❀ [EPUB] ✸ The Argonauts By Maggie Nelson ❤ – Horse-zine.co.uk

The Argonauts chapter 1 The Argonauts, meaning The Argonauts, genre The Argonauts, book cover The Argonauts, flies The Argonauts, The Argonauts 7cf50e60462f4 An Intrepid Voyage Out To The Frontiers Of The Latest Thinking About Love, Language, And FamilyMaggie Nelson S The Argonauts Is A Genre Bending Memoir, A Work Of Autotheory Offering Fresh, Fierce, And Timely Thinking About Desire, Identity, And The Limitations And Possibilities Of Love And Language At Its Center Is A Romance The Story Of The Author S Relationship With The Artist Harry Dodge This Story, Which Includes Nelson S Account Of Falling In Love With Dodge, Who Is Fluidly Gendered, As Well As Her Journey To And Through A Pregnancy, Offers A Firsthand Account Of The Complexities And Joys Of Queer Family Making Writing In The Spirit Of Public Intellectuals Such As Susan Sontag And Roland Barthes, Nelson Binds Her Personal Experience To A Rigorous Exploration Of What Iconic Theorists Have Said About Sexuality, Gender, And The Vexed Institutions Of Marriage And Child Rearing Nelson S Insistence On Radical Individual Freedom And The Value Of Caretaking Becomes The Rallying Cry Of This Thoughtful, Unabashed, Uncompromising Book

10 thoughts on “The Argonauts

  1. says:

