The last two days I’ve received a number of compliments about my appearance. Once in a great while someone says something about my eyes, but I can’t recall a flurry like this. What’s up? [the FP] said maybe I’m more at peace with myself? Ha! I’ve felt intensely sad the past week, convinced I’ll never feel loved enough, that there is no place where I truly belong, and nonesuch will ever exist.
I’ve avoided writing so despairingly here because I’m aware of image – not only how people interpret me (face) but also just how I project myself into the world, how I can be “me” in the ways that I feel most capable and competent. Yet, one can hardly do subjectivity justice if one is constantly hiding these internal aspects, eh?
In prep for the meeting with Jana and Alex today I’ve been reading their books, one on Foucault and one on Bakhtin. As usual, I’m reflecting not only on this paper James and I are trying to write, but also other projects: the mentoring project at school, interpreting FLOW (Carole and I just got accepted to that international conference in Sweden next May – but as a poster, not a presentation), and my interactions within the family. Foucault’s emphasis on “a heterogeneous ensemble of power relations operating at the microlevel of society. The practical implication of his model is that resistance must be carried out in local struggles against the many forms of power exercised at the everyday level of social relations” (p. 23).
This book, by Jana Sawicki, is awesome! Not only explains Foucault in plain language (at least compared to many intellectual tomes) but also contemporary struggles in feminism. She says, “Foucault described how power grips us at the point where our desires and our very sense of the possibilities for self-definition are constituted” (p. 10). Yes – that would be me.
In addition to struggling with despair (that everything I am has been shaped by the structure of discourses and narratives I’ve been exposed to – language regimes that I’m still struggling to break out of), there are some gems here for the mentoring project (I think). Li and I still need to figure out how to take best advantage of the expertise and wisdom of people in our department…a strategy is taking shape in my mind…I need to discuss with Li first…but here are some of the inspirational quotes from Sawicki’s book:
“What is certain is that our differences are ambiguous; they may be used either to divide us or to enrich our politics. If we are not the ones to give voice to them, then history suggests that they will continue either to be misnamed and distorted, or simply reduced to silence” (p.32).
“On the basis of specific theoretical analyses of particular struggles, one can make generalizations, identify patterns in relations of power and thereby identify the relative effectiveness or ineffectiveness, safety or danger of particular practices” (p. 32).
I’m thinking that a mentoring relationship is one of power (emphasized by Mariama), and part of the complexities of figuring it out are determining which practices are effective or ineffective, dangerous or safe. If the collective wisdom of the comm department could be brought to bear on this, not only would all of us benefit personally (I believe), but I’m confident we would also generate material that we could use to produce a videotape for the wider campus community. I’m visualizing this as a two-tiered process…on one tier is the data-gathering, the interactions, discourses, incidents and experiences that will generate a corpus from which to glean generalizations and patterns, the other tier is the application of theoretical lenses to this corpus…illuminating differences in productive ways, thus enriching not only mentoring relationships but our understandings of these theories in practical application.
Hmmm….reads well, but Carolyn might accuse me of being too idealistic again, :-).