a few reflections on the essay on women philosophers in the last post.
one of the things i got from that course in women’s studies is a bit of a background in and also support for the concept of writing in and from the first voice, in writing from and about the particular: “what i do and think is really all i can know.” today i would add to that: “and what i feel.” i had a somewhat ambiguous relationship with feelings back then …
the idea that everything is autobiographical, as freud said, and that hence everything that is not autobiograpical is plagiarism (as almodovar said) is something that has become stronger with me over the years. i am, for example, continuously astonished how the novel i am slowly working on, which ostensibly plays in 18th and 19th century louisiana and west africa as well as present-day louisiana, keeps experiencing eruptions of my history, often in completely unconscious detail, even though those times and places are not ones that i inhabit.
i hadn’t made the connection until now but i think that this essay directly influenced two later papers, the psychotherapist in context: how the therapist’s personal life, roles and social context influence therapy, and research at the edge of awareness: the person of the researcher and nonrational aspects of qualitative research. both spring from the feminist point of view that we disregard the personal aspects of our work at our own peril.
a big challenge is how to take this autobiographical stance and not turn it into a self-obsessed, navel-gazing activity. humility seems to be fence that – hopefully – keeps me from falling into the abyss of narcissism. it’s not “i can only speak for myself so that’s all i’m interested in” but “i am the only person of whom i have true authority to speak.”
searching for my voice, investigating other women’s voices, has been, in part, a very private enterprise. in other ways, however, i also hope that my words can be companions to those of [others] … even though it seems that there are similarities between me and other people … i cannot presume to speak for them. i can only speak for myself, speak to them and sometimes maybe even with them. i can only say: this is my experience; and if yours is similar, let’s have them stand side by side and reinforce each other.
this really struck me. because this is so much about blogging. (again i’m wondering, was this essay the seed from which sprang my presentation at mental health camp, blogging yourself home?)
there’s more material in that essay – i’d really like to explore some more the significance of letting our voice out – but i’ll leave that for another post.