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House of mirrors : performing autobiograph(icall)y in language/education 1999

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HOUSE OF MIRRORS: PERFORMING AUTOBIOGRAPH(ICALL)Y IN LANGUAGE/EDUCATION by RENEE ADELLE NORMAN B.Ed., Univcrsity of British Columbia, 1972 M.S.. University of British Columbia, 1995 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIRENENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Language Edcication We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLOMBIA May 28 . 1999 © Renee Adelle Norman, 1999 in presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. 1 further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of 'tf\.A.^'^~y'-'-^'i^ C'M.A.t,^^C:Cc<r)^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date y^-^-.-^-^ ? / 7? DE-6 (2/88) Abstract This dissertation, a textual House of Mirrors, examines autobiography in/as re-search through performance and reflection. Utilizing the leitmotif of the mirror, I invite readers through entranceways, passages and spaces that optically reflect and refract the writer, the reader, the text. My autobiographical writing herein is an artistic performance, enacted as I simultaneously speculate (about) autobiograph(icall)y. This autobiographical performance is presented through poetry, personal essays and stories, theoro- poetic ruminations on the literature and theory and journal entries that record the journey. In this dissertation, I ask: How can we consider autobiography in/as re-search? How does women's writing contribute to autobiography in/as re-search? Mirroring these questions, I consider the themes of writing, mothering, teaching, by examining my self/selves as writer, m(other), teacher, scholar, Jew, in the context of many textual and living others. However, this work is more than a self-examination. This House of Mirrors is peopled with many women's lives and words, a deliberate gesture to bring others to my life and work: Doris Lessing, Hannah Arendt, Jill Ker Conway.... I also explore some of the vast and rich theoretical writing on autobiography, such as the work of Leigh Gilmore and Janet Varner Gunn, intertextually interspersing this theory among the mirrors of my own and other women's autobiographical writing, so that the text works reflexively and disruptively in the manner of Andre Gide's mise-en-abyme, the mirror-within-a-mirror-within-a-mirror. In an effort to apply the re-search to schools, I demonstrate how some specific strategies for autobiography in education might be employed in the classroom. This interdisciplinary approach draws upon the zones of feminist thought, post-structuralism, literary criticism, language education and the hermeneutics of interpretive inquiry. Autobiographical writing as a re-search method assists us in making sense of experience and memory, life and text, self and others. Writing and thinking of our place in the world is a necessary and vital process, part of living in, and in Hannah Arendt's terms, loving, the world. Hi TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements Foreword Dedication 11 IV VI Vll Vlll GENESIS Directions to the House of Mirrors 1 26 ROOM ONE: IN THE HOaSE OF MIRRORS 28 I. WOMEN WRITING WOMEN (inter-mirrors) HOUSE OF MIRRORS/29 30 II. RE-SEARCHING LIVES AT HOME IN THE MIRROR/49 50 MIRROR PASSAGES/70 III. MARTHA-AND-I-IN-MIRRORS 82 IV ROOM TWO: THE OTHER SIDE OF MIRRORS 142 (inter-mirrors) MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL/143 IV. flUTOBIOGRfiPHY IN/fIS RE-SEflRCH: GETTING LOST 144 IN BENIGN REMEMBRANCE (THE MIRROR OF A PAGE)/153 V. THE STRflNGENESS OF flaTOBIOGRfiPHY: FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR 154 Vi. BETWEEN FRIENDS: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR i55 ROOM THREE: MIRRORS OF PEDAGOGY 201 M IS FOR MOTHER, MICROWAVE AND MIRRORS/202 VII. SPEC-OLflTING WITH M(OTHERS) 203 WHEN MIRRORS FLYl/240 Vlli. FOUR REFLECTIONS ON THE ETHICS OF flOTOBIOGRflPHY 241 M IS FOR M(OTHER), METAPHOR, METOIVYMY, MIRRORS/263 IX. MIRRORING THE CLflSSROOM 264 E x i t i n g t h e House of M i r r o r s 2 85 BIBLIOGRAPHY 288 HCKNOWLEDGENENTS It has been an incredible journey of discovery and re- discovery, this transformation to the life of the mind, this re- birth of the writing life. I am deeply grateful to many inspirational scholars/writers: Dr. Carl Leggo, superior supervisor, loyal mentor, fellow poet and writer, constant friend, who first named me poet and writer six years ago when I did not yet have the confidence to do so myself, and who has been generously supporting me in poetic ways ever since... Professor George McWhirter, splendid poet and writer, wise respondent, reflective thinker, who agreed to work with me as a poet when I entered his office four years ago, some poems in my briefcase... Dr. Valerie Raoul, discerning feminist and astute editor, brilliant scholar on autobiography, French women and much else, who so unstintingly provided energy and excellence... I am also appreciative of the fine mentorship and friendship of Dr. Patrick Verriour and Dr. Wendy Sutton, our association dating back over twenty years. Thank you, too, to Dr. Ted Aoki, luminous wise man and poet of the soul, for his words of encouragement and teaching. It would have been impossible to accomplish much of anything without the love, support, nurturance (and spaghetti) of my husband, Don. To my three beautiful daughters, Sara, Rebecca and Erin, for whom I am also writing: thank you for the joy and learning and love that you bring to me. Whenever I look in mirrors, I see the five of us reflected there. Thank you, too, to my parents, Shirley and Joe Silver, my siblings and my in-laws, who have been there for me throughout this process. I am also indebted to: Dr. Erika Hasebe-Ludt, faithful friend, not only for our exploration together of Hannah Arendt, but for the many books, articles, talks, conferences, meals, "between friends..." Dr. Lynn Fels and Dr. Wanda Hurren, fellow PhD friends, who have been sharing this journey...Friends Jacqui Wittman and Donna Chan, who always listen, advise, laugh, love...Homeopath/friend Marlow Purves who dispenses wisdom and remedies...The many students I have taught and learned from over the years... And because I promised my daughters I would—thank you. Tux, perfect poodle, for warming my bare toes as I sat and wrote, and joining me each day in the computer room. I gratefully acknowledge the support of this work by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in the form of a Doctoral Fellowship. vi FOREWORD Some of the poems (and excerpts from poems) in this dissertation were published or accepted in the following journals or anthologies: Amethyst Review Canadian Woman Studies Child (anthology) Educational Insights English Quarterly Freefall Green's Magazine Language and Literacy Journal Prairie Fire Prairie Journal Room of One's Own Sandburg-Livesay Anthology Whetstone The first three "Reflections on Ethics in Autobiography" are in press. Room of One's Own. "Genesis" appeared in Canadian Woman Studies. "Surviving Treason: Writing the Layers of Our Lives" appeared in Room of One's Own. Permission was given to include an e-mail from Erika Hasebe- Ludt. Permission was given to include a book report and excerpts from her autobiography by Sara Norman. Permission was given from Shelley Fralic, Deputy Managing Editor of The Vancouver Sun to include the photographs, newspaper article and letter. Three "Martha" poems won first prize in Whetstone's Poetry Contest. "Segments" won second prize in the Southwest Regional Poetry Contest. "Surviving Treason: Writing the Layers of Our Lives" won third prize in Room of One's Own Literary Contest. "Between the Lines" received honourable mention in the Cecilia Lament Poetry Contest. "In Benign Remembrance" is a finalist in the Sandburg-Livesay Anthology Competition. VII DEDICflTION For my daughters and my mother mother to daughter daughter to mother mother to daughter your touch there your print left on the creak suck click tsk sound of seconds smoothed between us viii GENESIS Surviving Treason: Writing the Layers of Our Lives 2 A Lullaby of Voices 13 Stories Not to Live By 14 Genesis 17 Directions to the House of Mirrors 26 SURVIVING TREASON: WRITING THE LAYERS OF OUR LIVES (a personal «ssay) December I went to the Calvins' house. A woman had just got killed by her husband. He had just stabbed her. I arrested him. Case closed. So begins my latest journal, the words written by one of my daughters. (Where does she get her ideas?) This journal is partly filled already with one daughter's pencilled words and another daughter's small horses and unicorns, a gift to me on my birthday. Months ago I gave each of my daughters a journal and now this one has been returned to me, an act of reciprocal love. I write between their lines. I write on top of small scrawls and drawings, not to erase them, but so our writing is fused. This palimpsest contains the layers of our lives. All I can hear as I write is the hum of the fridge. The dog lies nearby, curled into a black ball. Not even his dark eyes show, surrounded as they are by black fur, curly night shadows. My new calligraphy pen leaks splotches of black ink onto my fingers as I write, conspiring to stain me as I stain the page. I go through calligraphy pens like my children go through school knapsacks. Well-used, they only