Dipping Into the Feminist Theory Sauce

The real place I found that these two female characters are worth my time to look at and pick their personalities apart was when I connected them to the feminist theoretical pieces we have read in class.

In Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex patriarchal society emphasizes the justification of implication of the Other on to women which Beauvoir calls the “Eternal feminine”. She goes on to further compare the situation of women to that of the negro(a word which in itself carries an entire other set of issues and discourses).

“the submissive Negro-or on the merits of the woman who is “truly feminine”-that is ,frivolous, infantile, irresponsible -the submissive woman”(32).

Angela Carter’s Love is written in third person point of view allowing for interaction with the thoughts of Lee about Annabel. Another descriptive word I would add to this list is mysterious. Lee sees his wife as something weak, something “infantile” that needs taking care of. In some aspects she does need to be taken care of, but in her truest form lee should seek protection from her. Annabel manages to utilize his false views of her to take control of him and of herself. It is this usage of self-knowledge and knowledge of her husband that allows her to manipulate the situation which changes the structure of values in the novel for the couple. This turns love into a resistant text that emphasizes the power of woman over herself and over her body. Annabel shows this power by depending on her body as part of her identity as we see in her meticulous preparation before her suicide, then ultimately it is her own hand that takes her own life ending the life of that body.

No matter how creepy it is to think about, Annabel makes Lee Other in his own apartment, in his own reality because he is sucked into the life that Annabel makes for him. If this doesn’t give her control of herself and world, I’m not sure what would.

I do not respect her for terrorizing lives with her bad vibes but I can respect the character as a tool to make a point in feminist discourse.

I was also only able to come to a “we cool” level with Kirstin from Linda Nagata’s The Bohr Maker due to her impact in third wave feminism. Bell hooks in Feminist Theory: from margin to center states that

“As a group, black women are in an unusual position in this society, for not only are we collectively at the bottom of the occupational ladder, but our overall social status is lower than that of any other group”(14).

Not to say that I have read immense amounts of books, but I have read more than some people I know and have rarely seen a black woman like Kirstin as the main protagonist.

In all honesty no matter how brutal she was in regulating and enforcing her ideas as chief of police, she did it very successfully. Kirstin as a character undermines this idea as black women as on the bottom mentioned in the above quote. Rather she is on top and has more control over men and women than some men. This is a stab in the chest of patriarchal prejudice western thought. I am afraid of Kirstin because of her resilience, but also respect her for that same resilience. If I wanted a job done I would no doubt count on Kirstin to get it done and the some, but I would not want her prejudice around me or my cyborg friends.

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Love and Nature

“Love and Nature” is a phrase that reoccurs in The Bohr Maker that has the contemporary equivalent to “god bless” as a negative expression (like “oh no”) in western culture. Although this phrase was from the singular novel, I noticed that there is also a connection between “love and nature” to Angela Carter’s Love.

In Love Annabel has connection with nature that is based on altering the reality she is in because a created fantasy is better than real life. She starts with the tree drawn on the wall of she and Lee’s room and it ends up “A forest of trees, flowers, birds, and beasts had invaded the walls”(29). Nature is a form of expression for Annabel as well as a source for terror as she looks at the sun and moon in the sky at the start of the novel.

Annabel is not very connected to nature. Natural human things like sex and seeing are made obscure by her mind and she does not truly see nature. This is completely opposite to Kirstin whom is very connected to nature.

The relationship that Kirstin has with nature is much more profound and backed by reason rather that as an escape from reality. Her devotion to Gaia the earth goddess is very strong due to her connection with the masculine and her upbringing in general. Gaia is the name of an ancient Greek goddess that was born of chaos and produced the earth. I would argue that in giving so much value to an ancient Greek goddess the commonwealth is attempting to restore the values of the Greeks just as the Romans once did; their goal being to instill a sense of order. This connection with Gaia also gives validity to the possibility that since the commonwealth is forging its roots from a society that conquers and controls, why wouldn’t the commonwealth do the same? This is why the policing and treating of countries outside of the commonwealth as Other and lesser to since they are not following good Greek values.