    this is the opening paragraph of the book October, 2007 The Santa Ana winds are shredding the bark off the eucalyptus trees in long white stripes A friend and I risk the widowmakers by having lunch outside, during which she suggests I tattoo the words HARD TO GET across my knuckles, as a reminder of this pose s possible fruits Instead the words I love you come tumbling out of my mouth in an incantation the first time you fuck me in the ass, my face smashed against the cement floor of your dank and charming bachelor pad You had Molloy by your bedside and a stack of cocks in a shadowy unused shower stall Does it get any better What s your pleasure you asked, then stuck around for an answer.and i rolled my eyes.this is the second paragraph of the book Before we met, I had spent a lifetime devoted to Wittgenstein s idea that the inexpressible is contained inexpressibly in the expressed This idea gets less air time than his reverential Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent, but it is, I think, the deeper idea Its paradox is, quite literally, why I write, or how I feel able to keep writingand i rolled my eyes.if you enjoy reading about penetration AND impenetrable abstractions, this here s your friggin peanut butter cup I am not interested in a hermeneutics, or an erotics, or a metaphorics, of my anus I m interested in ass fucking.for me, this is all like baby pictures stuffed with math which translates through the karen filter as things i recognize as having appeal to others, but make me bored and impatient which is how i felt during a lot of this book.opening your memoir sociology book with anal sex is either meant to be tr s bold and shocking, or voyeuristically titillating to the reader, but it just made me a little embarrassed for her that she thought anal sex would be either shocking or titillating in this day and age i m by no means a prude, but unless i m actually participating in the carnal arts, reading about it or seeing it carried out in front of me does nothing for me, and reading about other people s sex lives has the same level of appeal as looking at their vacation photos it s something you both shared and i m glad you had a good time doing it together, but i m an outsider to your experience i m all for people rutting any way they please, as long as it s consensual and age appropriate, but if i m not involved, hearing about it neither offends nor arouses nor interests me this book doesn t have a ton of sex in it but there s a ton of intellectual masturbation that is just as tedious to me i ve never seen the value in jargon heavy thinkerydoo with no practical application all these intellectual cubbyholes, tunnel visioned and stubborn, milking abstractions, parsing intangible shit into specific intangible shit until everyone s exhausted, everything s inconclusive, and during all that time spent blathering, someone s designed and built a friggin bridge and it s weird, because she seems to acknowledge the hollowness of these kinds of exercises In one of my favorites of your drawings, two Popsicles are talking to each other One accuses, You re interested in fantasy than reality The other responds, I m interested in the reality of my fantasy Both of the Popsicles are melting off their sticksbut it doesn t stop her from contributing to that hollowness examining and probing and dissecting, melting off her own stick.i ve always been a bit theory resistant i was a wee english major undergrad at NYU, and even then, bright eyed and bushy tailed and presumably full of intellectual suppleness, i balked when it came time to play literary theory roulette reading a single text through a variety of different filters today we are lacanians and now feminist theorists and new historicists i understand the purpose to introduce young minds to the exciting possibilities of critical approach, but it always struck me as intellectual busywork, and an incredibly limiting exercise to shoehorn a text into some rigorous discipline, interpreting through such a narrow and frequently inappropriate channel, imposing meaning instead of just listening to what the text itself had to say fortunately for my gpa, i was very good at bullshitting, but it was never comfortable for me, corsetting a voluptuous book into a narrow vision without regard for authorial intent, and the experience of critical chameleonism reminded me of that scene in Ridicule which i cannot find quoted on the internet, but if you ve seen the film, you know which one i mean shallowly parroting someone else s dogma is way less interesting than finding one s own voice and critical perception and that s what i think of lit theory.but it could have been worse cuz shit like this just makes me go into hulk smash mode A few years ago, she told me the story of a subsequent feminist theory class that threw a kind of coup They wanted in keeping with a long feminist tradition a different kind of pedagogy than that of sitting around a table with an instructor They were frustrated by the poststructuralist ethos of her teaching, they were tired of dismantling identities, tired of hearing that the most resistance one could muster in a Foucauldian universe was to work the trap one is inevitably in So they staged a walkout and held class in a private setting, to which they invited Christina as a guest When people arrived, Christina told me, a student handed everyone an index card and asked them to write how they identified on it, then pin it to their lapel.i have no issues with the index card element, apart from my antipathy for the spectacle and hippie dippery undertone at play here where it s all just a stagey opportunity to flaunt participants tolerance and inclusiveness and commitment to diversity which if you really are all of those things, you don t need to broadcast in such a clumsy way it s the squirm equivalent of saying i have a black friend and it s incredibly superficial being a lesbian or genderfluid doesn t make you interesting any than liking asparagus or being color blind does it s a detail of who you are, and if you are only defining yourself by whether the genitals of the people you fuck are innies or outies, you need to aim higher build a bridge or something.the thing is, she actually sums up perfectly my own approach to sexuality, before she goes prancing back off into the land of ever granular labeling of sexual expression There are people out there who get annoyed at the