last so long. I break momentarily to peel an orange, and several sections turn black from the inkstains, but I eat those segments anyway. The ink is inside me.. . "Writers are always selling somebody out," Joan Didion wrote in an essay (cited in Stamberg 1984, 25). Explaining this, much-quoted statement in an interview, Didion revealed that she meant "it is impossible to describe anybody—a friend or somebody you know very well—and please them, because your image of them, no matter how flattering, never corresponds with their self-image" (26) . Whoever (or whatever) we write about, we never write alone. Partners, lovers, friends, parents, children, hamsters peer over our shoulders, ready to check for accuracy and who-knows-what-else. And intermingled with all these others in our lives are our many changing selves. The self who was, the self who is, the self who writes, French critic Roland Barthes distinguishes. Is this self who writes a ruthless opportunist, as Didion's statement at first seems to suggest? Or is she more like a telescope, focusing on people and details with the lens of her pen, always aware that with just one small turn of the telescope, the frame changes? Always aware that the lens may be out-of-focus, dusty or absolutely clear and sharp, and that each of these views presents a picture... One gusty evening, my children and I returned home from the mall, our eyes glassy from the glitter of red and green displays and fake feathered snow. The wind whipped around the house, circled us with violent ghostly noises that sent the children wide-eyed to the TV screen of window, drawn there by the pull of violence and outdoor abuse... the next day when we walked in the forest two thick evergreen trunks barred our way the wood had snapped off in a jagged pattern celery strands which curl down the stalk one line leading to another another then what's left we climbed over the obstruction mud from the fallen trunks streaks of brown angry tears on the legs of our pants drying like flakes we brush off without even thinking small branches thick with pine needles littered the leaf mulch of undergrowth thin trees bent across the forest flora we held our heads down as if the wind an elastic slingshot would snap us in the face any time high in an upright tree which reached to pierce the sky branches twitched in the aftermath of storm one small nest clung to the highest fork in the hands of this hearty survivor even the wind could not shake off this clump the nest a single decoration There. A sigh. A sense of satisfaction. A poem: composed of the windstorm in me and a December night; my daughter's child-eyed story of violence and abuse; and a walk in the woods when we saw the bird's nest which survived the storm, a clump of domestic solidarity. The lure of violence exists in TV and in nature. But nature presents small, important acts of survival. What awe, horror, surprise we felt at the wind's destruction and cruelty; what relief about the elements of nature which survive no matter what. A metaphor for the family unit, how we are whipped by wind forces in culture, but cling together in our mud-glue-twigs nest, perched on the highest tree... I like what Annie Dillard writes in "To Fashion a Text" (1987). First of all, when we write, we decide what to put in and what to leave out. I suppose I might add: what to change. (As an example, I changed the month at the beginning of this essay where my daughter's words appear, because it makes more sense in the rest of the context. It is less complicated to change the date than explain the discrepancies.) I like how Dillard muses about the writing life: that writing changes what we have already lived because we spend more time writing about the moment(s) sometimes than living them. After a while it is the writing part of the memory/event that takes precedence and looms large in our consciousness. Add a word here, delete a word there. Mix and check the resultant recipe. Too much bitterness and failure? Simply soften with synonym. Redeem with a pinch of humour and self- deprecation. Read better now? More acceptable? More truthful? Write a more tolerant spouse closer to the truth we want to be. (Don't write the harsh word shouted in the heat of a fullblown argument and taint that truth with madness and paranoia, with midlife crisis and change, with fear of growing older and avoidance of intimacy.) Don't restore what was deleted by the press of a keyboard button, a button that acknowledges human frailty and imperfection. Life is a palimpsest of events, each written over by the next day that we rise again from our beds with some kernel of hope that this day will be better, no matter what; life is good and could be so much worse. Forget the harsh words, the fear and vulnerability. In spite of everything, the new layer that covers all that is underneath is the layer that matters most. In the end there is only that. How could we expect of one another anything more? This layer the years of night shift and uncertainty. This layer the miscarried babies. This layer the years of sleepless nights and open doors and small sleeper-clad bodies between us. This layer the hair that greys and the trips to chiropractors and homeopaths. This layer the years that sped by like the pages in a flip book... I wrote a piece called "A Woman Writer's Diary" which chronicles my coming into writing later in my life. It is a postmodern diary which weaves in and out of time, in and out of my life with my husband and children, in and out of my growth as a writer. It begins: I write my first poem...and it is all about my silent voices, my hoarse voices, my lost voices...my unspoken, unshapen, unbidden, underneath my tongue voices... It ends: "I am a writer. I am a writer." Repeating the sentence as if to truly convince myself. This diary has undergone several revisions, revisions which transformed my husband from a stiff, unaccepting person to a mildly bewildered but constantly adjusting spectator. The truth of this slips back and forth like the runner on a slide rule, attempting to find accuracy, I suspect. During each revision I found myself terribly aware of how he would appear to others, how my reaction to his responses would seem to come across. A patronizing pat on the knee became an endearing show of support. I added a comment I remembered about how he thought I was in my power mode. Suddenly the diary shifted slightly to the right. I was not unhappy with this new slope, but I wondered if it was I, not my husband, who was really shifting here. I wondered if he was just a sort of chess piece I was moving around until I found the right combination of moves. When I read the diary now, I am satisfied with the alterations. But nowhere do the words on paper reveal the many stages that diary (and my husband as written) went through. That is another text that lives underneath the words, between the lines, like my daughters' entries in my journal. Which readers will be able to read beyond what there is written now? Who but I will know which cruel remark became a mild rebuke? And who knows what is closest to the truth? Perhaps the cruelty was of my own making, borne out of mis(sed) interpretation. Distortion is another version of the truth... I throw all the printed revisions and transformations of my computer-entered writing into a box. I find I must print what I have written on paper copy. I cannot seem to get a sense of what I have written on the bright screen, no matter how many times I scroll up and down, as if this night sky of star-words blinds me. My daughters use the box of recycled words for their drawings, stories and projects. A poem might wrap a bone for the dog's Chanukah present, or a herd of unicorns might prance around four corners of a page whose reverse side contains the beginning of an article on homeopathic medicine. On the back of the final copies of my poems I record where I have sent them. The scribbles on the back tell a story of faith and hope, commitment and obsession, another story entirely than that which the poems might tell, like the reverse side of my recycled revisions upon which my children create. More layers. One poem travelled back and forth across Canada fourteen times until it found a home in a journal in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I do not know how I kept faith in that poem, why I kept sending it away again when I kept receiving it back. The poem, prophetically enough, is called "Passage." It is my passage to a place where I grow more confident about what I write, a passage from silence into song, introspection into communication, poetry into praxis... At a conference in Montreal, I attended a presentation by a group of women writers. One of the poets who read her work mentioned that her Greek husband threatened to sue her if she ever wrote about him. Later I spoke with her in the hall where she told me she was trying to write a sonnet about her husband, but she was blocked. It did not escape my notice that she still wanted to write about her husband. Try a prose poem, I advised. (My prose poem had long run-on sentences, was a humorous but sharp-edged account of my twenty-year marriage living with my husband and our three children, was published in the newspaper. I sold out for $150. My prose poem rocked my marriage. The prose poem as betrayal...) In my journal I once wrote that I believe writing is the single most radical and threatening