Kirstin also claims to have a special connection with nature which helps drive the destruction and regulation of technology in the first place. What I find interesting is that she is 120 years old yet looks as young as a teen, she is not completely natural. I really like that she is for preservation of earth and the resources on it, but I do not support her ways of getting to that point. So many people die because of the structural change. The outsiders become even more out of the look of society.

Nighttime Companions

Annabel and Kirstin are the ultimate users of the male for their own pleasure without much emotional involvement. Each uses their own style to manage to make their sexual partners smaller in a metaphorical way.

Leon plays the part of husband in Love, which is normally supposed to be an enjoyable position. But anything having to do with Annabel is never normal. Lee is mostly used as a tool or a plaything throughout the novel that is never fully understood by Annabel. Nor is Annabel understood by him.

Sex in their relationship is more often strange than pleasurable. In the beginning of the novel Lee is Annabel’s first sexual penetrative encounter. Blood emerges from the wounded vagina and she asks “Why should you want to do this to me?”, Lee doesn’t really have an answer(16).It is strange that there is no real feeling that is shown from Annabel other than curiosity.

To make things a little more off the wall is the way Annabel sees Lee when they are having sex. Lee is not a man she is having intercourse with in those moments, rather he is an ever-changing plane and artwork of her eyes and imagination. Her partner is not of this world in her illusions of him, rather he is of mythical type. Annabel “quickly interpreted him into her mythology…he was an herbivorous lion, later a unicorn devouring raw meat and she never saw him the same twice”(39).

In this way she can use Lee to expand her mythology but not really get a real world experience out of having sex with him. Actually she desires to end him through this myth making (35).

Kirstin’s relationship she has with Nikko the ghost that spends time in her head to simulate the experience of sex is much less weird yet crueler. He is in her head and she is the only party of the relationship that benefits from the exchange. She is overly fascinated with him; his blue scales and kisheer keep her entertained. It is an idea that she is having what she works her entire life to fight against; illegal technologies, in her bed and at her control that bothered me the most. She treats Nikko very badly calling him “freak”(23) and later “whore” to degrade what he is. In the exchange we as readers see we see that she is finds pleasure in lowering him below her status by making him beg for life also by her biting and drawing blood from the organ on his neck that helps him breath.

She is cruel in making Nikko do these things and eventually denies him everything he requests and he leaves embarrassed. The masculine/feminine roles here are actually reversed as Kirstin in control and Nikko the receiver of her torment. This is just due to the laws in the area they meet.

 

Kirstin.

As much as I did not appreciate the sly nonchalant manipulations of Annabel I was even more put off by the abuse of power of Kirstin in Linda Nagata’s The Bohr Maker. Kirstin is a 120 year old police chief of the commonwealth, a nation that is united b the control of the use of technology. In general her personal characteristics are masculine, opposite to the submissive Annabel. Kirstin was raised partially by her father whom was a strong believer in keeping the balance of nature alive.Kirstin lives her life protecting the goddess Gaia ;a value her father strongly instilled in her. Her position as police chief gives her ridiculous amounts of power over an entire population of people which she occasionally abuses. Her physical appearance is in itself a contradiction. She is said to have “perfect ebony …skin…coppery hair was course and kinked…Her features were Northern European: blocky nose and a heavy rectangular face”(10). Features that wouldn’t naturally occur are carried on all her bodies. I would argue that she made these alterations through the makers that she so full heartedly works to destroy and regulate.

As a reader I was impressed with the development of Kirstin as a masculine character in a feminine body. She seeks to get things done quickly and efficiently; she lives for Gaia.

She sees the word she lives in as infested with humans that were like rats infesting mother earth, it was natural she was brutal and not merciful to others. She lacks the stereotypical kindness and softness that a woman would typically have. Instead she is the law, which is traditionally kept by men and is a symbol of masculinity not femininity.

Nagata,Linda.The Bohr Maker.New York:Bantum ,1995.Print.

Annabel.

Annabel from Angela Carter’s Love takes the cake when referring to rather strange and question creating characters. The first time Annabel shows up in the novel she looks up at “the sun and moon in the sky at the same time. The sight filled her with a terror which entirely consumed her”(1). The first line of the novel warns of Annabel and her unorthodox thought processes and so on. Let’s meet Annabel on a more shallow level before we get into the labyrinths of her person.

