Monday, March 09, 2009

Theory of Compromise - What Do You Say?

One of those nights last month when I was home in Taipei, when I was up reading late in the evening, a quote from 龍應台's 「孩子你慢慢來」shook me hard:

「没有经歷過生養過程的女性主義者們 - 請問,關於女性,你們到底能告訴我什麼?」(= "To all you feminist theorists out there- please tell me, without having gone through childbirth and childcare, what can you tell me about being a woman?"; disclaimer: paraphrase from mere memory, subject not to precision examination).

Then there's the picture of Long herself standing in front of a full wall of books on feminism, her back facing the viewer/the photographer. It looks like a picture taken at a bookstore by someone without her consciousness (prob. her husband then).

Tonight, reading another literary critic's comments/analyses/criticisms on someone's poetry, I want to ask a very similar question - "To all you literary critic out there- please tell me, without having engaged any creative writings, what can you tell me about literature, creativity or literary consciousness?"


Regardless of how a feminist may analyze or criticize or go off to embark whatever ground-breaking theory on femininity/feminism out there, at the end of the day, I wonder if she could really shake off the sense of fatigue - both physically and emotionally if not mentally - and weariness if not sheer pain that she feels when the next period visits. Or after coming home after a whole day of whatever dazzling public lectures/conference roundtable discussions, she could literally go back to a dark and human-less (maybe not animal-less 'cuz more likely she'd have a cat/dog/hamster/goldfish as company) home, and be the first one - and the only one - to switch on the light.

Yet how many women would endure a loveless partner or stay in an obligation-bound marriage simply for the sake of not being that first - and last - person to switch on that light when the dusk falls, room grows empty, and yet another lone night awaits ahead?

Many. Many many many, I believe.

Life is never about the ideal but often a compromise among many compromises. The compromises in turn make that one and only ideal, or passion, or dream shine like a bright star in the darkest hours, one that gives one motivation, hope, or another reason to go on.

Yet it's ideal only because too many compromises have been made and need to be made.

Without darkness, the star would never seem to be shining as bright; with everything ideal turning out real, we would not find a reason to continue to strive forward.

Hopefully, most of the times, it's a compromise closer to ideal.

Theorists and critics - what can you tell me about making "compromises"? The fact that I cannot stop my next period from coming and not wanting to go home and be the first one to switch on that light yet do have a brain that has the capacity of reasoning and logic, ambitions to bring out some positive change to the world, pride to succeed, awareness and ability to be independent, but also - yes, BUT ALSO - a heart that melts away when I see a mom and a daughter - literally jumping and skipping and beaming in smiles and excitement - waiting in line at the bakery for a celebration cake for hina-matsuri celebration?

And when my biological clock IS ticking everyday, and the number of healthy and viable eggs for producing a next generation of physically healthy and mentally sounding (and socially constructive from the viewpoint of the country) is literally depleting as we speak?

(yes, adoption is a viable and good option that I am fully aware of, thank you very much. but I also would like to keep my options open.)

What do you say, my theorists and critics?

梅ちゃん at 12:48:00 AM



at 3/9/09, 1:06 PM Anonymous Grace C said...

hey may, i like your blog. it doesn't seem like i can subscribe to it using rss feed?

at 4/30/09, 11:52 AM Anonymous Chiao said...

I can see the force of 龍應台's statement. It draws deeply on the paradox of motherhood, as something both incredibly profound and incredibly mundane. It is profound because it is a transformation that you cannot imagine, and that you cannot think past. It is mundane because of its commonality, because of our unwillingness to rank and rate motherhood.

There is an unrelated truth in all this, that those who draw meaning from the intellect often fall out of touch with their true feelings, seeking conceptual perfection beyond that which is possible to feel and relate to. This truth, that reality has to remain a little incoherent, has nothing to do with the blunt, defensive statement 龍應台 uttered, even though in your sincerity you might have given her the benefit of the doubt.


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