feminist act of all. To construct on paper everything I have been thinking, to allow first thought to flow from my pen in a stream of joy, pain, bitterness, elation, humour, despondency. Words break through the wall of silence, the years of female silence: growing up female, growing up quiet if you are good and tidy and obedient and don't speak out if you don't throw rocks at the wall of silence o baby in pink o little girl reflected in her patent leather shoes o young woman who nods, agrees o woman in the kitchen, in the laundry room, in the bathroom head stuck in the toilet bowl bowl! ten pins down and a strike ten poems, ten articles, ten manuscripts strike! strike! strike! Here! The chai necklace, my present to him before we were married, angrily tossed back into my hands, hands now stained with ink. Something I said at brunch a year ago with a cousin who was getting married. Who remembers? Not me, who can describe the house I lived in when I was 4 in perfect colorized detail. He remembers, he who does not always lock the door at night and shops with a grocery list and still forgets the soy sauce. Chai— life. Life restored to me. In an agony of irony, I wrote about the returned necklace in the same journal that was returned by my children, necklaces and journals chained together with links of various kinds of love. I put the necklace on at Christmas and wore it, feeling like some part of me had been given back. A gift. He didn't say a word. He didn't even notice. Who remembers? (The prose poem was a litany of all the remembered moments of I forget, I didn't know how, I don't want to take responsibility. A list. I write lists.) You use lists a lot, a man in my writing group commented in the margin of my autobiographical piece. I tried a new form in a poem and I could tell the professor with whom I was working (a generous man) didn't like it. It's a list, he said. Stop there. (He then cut out three-quarters of the poem.) I write lists. I am a list. Stop there. me 3 daughters a black poodle 6 motorcycles 2 cars & oh, yes 1 husband who still whistles when he comes home at night 2 Jewish parents who live in Calgary my mother's eyes don't tear properly & my father's knee is shot 2 Christian in-laws who live on the Sunshine Coast she smokes incessantly like a candle with a Duracel battery on her deck in the rain he slaps me on the shoulder whenever he greets me wants me to edit his book a racist tract originally titled "Blue Eyes" "Someday," he said at Christmas one year "the way things are going a Black or a Jew will be prime minister" women didn't count on his list someday I am going to slap him back how can you cry if your eyes don't tear? (The French have two verbs for betray. One verb, tromper, is a lesser kind of treachery, and means to deceive or mislead. The other verb, trahir, translates as treason of the strongest, hardest type. My prose poem ends redeemingly, acknowledging our foibles as part of a deeper love that grows despite the many wrangles between us. There must be a third verb somewhere for betrayal.) My friend Jacqui wrote a clever poem about a cup, in the shape of a cup. The poem relates to an incident in a writing class we took together. A man in the class became irritated with Jacqui and peevishly left his cup for her to wash up after class. The poem was published in a chapbook produced by The Vancouver Sun newspaper. Uncomfortable with a public voice, Jacqui submitted the poem under her maiden name. (A cup is a public document.) She described placing her manuscript in the night slot at the Sun building. "I felt as if I were naked, standing there and sending parts of my life up for scrutiny. I felt foolish." When the poem was published, I bet her 25 cents that her husband would think the poem was about him. She has not yet paid me the quarter she owes me. She has not yet submitted any other poems anywhere... (My prose poem created controversy. My husband, adjusting to living with a poet and writer, increasingly resented what I was trying to say as various people responded to the poem. He requested a copy of the poem which he took to work in order to solicit his colleagues' reactions. One woman asked if the house was in my name. A younger, unmarried man pronounced: She loves you. My mother read the poem and asked: Were you mad at him when you wrote this? I read the poem in a writing class and the women laughed; the men looked stunned. My sister told me she cried when she read it; it was so authentic. Jacqui said her husband was incensed by the poem; she felt he was consumed by guilt because he had done everything I had written about- I read the poem at a conference and a colleague called it brutal. At a family gathering of my husband's relatives, my husband's sister commented, "Women like this poem, but I don't think men do." Her husband remarked, "Sounds like Don to me," and laughed. A cousin (whose feminist first wife left him, taking all the contents of the house with her) refused to look at me or speak to me throughout the evening.) Betrayal compounds, one poem upon another. This creates layers of poems. Once begun, they are impossible to stop, these poems spilling from my pen, climbing over the wall of silence, telescoping betrayal. In the end there is also that... 2 pink leather chairs are framed against candy pink walls soothe the restless spirit provide a topic for conversation the psychiatrist's expensive running shoes look worn a comfortable sweater tops casual pants in an American accent he checks out what they expect him to do a Man in the pink chair swivels slightly a Woman swivels in her matching chair until the soft rich leather hits the wall with a scrunch then slowly backtracks the other way ground rules set the Man begins to talk the Woman listens to his nervous laugh notices his reddened cheeks embarrassed that he treats every question as a confrontation every comment as a misunderstanding it is the Woman's turn to talk she doesn't know how to begin then once begun doesn't know how to stop the Man is embarrassed by details she reveals encouraged by the hopeful remnants in remarks the chairs are stationary quite still other objects in the room are moving the chairs like tongues frozen against a pastel wall in this tableau the blistering burden of thought melts pink off the walls a sweet paint whose rosy poison unleashes a torrent from the waiting room another Man and Woman approach the chairs momentarily they are empty the pink swivelling December again These are my words. I am at my house. A woman has not been killed by her husband, and writes on. He introduces her to psychiatrists and restaurateurs as a poet. Another small, important act of survival. Case closed. In the previous autobiographical essay, I examined the writing life as poet, mother, wife, "where truth is inevitably a form of distortion" (Putnam 199 6, 4). Throughout this dissertation, I examine my self/selves as writer, m(other), teacher, scholar, Jew, in the context of many living and textual others. Such writing and analysis with all its attendant complexities constitute autobiography in/as re-search. The writing is an artistic performance, enacted as I simultaneously explore and interrogate autobiography in/as re-search. My autobiographical performance is presented through poetry, personal essays and memoirs, stories that arise out of my life experiences and subject positions, theoro-poetic ruminations on the literature and theory and journal entries that record the journey, my reflections and emotions. The previous essay, also described as "an act of self- disclosure" (Putnam 1996, 4), demonstrates how the process of autobiographical writing can work experientially towards self- knowledge, even with/in the twists and turns of distortion. Autobiographical writing in education is considered a process for gaining knowledge, but like this essay, it is also a product which can be interrogated in terms of identity and representation. Therefore, in this dissertation I also investigate selected autobiographical writing by women: Doris Lessing, Hannah Arendt (her letters to Mary McCarthy), Jill Ker Conway, Erica Jong and others. I concentrate on women's autobiographical writing including my own, although I certainly 10 read work by men [for example, George McWhirter's essay on the life of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca (1998); Timothy Findley's book of autobiographical reflections: Inside Memory (1990)]. The offerings on autobiography studies are voluminous, so I have explored some parts of the rich and vast theoretical writings in order to get a sense of where autobiography has been. To a larger extent, I have engaged with feminist writing on autobiography in order to focus on the pedagogical possibilities of writing by and about women. In an article (1997a), I emphasized that reading women's autobiographical writing can be deeply satisfying, a way of spending time with women whose lives are reflected through their eyes and the filter of our own, as we enter into Philippe Lejeune's "autobiographical pact."