Annabel is the daughter of a middle class family in what is presumably England. She is a talented art student and artist when she meets her husband Lee at a new year’s party. Annabel has long dark hair and described as angular and graceful (19). There are not very many lines in the novel dedicated to her speech, which makes her seem increasingly mysterious. She immediately becomes dependent on Lee and becomes a third member of the two brother family.

The complexities of her character develop through her relationship with reality and what western society would consider normal behavior. She also carries with her the capability to see things as art all the time, any plane is a canvas onto which her eyes and mind are capable of projecting lines and shape value to create art. It is this inability or refusal to completely grasp these concepts that layers her into an interesting round character.

Relationships to things of western society

As a member of society there are some levels on which Annabel functions on a different degree compared to others. When it comes to making money the typical work to make money and care for one’s family or buy things, does not apply to this woman. There is a stronger value in stealing the things she wants rather than buying although she has a sufficient amount of money. As a matter of fact that she doesn’t follow rules in general. There is a long list of western moral codes that she breaks throughout the duration of the  novel including,

-Moving in with two single men before marriage

-Having premarital sex

-Sleeping with her husband’s brother

-Stealing

These of course are socially constructed expectations that are heavily influenced by Christianity which begs to question their validity in this group of people who have a hard time seeing everyday reality.

Annabel and Power

At first the amount of power Annabel seems to have over the pattern of their lives is not much,but the second and third time around shows  is not necessarily the case. She calls the shots without saying a word because she entices Lee, “he was attracted to her because he was unsure of his upon her and became increasingly attached to her because of her strangeness”.She makes move to tears after a chess game turned into violence in which “not sufficiently brutally to require that he tie her wrists together with his belt,force her to kneel and beat her until she toppled over…She raised a strangely joyous face to him… ‘that will teach you to take my queen,’ she said smugly”(41). Through the utilization of guilt and emotional manipulation Annabel controls the brothers into a gray lifestyle that revolves around her and eventually it is only her suicide that releases them from her reign.I think this quote sums it up nicely,”never before had she felt the extent of her powers until that moment,she was resolved to be visible all the time and was rewarded by seeing him drawn towards her whether he willed it or not”(61).She pretty much tears up some hearts and as a child of the 90’s I couldn’t help but bring this up.Poor Lee could sing this song anytime after their meeting and it would be appropriate.Nsync’s  Tearin Up my Heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVAhsfvEH4A

Her Death

The death of Annabel is a sad yet releasing event. The third time is the charm as she succeeds in killing herself through the inhalation of natural gas. Finally the brothers are released from the rut they were stuck in as they tried to make things work with Annabel.

 

Final Project for 114GT-My Splendid Friends Annabel and Kirstin <3

If I had a dollar for every time I thought what is wrong with this woman? While reading Angela Carter’s Love and Linda Nagata’s The Bohr Maker I would probably would have enough money to buy a couple of my friends and I some food in Isla Vista. That’s around 30 bucks.

So I’ll admit it, I had issues with a character from each novel. Annabel from Love was a bit much for me and Kirstin from The Bohr Maker was a little too mean (even for my black soul to handle). I fear my heart will never be the same after the damage these characters inflicted on it. So join me on this journey to a comfortable medium of accepting these two characters importance in feminist discourse and in accepting them in general as people I would maybe like to share Isla Vista food with.

*Just as a side note , I emotionally invest myself in most everything I read, making these novels real tough to say the least. So here we go!

Cheers to suicidal Annabel and blue scaly man using then call him a whore Kirstin!