story that Djuna Barnes, rather than identify as a lesbian, preferred to say that she just loved Thelma Gertrude Stein reputedly made similar claims, albeit not in those exact terms, about Alice I get why it s politically maddening, but I ve also always thought it a little romantic the romance of letting an individual experience of desire take precedence over a categorical one.i mean, doesn t that make the most sense if we re acknowledging that sexuality is a spectrum, and adopting the sensible approach of letting an individual experience of desire take precedence over a categorical one, why even bother with labeling where you stick your pin on this spectrum sure, i have idealized aesthetics as far as what i find attractive in both men and women, but my individual experiences of desire have frequently deviated from this aesthetic, because how swoony you feel when you re around someone you love transcends whether their junk is inside or outside their body, or whether they align with whatever your preferred type is tall short, blonde, asian, whatever but as tolerant as i am although clearly intolerant of hammy displays of tolerance , i have no time for people with identity dismantling fatigue who are so easily vexed by poststructuralist ethos i m too practical to be impressed by empty performance, sound fury that is ultimately unproductive and noncontributory and while the author is also made uncomfortable by the students in this anecdote, she is nonetheless devoted to the bombastic argot of the world of gender feminist queer theory all reproductive futurism and sodomitical mother and intellectualizing her own pregnancy, fretting about the symbolism inherent in being a pregnant woman, specifically a pregnant lesbian how that defines her in the larger context of the new queer family if it smacks too much of homonormativity and what it all meeeeans you re a lesbian and you want to have a baby so maybe just be a lesbian who has a baby and focus on raising your son to be a decent human being full of vitamin C and good grammar without wasting time worrying yourself about the smug autoeroticism, the obscene nature of the pregnant body in public and all the circuitous thought diddling that should only preoccupy stoners Is there something inherently queer about pregnancy itself, insofar as it alters one s normal state, and occasions a radical intimacy with and radical alienation from one s body How can an experience so profoundly strange and wild and transformative also symbolize or enact the ultimate conformity somewhere, an unbuilt bridge weeps.fortunately, the book isn t all hifalutin contemplation the best parts for me revolve around nelson s relationship with harry, her pronoun slippery spouse, who is her perfect partner, both sexually Why did it take me so long to find someone with whom my perversities were not only compatible, but perfectly matched Then as now, you spread my legs with your legs and push your cock into me, fill my mouth with your fingers You pretend to use me, make a theater of heeding only your pleasure while making sure I find mine Really, though, it s than a perfect match, as that implies a kind of stasis Whereas we re always moving, shape shifting No matter what we do, it always feels dirty without feeling lousy.and whose pillow talk or concrete floor talk , demonstrates a similar proclivity for passionate balderdash In whose world is the morphological imaginary defined as that which is not real when nelson is writing about their relationship, particularly the summer of our changing bodies Me, four months pregnant, you six months on T, it s lovely the juxtaposition of their experiences transforming what was formerly abstract into something tangible and meaningful On the surface it may have seemed as though your body was becoming and male, mine and female But that s not how it felt on the inside On the inside, we were two human animals undergoing transformations beside each other, bearing each other loose witness In other words, we were aging.and, during that same time, living in a hotel after harry s top surgery and coincidentally coming across a reality program featuring a woman with breast cancer recovering from her own mastectomy It was uncanny to watch her performing the same actions we were performing emptying her drains, waiting patiently for her unbinding but with opposite emotions You felt unburdened, euphoric, reborn the woman on TV feared, wept and grieved.that is some wholly powerful shit.and i did enjoy coming across this passage, since it made me feel bad for all my earlier eye rolling Shame spot being someone who spoke freely, copiously, and passionately in high school, then arriving in college and realizing I was in danger of becoming one of those people who makes everyone else roll their eyes there she goes again. It took some time and trouble, but eventually I learned to stop talking, to be impersonate, really an observer This impersonation led me to write an enormous amount in the margins of my notebooks marginalia I would later mine to make poems.this writing in the margins habit comes through in the structure of this book it s a little indulgent, personal, scattershot and messy, with frequent quotes whose authors are attributed in the margins, and this shape is actually perfect for its subject matter, which frequently addresses the inability to categorize things tidily, including harry How to explain trans may work well enough as shorthand, but the quickly developing mainstream narrative it evokes born in the wrong body, necessitating an orthopedic pilgrimage between two fixed destinations is useless for some but partially, or even profoundly, useful for others That for some, transitioning may mean leaving one gender entirely behind, while for others like Harry, who is happy to identify as a butch on T it doesn t I m not on my way anywhere, Harry sometimes tells inquirers How to explain, in a culture frantic for resolution, that sometimes the shit stays messy and i think that s the main takeaway for me sometimes shit stays messy, no matter how many labels you throw at it, no matter how much time you spend spinning your thinking wheels the difference between her conclusion and mine is that shit staying messy is my endpoint, not an invitation to throw scrabble words at the situation the second book in my second quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit huzzah review to come come to my blog