* I added that as we and our students are drawn to these other women and magnetized by their stories, we may be compelled to write our own. The dissertation, then, interweaves the strands of my own writing, other women's autobiographical writing, and autobiographical, feminist and pedagogical theory in intertextual ways. In some sense the dissertation could be seen as a bricolage, that is, incorporating material in a new work and *Leigh Gilmore critiques the term 'autobiographical pact" because the pact between author and reader makes invisible the differences between the writing self and the written self (1994a, 76), because it over-privileges the reader, but Lejeune's more recent work (1989) re-works the dimensions of the term. 1 1 transforming it. In an interdisciplinary approach, I draw upon the zones of feminist thought, post-structuralism, literary criticism, language education and the hermeneutics of interpretive inquiry, especially as it is practised by pedagogues such as Ted Aoki (1994) and David Jardine (1992), a narrative and poetic rendering which is written and writes itself with/in the topic. 12 My interest in autobiography originates with finding my own voice(s) as a writer, as a woman, emerging from a long (and according to feminist writings, common-to-women) silence. The following poem included in my MA thesis (1995a), the first poem I wrote following my long silence, recalls the deep feelings of having finally found my voice(s) and wondering who will sing them back to me, who will listen (1993, 5). A Lullaby of Voices Who will listen to My voices Hoarse as they are Some a mere whisper Silenced as they are Beneath the layers of Wife, mother, teacher, student, woman, me I would shout my words to the ocean If it listened If it didn't take the words and rake them over barnacles Washing them away like grains of sand Lost Are my voices already lost? Drowned out by the cries of small children Joyous but unrelenting The words spinning round and round inside my head Waiting to be Released Given sanction Unburdened by the constraints of time Time the drifter Time the excuser Sad the words lay unspoken, unshapen, unbidden, underneath my tongue I would sing those words to the ocean if it sang them back to me Who will sing back my words? A lullaby of voices Humming in my head Rocking me to speak. 13 Another poem included in the thesis speaks to the writing that goes on in women's heads, in women•s dreams, and ultimately, breaks through to words on paper, but not without some price (1993, 7). Stories Not to Live By I write in my sleep I write in my dreams I have a whole other life that exists underneath the surface of my days A life that gets written mostly in my head while I wash the mustard off a spoon I am like the woman in a children's novel who my daughter says doesn't exist in the story but just comes in as a detail I am a detail existing in my own story only through these details Do you understand that I do not love any of you less for that? Just that all our details crowd my dreams (I am ambiguous woman not a shrill and strident just-a-woman's voice) But when I tell my story when I try to write that otherworldly life do you understand my love is not diminished but strong Growing Dormant while the details disappear and like a sleepwalker not asleep but neither fully awake I travel through this world for a while coming in not as a detail but the story It is you who make me strong who give me the story I would not trade our details 14 for any dreams I just want to write the story awake It is not co-incidental that I returned to graduate school after the youngest of my three children was in her second year, when I finally summoned the energy and desire to get out of the house more, having returned once again to part-time teaching following a limited amount of parenthood leave. In the Department of Language Education I began my studies, with issues of mothering and writing at the heart of much of my work. In this department and subsequently the Creative Writing Department, I also found generous encouragement for a writing life as well as a life of the mind. It is through writing that I discovered much more of my life. As Michel Butor has commented: "If I write, if I do all this work, it's because I discover something new in writing. It's because this work lets me understand what I didn't understand, to imagine what I couldn't imagine" (1969, 69). My magistral work involved a collection of creative writing that autobiographically traced a story about "coming to writing" and transforming through writing. It was framed as a phenomenological revisitation of lived experience with a post- structural consideration of the possible meanings within experience as it is written and re-written. The pedagogical implications of the work were situated within the empowering teaching strategies which encouraged the writing and serve as a 15 model for teaching practice. My doctoral work has grown out of this autobiographical beginning, and looking back, I am aware of how the "coming to writing"—an autobiographical act—was the pull, the hook, the compulsion, to continuing work in autobiography autobiographically. Six years from when I first began to write, some of the same issues and themes of writing and mothering, mothering and writing, emerge, although in different forms, and I re-visit these themes in the context of this dissertation. The following more recent introspective and retrospective piece, "Genesis" (1998a), illustrates my passage to becoming both mother and writer. 16 GENESIS When the first of my three children was born, I died. Then, in the hazy moments following her journey out of the birth canal, I was birthed and born again. I am reborn each time a child of mine looks up from the parking lot at school and smiles at the sight of me. I am altered when one of my children shrieks from the back seat of the car at the sight of a rainbow in the overcast sky above the highway and between the mountains. I notice a daughter across the gravel field of the playground, her head bent so she can whisper secrets with a friend—this daughter seeds me and I sprout and grow wings and fly and I am transformed. The gentle but persistent tap-tap-tap on my shoulder, woodpecker daughter muttering something meant only for my ears, fills me with the rhythm of breath and life, opens up pores I thought were closed, fills me with holes that the air can whistle through. Tap-tap-tap and the whistling rustles my insides, right past my skin to my bones, to my blood... The Renee who died was different. Lonelier of course. Certainly more self-serving. Independent. Not so afraid to take physical risks. Not so tortured by love and the thought of death or danger. I miss that Renee sometimes, I would be lying if I didn't confess that. My first daughter pushed her way out of my womb quickly, forcefully, two weeks early, bruising me. Later I stood in front of the mirror and looked at my body, which I have never liked, even before pregnancy and childbirth. The great ball of baby was out, but oh, god, what about all this slack flesh hanging loose, like an old sweater pulled out of shape that will never again be knit tight. If I died and was regenerated by giving birth, if the metamorphized Renee would never be the same (and I am thankful every day for the differences while I simultaneously miss the former Renee on occasion) , then did it have to be in this shape, in this form? The mirror lied. It showed me empty sacs of skin that no longer had anything in them to provide continued tension and elasticity. But I was not empty. I was full—of milk, of tension, elastic with worry, pulled between the Renee-that-was and the Renee-about-to-be. I spent only two days in the hospital. I couldn't stand any more. Nurses swooped in with my baby because it was their break, because I'd finally fallen asleep, because I was in the shower or groaning on the toilet. How did one take care of this beautiful crying creature and oneself, too? How did one find time to brush teeth? drink a cup of tea? read a paragraph? listen to the silence (a luxury of the past)? And where was my husband? He visited each of the two days, then went home to read a magazine or watch TV, skin intact, proud, happy, only half- there, and able to leave everything to me, leave by simply walking out the door through which the nurses swooped. Every woman considers her own mother when she gives birth. 