Saturday 12 July 2008

Bad style, unscientific, but whatever.

When I tried to explain who Emma Goldman was to a friend before spontaniously translating her essay "What Is Patriotism?" to German (her collection of essays called "Anarchism" is the most interesting looking book in my collection, and I guess just by linking to a Capitalist page I completely corrupted the original idea), I of course used the quote, how couldn't I? After hearing it for the first time during a feminist rally in a L-Word episode, where Gloria Steinem used her own version of it ("If there's no dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming"), it got stuck in my brain and, since destroying the dillusion would, well, destroy it, it was never actually verified.
Naturally, when you hear such a quote and remember that Goldman died in 1940, you kind of expect it to be a watered down version of a longer quote that probably meant something entirely different and was just made "handier" for some purpose ("Nutzbarmachung") in later years. People who fought for their ideals and were articulate and intelligent and wrote breathtakingly accurate essays before WW2 didn't really think in terms of how best say something that fits on a T-shirt. And it's true, if it does fit on a T-shirt, it's probably not the very best argument. Anyway. I gave a disclaimer with the quote that, before it was used on the L-Word, kind of went like "If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution". I said I wasn't sure but very likely, it was originally longer and It still encaptures a very strong idea: that despite our attempts to be complex in our views and always ready to think about an opinion if posed with new information or other people with different opinions, we long to have something we can hold on to, an eternal truth that encaptures the original idea: yeah, we want to be radical and we are willing to read and learn and shape ourselves, but at the same time, if dancing to Sleater-Kinney doesn't fit in, I don't think I want to do it.
So I looked up the original quote, and here it is, a small paragraph. I think that's kind of the idea of riot grrrl, that is something that got lost in the past few years, the idea that both is possible and that in the end, there are things more important than figuring out whether your high heels really fit your feminism [they don't and now come on, hit me]. Don't think about capitalism in terms of whether it's really OK to buy those expensive new sunglasses [it's really not]. It's not just about you. It's not about me either. Putting individuals into an neverending Laufrad der Nabelbeschau is one really good way to avoid any kind of change.

Die Zeit - Und was ist mit uns?

I really want to believe that this is not a phase. It happened slowly, the urge to be radical about something, anything. I've never been. I've always seen the different sides, listened to all the arguments, decided that everything was relative.
It's not.
And yeah, the fact that I am not the only one and that this happened during a Thursday night, sitting above the MQ, drinking beer, reading to each other, while all the other people just stood around bored and pretended to enjoy the music and got drunk and admired their respective hip hairdos and their very individual T-shirts makes it more real that anything that happened before. It made me feel...whole. Complete. Finally, for once.

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