  2. says:

    When I was in my early twenties and just out of school, I was lucky enough to get a job as a production copy editor for a smallish academic press My women s studies minor was enough to get me put in charge of the women s studies and LGBT studies offerings, and over the years I copyedited probably thousands of journal articles and book manuscripts on these topics It was a wonderful education in many ways At the time, marriage for same sex couples was a distant dream, and I was a witness, in the form of their writings, to the work people who d been shut out of the mainstream were doing to carve out their own lives I don t want to idealize this time, of course the discrimination gay people faced regarding marriage among other things was hideous and wrong, and no one supported marriage equality than I did But there was something inspiring about seeing people really ask themselves If I can t have or don t want what the mainstream has, what kind of life do I want Over and over again I got the message You don t have to live your life the way everyone else does if you don t want to You can decide for yourself what you want your life to be My young self absorbed this message like a sponge At every turn I asked myself Was I just going along with convention Was I just reacting against convention Or was this what I really wanted I can t say my life has been perfect as a result, but I can say it s always been authentic I have those writings, which raised me and guided me like nothing else, to thank for that.Reading The Argonauts reminded me of those days while still being as fresh and bracing as a cobweb clearing winter draft I admired and was grateful for the way Maggie and Harry refused to be boxed in, refused to be pinned down, refused to be labeled always thinking, always resisting conventional ideas, for themselves, for their marriage, for their relationships with their kids Naming something, Nelson points out, limits it Why, this book makes you wonder, are we so quick to nail things down Why are we so inclined to believe there are only one or two ways to be happy The complicated freedom this book represents is something I want to clasp to myself and keep with me always.This is not an overly intellectual or complex book, but it s a smart one, and it requires some focus, and reading it made me realize how much I love and miss writing that demands such focus Here is a book that feels no need to dumb it down for anyone, that asks for your attention and gets it, and I became addicted to that feeling of thinking about only what Maggie Nelson was saying and not the million other things that tend to crowd my mind This is a short book, but I put it down many times because I didn t want to finish it too quickly I knew I would be sorry when it was over, and I was The title of this book is a metaphor for the idea that love, while it may always be present, needs always be remade as the people involved change and grow and evolve Ideally, love shows different sides of itself over time, is, as Nelson puts it in her acknowledgments, an infinite conversation, an endless becoming I finished this book the day before Valentine s Day, and what an antidote it was to the fake idealized commercialism of that occasion Maggie Nelson and I have next to nothing in common on the surface, but I can think of no book that has better reminded me of where my own heart lies.

  3. says:

    Here s what I liked I liked the way Nelson writes about motherhood Honest, unashamed, full of a joy with a hugeness to it I ve read some great writing on motherhood published recently see Eula Biss On Immunity and I deeply appreciate this work, as someone for whom the desire to birth and parent a child is very alien I have been at times a little bratty in my attitudes towards those who chose to parent, so work that is critical of that attitude and helps demystify parenting feels invaluable to me.That said, I really didn t care for Nelson s methodology She s trying to write in a way that mirrors the messiness of thought, the messiness of processes of learning and growing Maybe it was unavoidable that this would leave me cringing frequently, but, I don t know, maybe it wasn t In any case, it was at times really painful Like, when Nelson describes the sense of mourning she felt as she learned that her baby was a boy, her mourning for the fantasy of a feminist daughter, the fantasy of a mini me She takes us through the process of accepting the body her baby would be born with, but disappointingly this acceptance does not come at the realization of how very wrong the act of gendering a fetus is instead it comes when she realizes that she might still braid his hair She tells us about how she felt surprised that her body could make a male body It s bizarre that someone with a trans spouse could be so oblivious to her own essentializing of her child s gender.Another example Nelson briefly takes her reader through her decision to give her child a name of Native American origin To paraphrase, it goes like this Would it be weird for us, as white parents, to give our white child a native name Probably, but I think we ll do it anyway And oh a full tribe member gave us her blessing LikeThis review is turning out to be longer than I meant it to be I guess it feels as if Nelson in this work was grasping at a way of writing that cuts to some authentic and fleeting affect but too often it feels like she s gliding over the surface of things, trying to keep up a momentum, trying not to lose something And some other thing IS being lost There s not always enough self reflection, and I just don t know what, really, many of her readers will get out of these moments She would have done well to step back a little and ask herself what she was really offering us.

  4. says:

    You ve punctured my solitude, I told you I feel as if I m treading on thin ice with this one, because in all honesty, this is a book that one has to read in order to understand I feel that Nelson has exposed her soul to us, sharing thoughts and experiences that many of us would find unlikely to confess even to ourselves How can we, as simple readers who haven t even experienced 10% of what she has been through, write a text saying this is good or this is bad Speaking for myself, I was deeply touched by her writing Once again, I was convinced of the inadequacy and dogmatism of our progressive era, once again I understood how severely difficult is for each one of us to break the norms and be different I realised that age doesn t necessarily bring anything with it, just itself The rest is optional My first experience with Nelson s writing was the beautiful Bluets, one of the finest memoirs I ve ever read The Argonauts is extremely different I was very interested in the title she chose I dare say without presuming to assume what she had in mind that the Argonauts is a metaphor for the continuous struggle to go against the current and succeed in what may seem as a Herculean, solitary effort Whereas Bluets focuses on the melancholy of Love, here she writes primarily about gender identity and fluidity, sexuality and motherhood I was particularly moved to read about her personal passage to motherhood while her partner was in the middle of a process that I can only describe as a rebirth She touches in motherhood through the prism of mutual understanding or the lack of it and the issue of infidelity juxtaposed with her father s death I loved reading about her teaching experience and interactions with the young and not so bright minds.I will be honest with you, as always, and tell you that there were quite a few moments when I felt uncomfortable reading her confessions and vivid for lack of a stronger word descriptions of certain issues that I consider too personal to be shared But this is exactly why I loved The Argonauts Even if we can t really understand because we have never walked in her shoes, her writing oozes confidence and vulnerability It is raw and immediate and unafraid, But it is not for everyone.I did prefer Bluets but that s only because I can t really relate to the theme of motherhood and its implications This doesn t mean anything, though Maggie Nelson is a writer whose language enters souls and minds bravely and directly Leave it to the old politician white guy to call the lady speaker back to her body, so that no one misses the spectacle of that wild oxymoron, the pregnant woman who thinks Which is really just a pumped up version of that general oxymoron, a woman who thinks My reviews can also be found on

  5. says:

    You pass as a guy I, as pregnant Our waiter cheerfully tells us about his family, expresses delight in ours On the surface, it may have seemed as though your body was becoming and male, mine, and female But that s not how it felt on the inside On the inside, we were two human animals undergoing transformations beside each other, bearing each other loose witness In other words, we were aging This book explores Maggie Nelson s relationship with Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered It describes their love, the birth of their son and their changing bodies Nelson from her changing body from pregnancy, and Dodge from the changing body of surgery and T hormones This book questions the freedom to be who we want to be, the freedom to love who we want to love, our identity and sex It analyses the worlds notion that things need to tick certain boxes love, sexuality, instead of viewing them on a spectrum Throughout this book Nelson adds references from various people, such as psychologists, and their views on gender, sex and love.I, however, found this a difficult one to read I really had to work on reading this Usually I love a challenge and I really wanted to enjoy this as it is enjoyed by so many readers, but I just found this difficult I really had to concentrate on it to understand what the author was saying She writes in such a way that is intelligent, but, if like me, I found it didn t flow too well and I didn t understand what she was referencing to at times This book is also one continuous prose, without chapters, and while you would think it would flow well, it just didn t for me It made it hard to understand and appreciate the perspective and messages she was trying to convey.From what I can gather, this taught me about identity, freedom and compassion for others However, this was just not the book for me.

  6. says:

    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.Mixing memoir and cultural history, Nelson uproots conventional notions of genre and form in The Argonauts, supplanting them with her radical interest in creating art without a center The short book quickly branches off from the writer s initial focus on her romance with her life partner, trans artist Harry Dodge, and it sprawls in many different directions Nelson touches upon the ethics of feminist art the difficulty of sustaining queer relationships, without having models to follow the intricacies of childrearing the shortcomings and strengths of critical theory, past and present and so much While The Argonauts can feel aimless at times, Nelson s insights on queer motherhood are astute, and following her intellectual somersaults makes for a stimulating reading experience.

  7. says:

    Really sharp, lovely synthesis of emotional memoir and critical theory, reminiscent of a outrageous version of Barthes and formatted in a canny way that allows your eyes to fly down the page even as you re taking in some relatively heavy hitting quotations The overall theme of the Argo as a metaphor for a relationship parts keep on changing, but the boat s identity remains the same is brilliant and her self described queer relationship with Harry Dodge is depicted movingly There s one sequence where he s cycling up on testosterone and she is four months pregnant that s a fascinating riot of hormones Other moments stand out the birth scene in particular, but also Harry s description of his mother s death and her views on being pregnant while on book tour I ve taught this book to several non fiction classes at Rutgers and it always delivers students radically change their approaches after reading this, after seeing what non fiction can do.