17 I was no exception. Think back through your mother, advised Virginia Woolf. About to be launched into the real world and out of the sterile confines of the hospital environment, I not only thought back to my mother, but longed for her wisdom and attention. Although she lived miles away in Calgary, she had always planned to fly out to help during the first hectic weeks of life with a newborn. This was complicated by the fact that my sister Estelle was also expecting her firstborn two weeks before my due date. We agreed that our mother would initially support Estelle and then move to my household. So much for the well-laid plans of mothers and babies. Estelle and I gave birth within hours of one another. Estelle walked into the birthing room where I was being stitched back together, trailing an IV, breathing in between her own contractions, to celebrate the birth of her niece. Later, lying with ice between my legs, I phoned the nurses' station from my bed, post-partum, to check on the outcome of the Caesarian section performed to save my nephew. It took my mother most of the five days she spent with us to recollect the folding and pinning of a diaper. She debated the best position for baby's sleep pattern. She anguished over the interpretation of the various melodious cries of an infant. I have one other sharp memory of that time: my husband attempting to change the sgualling babe while my mother and I lay, exhausted, in a nearby bed. He stood at the changing table for a few minutes, beginning his clumsy ministrations, then went absolutely still, like a dog who senses an earthquake. Then he ducked. The baby's maize-colored feces spewed across to the bed and landed on the two of us. Punishment for resting. "I can't be in two places at once," Mom proclaimed on her way to Estelle's home. "And your sister needs me, she has to recover from the surgery, too." I missed her. Five days were not enough. My husband, proficient at ducking, worked on draining the fat from the roasted potatoes when the baby was screaming and I desperately needed a break. We couldn't hear each other over the continual screaming. Because he had to work the next day (as if I didn't, as if none of this was work), and I was the only one who could breastfeed the baby anyway, I got the least sleep. Although we did take turns in an upstairs bed whenever we could manage to escape. Sleep-deprived, the reborn Renee was dazed, irritable, nervous. But happy. Yes, amazingly happy and content. University-educated, she could not seem to change a crib sheet with the bumper pad in place. She could not figure out how to line a Playtex bottle with the small plastic bag provided in the box. She did not realize for the longest time that the baby might never sleep unless she was placed in the crib (a wide-eyed survivor of numerous rockings, nursings, singings.) Still sleep-deprived, less nervous but more content, and skilful with sheets and liners, I stood in a specialist's office two more babies (and the same husband) later. Pressed grey 18 pants, shirt and tie, polished loafers stood before us. A trim Yuppie haircut just touched a starched white collar. He barely looked up at me in my thrown-together, only-pair-of-pants-that- still-fit, mother of three-daughters-under-six look. He didn't meet my eyes. He seemed slightly bored, looking through me as if I were some kind of window to a more interesting world. Ho hum, another mother, another less than perfect baby, another dollar. I responded to the lack of warmth by hugging my daughter tight, and she squirmed and cried out. Confirmation we were not invisible. "Which foot is the problem one?" he finally asked, cutting off my edgy mother babble: the family doctor said, inherited foot problems on the father's side, blah, blah, blah. Not until later did I wonder why he directed that question to me, instead of simply taking both of her little feet in his own hands. He was, after all, the foot expert. At the time I looked at my daughter's feet, wildly kicking up stray dust motes that had escaped sterilization and thought hard. Is it her right or left foot? Must be left. But I'm facing her feet, so left is really right. Maybe the crooked foot is the right one. I tried to recall images of her lying on the changing table as I pinned her diaper, both feet flailing wildly. Which one flew crooked? (Where was that crooked little footsie? Here, foot, here, where arrrrre you?) I couldn't think. Mother of three, reborn or not, I could not seem to remember which of my lovely infant' s feet was crooked. The specialist finally looked at me, attention riveted: the curtain drawn on that window to another world. Disdain and disgust replaced his earlier boredom and disinterest. That was my first strong realization that mothers are treated differently, and not always well, in the world. Almost as well-educated as that specialist, I felt stupid and incompetent beneath his withering gaze. Hell, often I was stupid and incompetent at mothering. But I loved that crooked foot almost as much as I loved the straight one. Certainly enough to be forgiven for having trouble finding it. And of course, I was the one who had to strap that crooked foot (when I'd finally located it) into the stiff white shoe that looked for all the world like it was on the wrong foot, adding little to my diminutive credibility as a mother. When I began writing, it was as a mother, and I became what Ursula Le Guin calls an "artist-housewife" (1989, 224)—what I prefer to call a mother-writer. This hardly increased my credibility quota, because I am to this day stuck on writing about mothering as I mother while I write. You might think I had nothing else to. write about, no life outside of mother-writing. Not true. It's just that being a mother dominates me to the extent that it is life. Regardless of the artist part of me who composes at the kitchen table between unpacking the school lunchkits and preparing dinner for five, regardless of the imaginary characters who inhabit my inventions, the mother life looms largest and is writ in the writing. 19 I often feel that I gave birth to a fourth daughter, the writing life: my mid-life baby. I came so late to writing, and came only after becoming a mother. I have wondered, sometimes, if this literary birth was the culmination of the world's longest pregnancy. But no, many other writers began to write later in life after their babies were born or raised: Ursula Le Guin's mother and Helen Weinzweig, to name only two. That is one other reason why I feel reborn, renee. Not only did I die and leave behind that other Renee when I became a mother, I left behind a life of silence. I gave birth to the voices that I had always curbed and concealed, to the words that lay trapped in me and that couldn't get out. Words growing louder, stronger, bigger, kicking against my enlarging abdomen, beating with a rhythm like the tap-tap-tap of a daughter's finger on my back or shoulder. Voices rustling my insides, right past my skin to my bones, to my blood... 20 Though re-born as mother-writer, a role which consumes much of my time, I am also teacher. My interest in autobiography intersects with my life as a language educator. I have been teaching either full or part-time since 1972, as a classroom teacher, district consultant, university instructor, even for one year a homeschooling mother. I continue to teach part-time in a Vancouver school. Of course, there were brief periods in the 1980's when I took time off teaching to give birth to three daughters and organize my life as a mother. Rachel DuPlessis refers to how she has even had some of her babies without fuss between semesters (1990), characterizing how many women juggle teaching, mothering and a great deal more. The writing that has become as much a part of my life as mothering and teaching is informed by the teaching that I do, by the students I meet, by the stories that we live together and separately. It is, therefore, fitting that the final section of this dissertation is set in a classroom, a place where I spend and re-member some of my days, a place where I could experiment with (and describe autobiographically) a project that demonstrates some practical curricular applications of autobiography in education, inspired by women's autobiographical writing. Autobiography is currently a burgeoning field in education (Butt and Raymond 1989; Chambers et al. 1993; Graham 1991; Griffiths 1995; Hasebe-Ludt and Norman 1996; Jipson 1995; Leggo 1995 and 1997; Miller 1998; Neumann and Peterson 1997; Norman 1995a and 1997a; Schmidt 1998; Witherell and Noddings 1991) and 21 increasingly, autobiographical writing has become an integral element of educational practice and theory. Carl Leggo's continuing work in autobiography is exemplary of how writing autobiographically and poetically informs the theory which he connects to the practice. Steeped in literary criticism, curricular and pedagogical concerns, postmodernism and other areas, his work is a courageous act of both interrogative deconstruction and autobiographical auto-reflexion, a model for autobiographical writing. Robert Graham invites educators to find ways to incorporate post-structural thought with/in autobiography in education in a contemporary postmodern culture (1991, 141). Providing another specific example of how we might do so, Janet Miller calls upon educators to call attention to the incompleteness of our interpretations and disrupt our versions of stories (1998, 151). She is referring specifically to teacher stories, a visible element of autobiography in education, and problematizing those that assume a unity and seamlessness that is linear in their re- presentation of reality and experience (149) . Yet such disruption could be applied to all our stories (and poems), including those that our students write, opening up spaces for a multiplicity of meanings. Taking Graham and Miller's advice to heart and word, in this text I draw upon writing and organizing strategies that work to fragment linearity and in so doing, give some attention to the free play of meanings in a post-structural way. However, in my teaching and mothering I am a humanist. I 22 vacillate between embracing fragmentation and cultivating some wholeness in my self/selves and others. A tension exists in the interplay of the writing that I disrupt and the narrative flow of the everyday life that I live, both with/in and outside of the writing. This tension is theorized by Ted Aoki, who invokes a discourse of in-betweenness which hovers in a middle place between Discourse A (Representational Discourse) and Discourse B (Discourse of Floating Signifiers) and which moves back and forth between them (1994) . He describes Discourse A as a site where narration involves a retrieval of lived experience, a