Lisa Ruddick: On "Patriarchal Poetry"

Stein sees patriarchy as dependent on a series of rigid distinctions (man-woman, culture-nature, mind-matter), classifications that form a fixed system as opposed to the mobile "system to pointing" intimated in "A Carafe." But to categorize and objectify things, and to devalue the "lower" term in each dualism (woman, nature, and matter), amounts to a sacrifice or quasi killing of the dignity, richness, and uniqueness of the thing. Yet the categories will always be susceptible to overthrow (or overflow) by the sacrificed terms. Woman and matter are always coming back to life in spite of the categories that bind and oppress them. Similarly, an anti-patriarchal or anti-sacrificial thinking is intimated in Tender Buttons: once we relinquish the absolute authority of our categories, we can examine and understand a thing without objectifying it. A "different" text is thus a feminist text.

. . . .

Univocal meaning, according to Stein, is one of the illusions ann oppressions of patriarchal thinking. . . .

"Patriarchal Poetry is the same" - the opposite, then, of "different." And the act that ritually fixes unitary meanings in place, as we will see in due course, is sacrifice. Yet the "difference" that sacrifice represses always comes back, in the form of semantic mobility. . . .

If patriarchal poetry is the same, anti-patriarchal poetry is different. Monologic meaning is created through ritual killing, but the materiality of words can always take us past that killing.

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Title Lisa Ruddick: On "Patriarchal Poetry" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Lisa Ruddick Criticism Target Gertrude Stein
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 21 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Reading Gertrude Stein: Body, Text, Gnosis
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