"I don’t study the subaltern… I learn from the subaltern."
February 5, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

A conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. A long interview with Spivak, one of the foremost literary and philosophical thinkers of her generation, published today in the Hindu Times. Topics covered include her arrival in America as a 19 year old grad student, translating Derrida, falling out with Kristeva, her family, feminism, the complexity of her critical language, and the future of Marxism, among others.
posted by jokeefe (74 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
She sure is VERY proud of her accomplishments.

Also...to her credit, thats a horrible picture.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:29 PM on February 5, 2011


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, considered by many to be the one of the world’s leading ‘Marxist-feminist-deconstructionists...

How many of those are there?
posted by euphorb at 3:54 PM on February 5, 2011


My god... it turns out that there is indeed something more difficult to read than Spivak's academic writing: stream-of-consciousness Spivak without paragraph breaks.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:54 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hate to be a pedant, but that was painful reading. Paragraphs, please.
posted by flippant at 5:26 PM on February 5, 2011


How many of those are there?

Plenty of far left feminist deconstructionists, though probably a dwindling number that are explicitly Marxist.

Thanks Jokeefe, brilliant stuff. The unedited stream-of-consciousness format works really well for a thinker like Spivak. Pretty plain-spoken but still as slippery an an eel. And the picture is fucking bad-ass. Awesome.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:49 PM on February 5, 2011


This isn't a comment about her intellect or writings, but I know someone who worked closely with her for a long time and supposedly she is absolutely insufferable in person. Cruel, demeaning to underlings and, for all her Marxist posturing, very condescending to anyone she considers beneath her (i.e. everyone). And this was all from someone who really liked her.
posted by Falconetti at 6:11 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, the stories of how she became associated with Of Grammatology, as if by chance, how she got to the U.S., how she got into her PhD program are pretty bad ass. (Like a really nerdy version of Almost Famous.) On the other, she sounds like, yeah, she might be insufferably at peace with her own caprices. Didn't read Orientalism until after her "very dear friend" Edward Said had died in 2003. Like, why not? Too busy?

And this comment is where she lost me completely: I myself am not tremendously interested in communicating with the so-called ‘real world’. The university is not unreal: in fact, the university now is so corporatised it is very much a part of the real world.

I read that as: I like my Ivory Tower just fine, thanks. Also, it's not really an Ivory Tower because, um, because it isn't.
posted by noway at 6:40 PM on February 5, 2011


Noway:

For those of us who are working class, getting into the ivory tower was a metric fuckton of work, and you will drag us out dead if at all.

I admire her ability to admit that she has not read major works, we cannot read everything and Said's short books/essays are as or more impt then the one big book.

I also admire her for working thru the essay over and over again, making commitments and not being sure of herself.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:06 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was prepared to snark, but then I read that she wears saris "57 percent of the time." So she does have a sense of humor. If only she would use that, and her no doubt considerable intelligence, to communicate with us real people.
posted by yarly at 9:04 PM on February 5, 2011


From the start of her most famous article, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" :

Some of the most radical criticism coming out of the West today is the result of an interested desire to conserve the subject of the West, or the West as Subject. The theory of pluralized 'subject-effects' gives an illusion of undermining subjective sovereignty while often providing a cover for this subject of knowledge. Although the history of Europe as Subject is narrativized by the law, political economy, and ideology of the West, this concealed Subject pretends it has 'no geo-political determinations.' The much publicized critique of the sovereign subject thus actually inaugurates a Subject...

Wow -- this is drivel of a practically mythical level. If this is the part of academia that's dying, good riddance.
posted by shivohum at 10:09 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't a comment about her intellect or writings, but I know someone who worked closely with her for a long time and supposedly she is absolutely insufferable in person. Cruel, demeaning to underlings and, for all her Marxist posturing, very condescending to anyone she considers beneath her (i.e. everyone). And this was all from someone who really liked her.

Since we're getting anecdotal, I've heard different - from someone who was one of her students at Iowa. Apparently, she was very kind and encouraging, as well as (perhaps more importantly) a stimulating teacher. Maybe she's changed?

I'm barely familiar with her work, but I appreciated (among other things) her injunctions against bluffing about the extent of one's knowledge.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 12:51 AM on February 6, 2011


Wow -- this is drivel of a practically mythical level

One of the problems with this kind of critique (which is very widespread) is that it assumes non-specialists should be able to jump in and immediately grasp Spivak's meaning as you would a pop science essay or a Guardian article. This is despite having taken no classes in her field, having read none of the key books and essays, and knowing none of the terminology she uses (in this case, the specific meaning that subject and subjectivity has within poststructuralist theory). It's kind of annoying, because we don't do the same to astrophysicists or geologists when we don't understand their papers; only humanities professors though are expected to be immediately comprehensible or else be termed drivel.

All that is not to say that deconstructionists in general, and Spivak in particular, can be a great deal clearer than they are. Lots of obscurantism still going on, certainly, and I am also much more skeptical of the utility of poststructuralist/deconstructionist/critical theory enquiry than I used to be.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:12 AM on February 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


One of the problems with this kind of critique (which is very widespread) is that it assumes non-specialists should be able to jump in and immediately grasp Spivak's meaning as you would a pop science essay or a Guardian article.

Precisely. I don't like the way she writes at all, but some people's expectation that a given theoretical discourse — one which explicitly refers to and dialogues with a number of pre-existing texts —  must offer the same type of "transparency" as, well, djlarry's examples, is galling and naïve in the extreme.
posted by Wolof at 5:39 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with the arguments that she shouldn't be expected to be transparent is that great scholars in other areas of the liberal arts ARE able to write comprehensibly. The ideas of modern analytic philosophers, for example, are quite complex but the writing is usually intelligible if not lucid. The same is true of psychologists, historians, anthropologists, etc.

Only fields which depend on complex math fields publish papers that need to be literally unreadable to the layperson.

