Sunday, March 28, 2004

Excuse me while I let my mind meander...

Instead of working on my paper on speech acts and early modern narratives, I've done nothing. Well, not "nothing" strictly speaking.

I've spent the afternoon listening to Italian popular music (which is generally more akin to the North American adult contemporary genre, than North American pop) and reading Italian news stories/blogs/websites. Got to keep up my skills any way that I can. I don't want to lose them. After five years without spending a single day studying French, I'm losing my comprehension of the language. The written word not so much. But my oral/aural skills are going--almost gone, actually. I mean, I can still remedy this. I'm going to take a conversational French class at the college in my home town during my year off. Because I miss the language. Because I miss the skill. Because I miss the freedom of access to literature knowing that language gave me.

The grief I feel without it has made me firmer in the conviction that I will not allow my Italian to wane. And not just because I need the language for my post-graduate work.

I have to agree with my thesis advisor that it would be most prudent for me to spend a couple months in Italy before I return to do my M.A. Just so I can hone my fluency. My advisor has suggested that I work ("as much as you can") for the first few months of my year off before taking off to Italy (Siena, to be exact) for a linguistic/cultural exchange (I think U.W.O., and not just my advisor, advocates the particular Siena exchange). I'm going to start looking into prices, et cetera next month.

So many things to do, I tell you! Like tonight, for example. Apart from getting "real" work done, I just have to watch Oliver Stone's Fidel Castro documentary, Comandante. It's going to be shown on The Passionate Eye tonight on CBC Newsworld at 10 p.m. (If any of you are interested in watching it, but already have plans tonight, the program will be repeated at 1 a.m. tonight [Monday morning, really] and at 10 p.m. on Friday, April 2nd.)

Those of you who have heard of this film probably know that Stone was given a real hard time by some of his fellow countrymen because of it. His troubles are touched upon in this article.

And speaking of troubles, 50 Cent's trouble with homosexuality is perhaps old news by now. Still, I think everyone should read Earl Ofari Hutchinson's op-ed piece on African American men, normative masculinity, and homosexuality. A very interesting, thoughtful piece. Strangely, but really perhaps not strangely at all, it makes me want to re-read Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun, which--in a way very different from the Hutchinson article--explores normative masculinity for African American men in the years before the civil rights movement.

If you're going to read the Hutchinson article, though, I recommend it be read in concert with this op-ed piece by The Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts Jr.. Though this column was actually published before Hutchinson's, it seems almost a response to it. Whereas Hutchinson seeks to root out the causes underlying many African American males' discomfort with the very idea of homosexuality, Pitts argues that it is precisely because of the tradition marginalization of the African American that should compel the community to support the gay rights movement.

A good article, I think. The logic is certainly sound. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't always work that way. I mean, look at the relationship of the women's rights movement to the gay rights movement back when the two were really starting to establish themselves as socio-cultural forces in the 1970s! Despite early common ground (ie. both groups wanted social and legal equality; Dennis Altman's Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation owes much to the rhetoric of Kate Millet's Sexual Politics), the women's movement progressively distanced itself from its contemporary. Marilyn Frye's "Lesbian Feminism and the Gay Rights Movement: Another View of Male Supremacy, Another Separatism" (1981) is just one example of the women's movement othering another Other. Contemporary debates surrounding female definition and the transgendered/MTFs are just further proof that the traditionally marginalized can willingly marginalize, too.

Sad, yes. Unfortunate, yes. Fixable? Eventually, I think. But it's something that has to be worked at; it won't just happen. At the heart of marginalization is the abuse of power, the creation of hierarchy. And while this statement is sweeping--reductive, even--I believe that if can change the social structures, the attitudes will follow.

Trouble is, so often attitudes direct laws.

I'm idealistic, but I'm not stupid.

At least the ways in which I avoid school work but still manage to intellectually engage myself (see above) are indicative of as much.

And this just made me cry. She was just a little girl.

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