Mi Proyecto final

I’m so pumped for my final project for English 114Gt,but also sad it is so near the end of the class.I plan to do a series of blog posts looking into the similarities and differences between two major characters we have encountered in the course of our readings.On one hand I’ll have Annabel from Angela Carter’s Love and on the other I’ll have Kirsten from Linda Nagata’s The Bohr Maker.I will track the relationships I have had with each of them and how they have developed in to more and more complex figures as I got to know them better.At first I did not like Annabel nor Kirsten,but I have grown to accept these characters.By looking at these two female characters through different lenses of feminist theory (Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex  and bell hooks’ Feminist Theory:from margin to center) the layers of character of these females can be further complicated to reveal some interesting stuff about them.I would also like to incorporate ideas of the cyborg into my blog drawing from ideas of Donna Haraway’s essay “A Cyborg Manifesto:Science,Technology,and Social Feminism in the Late 20th Century” to help explain Kirsten on a deeper level.I’m looking forward to finding the tiny details about both Annabel and Kirsten that in my close readings of the characters that we did not touch on in class in order to share with all what I have found!

James Joyce on Women and/as Technology

Telephone Cord?

Reflecting on women as technology, I of course had some flash backs of other English courses and other texts I have read. The most interesting I could think of was a passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses.it goes as follows.

“One of her sisterhood lugged me squealing into life. Creation from nothing.What has she in the bag? A misbirth with a trailing navel cord,hushed in ruddy wool. The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your amphalos. Hello! Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one.

Spouse and helpmate of Adam Kadmon: Heva,naked eve.She had no navel. Gaze. Belly without blemish, bulging big, a buckler of taut vellum, no, whiteheaped corn, orient and immortal, standing from everlasting to everlasting. Womb of sin.”(32)

In the very beautiful language of Joyce, he manages to describe a thought of Stephen Dedalus’ about the concept of birth and biological connections to mothers. As Stephen watches women walk by he wonders if they were ever midwives and if they are currently carrying umbilical cords in their bags.An obscure thought in the first place,but he takes it further. The cords he speaks of could only be that of something modernly technological since it is associated with code “Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one”.I would assume that this is some sort of cord that allows a verbal response like “Hello! Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville”,perhaps a telephone. If it is a telephone, then Stephen is requesting to be connected to the beginning of humanity through the cords of mothers until the original biblical mother is reached in Eden. That’s Eve of course.

Concepts of the technology of birth and technology of communication are utilized here making this passage a double wammy of usage of the various definitions of technology.

Contemporary Connection

A more recent connection to real life, because I know I no longer have to talk to an operator to be connected to a person via telephone, there is an umbilical cord i-phone charger. If you watch the video, it pulsates when charging. This artist really took women and technology to a new level! I can’t tell if I’m a little disgusted or highly impressed.Maybe both?

http://www.zagg.com/community/blog/this-exists-and-its-disgusting-the-iphone-umbilical-cord-charger/

Beasty

I could only look out of the train window to keep myself from shedding more than a few tears after Letter Thirty-One put my worst fear into words. Letter Forty tore my heart to miniscule pieces, but it was Letter Twenty-Two that made me feel close to Teresa by means of familiarity of the situation .Anna Castillo manages to put a not so pleasant experience into beautifully written letter. I flip-flopped through this entire novel, hoping that perhaps somewhere in the pages Alicia and Teresa’s lives would get miraculously better. I of course was being silly. This literary work depicts the real, why would it end happily? For me, this novel was like picking teeny rocks out of the raw of one’s own freshly skinned knee; painful but must be done with or without reluctance. I dug further in and mined feelings of connection to the novel.

Letter Twenty-Two of The Mixquiahuala Letters stayed with me. I believe it is because of the familiarity of the situation between Teresa and Ponce. I see the exchange at the table between them as Teresa in one of the truest social forms of herself throughout the novel.in that moment the identity she has created for herself is threatened. As a result, her Shadow-Beast comes out to protect her in a vulnerable moment.

Shadow-Beast, is a term coined by Gloria Anzaldua in Borderlands/La Frontera is the word she utilizes to describe the “part of me that refuses to take orders from outside authorities”. Shadow-Beast is also defined as the idea of women as “other. She is man’s recognized nightmarish pieces, his shadow beast”. Giving the descriptions some real thought I found that the situation Teresa was in was a perfect example of both definitions of Shadow-Beast.

Teresa is knocking back drinks and smoking as much as her male companion Ponce. Ponce came to the table thinking he was going to get laid because after all, a Liberal woman is thought of as a “trash, whore, bitch” by society. His knowledge of society said her guard eventually would fall since there was no way that she would be able to resist him. This notion he holds true to, one that puts men in power is one that is also critiqued by Anzaldua in Borderlands/La Frontera.

