--i.e., Jesus--and ends with the one in which Joshua says this
τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὅτι δεῖ παραδοθῆναι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων ἁμαρτωλῶν καὶ σταυρωθῆναι καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστῆναι
Of course, that last word is the one Luke picks up when he describes what “Rock”--i.e., Peter--does when he hears the women repeating the sayings of Joshua. “Rock,” like Joshua from the dead, stands up. That Joshua and the women can have such an effect is no small thing. Matthew hints at this power, and so does the feminist translation.)


Richard A. Rhodes said...

It's been a while since I've had the time and mental space to comment. But since you bring my name up regarding ambiguity. I'd like to throw something in here.

There are lots of ways that language is ambiguous. (Normally, I'd say vague, but the common parlance is ambiguous.) This is not a contradiction of former assertions about language not being ambiguous, because I've always said language, in context (the whole context, not just the other words) is far less ambiguous than most people think.

From my point of view (and one that I believe Pike shared) the fatal mistake of postmodernists is to ignore all the "other" context. Pomo writers see readings that are possible from the words, but impossible if you fully understand who was speaking/writing to whom under what circumstances.

Now that DOESN'T mean that everything is always clear. Often we don't have the full story on the author, audience, and circumstance. So the text appears to us to have meanings that weren't available, but we can't know that for sure. And all literature has enough depth for some of those "unintended" readings to be worthwhile in their own right. Nonetheless, it is incumbent on the translator to get as much of the author-audience-circumstance right as is possible. And my argument has been from the beginning that there is a LOT more information available about the NT from both text-external sources and especially from text-internal exegesis, than is currently employed. My complaint is that theologians jump in WAY too soon.

You have a parse? OK, time to ask the theologians.

Absolutely not! There's an enormous amount about Greek usage that isn't well understood. (One that I've been in a month long conversation with the Greek composition professor about is: When can you use ἔχει alone to mean "(she)'s pregnant" and when do you have to say ἔχει ἐν γαστρί?) When that work is done on the relevant passage, then the theologians get to chime in.

The other way that language in actual use is ambiguous -- or as you keep pointing out, the people factor in language understanding. Is that meanings are almost always layered in ways that linguists' examples generally flatten out. There's a piece of the meaning that is first order. But an enormous amount of communication is in the second order: what the person is trying to accomplish communicatively by saying the particular thing she/he did. Those second order communications are often more vague than the first order meanings because of their indirectness.

The problem for the translator comes from the fact that second order meanings become routinized (that is that the same communicative strategies tend to be used over and over) and as a result second order meanings ooze into first order meanings. So the ambiguity -- as you would say -- arises when we hit examples in the transition. Does the transitioning expression represent an indirect reference to the first order meaning, or is the second order meaning the de facto first order meaning? Not a small problem. When we translate, do we translate the first order meaning and expect the reader to follow the logic? or do we translate the second order (or maybe first and a half order) meaning?

Industry standard says treat the conventionalized meanings as first order.

Finally, the pomo crowd thrives on the fact that there are third and fourth order readings as well, especially in literature. In fact, I'd argue that the roots of post-modernism arise because they thought that it was (is) beneath their dignity to deal with actual morphemes, so they can't (always) tell first, second, third, etc. order meanings apart. They simply recognize that they are being sucked down in a recursive eddy of possible readings. And it's easier to deny author's intent than it is to sort out the order of meanings if grammar is beneath you.

J. K. Gayle said...

I really appreciate your taking time to comment here. What you say makes a lot of sense to me. When you start with a statement like, "There are lots of ways that language is ambiguous...[but] far less ambiguous than most people think," I start to follow what you're wanting us to see.

I get the tension you see: on one hand, "There's an enormous amount about Greek usage that isn't well understood"; AND "language in actual use is ambiguous...the people factor in language understanding...[with] meanings [that] are almost always layered in ways that linguists' examples generally flatten out." Hooray!! On the other hand, there's "an enormous amount of communication is in the second order"--"theologians jump in WAY too soon."--"the pomo crowd thrives on the fact that there are third and fourth order readings as well, especially in literature."