discourse that privileges presence and assumes accessibility to the so-called essence of truth. Discourse B is the site in which there is an "interplay of languages" and where meanings are not recovered, but "constituted and produced" (6) "midst the floating world of signifiers" (Aoki 1998). The "logic of doubling" is at work. Aoki's discourse of in-betweenness (Discourse C) allows for the tensions that exist in my own writing and thinking. Recently, Aoki has revisited his thinking on Discourses A, B and C, so that we understand that the tropes of metaphor and metonymy are worked into the way signification is practised in the discourses. A more metonymic (horizontal) writing, while still having metaphoric roots and rhizomes extending vertically (Aoki 1998a), allows for spaces in-between that are fluid, elliptical, performative, hybrid, partial, incomplete. While in 23 Lacanian terms, the horizontal or linear is linked with insufficiency, and metaphor is privileged over metonymy (Gallop 1985, 122), the Metonymic Discourse C writing hybridizes metaphor and metonymy and performs it. Of this performative writing, Delia Pollack states: After-texts, after turning itself inside out, writing turns again only to discover the pleasure and power of turning, of making not sense or meaning per se but making writing perform ... shaping, shifting, testing language. (1998, 75) Turning autobiographical writing over and over, and considering metonymy as well as metaphor in autobiography are two ideas that I will re-turn to later in the subsequent sections of this text. The pieces of this dissertation are connected through the leitmotif of the mirror, that "organ of reflexion" (Dallenbach 1989, 30) . This mirror leitmotif curls its way throughout the text. There is likely an infinite number of ways to accommodate all the pieces of this text, except possibly for an opening which frames the work, and the mirrors add exponentially to the equation. The text works reflexively and disruptively in the manner of Andre Gide's mise-en-abyme (Dallenbach 1989), the mirror-within-a-mirror-within-a-mirror, to look back on itself; in other words, the text questions what we take for granted, suggests infinite possibilities of meaning, indicates the contradictions between what we intend and construct and how this is continually interpreted and re-interpreted. In The Mirror in the Text. Lucien Dallenbach defines the mise-en-abyme as "any internal mirror that reflects the whole of the narrative by 24 simple, repeated or 'specious' (or paradoxical) duplication" (1989, 36). Internal mirrors appear in this text as do other mirrors, both mechanical and/or structural, such as Primo Levi's meta-mirror ("reflected" in the upcoming section, "Women Writing Women"). Directions follow which illuminate the remainder of this dissertation, a textual House of Mirrors. 25 DIRECTIONS TO THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS Here we stand in the hall of the introduction, checking our appearances in the mirror, wondering what is next. This dissertation is a textual House of Mirrors, inviting readers through entranceways, passages and spaces that optically reflect and refract the writer, the reader, the text. Though we may lose ourselves inside a carnival House of Mirrors, we still come out the other side. So readers requiring assistance in winding (reading) their way through the many passageways should follow these directions. Enter the House of Mirrors through the first of three rooms, "In the House of Mirrors," each room containing three sections of autobiographical reflection and performance. The initial inter-text (inter-mirror) that follows, a poem, "House of Mirrors," upon which the title of the text is partly based, leads into the first section. The inter-mirrors are broken mirrors, meant for catching your breath, signalling another passageway to somewhere else and illuminating or complicating some of the ideas and mirrors that follow. Then enter Section I, "Women Writing Women," which explores aspects of women's autobiographical writing and ends with the questions: How can we consider autobiography in/as re-search? And how does women's writing contribute to autobiography in/as re-search? Follow those questions and the next inter-mirror to Section II, "Re-segrching Lives" where I join Doris Lessing, Erica Jong and others in interrogating some of the theoretical and ethical issues in autobiography in/as re-search and where I deliberately disrupt the narrative flow with my own autobiographical poetry writing. Wind your way through the twelve page inter-mirror of mirror passages, and you will end up with "Martha-and-l-in-Mirrors," Section III. There you will look into many "paper" mirrors which refract back theoro-poetic musings about the autobiographical I in metaphoric and metonymic terms. For a time, linger poetically and autobiographically with Martha Quest (Lessing's fictional and autobiographical character from the "Children of Violence" novels) and me in a poetry manuscript of Martha poems. Continue on to Room Two, 'The Other Side of Mirrors." Past the "mirror, mirror on the wall" inter-mirror, you may become temporarily lost in Section IV, "Autobiography in/as Re-search: Getting Lost," which addresses further those questions about autobiography and re-search. 26 Carry on to the other side of the mirror in Section V, 'The Strangeness of Autobiography..." and Section Vi. "Between Friends.../' where double-sided writing in two distinct fonts is interspersed. Theoretical engagement with some autobiographical concepts in Section V is contrasted with poetic and meditative writing in Section VI. In Section V, I centrally consider the autobiographical theory of Janet Gunn (among others) who theorizes autobiography as worldly, such worldliness derived from Hannah Arendt's writing. I also relate autobiography to language education. The thirteen reflections with/in the meditative writing in Section VI respond to Hannah Arendt's life and work as I encounter her "between friends," a different way of arriving at the same destination. Once you leave the other side of the mirror, proceed to the third and last room, "Mirrors of Pedagogy." Speculate in mirrors as you look at m(others) and maternal subjectivity and maternal narrative and poetic space in Section Vli, "Spec-aiating with M(others)...," themes that occur and recur throughout my writing and this House of Mirrors. Listen there to a poetry reading/performance about mothers and daughters. Fly through the inter-mirror, "When Mirrors Fly," to Section VIM, "Four Reflections on the Ethics of Autobiography," which takes some of the themes such as disclosure and memory and throws them up into the air—flying mirrors. Finally, re-turn to Section IX, "Mirroring the Classroom," which grounds autobiography in the schools through an autobiographical account of a teaching project, described through teacher day plans, journal entries, poems, and forms. Exit the House of Mirrors through the Bibliography, not the same way you came in. 27 ROOM ONE: IN THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS House of Mirrors (an inter-mirror) 29 I. WOMEN WRITING WOMEN 30 Journal Entry 3 5 Anti-autobiography 37 Letting in the Light: Between the Cracks (Autobiography Entredeux) 41 Hypertexting Autobiographical Writing: Metamirrors 43 Deconstructing Our Own Words and Telling Silences 45 At Home in the Mirror 49 II. RE-SEflRCHING LIVES 50 Dorian. 51 The Story and the Life 52 The Truth Is 57 Autobiographical Fiction 58 Cinemamoments 61 Doing Autobiography . 62 In the Bathroom Thou Shalt Eat Stones 63 The Ethics of Autobiography . 65 Cracked Pottery 68 Mirror Passages 70 III. MflRTNfl-6ND-l-IN MIRRORS 82 Poetic Surgery 83 On the Edge 89 Vacuum 90 When Vacuums Fly 92 Journal Entry 98 104 Martha-in-the-Mirror (manuscript) 114 28 House of Mirrors in a bedroom stands a full-length mirror it distorts the truth somehow^ elongates your frame like a fun house of mirrors sho-ws you slimmer like toffee pulled thin before the mirror a 70 year old woman criti^zes: this is false before the mirror a new^ mother fingers her slack emptied flesh before the mirror head turned as if on backivards to glimpse the -viei^ from the rear a schoolgirl asks: do i look all right? ŵ e are b o m in sldns we don't choose astonished when messages are reversed in the glass e z a g s r e t t a m w^hen someone Jewish dies the mourners cover all the mirrors in the house stark grief reflected back in others' faces you don't w^ant to see your self -when the soul leaves a body advice to schoolgirls: cover the mirrors for a w^eek at least mourn the body in it when it shatters 29 I. WOMEN WRITING WOMEN There is an abundance of autobiographical writing by women (as well as men) in many forms and genres, some of it gracing my bookshelves, the material listed in the bibliography at the end of this text only a fraction of what is available. I have chosen to feature writing by women because that is my interest as a woman/writer/teacher/feminist. And perhaps this might be a small gesture towards addressing a historical and cultural imbalance in the literary canon of what is considered autobiography—a "discursive hybrid" (Gilmore 1994a, 17)—an imbalance that exists even today. One has only to look over a daughter's readings in a high school English class, or peruse the anthology currently in use or listen to the report of a class discussion often