Thursday, April 11, 2013

11 apr 2013

epicene: having characteristics of both sexes or neither sex or some indeterminate sex or some unnamed or unutterable, some ingenious sex, some unforeseen or unorthodox sex that baffles some people, turns them wary, defensive, awkwardly jocular, downright hostile & afraid

William Blake: to generalize is to be an idiot

Dana Levin

the use of “they,” “their,” and “them” to refer to those of unknown gender has always been a common feature of English, especially when spoken aloud. This is exactly why, Bodine explains, two centuries of attempts to teach and legislate it away has largely failed — except, perhaps, in the red-lined realms of English Composition. . . .

our average ancestral grammarian was not generous. He was an ordinary sexist with control issues, if we want to psychoanalyze the amount of energy, outrage and certitude he and his brethren put into the proscription against “he or she” and singular “they.” . . .

perhaps the common use of singular “they” suggested that the language (and hence the mind) had a kind of intuition: that self is multiple. . . .

many Victorian grammar hounds were on the hunt for it . . . an epicene, or bisexual pronoun, a linguistic gem of power from a logoshangri-la. . . .

other languages had gender neutral pronouns: Standard Bengali, Estonian, Hungarian, and other Uralic languages, Nahuatl (indigenous language of Central Mexico), Indonesian and Mandarin amongst the crew. “The Finnish language does not support gender-specific pronouns,” states Wiki . . .

speaking of its:

Gwendolyn Brooks [pic courtesy of Phillips Exeter Academy]

Still Do I Keep My Look, My Identity

Each body has its art, its precious prescribed
Pose, that even in passion’s droll contortions, waltzes,
Or push of pain — is its, and nothing else’s.
Each body has its pose. No other stock
That is irrevocable, perpetual
And its to keep. In castle, or in shack.
With rags or robes. Through good, nothing, or ill.
And even in death, a body, like no other
On any hill or plain or crawling cot
Or gentle for the lilyless hasty pall
(Having twisted, gagged, and then sweet-ceased to bother),
Shows the old personal art, the look. Show what
It showed at baseball. What it showed in school.

Miriam & Esther, siblings
these poems:

Joseph Spece: "Among Elks"

Malachi Black: "Insomnia & So On"

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