The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

argoNotes

  • On the notion of “feeling real”
    • When finding an identity, “one can aspire to feel real, other can help others to feel real, and one can oneself feel real” and is tied to the primary sensation of aliveness “the aliveness of the body tissues and working with body functions, including the heart’s action and breathing” which makes spontaneous gesture possible. In regards to Winnicott, “feeling real is not a reactive to external stimuli, nor is it an identity. It is a sensation– one that spreads. Among other things, it makes you want to live.
  • On the unaddressed greatness of motherhood
    • Addressing D.W. WInnicott, Nelson notes it’s better not tell mothers that what they are doing is important “When a mother has a capacity quite simply to be a mother we must never interfere. She will not be able to fight for her rights because she will not understand.” Simply they all believe the are ordinary
  • The concept of “leaving an empty space so that God could rush in.”
    • They say that in bonsai, you often plan a tree off-center in the pot “to make space for the divine. This concept covers something more greater, in that there is no center! And this will keep you going in heart or art.
  • What does being trans mean?
    • While often used as a shorthand for “transitioning”, we are often familiar with people say they were “born in the wrong body”. For some, it’s an idea of leaving the idea of gender entirely behind. For a society that demands resolution, it seems there is always a destination to the journey, “transitioning to what?” leaving plenty in confusion, conflict or grief. In such cases, the best is to simply listen to what people have to tell you and treat them accordingly without having to gloss over their version of reality with yours.
    • It’s hard to comprehend that becoming sometimes doesn’t have an end result, becoming, transitioning, in which one never really becomes. Nelson simply, “A becoming in which one never becomes, a becoming whose rule is neither evolution nor asymptote but a certain
    • turning, a certain turning inward, turning into my own, turning on in, to my own self, at last, turning out of the white cage, turning out of the large cage turning at last (Lucille Clifton)
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