Do Spivak and company need the terminological inaccessibility of a paper in hard physics? I don't think so.
posted by shivohum at 6:37 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I make a habit of reading difficult theory, and teaching it when I can. With some theorists I've decided that the work necessary to understand them is not worth it, and with others it is. Spivak is in the latter category. I always find her challenging (but much less so than when I was unfamiliar with the terminology she uses and thinking she draws from), but also always find her worth the work, even exhilarating, even when I don't end up agreeing with her. Consistently, I have ended up finding her wording to be precise and necessary. If she said things differently, she'd be saying something else. Some ideas/concepts/whatever have to be struggled for as an essential part of understanding them, and if they are translated to something "easier" then they won't be actually understood. Someone once asked T S Elliot what his poem "The Wasteland" meant. His reply: "If I could have expressed it any clearer, I would have."

The demand for transparency assumes that the role of language is/should be simply to accurately reflect/transmit thinking, as opposed to, say, provoke thinking. But one of the points of post-structuralist theorizing is not just to challenge what one thinks but to challenge how one goes about thinking, say by exposing how language constructs thought. It's easy to do this poorly or end up with something silly, but it's great when it's done well.
posted by williampratt at 8:09 AM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


"Precisely. I don't like the way she writes at all, but some people's expectation that a given theoretical discourse — one which explicitly refers to and dialogues with a number of pre-existing texts — must offer the same type of "transparency" as, well, djlarry's examples, is galling and naïve in the extreme."

As a layperson I have to ask: what's the point? Call me anti-intellectual but Marxist-feminist-deconstructionism and related disciplines just strike me as some sort of mutual masturbation party for obscure academics.
posted by MikeMc at 9:11 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It really kind of is drivel, though; it is accurate and correct drivel, but drivel nonetheless. It's obvious there is more to it, but using too many words to describe a basic concept that we can already understand with less is unnecessary. The only argument then, is a vague mumble that 'You just don't understand it well enough!' Which is unfortunately not very true, and cannot be proven or disproved over the internet.

And while the people in humanities might wish to think different, yes, astrophysicists are subject to the same critiques, just not as often, because they generally know when to let the best speakers in their fields shine, and when to ignore someone who just doesn't understand.

TL;DR: Never ask an autistic microbiologist to describe an ostrich egg for you.
posted by Bushidoboy at 9:12 AM on February 6, 2011


It really kind of is drivel, though; it is accurate and correct drivel, but drivel nonetheless.

I'm not sure you're using the word "drivel" in a way that I comprehend: can you be more precise?
posted by GeorgeBickham at 9:36 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy bad editing Batman. I was looking forward to reading that interview, but no attempt was made whatsoever to render it intelligible. Not even blaming Spivak here.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2011


Spivak, I know you're a member of MetaFilter. I know you're reading this. I know it hurts to realise that you've wasted 50 years of your life spouting nonsense about nothing, and it might be hard to believe at first, but seriously: these guys have read the first paragraph of "Can the Subaltern Speak". They know what they're talking about.
posted by DNye at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Let's say I wanted to start understanding Spivak. What sort of reading list slash course material would I have to burrow through until the clouds clear?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2011


DNye, to counter your fallacious logic, I assume I must contend that I have of course read everything she has written in order to earn the right to speak? Or better yet, I should have read everything that ever references the topics she covers? No; both arguments are fallacious. I can speak from experience on astrophysicists being critiqued and I can speak from experience on studying humanities. I can speak from experience on studying Marxism, I can speak on studying feminism, but ultimately none of that matters because preconceived notions and false and erroneous logic are predominant filters that would automatically nullify the value of my point to you, it seems.
posted by Bushidoboy at 9:52 AM on February 6, 2011


Can I just say I love this interview? I have only dipped the toenail of my littlest toe into Spivak's writing, but her interview makes me want to read more of it. And I find her perspective on being/not being an "identitarian" most refreshing. More comments when I've finished reading the whole interview.
posted by bardophile at 9:56 AM on February 6, 2011


And this comment is where she lost me completely: I myself am not tremendously interested in communicating with the so-called ‘real world’. The university is not unreal: in fact, the university now is so corporatised it is very much a part of the real world.

I read that as: I like my Ivory Tower just fine, thanks. Also, it's not really an Ivory Tower because, um, because it isn't.


I read it as a comment about being disillusioned with the ivory tower. She thinks she needs to use the language of the ivory tower to be considered genuine within the world of academia, but also feels that the divide between the ivory tower of academia and the "real world" of the market is a false construction.
posted by bardophile at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Since we're getting anecdotal, I've heard different - from someone who was one of her students at Iowa. Apparently, she was very kind and encouraging, as well as (perhaps more importantly) a stimulating teacher. Maybe she's changed?

The person I knew worked for her in a non-student capacity, so maybe that is the difference.
posted by Falconetti at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2011


From TFA:

That work, however, cannot be taken as an end in itself because the establishment of laws does not mean that they will be implemented across the board. I am involved in countless public interest litigations. I am involved in a lot of these things but with a clear eye.

What public interest litigation is she involved with?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2011


Bushidoboy: You might not have noticed, but you just trotted out the exalted form. That is, you tried to make your sentences long and imposing in order to appear intellectually intimidating, putting in lots of extra clauses ("I assume I must contend that I have of course"), Latin-derived words ("contend", "fallacious", "erroneous", "preconceived","nullify", "predominant"), and semicolons. Oh, the semicolons.

Now, I can see what you just did - and now it's been pointed out possibly you can also - but I think it makes for an interesting point. Language is not a tool over which we have complete control, nor over which anyone can claim total mastery. The metaphorical language of tool use, actually, is quite possibly counterproductive, as tools are generally designed for a specific task. As such, a criticism of Spivak on the grounds that obviously she is speaking gibberish strikes me as inherently suspect, especially when people do the wordy puff-adder thing if they are called on it.

Spivak, this doesn't get you off the hook. A hook which I expect you to sling forthwith.
posted by DNye at 10:18 AM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The argument over whether theorists are willfully obscurantist is very old and unending and is not going to be resolved in this thread. My declawed and circumcised Palestinian cat's dickwolf told me so.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:21 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very true. It's really not an argument worth having, is it? Those-who-hate will ceaselessly occupy a definitional role which itself defines both the action of hating and the propinquity and possibility of an erased mode of not-hating, as DeLeuze said.