In resisting authority that says, a woman, should not smoke and drink as heavily as a man, she levels the playing field. Teresa’s clever and well thought responses to his questions mirror himself so much that he eventually takes defeat as his departure gift. He will not have this particular woman, unless she wants him too.

Throughout my childhood I have seen the shadow beast of each member of my woman ruled family. This experience was always terrifying but they were never afraid to let their beasts come out for a visit. As a part of my family, naturally my Shadow-Beast is chillin’ inside me, maybe drinking a chela, helping me make decisions in my day to day life; until it is summoned in full effect. Rare situations like the one Teresa went through have happened to me personally, and my shadow beast has always been there to help me out. I love my Shadow-Beast! I can only hope my Shadow-Beast looks like Beast from the X-men, but knowing how my shadow beast feels, it is probably so much uglier. No it is for sure uglier.

Fox Motif in Angela Carter’s Love

“Annabel ate a little drank her tea and covered her face with her hands so he could not watch her anymore. Her movements were spiky, angular, graceful; how was he to know ,since he was so young that he would become a Spartan boy and she the fox under his jacket, eating his heart out. The Japanese peasantry had an awed respect for foxes, who, they believed, could enter a person’s body either through the breast or else the space between the flesh of a finger and any one fingernail. When the fox was inside, it would harangue its host until he lost his reason but Lee felt no need to beware of her.” (Carter 15)

                Here Lee is looking at Annabel after he has gathered her from the party he was at. This is their first personal interaction .He has already analyzed her need to be taken care of, her social standing, and whether she was a virgin or not. Carter cleverly uses the Spartan boy myth to describe Annabel and Lee’s relationship. The fox as a motif is carried heavily throughout the entirety of Angela Carter’s Love, the excerpt above is the first time it is mentioned and sets up the meaning for the fox in the novel.

The myth of the Spartan boy and the fox is a curious one that instills Spartan values in children. According to Oxford reference, the myth goes that a Spartan boy stole a fox on the way to class one day. While in class, the fox proceeded to eat out his heart while he showed no signs of pain on his face or demeanor. It was only until the boy dropped dead in class and the fox escape from his jacket did anyone realize what had happened to the boy. Spartans valued so highly the ability to steal and not be found out that the boy suffered and died.

Annabel’s movements are described with the adjectives spiky, angular and graceful. These words could easily be used to describe a fox. Spiky brings to mind sort of skittish movement like that of a wild animal, yet it is countered by grace. In her introduction she is already described in ways that are contradictive.

                The omniscient narrator foreshadows the point in the novel where Annabel figuratively eats out Lee’s heart and he is subjected to living his life around her after her second suicide attempt. I would even go as far as to argue that this is a warning to the reader of the events that will soon pass. Not only will she eat his heart out but she entered him in the Japanese way once he pulled her hands away from her face immediately following this scene. It is interesting that the word harangue is used to describe how Annabel made him lose his reason, since she barely spoke at all.

I chose this passage because I found the fox motif so interesting. Later, the deterioration of the stuffed fox in their living room also symbolizes Lee and Annabel’s relationship as well as the deterioration of Annabel as she neared successful suicide. It is also so sad that Lee did not find Annabel to be any harm to him, when in reality she killed the Lee who used to be a fighter and partner of Buzz. It was only through serious therapy, as we learn in the afterward, that Lee is able to continue as a functional member of society. Theoretically this symbol of lee as a Spartan boy and Annabel the fox completely flips the western expectation of women. Spartans were supposed to be the ultimate men and warriors, yet it is this graceful female creature that destroys him. It gives Annabel power as a female character, but a kind of natural animalistic power that is not generally given to women in western society( as seen in our class shout out of adjectives to describe women).I would also relate this to the value that is placed on superstition. Both of the myths are culturally built and maintained, not giving them much verification to a scholar like Judith Butler but give much magical value to the narrative. It honestly sucked me in.I wonder what Judith butler would have to say about the ornate and symbolic writing style of Carter?