led by a male teacher, to immediately detect that while women writers are more prominent than ever, we still have a long way to go in establishing them in classrooms and curricula. Carl Leggo conducted research that examined texts authorized and recommended for use in B.C. high school English literature courses and found that women were significantly underrepresented as authors in the texts in all genres including non-fiction (1994) . Maynard's work is seen within the purview of women's magazines: her subject matter is the stuff of domesticity—Barbies and Tampax and motherhood bum-out—which automatically marginalizes her as a "women s writer." (Kingston 1998, 68) Leigh Gilmore shows how, even though autobiography has become unstable generically, crossing the boundaries of genre from narrative to verse and drama (for example), autobiography 30 criticism has maintained a gender hierarchy so that "women's autobiographical writing remains anomalous" (1994a, 40) . Anomalous and underrepresented. However, I am aware of the dangers in categorizing gender into the binaries of women and men, without re-membering race, class, sexuality, and I am aware of how such "lists" do not adequately un-cover "how gender identities are specified in cultural identities, how racial identities are sexualized, how ethnic identities are gendered, and how sexual identities are inflected by class" (Gilmore 1994a, 184). The category of woman/women shifts. Woman/women is/are more complex than the sexual difference the category implies. Woman, as Cixous defines her, is a whole—'whole composed of parts that are wholes'— through which language is bom over and over again. (Minh-ha 1989, 38) Helene Cixous addresses "writing as a woman," but puts the word """""""feminine"""" ' "between 150 quotation marks to prevent it from being used in the mode of a ' feminine woman ...'" (Conley 1991, 137). Although she claims that men, too, can produce "feminine" texts, that is, texts filled with the fluidity and transgression of the poetic and the lyrical, Valerie Raoul reminds us that "this assumption is belied in Cixous • own works by the predominance of imagery based on the female body" (1992, 263). Additionally, Gilmore reminds us that woman/women is not a stable category (1994a, 24) and that being a woman is not all one ever is (xii) . To focus on autobiographical writing by women 31 is to enter territory that occasionally quakes. Betty Bergland cautions us about making assumptions that merely "being woman means speaking in a woman's voice" (1994, 134). Subjectivity is more complicated than that. Bergland argues that in autobiography we read a postmodern subject, "a dynamic subject that changes over time, is situated historically in the world and positioned in multiple discourses" (134), a subject shaped by language. Nevertheless, a subject who is a woman is automatically and culturally constructed as Other, biologically and socially. Feminine bodies, then, are constituted in the social mapping of female bodies which are "always already cultural. (Neuman discussing Elizabeth Grosz on the feminine body 1994, 295) In order not to fall into the trap of binary oppositions which omit many other points along a continuum, points that slide back and forth, I have tried to sample a wide range of material. In calling this material "autobiographical" I am aware of Gilmore's question, "Where is the autobiographical?" (1994a, 13) , and her advice to examine "not what autobiography is but what it does" (39), in order to consider autobiography for both educational re-search and practice. I am also, like Gilmore, considering autobiography as foremost "a practice of language, a signifying system charged with the representation and construction of identity through the organizing modes of gender and genre" (61), a signifying system that is disrupted by women's writing, which in turn disrupts the "regulatory laws of gender and genre" (45). Employing Gilmore's "autobiographies," 32 we can find and read autobiographical writing by women in many places and spaces. We can write autobiographically, too, as an act of undoing many silences and of becoming aware of the elements of autobiographies: a reading practice and a description of self-representation that involve contradiction, experimentation, word-body connections (42) and the view that we are produced in our writing. Many of the books mentioned in the bibliography may not appear under an "Autobiography" listing. Gilmore writes about trips to libraries and bookstores to try to find women's autobiographies, where they were not consistently catalogued as autobiography (1994a, 3), and in one interesting case, where the autobiography of a woman, Joyce Johnson, was shelved under her former lover's name: Jack Kerouac (8) . Finding any autobiographical writing is not a clearcut task, as I discovered when I sent a class of Grade 5/6/7's into the school and public libraries, amazed when many returned empty-handed or said they had little choice. The variety of books speaks to the rich availability of writing by women about women, contributing to a representation of women that Gilmore characterizes as largely unmapped (1994a, 5). Yet despite this proliferation of material, and the avidity with which readers and consumers indulge in momentarily sharing other women's lives (whether in books, tabloids or talk shows), some women writers, theorists and philosophers harbour misgivings about "opening up" autobiographically. While reading 33 and writing autobiograph(icall)y, I have discovered a range of negative attitudes towards the autobiographical. These include those who distrust the confessional in autobiography (Griffiths 1995), as well as those who outline the disadvantages of asking students to write autobiographically (Pagano 1991). One language educator referred to a study tha;t suggests fiction writing is more comfortable for students to write than autobiography (cited in Graham 1991). Even women who are working with/in what could be generally termed women's studies, or writing in ways that often seem autobiographical, have repudiated the autobiographical (Luce Irigaray and Nadine Gordimer). These negative attitudes have challenged my own thinking as I read (and write) autobiograph(icall)y, but they have also strengthened my conviction that there is a great deal of value in autobiography. In re-visiting its significance, I am convinced that autobiography is vital to education, and that women's autobiographical writing is vital to both autobiography and education. However, while looking for the autobiographical at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference in 1998, I encountered some views that in my opinion lacked sufficient depth or rigour. Three entries from my journal that recount my impressions follow. I temporarily diverge from my consideration of autobiographical writing by women in order to demonstrate the wide range of ways in which autobiography in education can be represented, and the need for penetrating reflection on the topic. In the remainder of this section, I 34 continue with a further examination of some women's r e s i s t ance t o the autobiographical . doiwnaL Snbiu (J attazcUa vaai CLLLuninatuig (and iomzUtmi. noxzLruing too j . cn^^ onz. tound- iaa-Ls. i£,5,iion. f^Svjarfoxd £.t oL iggS j , ins, jyisisntsn. diicU5,i£,d nsx autoijioatahnLacu, anaLui.ii, or iiiuUnii. Liiszacu Ijaakaxounai., iuan anaLui.U aod&d foz vaoxdi. and k.n%ai£,i, ins, auiotrioaxamzu axadsd, iviin xsiizCaiConi cJjout I'ui-i Krnat Liisxaau sxjisxisnasi vasxs jisxmii.i.UjLs to cvxCis aJjoui rox ins asiianmsni. U fsLi aonasxnsd ohoxxi ins iiudsni/isacnsx hovasx xsLaiConi, io hoixTsxruLLu hxsssni to ms: Ur insxs ixrsxs xssixiaiioni., nour did inli. ajfsai ins: vjxiiina: ins axadinaf ins anaLui-ix: ins uxau ixuini can ijs fixsisnisd ox nidasn: crj-nd vanai aJjoui ins analui.Ci.f ^Wca, ins auiol^logxahJzCacd. vcriitincj xssn o i ins ixutn, ins lunoLs txutn, and notning ijut ins biutk of tnois i-iudsnis aniLdnood sxhisxisnasi. am not ininkuia inai insxs ojann i iotns Uisful LCisxaaij inroxmaiion in ins ai-iianmsnii. c^jisx oLL, lotns faasii of auiobiogxafiniaaL ocxiting incLuds a Lifs and faaii. aojiisd dovjn. U am ininkina inai ins anaLuiii nssdi. to Bs dsaoniixuatsd in tsxnzi of hoar auto biogxahhsxi miani units to hotsntiaL axidisnasi., in inii. aass ins axadsx of ins asi.ian)nsnii. ojno vcrai. xsguixing jiaxiiauLax axfisaii, of insix Liisxaau lioxisi-, h&xncihi. uninisniionalLu liLsnaina haxii, of inois i-toxisi, csxiainLu aaLlina into aasition hour ojs xsmsmusx oux haiti, and nooj ins uniting can us aoLoxsd uu J2xsisnt sxhsxisnas, nour oux ixutni. axs disioxisd bu urnicnsfjsx <jsxi.ion UJS axs aiuina at ilU iims. c/rt anoinsx xound-iabis fGLion si at iggSj, autobiogxahnu vjai, inuoksd ax ins inzhsiui. to naxxaiius xsfisation, Lookina fox inxsaai inai xan tnxouan 35 xatnsx (LI tnouqktj i-OnhuitCc tiaviatujE,. cyjsxs. au,toljix:)azaf2mj vjai- an, uncontEitsd and not-vs-xu-ds^fi o% X£.fL£,ctiu^£, acaountinq of s-xfisxis-ncs,: c^utohCoaxafikij as s^uent, ocritnout aitsntCon haid to tns, inds-tsxyninacu of ts-xti, ox hoar an autol7Loaxaf2nLcal s-fiiiods. t i aLvjoXji aLxsadu muck, much. moxs. tnan tn£. account of an s,u£nt. IJt ii ths. Ism, tnxouak ojkCck tks autoijioaxahksx aazsi., a Lsni. tkai mau xzsm bxiqki and ikaxji, tJut ons tkat aan txiak Ui. into tkinkinq tkat vjs, nssJ, onLu Look tkxouqk it to axxl(J£. at tkx£.adi. in naxxaiifjei.. c/ft t(U (jsxu intsxsitinq isiiion on akildkood iscxsti. (uan yy[ ansn st at iggS j , autoLrioaxahku urai. aonf£ii.ional, diicLoiUXs. i-ufifioisdlu h-xotscted onLu tru ini.ii.tina uhon tks. tsLLina of ksaltku isaxsti. (nzs tkinkina: cvkai axs. tnoi£.:j. crj-.i. if isaxsti. aouLd trs io uni(jsxi.alLu and sai.iLu catsaoxizza. lL>uxinq one, sxsxciiE. in ixrkiak ojs, tks jiaxtiaijianti., vjsxs aiksA to xsmsmtsx and i.kaxs oux saxLisit xsmsmbxancs of a i£cxst, U wai. i-tojjfisA, mu tonaus, (jDcksA, aLL mu &axLi£,i.t is/ixsti. i£.