Bardophile: I think it may be more that attempts to draw distinctions between the university and the real world ignore that presence of the university in the real world - that the separation has been progressively eroded by the need for universities to behave as corporations and also to seek the active participation of corporations in university life both to provide funding and to offer a meaningful prospect of employment to students - validating the pursuit of academic qualification. We're seeing the university and the quote-unquote real world collide quite hard here in Britain right now, as students are marching in the streets and fighting with the police over access to education - not so much for them as for their younger siblings - and the various boards, trusts and senior academics of the universities are having to work out what their response to that situation is.

And, going beyond that, I guess the academy, and in particular those parts of the academy which look at post-colonial studies, have a role to play (although how valuable a role is highly controversial) as the legacies of colonialism are worked out in instability, terrorism and (occasionally) reoccupation.
posted by DNye at 10:36 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


DNye, it was on purpose.
posted by Bushidoboy at 11:00 AM on February 6, 2011


But one of the points of post-structuralist theorizing is not just to challenge what one thinks but to challenge how one goes about thinking, say by exposing how language constructs thought.

Oh, ok -- I guess she simply failed, that's all :).
posted by shivohum at 11:06 AM on February 6, 2011


So, I was reading through some of the old threads tagged with "deconstruction" and I came across this gem:

"...If your knowledge can only exist within the context of your academic jargon, if it's not portable in some way to humanity at large, it's not real universal knowledge, it's just a pretty arrangement of tokens. There's nothing wrong with pretty arrangements of tokens, but their value will necessarily be abstract and only appreciated by a small subset of humanity.
posted by badstone at 2:12 PM on January 9, 2004 [+] [!] "


I'd say that sums it up pretty well.
posted by MikeMc at 11:08 AM on February 6, 2011


Bushidoboy: Sure, but my point here stands. Your intent was to use a toolset which was intended to communicate intellectual dominance, but the actual effect was to communicate a desire to do that but a lack of skill with the toolset, resulting in a lot of semicolons and an oversized commodore's suit of Latin derivations. Language is a harder tool to judge than it looks...
posted by DNye at 11:24 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meera Nanda is an interesting, controversial thinker[pdf] who runs directly, expressly counter to Spivak. I don't necessarily agree or disagree with her thinking, but it's interesting to see the "science wars" playing out in cultures different from my own.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:35 AM on February 6, 2011


Ok, here is a serious question. If poststructuralist theory is legitimately complex and inaccessible to lay people, then how the hell do you teach it to undergrad? I went to college towards the end of postmodernism and took a couple of theory classes. Maybe I had bad professors, but those classes were basically like listening to spam emails read outloud, or two hours of the worst Henry James sentences with every other word in Finnish. A critique of a critique of a critique in infinite recursion, and I had no idea what the original object of critique was. In other words, I understood nothing, and I am generally a person with pretty good reading comprehension. So what are the basic concepts of theory? I may not be able to understand astrophysics, but I can understand you start physics with ideas like power equals force x mass. (or something like that!)
posted by yarly at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2011


For me, the most compelling thing in this is being able to picture the context from which she came. She talks about worrying that she wouldn't get a visa if she didn't "have a first." This wasn't as naive a fear as it may seem to someone outside the context. In India and Pakistan, there are a host of things for which you are routinely required to "have a first" to be eligible. Not quite as ubiquitous as the American requirement for a high school diploma or GED, but that's the closest equivalent I can think of.

Or the thing about wearing saris. Yes, the "57 percent" is funny. But I can so totally picture her not really bothering to shop, and the horde of relatives/friends (difficult distinction sometimes) that would simply buy her a sari each when she visited India, because everyone gives clothes as a gift, and so of course she has lots of saris.

And the most entertaining is the one about language. I shared that with my mom, too.

"You see, I am an intellectually insecure person. You will find this hard to believe and so I felt that I wanted to be taken seriously by people and I think that’s not a good motive for writing."

The fact of developing a habit of writing densely in order to be taken seriously is so common in the subcontinent as to be banal. My mom and I agreed that this sounded like a description of the writing motives of far too many Pakistani newspaper columnists and even reporters.

So, while I understand that most people here are more interested in discussing her work, I think you're missing out on what makes this different from her work.

DNye, yes, thank you for putting that much better than I was able to. I knew as I was writing that I wasn't quite expressing what I wanted to.
posted by bardophile at 12:27 PM on February 6, 2011


Ok, here is a serious question. If poststructuralist theory is legitimately complex and inaccessible to lay people, then how the hell do you teach it to undergrad?

You're right, this is a real and hard question, so in the interest of supplanting this thread's tiresome retread anti-intellectualism with a more interesting discussion, I'll take a crack at it.

First of all, of course this problem isn't unique to "theory": it's hard to teach all kinds of philosophy, and many kinds of literature (and lots of other things besides), to undergrads, both because of obscurity/accessibility/vocabulary problems, and because you need a lot of context to begin to understand the individual text you're reading. One of the biggest problems for "theory" here is that, even though much of it is really just better called continental philosophy, the students who take the "theory" classes and the faculty who teach them aren't (usually, primarily) philosophy people; the historical background and context for the theoretical texts are often less present in the discussion than they should be, even just for comprehension's sake. It helps a lot, for instance, to know a fair amount about the philosophical Enlightenment before you read Dialectic of Enlightenment, or (staying on this thread's topic) to have a broad background in the philosophy of language and the language of philosophy before you tackle Of Grammatology. But of course there's never time to do everything in the classroom; any subject that gets taught to undergrads at all necessarily gets taught largely out of context.

Even so, one of the best definitions I know of "Theory" is Jean-Michel Rabaté's: "Theory" is bad philosophy. "Bad" not (or at least not just) in the sense that it's philosophy done by people who aren't philosophy specialists, but rather in the sense that it's based on using philosophy without always doing philosophy; because it's interested first in the act of reading, rather than in the production of truth; because it's an activity premised on levelling rather than working within distinctions between literary texts and philosophical ones; because it's an un- or anti-systematic way of working with philosophical questions and texts. In this sense, the right way to teach theoretical texts to undergrads could be the "bad" (uncontextual, unphilosophical) way, in that it produces more interesting readings. I know from my own undergrad education that the classes in which theory worked best were as much the ones that paired theoretical and literary texts in interesting ways, requiring students to make the connections, as much as the ones that worked through the theoretical texts on their own terms and in their own contexts.

