Categories
Diversity Weblogging

Best blog with a female spirit

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

This is too tedious for words because I have things I need to be doing, but I would not be me, which would be remiss and inconsistent and therefore uncomfortable for you and that’s to be avoided at all costs (at least on a Tuesday, shaking your world being allowed on a Wednesday), if I did not make some form of response to this newest of weblog awards, the 2003 Weblog Awards. Normally I find these events to be, well, rather uninspiring except for the fact that the creator has created a Best Female Authored Blog award, as compared to we can only presume, Best Blog’s almost guarantee of male winnership.

Among all the plethora of nominations there would seem to be one criticism, whereby the author wrote that the award struck them as a Pretty Good Blog…For a Chick award. Both Misbehaving and Netwoman have responded, but my favorite response came from Feministe who wrote, after seeing herself nominated:

This is a sticky subject – being notable for being a female writer. I’d rather just be a marginal writer than a notable female author. While it hints of sexism, I have to acknowledge that I feel pride in being female, or feminine, or whatever, as I define it. I also feel pride in my writing. But they aren’t exactly related. While one informs the other, they are not correlational.

Thanks for nominating me, guys, and I apologize if I seem ungrateful. I just don’t want it suggested that I’m just okay.

For a girl.

Of course, one could say that this award is the result of conversations we’ve been having about women’s writing and weblogging and lack of acknowledgement for women’s writing. Many a man is probably slapping his head right now going, They wanted acknowledgement and we created their own special category. What more do they want.. True we do seem to be picky about such things and I realize that we are tedious with our demands to be seen.

How odd, though, that I read about this award following an evening spent watching National Geographic specials focusing on women: first one on the life of a Geisha, followed by one on taboos that focused on gender specific issues, such as the fascinating story of the Sworn Virgins of North Albania – women who eschew their feminine side, formally, in order to participate in all activities normally only allowed to men. It was an amazing contrast in stories: going from women who epitomize the art of femininity so strongly that this image transcends cultures; to women who with the blessing of the village become seen as men from the day they make their decision, and treated as such. So much so that they may hold any job and afterwards, sit down and have a beer and smoke a cigarette with other men in a place where women rarely leave their homes without shawls wrapped around their heads.

Completely opposite stories, and yet, they are strangely similiar because both feature women who wear a costume, of one form or another, to successfully compete in a world virtually dominated by men.

But returning to the Best Blog written by Female award. Rather than join in the voices raised in consternation at the seeming sexism apparant in this award, I want to congratulate the creator because, in my opinion, he hasn’t created an award to differentiate women’s writing from best writing – he’s created an award to recognize that which epitomizes the female spirit in our writing, regardless of our gender.

Or at least, that is how I seek to view it, and based on this I would like to offer some nominations of my own of weblogs who best demonstrate the spirit of Women’s Writing:

  • Mike Golby because no one better demonstrates the power of passionate commitment than Mike, and women’s writing is, above all, passionate.
  • Stavros the Wonder Chicken whose embrace of life in all of its highs and lows shows us life is not meant be accepted with trepidation, and women’s writing is the very verbalization of embracing life.
  • No one is better able to demonstrate the subtle awareness of others that is so characteristic of women’s writing than Joi Ito, with his tact and diplomacy.
  • Dave Winer because the best of women’s writing contains a little bitchiness.
  • Love of a child represents a sense of wonder in women’s writing and no one loves their child more than Papa Scott or Gary Turner so I must list them both.
  • Women’s writing focuses on true courage as compared to contrived – the type of bravery that rarely gets medals. This is best represented by Kevin Walzer who demonstrates courage by quitting his job to support his full time poetry publishing business.
  • Within some of the best women’s writing there is the figurative grandmother, the wise woman who sits in the corner spinning yarn and tales equally, and in the process helping to continue traditions without which our lives would be so much duller. But it is hard to find candidates from among the worthies who best exemplify this so I must list them all: Euan SempleDavid WeinbergerAKMATom ShugartRev Matt, and Steve Himmer.
  • The women’s touch is said to be delicate, so women’s writing can be no less, delicate and balanced like stones tumbled just so into art in a cold, clear stream. There is no better at this than Jonathon DelacourOblivio, and Wood s lot.
  • I don’t wish to imply that women’s writing is all that is noble and grand because women can also be sly in their writing; words flickering like reflections caused by stones dropped into a glassy lake, or the tongues of snakes smelling the air. To be assertive or even aggressive in writing is to court degradation or death and so women’s writing can be at best subtle, and at worst, devious. However, to nominate those who are good at this passive aggression would be an aggressive act, and therefore negate the categorization.
  • Women in their writing are aware of the past but they must by necessity be facing forward because women have long been held to be the care takers of the future while the men seek to influence the past by destroying the present. Three writers consistently demonstrate this concern for the future with their very strong awareness of the times today: Doug AlderAllan Moult, and Norm Jenson.
  • Women write of what interests them and this interest can be natural and scientific, worldly and not. Technical writing is not beyond us, though we are not known for it. There are fine technical voices to nominate for this aspect of women’s writing but they are mentioned so frequently that they must be exhausted, and so we’ll let them rest this time.
  • My list of attributes of women’s writing would not be complete if I did not mention writing that nourishes the soul, with equal parts life and poetry, food and sex, with just a touch of mask, mysticism, and madness and for this I would have to pick Loren WebsterJoe DuemerWealth BondageRageboywKen, and Jeff Ward. I will leave it to you to differentiate who writes about what.

