Saturday, May 20, 2006

Some Thoughts

The following is in response to some discussion going on here

"You write:
"I have no doubt now that there is an obvious problem with regard to sexism in the Toronto poetry scene"

This is the whole point;" (GB)

I'm not sure if this is the whole point. There is also a fragmentation in "the community" (I'm using quotes because it is an un-definable entity) based on an imagined polarization: insider vs outsider art. As you say: "this is a centre-less community." This I think is very true, but I also think there are a number of people who don't imagine it this way at all based on any number of criteria, be it geography or public recognition or other things that have occurred historically in the literary scene.

The notion of insider vs outsider in the Toronto arts “community,” which is not unlike the imaginary battle between the schools of the schooled and the unschooled that has been going on for like 100 years in Canada and has created such things as ‘street-cred’ vs ‘professionalism’ has, at least for me, a very specific origin. I know that even though this individual has been putting the idea out there for quite some time it has always been interpreted and used incorrectly by everyone who has tried to talk about or define it and the originator has never bothered to try to correct anyone for whatever reasons. I do know that this person has continually stated that the whole thing doesn’t exist. But this has constantly been ignored and some people have made both subjective and objective positions for themselves and others somewhere on that imaginary line between the imaginary poles of the inside and the outside of something (“the community”) that in reality has no such positions in which to stand.

“Community” is indeed a centreless entity, just as it is perhaps a genderless entity. And yet it can have the appearance of having a center (or a gender). No one has discussed this aspect of the recent state of affairs, (at least not publicly, and I must admit that I owe some of this thinking to a certain someone I chatted with yesterday) and it seems to me that just as the “silence” with regard to sexism in the “community” has led to the recent gender wars and the sudden desire to speak out on the subject, “silence” with regard to the existence of an “outside” of something that has no outside has lead to a certain amount of resentment and anger on the part of those who feel they persist there. This, combined with an overall inability on the part of the members of this “community” to separate a person who makes art from the art that they make, has led to a lot of hurtful statements and confusion, and has forced those who feel they persist “on the outside” to feel even further ostracized. One of the inherent problems of the open letter is that even though it does state affirming and positive things, the list of names attached to it (not to mention the list of names not attached to it) also causes the letter to confirm that there are indeed “sides” in “the community” which is supposed the be centre-less and/or polar-less. How to deconstruct this foible of a centreless entity that maintains polarization through individual interpretation (and perhaps even through cultural expectations) is something that (like sexism) also needs to be addressed with regard to "this community."

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