I went to college towards the end of postmodernism and took a couple of theory classes. Maybe I had bad professors, but those classes were basically like listening to spam emails read outloud, or two hours of the worst Henry James sentences with every other word in Finnish.

You had bad professors. Not that this sounds atypical in any way of the worst attempts to do interpretive "play" or just go through the motions of deconstruction before a discomprehending audience, but the problem here is bad teaching, pure and simple, nothing particular to do with the subject matter. People teach this stuff in comprehensible ways all the time, and now that it's out of fashion again much of the incentive for the bad versions has disappeared.

posted by RogerB at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Some of the most radical criticism coming out of the West today is the result of an interested desire to conserve the subject of the West, or the West as Subject. The theory of pluralized 'subject-effects' gives an illusion of undermining subjective sovereignty while often providing a cover for this subject of knowledge. Although the history of Europe as Subject is narrativized by the law, political economy, and ideology of the West, this concealed Subject pretends it has 'no geo-political determinations.' The much publicized critique of the sovereign subject thus actually inaugurates a Subject...

Isn't this saying that there is a paradox in academic theory, when it pretends it is undermining Western Cultural imperialism by welcoming multiple viewpoints, because in fact this pluralism happens within the context of an overarching paternalistic 'Western' control structure.

The loud talk about how there is no ruling point of view and non-western perspectives are all welcome, implies that you (the person who welcomes) have primacy. And thus the effort (mock effort) to undermine Western Imperialism, is covert imperialism.

That's how I read it but I don't know Spivak at all.
posted by communicator at 1:50 PM on February 6, 2011


Also I kind of agree with her (if that's what she is saying) that the mock-pluralism of Theory is both patronising and conservative.

But I just did it to see what happened if, lacking all academic context, I just took the meaning of the words as written, in good faith. So, it seems to me to make sense in its own right, just as a paragraph of words.
posted by communicator at 1:59 PM on February 6, 2011


Even so, one of the best definitions I know of "Theory" is Jean-Michel Rabaté's: "Theory" is bad philosophy. "Bad" not (or at least not just) in the sense that it's philosophy done by people who aren't philosophy specialists, but rather in the sense that it's based on using philosophy without always doing philosophy; because it's interested first in the act of reading, rather than in the production of truth; because it's an activity premised on levelling rather than working within distinctions between literary texts and philosophical ones; because it's an un- or anti-systematic way of working with philosophical questions and texts. In this sense, the right way to teach theoretical texts to undergrads could be the "bad" (uncontextual, unphilosophical) way, in that it produces more interesting readings. I know from my own undergrad education that the classes in which theory worked best were as much the ones that paired theoretical and literary texts in interesting ways, requiring students to make the connections, as much as the ones that worked through the theoretical texts on their own terms and in their own contexts.

Are you parodying "Theory" with this writing style? I'm sorry, but I had to read this paragraph several times to grasp it, and I'm still confused.

Why would "the act of reading" be opposed to "the production of truth" in any obvious way?

What does it mean for an activity to be "premised on levelling rather than working within distinctions between literary texts and philosophical ones"? Could you give a concrete example of how this would differ from an activity that was not so premised?

Why would a theory expounding an unsystematic way of approaching philosophical texts itself best be taught unsystematically? That doesn't follow. Must a book about clowning be read while wearing a bright bulb nose and making balloon dogs? Must a book teaching poetry be set to verse?

--

But I just did it to see what happened if, lacking all academic context, I just took the meaning of the words as written, in good faith.

How exactly do you interpret the meaning of "pluralized 'subject-effects'" while "lacking all academic context"?
posted by shivohum at 2:34 PM on February 6, 2011


Well, there's always Google... if you google "subject-effect", you get a description from Spivak herself, from "In Other Worlds":

A subject-effect can be briefly plotted as follows: that which seems to operate as a subject may be part of an immense discontinuous network … of strands that may be termed politics, ideology, economics, history, sexuality, language, and so on. … Different knottings and configurations of these strands, determined by heterogeneous determinations which are themselves dependent upon myriad circumstances, produce the effect of an operating subject. Yet the continuist and homogenist deliberative consciousness symptomatically requires a continuous and homogeneous cause for this effect and thus posits a sovereign and determining subject.

So, a subject-effect is the coalescence of a load of diverse but connected elements, which are treated as a single subject in discourse. That's comprehensible, I think, but it's actually easier if you read to the end of the paragraph and find out that this article is a critique of a recorded conversation between Deleuze and Foucault - so, if you're familiar with Deleuze and Foucault, you have some background there on the role of the subject.
posted by DNye at 3:51 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember flinging one of her essays across my room once after encountering a sentence that had three unrelated parenthetical asides. Yes, in one sentence.
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2011


Minor nitpick: The newspaper is called "The Hindu", not the "Hindu Times".

The name is a relic of the 19th century, and the newspaper has nothing to do with Hindu fundamentalism. It is a left-leaning newspaper, in fact.
posted by Idle Curiosity at 9:44 PM on February 6, 2011


How exactly do you interpret the meaning of "pluralized 'subject-effects'" while "lacking all academic context"?

Yes, it seems that's a phrase which (as DNYe has found out) is a specialist term - like 'capitalism' or something - which has been invented by a philosopher to convey a particular meaning. But I wanted to try reading the passage without any google support so I took a shot and interpreted it as 'taking into account the effects of multiple subjective viewpoints'.

And replacing this problematic phrase with xxx, the overall sentence is

"The theory of xxx gives an illusion of undermining subjective sovereignty, while often providing a cover for this subject of knowledge."

So she's saying that theory xxx looks as if it undermine the sovereignty of a particular viewpoint, but really just camouflages it.

And isn't there a pun in there: 'subject of knowledge' meaning both a thing you know about, and the subject (the experiencing actor) who secretly thinks he owns knowledge?
posted by communicator at 11:13 PM on February 6, 2011


Must a book about clowning be read while wearing a bright bulb nose and making balloon dogs?

My answer is if you have a theory that 'everything is clowning' then you can't step outside of clowning, and say 'OK now I have taken my red nose off'.

