Below is a note to a friend. We were writing to each other about vulnerability–a consequence of a research and writing assignment I and my Life Writing class are engaged in. I’m not doing any other post for today, because I wasted a lot of time writing a letter to the editor and now I want to read my students’ writings, so I’ll just post this casual thought on the link between love, writing, and vulnerability (it really came from something one of my students said):
I knew in your post that you meant that one should go beyond oneself. I put the other cast to it–doing it just to do it. Your real key lies in doing something that is beyond the self–and that of course is what Freire is all about. For him, it’s an act of love, which might be another way of saying opening oneself up to others. My students had an interesting conversation about this yesterday–connecting this kind of act to vulnerability–I’m asking them to do some internet research on the issue before we write about the link between writing and vulnerability. i love what they come up with. Caila put it more or less this way: you are being vulnerable when you open yourself up to someone else’s position, way of understanding. You can understand/embrace it only when you have a kind of empathy with the person/people. I think of it physically: you open yourself up, almost as if you had opened yourself and let this person come inside you — or at least a part of that person — then you are no longer you. You are you & that other person. This is of course the act of love; you can do it only when you are willing to be someone other than who you were all along. Freire’s point of course (Bhudda’s, Christ’s) is that to extend that love, that opening (vulnerability) to the world (Freire’s notion of critical thinking is that it admits of no discrepancy between the self and the world).
Yes–the anti personal/pro evidence (I’m getting a little sick of hearing that) based split is genderized and racialized (i think of Ways with Words–also read Unequal Childhoods sometime–very readable) and class-based. Class based in odd ways mixed with gender. David Seitz’s Who Can Afford Critical Consciousness is good on this. Unequal Childhoods, too. Actually, bernstein, now that I think of it. According to the literature (and my experience–story telling, especially hunting stories; my grandfather was a notable hunting story-teller (actually, a story-teller about everything)), story-telling, the personal experience is highly valued, a way of passing on knowledge, in the working classes. (i know this is too general–but if you read Lareau, you will see there is something to the generalization [assuming she wasn’t lying about her research]). But there is another side of the working classes (the doing side and the getting ahead side) that is highly instrumental. The working classes (again the literature and the generalization) see (for their children) education instrumentally. The more well-off you are, the more you can value the Brahmin (think Emerson) impulse–that’s the liberal arts argument. Sorry I got off on this. You can see I think I have space this morning. I’ll probably blog this for the hell of it. I’m also aware that I’m trying to sound intelligent.