The eminent scholar “took the bull by the horns,”
substituting urban black speech for the voice
of an illiterate cop in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae.
And we sat there.
Dana’s purple eyes deepened, Becky
twitched to her hairtips
and Janice in her red shoes
scribbled he’s an arschlock; do you want
to leave? He’s a model product of his
education, I scribbled back; we can learn from this.
I used to be too respectful to disagree with Tolstoy, but since I got into my sixties my faculty of respect has atrophied. Besides, at some point in the last forty years I began to question Tolstoy’s respect for his wife. Anybody can make a mistake in marriage, of course. But I have an impression that no matter who he married Tolstoy would have respected her only in certain respects, though he expected her to respect him in all respects. In this respect, I disapprove of Tolstoy; which makes it easier to disagree with him in the first place, and in the second place, to say so.
“The most common dissenting sentiment is, ‘Look, it’s fine that people are gonna come to [feminism] through pop culture, and you can’t say it’s less real than coming to it through feminist theory.’ I’ve definitely heard some frustration around that. I agree with that sentiment to some extent, but it still doesn’t absolve people of their individual ability to research feminism further—to do their own exploring—and it doesn’t mitigate the media’s role in the ways they’ve filtered and diluted feminism.”
“For a long time, there’s been this notion that men’s memoirs are conveying universal experiences, whereas women’s stories are self-indulgent, salacious—just too much. You see it in reviews—if a woman writes about sex in any way, she’s looking for attention, whereas someone like Philip Roth is brave and amazing. That’s really coming to a head right now, so it’s been an interesting time to do this sort of writing and this sort of work. Which makes it exciting but also terrifying, because you’re basically girding yourself for what you know is going to be an inevitable response.”
I agree, it’s a hot topic. But only one? Look around, there’s a wide range. Take my own, for instance. I get up in the morning. My topic feels like hell. I sprinkle it with water, brush parts of it, rub it with towels, powder it, add lubricant. I dump in the fuel and away goes my topic, my topical topic, my controversial topic, my capacious topic, my limping topic, my nearsighted topic, my topic with back problems, my badly-behaved topic, my vulgar topic, my outrageous topic, my aging topic, my topic that is out of the question and anyway still can’t spell, in its oversized coat and worn winter boots, scuttling along the sidewalk as if it were flesh and blood, hunting for what’s out there, an avocado, an alderman, an adjective, hungry as ever.