I mean, I think the theory is wrong, but the theory is that you can't get outside the realm of texts to any firm ground from which to assess them. Isn't it? As I say, I disagree with modern philosophy but I think it's making definite (incorrect) assertions.

So literature and philosophy - in this theory - aren't different things, one more serious or concerned with truth that the other. I read a lot of poetry and I read that Spivak paragraph as a kind of poetry.

Personally not only do I think the theory is wrong, but I think if they really want to treat literary texts with respect they should learn from them (eg from poetry) about elegance of language.

But there's a distinction between disagreeing with modern philosophy - which I think is often conservative, smug, and unhelpful - and saying 'these words are meaningless gobbledygook'.
posted by communicator at 11:39 PM on February 6, 2011


So, a subject-effect is the coalescence of a load of diverse but connected elements, which are treated as a single subject in discourse.

Isn't that what a subject is, too? And isn't "subject-effects" itself plural, so what are "pluralized 'subject-effects'"?
--
But there's a distinction between disagreeing with modern philosophy - which I think is often conservative, smug, and unhelpful - and saying 'these words are meaningless gobbledygook'.

Agreed. But I think the underlying meaning, even given your interpretation, is thin at best. The ridiculous writing style hides a near-total lack of substance.

...they should learn from them (eg from poetry) about elegance of language.

Yep.
posted by shivohum at 5:11 AM on February 7, 2011


Isn't that what a subject is, too? And isn't "subject-effects" itself plural, so what are "pluralized 'subject-effects'"?

1) As I understand it, a subject is something with subjectivity. Confluences do not have subjectivity, although they can be treated in narrative as if they do.
2) As I understand it, the point of "pluralised" there is that they are "subject-effects" (made plural) as an apparent antithesis to the (singular) subject - although not an actual antithesis. There's possibly a pun about pluralism in there also.

However, these are not useful answers for you, because you don't want to understand this. You want to prove that this cannot be understood. The two following demonstranda being i) that if you cannot understand a paragraph, that paragraph clearly cannot be understood and ii) that Spivak is at best a charlatan, at worst a dribbling idiot.

Essentially, you want to beat up an elderly woman in the thunderdome of MetaFilter for having been acknowledged - not even unanimously - as having something to add to the Western academic discourse.

But think of the correlative. If your brilliant rules-lawyering turns out not to be brilliant rules lawyering, but instead inept neckbeard rules-lawyering, then you are going to have a TKO on your record to an elderly woman who doesn't even know you exist. That's a hard thing for a fighter to come back from.
posted by DNye at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish we hadn't gone down the "she's opaque for opacity's sake" "no she's not" "yes she is" "no she's not" "yes she is and she's dumb" "no she's not and YOU'RE dumb" route.

Here's Terry Eagleton with a stronger, longer, having-read-the-book critique of Spivak, if we're going to have a critique of Spivak.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:41 AM on February 7, 2011


I wish we hadn't gone down the "she's opaque for opacity's sake" "no she's not" "yes she is" "no she's not" "yes she is and she's dumb" "no she's not and YOU'RE dumb" route.

Well, that's not what's exactly happened, but some form of this is pretty much inevitable. It's odd - do people who have never read Philip K Dick turn up in threads about Philip K Dick and get emotionally invested in how his plots just didn't make any sense, based on having just read a plot summary on Wikipedia, and then demand explanations of every single plot point, in the hope of catching Phillip K Dick out? Possibly they do. There's probably a word for this.
posted by DNye at 11:43 AM on February 7, 2011


"However, these are not useful answers for you, because you don't want to understand this. You want to prove that this cannot be understood. The two following demonstranda being i) that if you cannot understand a paragraph, that paragraph clearly cannot be understood and ii) that Spivak is at best a charlatan, at worst a dribbling idiot."

I don't think it's meant to be understood outside a tiny circle of like minded academics. It's quite the racket they've got going there. It occurs to me that people throw the term "anti-intellectualism" around when they're too personally invested in the subject to even entertain the thought that the emperor may not be wearing any clothes.

"...as having something to add to the Western academic discourse."

How could anyone possibly tell?


"There's probably a word for this."

The word your looking for is "Internet".
posted by MikeMc at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2011


A snippet from Sticherbeast's link:

"Post-colonial theorists are often to be found agonising about the gap between their own intellectual discourse and the natives of whom they speak; but the gap might look rather less awesome if they did not speak a discourse which most intellectuals, too, find unintelligible. You do not need to hail from a shanty town to find a Spivakian metaphorical muddle like ‘many of us are trying to carve out positive negotiations with the epistemic graphing of imperialism’ pretentiously opaque."
posted by MikeMc at 12:34 PM on February 7, 2011


And yet, further down the page:

Terry Eagleton only damages himself by refusing to read and engage Gayatri Spivak's important contribution to the theory of cultural studies with the seriousness that it deserves.

Oh noes! Confirmation bias goes both ways! What can we do?
posted by DNye at 1:45 PM on February 7, 2011


I've been eyeing this thread with popcorn in hand, waiting for the ambulance to pull up. Theory threads always fail on Metafilter because they run into a type of bourgeois, often techy triumphalism whose base assumption seems to be "If I don't understand it, it can't be true; if I can, it must be irrelevant." The anti-theory mefite always positions himself as the brave, intellectual iconoclast, ready to say that the emperor is not wearing clothes--when in fact, he ends up lobbing the most unoriginal, predictable responses to reading something difficult. Don't hate on some intellectual material because it's not made for easy consumption.

I had meant to post the Terry Eagleton piece, but I'm not sure if it says what you think it does. First of all, the most damning thing that Eagleton says isn't that Spivak is obscure. (In fact, he says several times how brilliant and original she is, pace your claims that her obscurantism hides little of intellectual value.) His point is actually that this obscurantism is only possible because she lacks--he says--a real world political project. So while you're essentially making an aesthetic point, a point where you're asking her to be a better consumable intellectual product, he's making a much more political point.