Here's my only refining comment. It's always back to "person." If a theologian or a postmodernist says something that's overly imaginative, then why can't that be checked? I'm thinking of the protestant reformation now, or even the theological community itself checking the cults in America. And I think an Alan Sokal and a Jean Bricmont can have some fun at pomo expense; how about English dept insider Frederick C. Crews with his Postmodern Pooh?

But despite the ostensible textual terrors of theologians and obscurantist postmodernists, there's this: there's Jesus re-reading the Law and the Prophets; there's his telling parables (which invoke a subjective response in the hearer who has ears to hear); there's his over the top hyperbole (which invokes a different kind of subjective response to the more resistant); there's his use of miracle (which reworks nature in more ways than a theologian or a postmodernist can rework the original intentions of an author and his/her text).

If Jesus is too high a figure for us, then how about C.S. Lewis. Who focuses on "myth" and ephemeral "joy" as epistemology; who says "first" and "second" order consciousness (forget Freud for the moment with the sub-consciousness) are "enjoyment" and "contemplation"? Lewis also says authors intentions may be after the fact, intentions in the hand of readers, acknowledged and unacknowledged "second meanings." Always ambiguous because always personal.

Theologians and postmodernists and other masculinists using Aristotle's logic and method don't force us to play his game, do they? No, person is above logic, Pike says.

Richard A. Rhodes said...

[People] using Aristotle's logic and method don't force us to play his game ...


That goes to what I see as a fatal flaw in feminism. There is a de facto claim that if you use linear thinking -- ever -- you're Platonist and Aristotelian to the core. Not so. I can use the notion of an excluded middle to help sharpen my thinking, but that doesn't mean that I believe it's the way the world works. I can recognize that categories exist and that we think (and therefore speak) in terms of categories, but that doesn't mean that I accept Plato's or Aristotle's categories or what they theorize about them -- particularly that, contra Plato, I -- and all cognitivists -- recognize that categories are a product of mind, and do not in any meaningful way pre-exist -- with the possible exception of some classes of micro-categories -- things like gravity and the solubility of substances and the like.

As for questions about whether there are interesting -- and valid -- interpretations of Scripture that are anachronistic, yes, I think there are. See Doug Chaplin taking me to task on this issue. But I think that it runs contrary to the translators task to translate to the anachronism. That's why I'm adamant about the need to wring all of the anachronisms possible out of a translation, at least a translation of Scripture. Secular literature, now that's a different matter.

Richard A. Rhodes said...

Oops, I forgot one thing. Jesus' use of the OT is like a preacher's use of the Scripture nowadays. He gets to put a theologian's spin on it. That's the proper place of the theologian. But for my money that doesn't say anything about our translation methods. In fact, it generates a class of problems for some theologians who have certain preconceptions about what it means that Scripture be consistent. It doesn't bother me a whit. I'll translate the LXX verse one way, and the Matthew version another, and the Pauline version another. They are not textual critics -- not a big deal to me. It's, in fact, a problem to me that the translators of the KJV worked so hard to level those surface inconsistencies out. No, no. You translate what it says, Scripture doesn't need your help.

J. K. Gayle said...

That goes to what I see as a fatal flaw in feminism. There is a de facto claim that if you use linear thinking -- ever -- you're Platonist and Aristotelian to the core.

Here's where you misunderstand feminisms profoundly, Rich. Two examples of feminists understanding Aristotle and Plato, taking the good in their philosophies and sifting out the awful, Feminist Interpretations of Aristotle (Re-Reading the Canon) edited by Cynthia A. Freeland and Feminist Interpretations of Plato edited by Nancy Tuana.

I've written a long post discussing the "feminist binary" (vs. Aristotle's binary). Take a look if you like. The thesis is much like Audre Lorde's “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” a critique of white feminism that doesn't go far enough--but the methods aren't limited.

(Sorry to rush with the reply, but I want to respond and may not get back here for a little while. Thanks for your comments, Rich.)

Richard A. Rhodes said...

But then again, in your feminist binary post (which I just re-read after 5 months), you acknowledge that -- although there may be SOME feminists who understand the need to deal with binariness -- most feminists throw the Aristotelian baby out with the Platonic bath water.