  8. says:

    Um The Argonauts is about gender, pregnancy, and other things The name Argonaut is borrowed from a book passage in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes It refers to a boat, and the answer is if you replace every particle of the boat, it is still the same boat called Argonaut, and how that compares to saying I love you to a person, renewing the meaning by each use, the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new The author thinks the passage is romantic Her partner sees it as a possible retraction.o _ OI know, right Too too precious.I m supposed to either love or respect this book because of the intellectually elastic writing interwoven with high end educated philosophical musings with a lot of quotes and passages from famous Intellectuals and writers pasted in here and there and because of the author Maggie Nelson, who is a respected poet and critic and because its disjointed narrative pieces and paragraphs of subject matter are artistically wobbled about and around in a post modern literary style, which amounts to stray thoughts, philosophy, autobiography and TMI medical shi pasted in willy nilly, perhaps artistically.A subject is dropped for awhile for a digression, which is examined briefly before the author returns to what she had been thinking about or doing, or not Ideas and musings and autobiographical bits are mixed in with no particular linkage, except the subject rolls around female body issues and pregnancy Some bits are extremely clinical and detailed about the vagina and anus, other bits are dealing with personal and public confusions with gender definitions which have become as fuzzy as quantum physics my interpretation and words I finished a science book recently about quantum effects There is a lot of brief intellectualized literary sketches of bliss, wonder and fear about babies, the process of getting pregnant, the pains of carrying a growing fetus, how various types of people react to babies and pregnancy filtered through culture and gender perceptions and unwanted medical fad advice given on the streets or standing in line for a movie or with smokers, etc Actually, despite the literary clever Modern Post Modern academic filter of the author s writing, she appears to me like a 13 year old girl who wore a dubious fashion choice to school I mean the pregnancy and her sexuality , and is alternating between defending and explaining the effect she was going for, while harboring secret doubts that it is a really stupid outfit and so she asks all of her best friends in the bathroom if she should go home and change..The author feels outraged or conflicted or confused or thoughtful in language which is written in poetic university speak code words usually used for Ph.D thesis level papers, only fragmented and memoir personalized, although this stuff is what every mother goes through whether she is a Ph.D Literature or Philosophy professor or a 16 year old The difference is the author has the ability to use 5 words, concepts and ideas in a post modern stream of consciousness layout at least it is punctuated and in paragraphs , about a subject most people would rather read if written familiarly like in a typical memoir using 5 cent words and jokes.The author is a lesbian, the book chronicles her pregnancy and some of her relationship with her partner, the artist Harry Dodge, who is a transgendered FTM I understand why pregnancy is fraught with emotional and intellectual baggage for her, after all, she is a brain who processes everything in a prism of high end thinking and academic literary concepts, but this book is an ego project, self centered and unpleasant to read.I found the book a chore to read and boring once I understood it is about her personal angst about pregnancy, with heavily freighted emotional and philosophical observations filtered through her education, cultural experiences, relationship and gender anxieties, written in a style only academic literary intellectuals would want to bother with deciphering A book club selected this for the read of a month I don t know if it was for the challenge, if so, I don t think it is worth the struggle If, gentle reader, you want to simply enjoy a read about person having a typical pregnancy while having lesbian anxieties on top of the usual issues of having a baby, written in literary academic coded language so that this little 100 page or so fragmented, name dropping, literary and philosophical loaded allusion heavy memoir will take you a month of re reading to understand, this is perfect.

  9. says:

    4.5 The opening paragraph is so sexually explicit that I nearly dropped the book this is something I ve struggled with in Nelson s other books too Thank goodness I kept going, as this is an exquisite interrogation of gender identity and an invaluable reminder that the supposed complications of making a queer family just boil down to your basic human experiences of birth, love and death.Like Bluets, this is often composed of disparate paragraphs and quotations from cultural theorists I definitely preferred those passages where Nelson allows herself to string her fragments into extended autobiographical meditations, like the brilliant final 20 pages interspersing her memories of giving birth to her son Iggy with an account of the deathbed vigil her partner artist Harry Dodge held for his mother it had me breathless and in tears, on a plane of all places.I like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person, but as I observed myself groping around to figure out who Harry is wait, this is actually a woman, right that illusion faded pretty quickly Nelson acknowledges that we may be evolutionarily hardwired to categorize people friend vs foe, woman vs man but appeals to what I think must be a higher impulse, to pay homage to the transitive, the flight, the great soup of being in which we actually live I know precisely one trans person she s friends housemate, so I see her fairly often My first inward response under outward friendliness, of course was to protest that someone was trying to trick us I know that s really a man. But terms like pre op MTF don t help they only reinforce a smug sense of superior knowledge Better to stay in the uncertainty while accepting the person as they wish to be known in the world As Nelson puts it, the best way to find out how people feel about their gender or their sexuality or anything else, really is to listen to what they tell you, and to try to treat them accordingly, without shellacking over their version of reality with yours.An important book every college student should read, especially the sheltered, religious ones.Some of the many amazing lines On loving a particular woman rather than identifying as lesbian I get why it s politically maddening, but I ve also always thought it a little romantic the romance of letting an individual experience of desire take precedence over a categorical one On pregnancy How can an experience so profoundly strange and wild and transformative also symbolize or enact the ultimate conformity evolution strikes me as infinitely spiritually profound than Genesis As my body made the male body, I felt the difference between male and female body melt even further away and one unbearably jargon y one The ghosted scar offers a rebus of sodomitical maternity

  10. says:

    The Argonauts opens with Maggie Nelson getting fucked in the ass and thinking about Wittgenstein, and I was like, whoa whoa whoa you can t write about this stuff in a world where The Surrender by Toni Bentley already exists Trying to write another book about anal sex and its implications for European philosophy would be futile like trying to write another novel about a day in the life of Dublin.This isn t that kind of book, it turns out Opening paragraph aside and despite the surprisingly prudish note to some reviews here this isn t really about sex, it s about motherhood and gendered identity It takes the form of a memoir of Nelson s relationship with her husband, the artist Harry Dodge, who was assigned female at birth but who considers himself neither male nor female they have a son together, as well as one from Dodge s previous relationship.I had never heard of Harry Dodge, and I spent a long time at the start of this book like the straight square that I am unsure of what kind of gender identity he represented exactly so much so that when Nelson describes how the two of them were rushing to get married before Prop 8 passed in California, I was genuinely confused about why it would affect them It was only much later in the book that I realised the state considered Dodge legally female Such disorientation and the space it gives you as a reader to think about your own priorities and prejudices is very much in the service of Nelson s story How to explain, in a culture frantic for resolution, she frets at one point, that sometimes the shit stays messy And the messiness comes from many sources At the same time that Nelson is injecting Dodge with testosterone, flooding his system with hormones and changing his body, Nelson herself is pregnant, her own system flooded with hormones and her own body going through changes Is there something inherently queer about pregnancy itself, she posits elsewhere I sometimes felt that she was at risk of appropriating this queer identity without justification, but nevertheless she allows these things to sit next to each other in juxtapositions that are surprising, productive, enlightening.Nelson also says that pregnancy occasions a radical intimacy with and alienation from one s body , and the vocabulary here, as well as that irritating habit of rephrasing what you re saying halfway through, point up the baleful influence of critical theory on this book Indeed that s one of the things it s about, which was tricky for me because I ve never read a theorist I didn t dislike Lacan, Foucault, Butler, Iringaray et al duly make their appearances, and Nelson leaves plenty of space in the margins to note their names whenever she incorporates some of their bullshit into her own paragraphs She is generous enough to take what they say seriously, and rewrite some of their ideas in far luminous terms, but nevertheless I sometimes had to grit my teeth Nelson is just from that American academic environment that takes that stuff seriously I m not and I don t So where you stand on Theory will inevitably affect how you experience this book.Nelson herself is way less humourless and self aware than the writers she quotes, despite an occasional phrase that will stop you in your tracks for unintended reasons The ghosted scar offers a rebus of sodomitical maternity , well, here are some words that have never been assembled in that order before But you have to be going some to write about theory this much and still make me feel full of happiness and fascination in the end, the interest in Nelson s story and the sharp clarity of her writing overwhelm all the theoretical scaffolding There are situations and ideas in here that I ve never encountered anywhere else, and the overriding sense of love that motivates the book moved me a great deal.

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