I don't have time right now to respond in more detail, but I wanted to note a few things that point to how intellectually disreputable his review actually is. As you can tell from his essay, he clearly understands the arguments being made in Spivak's book but actually uses the style as a type of ad hominem attack as a way to not engage in the content. For example, he rarely points out ways in which he disagrees with her or quotes her language in a way that actually represents her arguments--an ironic consequence, since Spivak's work is often about how women themselves are not able to talk and that their voices are usually coopted by others, such as male colonials. More shockingly, as you can see from the letters column, Eagleton appeared to write this review before galleys of Spivak's books were even available! (The one anti-Spivak letter writer that the LRB prints is accused of plagiarism.)

It's also worth printing out that it's not as though Eagleton represents some sort of authoritative neutral position: he is, as Judith Butler points out, most famous for writing a basic intro to the text, and he's typical of the London Review's right-wing politics when it comes to race. ( I say this as a happy subscriber for the last five years or so.) Their position is an anti-anti-racist Marxism that assumes that race is a silly distraction from the problems of class inequity. They actually printed an article by Walter Benn Michaels just last year, in fact, disclaiming how racism is over.

Here's a more detailed, substantive response.
posted by johnasdf at 2:38 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


However, these are not useful answers for you, because you don't want to understand this. You want to prove that this cannot be understood.

Actually, I do want to understand, but I don't approach the Spivakian altar with reverence, that's all. I approach with blasphemous skepticism in my heart. Unfortunately, it appears that in order to see, one must first believe.

But think of the correlative. If your brilliant rules-lawyering turns out not to be brilliant rules lawyering, but instead inept neckbeard rules-lawyering, then you are going to have a TKO on your record to an elderly woman who doesn't even know you exist. That's a hard thing for a fighter to come back from.

Heh.
posted by shivohum at 8:45 PM on February 7, 2011


Actually, I do want to understand

You really might want to rethink your approach here completely, then.
posted by RogerB at 10:01 PM on February 7, 2011


You really might want to rethink your approach here completely, then.

Oh, is that what it takes? Never mind.
posted by shivohum at 10:13 PM on February 7, 2011


I think literally rethinking an approach currently based on bad-faith rules-lawyering might be useful, but, as you say, to see, one must first believe have any interest beyond awarding oneself a points victory over an elderly Indian woman who has no idea you exist based on a conviction that since you are unable to comprehend the terms of art in three-quarters of one paragraph of her work it must be entirely without merit.

Performed erasure and écriture on TFY.
posted by DNye at 2:34 AM on February 8, 2011


erasure

Word you're looking for there is «rature».

Otherwise, I concur.
posted by Wolof at 5:25 AM on February 8, 2011


Schooled! Thanks, Wolof - you're absolutely right. No Derrida gags before coffee.
posted by DNye at 5:36 AM on February 8, 2011


bad-faith rules-lawyering

Asking what sentences mean is rules lawyering? What, am I supposed to just let the text wash over me and intuit the way it's changed my subjectivity? Are we talking some kind of chemical force here, instead of an intellectual one, that the text represents?

since you are unable to comprehend the terms of art in three-quarters of one paragraph of her work it must be entirely without merit.

I bit. I read her entire subaltern article here. I can't say I understood it but vaguely, if that.

I suppose I'm not qualified to criticize its overwrought style, though, without devoting as much time and attention to comprehending her idiosyncratic syntax as one would to learning the mathematics involved in nuclear physics. Right?
posted by shivohum at 6:02 AM on February 8, 2011


I suppose I'm not qualified to criticize its overwrought style, though, without devoting as much time and attention to comprehending her idiosyncratic syntax as one would to learning the mathematics involved in nuclear physics. Right?

That's a pretty harsh way of putting it, but...yes? I mean, her material is, by her own express admission, not meant for the "real world." Her material is not really meant for a place outside of her academic field(s), where there is already a base familiarity with her references and the traditions from which her writing comes. It is unsurprising that much of her material would be more appropriate for a grad program or the tail end of a rigorous undergrad program, just as nuclear physics requires a base level of study in order for it to make sense. Just because you are an intelligent person who has thoughts, it does not mean that you are going to be able to pick up a work of dense crit theory and immediately make sense of it, any more than living under US law immediately makes you an expert on fine constitutional details, or having a body makes you a biologist.

There is also the possibility that her writing style could be both overwrought and still filled with some significant value - she would only be the 194,345th thinker to have this issue.

I don't think quibbling over a single paragraph - or, for the "other side," playing "defense" on that paragraph - means very much either way.

...

I had meant to post the Terry Eagleton piece, but I'm not sure if it says what you think it does. First of all, the most damning thing that Eagleton says isn't that Spivak is obscure. (In fact, he says several times how brilliant and original she is, pace your claims that her obscurantism hides little of intellectual value.) His point is actually that this obscurantism is only possible because she lacks--he says--a real world political project. So while you're essentially making an aesthetic point, a point where you're asking her to be a better consumable intellectual product, he's making a much more political point.

I linked to the Terry Eagleton piece precisely because I was able to read and understand that there was more to it than simply a critique of her style, and I am emphatically tired of the endless "yes [theorist] is obscurantist" "no [theorist] is not" argument. You did not do a good job of divining what I thought Eagleton was saying, just as you did not do a very good job of inventing "claims" of mine that she has little of intellectual value. The only other anti-Spivak article I posted was also focussed on her substance and influence as a thinker. I'm going to assume that you've confused me with another poster in this thread.

As for the rebuttal article: the detailed, substantive response expressly chooses to focus on the obscurantism angle as well - because "time is short", of course. I would think that, time being short, one would then focus on the more substantive notions, but what do I know. Maybe time wasn't so short after all, either - ample time is devote to discussing Eagleton's own "concussive style" and "sussurating consonance[s]." This is a bit like calling in sick when the person on the other end of the phone can hear you at a party.

This bit was also funny: "Would it be scandalous to gather from this that Eagleton would rather she had stayed at home? Though tempting, I will not go so far as to suggest that Eagleton implies that specifically woman's place is in the home." Would it be scandalous to gather from this that this article intends to ascribe offensive, retrograde gender politics to Eagleton in an intellectually dishonest attempt to discredit him? Though tempting, I will not go as far as to suggest that he has indulged in such a cheap rhetorical trick.