J. K. Gayle said...

although there may be SOME feminists who understand the need to deal with binariness -- most feminists...

Rich, if feminism were a democracy in ancient Athens, then we might be in trouble. But I'm not sure this is a point I intended. So you've got me reflecting on my "second meaning." Aristotle would want numbers to count. That is, the majority rule would signal something hard in nature that could not change. Feminists and women have had to deal with the ugly nature of sexism and masculinism for a long long time. They have the audacity of hope...if the majority don't always.

Aristotle is a bigot, a chauvanist, and an elitist. He's a proud objectivist; and F. A. Wright is far too kind to say of Aristotle that "His mistake was that he failed to realise the moral aspects of feminism." The one thing Aristotle's got going for him is his consistency, a realization that his concepts of categories of persons puts him right above the majority on the planet: he's refined his method better than Paul of Christianity has refined his theology. The other way to look at Aristotle is this: once he happens upon his Isocrates-reworked rhetoric and his Plato-reinvented philosophy, he never grows.

If the majority of feminists fail to grow too, then shame shame shame. I think I did use the terms "good" and "bad" to describe certain feminisms. But feminists have to work against Aristotle from the margins; against what Prudence Allen carefully shows to be the "Aristotelian Revolution 750 BC-AD 1250." No surprise many take a few steps backwards.

So let's go forward.

We're talking about language difference as Pike talks about it and as Jesus effects it. It's the difference between Francis Bacon with "Essay" and Michel de Montaigne with "Essais." Notice how very very little Aristotle uses first person (and scientists and modernists in the last few centuries have caught on). No emics and etics. No, you have heard that it was said, but I say to you. No, this is for persons with ears to hear. No emphasis on subjectivities as a scientist like Blaise Pascal has. No no no. Aristotle hides behind logic. He stands above with cold observational strategy. His student helps him -- as a free Greek educated man -- to conquer the world. That's why there's such irony in Aristotelian principles in translation: Aristotle detests the barbarous stuff.

So when we men, Rich, listen to someone like Nancy Mairs, there's a qualitative difference. An epistemological difference. The majority of women have bodies constrained. Mairs lives in a wheelchair because of nature. But the society of men has required most females to exist with, as Cheryl Glenn puts it, "a closed mouth (silence), a closed body (chastity), and an enclosed life (domestic confinement)."

Mairs talks of women's discourse not as binary. (There's irony in my "not" here). Women's bodies are polymorphic. They must ebb and flow; in pregnancy they grown miraculously! Aristotle profoundly mischaracterizes women, and especially their bodies. He's not very much like Helene Cixous who insists nonetheless that women have value in writing the body.

My two favorite quotations of Mairs is how I'll end this comment. Despite what you say I've said about the majority of feminists being unwitting or even willing Aristotelians or Platonists, we men (you and me too!) would do well to listen a little better. With these two statements (from her Voice Lessons), Mairs demonstrates the wonderful audacious possibility for change for voice for agency of women confined by men like Aristotle. It's what Nelson Goodman might call "radical relativism." And, when there must be his "rigid restraints," look where they are: with kind consideration of others, of other people. So here goes (and let's listen and remember that Aristotle and most Aristotelians, even feminist Aristotelians, haven't learned to write like this):

"In a single sentence [the reviewer] reimposed the very dichotomies I had constructed the book in order to call into question, putting electrified fences around the categories 'academy' 'criticism,' and 'writing' to keep the various critters from intermingling, maybe interbreeding to create some nameless monster very like the one I aspire to be."

"Publication of any sort is an intrinsically social act, 'I' having no reason to speak aloud unless I posit 'you' there listening; but your presence is especially vital if I am seeking not to disclose the economic benefits of fish farming in Zäire, or to recount the imaginary tribulations of an adulterous doctor's wife in nineteenth-century France, but to reconnect myself—now so utterly transformed by events unlike any I've experienced before as to seem a stranger even to myself—to the human community....lending materiality to my readerly ideal, transform monologue into intercourse."