And at the end of the list I can see so many more candidates for this award, and I sorrow leaving them out, but the list grows over long and I grow over tired. In fact, there is not a person I do not read, male or female, who does not demonstrate in one way or another the ancient and fine spirit of women’s writing, earning the only award I can bestow – my time.

And now a return to my offline contemplations, and women’s writing of a different kind.

Categories
Art

Looking for Lighthouses

In response to Philip Greenspun’s ironic question/link bait: Why pretend to care about others when we have professional therapists?

A friend criticized me for being unsympathetic regarding a concern of hers that I thought was irrational. She believed that a friend ought to care simply because another human being is apprehensive, even if that apprehension is not justified. During this exchange it occurred to me that there is actually no reason for the layperson to be sympathetic or emphathetic in any modern situation.

Three hundred years ago friends needed to empathize with one another. Today anyone who wishes to get symphathy for his or her troubles can simply buy it from one of the hundreds of thousands of trained professionals in the therapy industry.

From three hundred years ago, a non-ironic answer:

 

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all….No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Excerpted from John Donne’s Meditation XVII, 1624

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Categories
Photography Weather Writing

It’s not a doorway

I have been reading about the snowstorm in New England, and hearing about snowfalls of several feet, which can take forever to recover from in cities; especially Boston with its narrow streets and parked cars. However, Boston is only three miles long and unless you’re heading across the river to Harvard, you can walk to work. In a couple of hours or so.

The snowstorm that struck the Midwest and the Northeast passed us by and we’ve had mild temperatures. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before we get hit, but we’ll take the mild weather and the beautiful sunsets for now.

However, we can’t have snow without a little poetry, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow agrees with me:

Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

“Snow-Flakes”

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Easier to find poetry about snow than about sunsets, as I found when I looked about. Other than:

Red sky in the morning,
sailor take warning.
Red sky at night,
sailor’s delight.

I think its because sunsets have their own beauty and anything to do with them — poetry, painting, or photography — is a given and a bit of a cheat. But I’ll take the cheat for now.

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Of course, the sunset figures prominently into our fiction, particularly westerns. Cowboys would always ride off into the sunset when they’ve saved the day, which I thought was stupid.

I mean think about it: they ride in, get shot up, go against the bad guys 2 to 1, overcome against all odds, and just when the farmer’s daughter cries out, “My hero”, and we presume is feeling mighty grateful, the idiots ride off into the sunset.

I bet the horse had more sex. No wonder there’s no poetry about sunsets.

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That’s not completely true, there are poems about sunsets. Emily Dickinson wrote a couple — she wrote on everything it seems — and I rather liked, “The Sunset Stopped on Cottages”:

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Sunset hence must be
For treason not of His, but Life’s,
Gone Westerly, Today –

The Sunset stopped on Cottages
Where Morning just begun –
What difference, after all, Thou mak’st
Thou supercilious Sun?

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Tired of sunsets yet? Just be glad I didn’t publish the other ten photos I took tonight, because the sky did put on a lovely show. I grabbed my camera and ran down outside, fighting my cat at the door — me out, her in — before standing out on the deck in bare feet snapping pictures.

The neighbors are used to it: they think I’m nuts, and maybe I am. Am I of age to be eccentric yet?

Oh who cares. I spend too much time worrying about what people think of me when they see me puttering about, and most likely they don’t think of me at all (which is very liberating, let me say).

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The sky is pretty and so are the trees, but yes I do need new subjects, which means I’ll have to go look for them. New things to write about, too. Good.

And on that note, I’ll end with JRR Tolkien:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

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