The attempt to "play" structuralist is, as a fatal mistake, treated as a productive intellectual exercise - since this is an amateur's attempt to play structuralist, and obviously so, the antimonies revealed are those introduced by the author. Garbage in, garbage out. It's a bit like the scene in Four Lions where a man attempts to prove to another man that he is not confused: after all, he had just taken a picture of his own face, and it definitely wasn't his confused face.

I would be more interested in a response that either came from Spivak's substance, which she does have and her supporters needn't flee from, or a general agreement that there is, indeed, a world of difference between what Eagleton and Spivak intend to do, and so it's a bit apples and oranges to compare their worldviews and projects.

It's pretty dispiriting to see discussions about her constantly gnarling themselves into "she's obscurantist" "no she's not" arguments - it reinforces the false impression that there isn't very much else to argue about.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:18 AM on February 8, 2011



Asking what sentences mean is rules lawyering?


Well, yes, given that you have laid out your position at the start - by beginning with:

Wow -- this is drivel of a practically mythical level. If this is the part of academia that's dying, good riddance.

and then, when someone comes up with a pretty decent one-shot interpretation of the not-quite paragraph that you cited as mythical drivel:

But I think the underlying meaning, even given your interpretation, is thin at best. The ridiculous writing style hides a near-total lack of substance.

Remember, at this point you are talking about three sentences or so of text. That is, a critique of equivalent worth would involve walking out of Star Wars: A New Hope because it was just a bunch of BS scrolling text. Now you are making Bambi eyes because you were just sincerely interested in what it all means? Dude. Come on. You're better than that. It's OK not to like Spivak. It's just good to be honest about why not.

Take MikeMC. MikeMC doesn't see the point of Marxist-Feminist deconstruction. He is looking for support in that. Sticherbeast links to a lengthy critique of Spivak by another academic. MikeMC doesn't understand the critique, and isn't really interested in the critique, only in demonstrating that he is right about the worthlessness of Spivak. So, he takes a sentence out of context from the critique and posts it as proof if proof were needed of the rightness of his original contention. Essentially, this is second-order ignorance.

I suppose I'm not qualified to criticize its overwrought style, though, without devoting as much time and attention to comprehending her idiosyncratic syntax as one would to learning the mathematics involved in nuclear physics. Right?

I couldn't give you an answer to that, because I've never learned the mathematics involved in nuclear physics, but I am liking the idea of taking the same approach as displayed here:

That's just gibberish - those Greek letters don't even spell anything. What, you want me to believe that this all means something, when you cant even write a full-size "2"? Oh, what, I have to spend as much time as I spent deciphering whether Das Nichts actually selbst Nichtet looking at this before I can tell you that "emce equals TINY TWO" is overwrought jargon, do I? I think not.
posted by DNye at 7:44 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was responding to this comment, which did only focus on the obscurantism. Sticherbeast, do you think that MikeMc and shivohum actually understand Eagleton's critique and have a substantive problem with Spivak or do you think they're jamming their fingers in their ears and singing la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you?
posted by johnasdf at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2011


Sticherbeast, do you think that MikeMc and shivohum actually understand Eagleton's critique and have a substantive problem with Spivak or do you think they're jamming their fingers in their ears and singing la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you?

I think it was a tactical error for anyone to try to "translate" any particularly clear or unclear paragraph, because, in doing so, one tacitly admits to the legitimacy of the argument - that the paragraph must make sense unto itself, otherwise the whole enterprise is exactly the sort of obscure tosh on whose grave Alan Sokal dances, whilst playing a panpipe and wearing woolly goat chaps. Since it was impossible to truly "translate" that context-free paragraph into an immediately clear chunk of insight so profound that a skeptic would "forgive" Spivak, it was a doomed idea from the very beginning.

I stand by my contention that Spivak has herself made it very clear that she is only trying to communicate with people in her own field(s), so it's unwise to try to attack or defend her writings as anything except what they are: writings from within a particular cloud of disciplines. This is not to say that there aren't other ways to critique her writing, and this is also not to say that her style can't be a symptom of other problems with her substance.

I keep going back to the Eagleton article because I assume we've all read it, but to draw one example from there, I think there's something to be said for her writings's trendily, pathologically apologetic tone, as well as its obscurity - it's as if Spivak sees that she is not free from the taint and privilege she sees in others, so she keeps hiding behind more and more figurative walls. Instead of drawing postcolonialism out to broader audiences (and therefore action), she keeps retreating into a self-made intellectual thicket in a vain, fruitless, endless battle for purity and an unattainable ultimate birds-eye view of the situation.

This is only a negative because she has value as a thinker - if she were just some wonk, then her influence wouldn't be missed. That argument I see as a more thoughtful way to critique her alleged opacity, because it's not "I think she's just making this nonsense up," but rather a way of critiquing how her choices as a writer define her highly privileged audience and limited influence.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:00 AM on February 8, 2011


DNye, the problem with comparisons to Einstein is that Einstein's work is predictive, as is the work of the sciences generally. It is (with the caveats appropriate to philosophy of science), subject to empirical proof. Work in the liberal arts is not. If the jargon helps make express complex predictive concepts, fine. Or if, like poetry, it attempts to create an aesthetic experience more than an intellectual one, also fine. But I see neither thing going on here. The language example is most persuasive, but to write articles in a made up language just for fun is, well, a nice exercise but doesn't seem to be a great idea. We learn languages in order to better communicate with people; this does not seem to be facilitating communication.

I think one can attempt to understand while at the same time being highly skeptical, even partisan. I do think Spivak's writing style needs to be justified, and that it should not receive the benefit of the doubt. That doesn't mean I don't listen if people try to explain her. I simply don't find any of the explanations all that revelatory so far. But if you want to recommend an article which makes her ideas crystal-clear, I'd welcome it.
--
Sticherbeast, I'd just make the same points above about the jargon being, so far as I can tell, unnecessary to communicate the concepts. If so many great philosophers today can express themselves limpidly, I don't see why spivak types need to be so difficult. Prominent academic analytic philosophers today also write mostly for each other, and although the concepts can be hard, the language itself is not.
posted by shivohum at 11:18 AM on February 8, 2011


sticherbeast For what it's worth, my intention was not to confer validity upon the exercise, and I think we could have gone on for a lot longer without validity ever being a serious threat.
posted by DNye at 11:37 AM on February 8, 2011


DNye, the problem with comparisons to Einstein is that Einstein's work is predictive, as is the work of the sciences generally. It is (with the caveats appropriate to philosophy of science), subject to empirical proof. Work in the liberal arts is not. If the jargon helps make express complex predictive concepts, fine.

It's strange that you would object to Spivak's language as not being predictive immediately after claiming that all work in the liberal arts is not predictive, as it is not subject to empirical proof. Am I understanding that correctly? Is your problem with Spivak or philosophy as a whole? Or is philosophy only acceptable to you if it has terminology which is approachable to a layman? It seems like an odd expectation.
posted by girih knot at 5:54 PM on February 8, 2011


It's strange that you would object to Spivak's language as not being predictive immediately after claiming that all work in the liberal arts is not predictive, as it is not subject to empirical proof. Am I understanding that correctly?

Yeah, I didn't say this clearly. What I meant was that science has at least a justification for its complex presentation, because that complexity is often occasioned by math. Math is indeed jargon, but it often predicts the real world -- so the jargon is justified.

In the liberal arts generally, I don't see that justification.

Or is philosophy only acceptable to you if it has terminology which is approachable to a layman?

Yeah, I guess that is basically my point. Why should philosophy have terminology that isn't approachable to a layman? The concepts can be obscure in many of the greatest thinkers, I readily admit, but there doesn't appear to me to be a need to concoct a massive jargon and bizarre syntax.
posted by shivohum at 7:43 PM on February 8, 2011


The concepts can be obscure in many of the greatest thinkers, I readily admit, but there doesn't appear to me to be a need to concoct a massive jargon and bizarre syntax.

Language is a structure that has limitations which can shape the way we think about topics. In order to explore new ideas, language has to be messed with a bit. The jargon in the hard sciences refers to constructs that are specific to the science and cannot be adequately (or at least succinctly) described with common language. The jargon in liberal arts is no different. And because of the fluid and subjective nature of the discourse in philosophy and theory, philosophers and theorists regularly pick up concepts that have been previously defined by other philosophers and theorists. The language needed to expand and create ideas grows more complicated as a result.
posted by girih knot at 8:49 PM on February 8, 2011


Shivohum, your take is a common one on metafilter and it's more anti-intellectual than you think.

First of all, I think you have a romanticized and inaccurate view of science. Much of science is actually not about prediction (or falsification, for that matter). For example, no one would think of Darwin as an anti-scientist, but his role was mainly taxonomical.

Second, the nature of intellectual inquiry at the most basic level is that people make arguments and other people either agree or disagree with them. This inherently leads to the creation of new terminology because the first interlocutor and the second interlocutor must use terminlogy to name their respective positions or the contents of their discussion. It is only natural that any field of knowledge--whether semiology or comic books--would accrue a glossary of critical terms. In fact, Eagleton made his career on creating a primer to explain this terminology to undergraduates. It's also worth saying that, contrary to what Eagleton says, it's common for every intellectual discipline--including fields in the humanities and the social sciences that are not aligned with critical theory--to rely on an accrued discourse of terminology that would not be easy for an outsider to learn. Like many Mefi/Sokal attacks on theory, your attack on theory that you take to be irreverence against faddish charlatans is actually a censorial ignorant throwdown against the entire western intellectual tradition. Spivak is actually very easy to understand when you put her next to someone like Hegel or Heidegger!
posted by johnasdf at 11:42 AM on February 9, 2011


There is a middle position between the two extremes of "all theory ought to be instantly comprehensible, even to laymen" and "no work of theory is any more or less opaque than it needs to be."

It's also worth saying that, contrary to what Eagleton says, it's common for every intellectual discipline--including fields in the humanities and the social sciences that are not aligned with critical theory--to rely on an accrued discourse of terminology that would not be easy for an outsider to learn.

This is a straw man. The critique is not that she employs an accrued discourse of terminology, or that her work is difficult due to her reliance on terms of art. His critique more has to do with her rhythmic tone-deafness, lurching style, meandering focus, lack of apparent political purpose, and poor writing in general. You can agree or disagree with his opinion, which he states very clearly in his article, but the critique is not about the jargon.

(As for Heidegger, what I've read of his work was actually quite clear, and even what wasn't instantly clear was still readily recognizable as an intelligent person honestly trying to communicate to other intelligent people. To each their own, I guess - for whatever reason, Kant is what puts me to sleep, as far as pure style goes.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:37 PM on February 9, 2011


@pinkmoose, congratulations on having been working class and getting a job in academia. i was, did and so have many of my friends. (for the record, they stuck with it, i didn't.)

your point is, what, exactly? that intellectuals should be encouraged to disengage with the public if they have had to work harder (?) to get through their schooling? so, maybe it's only the children of the very wealthy who pursue a life of scholarship who should be expected to try to engage the general public with the fruit of their research? recall that i was quoting her verbatim on the real world versus academia.

i'll leave your apology on her behalf for her fessing to not having read her friend Edward Said's most influential book, which also touches upon a subject matter similar to her own scholarship, in the 20 years it was out before he died, because his essays may be more important to stand on face value.
posted by noway at 10:26 PM on February 9, 2011


Sticherbeast, I've been impressed with the cogency of your comments here, with which I've often agreed. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm making this a habit, but my last response was not to Eagleton, who I explicitly say attacks Spivak for not having a political project, but to posters like Shivohum, who is explicitly stating that non-scientific fields should not possess terms of art. I have a different truck with Eagleton (the anti-anti-racist Marxism I mentioned above) than I have with Metafilter, where I often feel like my role is to defend the social sciences and humanities from a naive science chauvinism.
posted by johnasdf at 6:36 AM on February 10, 2011


I think the language question is being debated by better minds than mine, but Noway, I did have a question. You seem to be quite angry with Spivak for not having read Orientalism while Edward Said was alive. Do you feel that this was a dis? That, when Spivak says that Said was a dear friend, she be fronting? What's your objection?
posted by DNye at 8:43 AM on February 10, 2011


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