£.m.incj to ms to bs onsi. D vjouLd nsusx i-kaxs, LTsaaUis. tksLj urs-xs. not onLu unksaltku kut danasxous. Jjt qaijs. ms consiasxakis jjauis, tkinkinq ajjout vakai VJS aik ckiLdx&n to do in ickooU, ^itudsnti. to do in uniusxi-itu cLaisxoomi., and U aouidn t ksLh. vjonasxina tkat if vjs ask onLu fox ksaittiij iscxsti,, axs ojs i,ilsncina otksxi.: indicatina tkat vjs axs onLu hxsfiaxsd to ao io fax in dsatina vjitk otksxi, Li^jsi.: <:z>o vcrku dsoL in isaxsti, a£ alL: J^scauis it i, jiovjsxfuL, tks jixsisntsxi, aommsntsa. Lit unLoaki. tks isLJ, and Untioxtant ckiLdkood sxfisxisncsi.. U tkouqkt about aLL tks timsi. ckiidxsn U tauqkt kLuxtsd out isaxsti. xsadilu, is,axsti. tkat vasxs (vkiifisxi. aJjout tksix Livsi., isaxsti, tkat ksLd fiain and confusion and ioxxoocr. 36 fINTI-flClTOBIOGRflPHY In examining some women's hesitation towards autobiographical writing (and the contradictions therein), it appears that such writing is sometimes feared. As both Jill Ker Conway and Leigh Gilmore point out (1998, 1994a), autobiographies have contributed to the construction of gender, race, class, politics, individualism and much, much more. Such writing has longlasting (and often hegemonic) effects on identity, authority, truth claims and traditions. We are re- presented in autobiographical texts within cultural and historical scripts, and although we may believe we are produced in our texts, we may also feel pinned down by them. Though, as Gilmore contends, autobiography is not any "experientially truer" or any "less constructed" (25) because it refers to the self as subject, nevertheless, we may feel more vulnerable. Are the women who are dragging their feet autobiographically hoping that the autobiographical can/should somehow be filtered out of what we write, a notion that I will engage with through their words? Some people are more autobiographical than they imagine themselves to be! In investigating our reluctance, I believe we reveal where we are most afraid to tread. Like Natalie Goldberg (1986, 1990, 1993), I agree that we need to write about whatever we wish to avoid— those cracks and corners of our lives. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen 1992) Hannah Arendt, Luce Irigaray and Nadine Gordimer all balk 37 at divulging the personal through auto/biography. In an interview in 1983, Irigaray stated: "I don't think that my work can be better understood because I've done this or that. The risk is that such information will disrupt people when they read" (Whitford 1991, 1). Margaret Whitford explains Irigaray's autobiographical reluctance in terms of the fear that a woman thinker's work might be reduced to her biography, that the political is reduced to the personal. This is what happened to Simone de Beauvoir, as described by Toril Moi (cited in Whitford 1991, 2). Whitford refers to Irigaray's "uncompromising anti- autobiographical position." This position has echoes in Hannah Arendt's disapproving thoughts on auto/biography and her desire to keep the private private and the public public (which I will engage with in more detail in Section V, "The Strangeness of Autobiography: From the Other Side of the Mirror"): Biography ...is rather unsuitable for those in which the main interest lies in the life story, as for the lives of artists, writers and generally men and women whose genius forced them to keep the world at a certain distance and whose significance lies chiefly in their works, the artifacts they added to the world, not the role they played in it. (cited in Young-Bruehl 1982, xvi) While Arendt referred here in general terms to biography, her own biographer Elisabeth Young-Bruehl describes how Arendt did not wish to write autobiographically either. Yet Irigaray writes very autobiographically about sending a copy of her book. Speculum of the Other Woman, to de Beauvoir, and of her profound disappointment that de Beauvoir did not respond. One of Irigaray's pieces of writing in The Irigaray Reader has autobiographical roots in a woman friend and 38 colleague's suicide, following her expulsion from the Department of Psychoanalysis at Vincennes (where Lacan was in charge), an expulsion that Irigaray also experienced (Whitford 1991, 6). Is it possible that we do not even realize that we are always already writing autobiographically, or that we do not always recognize/admit/acknowledge it? Irigaray worries about some of the effects of women's autobiographical writing, namely that women might be taken less seriously, certainly a concern. But surely work in feminism has led to the understanding that the political is personal, too, and that the personal is also political. Indeed, even in the narrowest and most ambivalent sense, writing an autobiography can be a political act because it asserts a right to speak rather than to be spoken for. (Gilmore 1994a, 40) Every time a woman puts pen to paper, it is a political act. (Hollingsworth 1990, 142) [writing of the work of Maxine Greene] ... Maxine acknowledges the impossibility of constructing her life story outside a whole variety of ideologies and discursive practices, including those related to gender, sibling and maternal relationships, political and professional phenomena. (Miller 1998, 147) But Lessing's insistence on "relationship"—of the person to the political ... makes her "feminist" in the broadest sense.... (Greene 1985, 284) Surely Irigaray's own oeuvre, whether or not she places it autobiographically, "disrupts people when they read" it, a risk she seems to embrace in her theoro-poetic writing, though she resists the disruption that she feels autobiographical information would wreak. With/in Arendt's story, she learned about the details of Martin Heidegger's collusion with the Nazis, and her respect for 39 his work decreased in a painful awareness that the poetry of her mentor/former lover's work was not necessarily the same poetry he lived (Young-Bruehl 1982). Though she decried autobiography, especially for herself, it was through the autobiographical that she encountered what Virginia Woolf called a shock of awareness (1989/1976) , one that contributed to her own thinking and writing. Gordimer states: / shall never write an autobiography—I'm much too jealous of my privacy for that.... (1995,115) Yet she does write very autobiographically in Writing and Being, luckily for us, and apparently in her novels as well: In the 1970's, Gordimer wrote a novel that included a character based on a revolutionary hero, an anti-apartheid activist, a character she wrote into the novel "in coded homage" (7) . She also based the opening paragraphs on a single real life moment that involved this man's daughter. Concerned about the effects of her imaginative fiction (and I would add, the autobiographical within the fiction) , she gave the manuscript to this daughter to read prior to publication (7-12). The daughter responded: "This was our life" (12). Though Gordimer tenders an autobiographical disclaimer, she does confirm that her own experiences in South Africa are of historical relevance "beyond the personal" (115). Her statement, "I shall never write an autobiography ...," may reveal an expectation of autobiography that corresponds to the description 40 on the flyleaf of the second volume of Doris Lessing's autobiography. Walking in the Shade; "a great modern autobiography" (1997). Perhaps a view of autobiographical writing that moves it beyond "great modern autobiography" and into the realm of risk and disruption will open the doors of Heidegger's "house of language" (cited in Whitford 1991, 75) to all the cracks, the cracks the light gets in. LETTING IN THE LIGHT: BETWEEN THE CRfiCKS (6UT0BI0GRflPHY ENTREDEaX) In contrast to the "anti-autobiographical positions" described above, Helene Cixous embraces the autobiographical in Rootprints. valorizing poetic writing that is "entredeux" (1997, 8-9) : writing that chooses the interval space, the between, the in-between, the entredeux.... Cixous remarks: ...it is feelings that are more important to me than anything in the world (12) and feelings are evident in her autobiographical piece, "Albums and legends," where she writes with great emotion about her "so strange roots," interspersing reflections of childhood memories and landscapes with photos from her album and a family tree that breaks hearts with some of the entries: 5 children: 4 died in concentration camp (191) Xennoe Buchinger and his wife die in c.c. with their seven children (192) 4 1 Died in c.c. (193) Died in c.c. (194) (the above repeated again and again in a carbon copy of death). Such personal, autobiographical information is also historically relevant, beyond the personal, in Gordimer's words. But it reminds us, too, in Cixous' own words, that One goes forward, sowing the stones of grief behind oneself. (179) How much richer we are to touch the stones of Cixous' grief, sowing ourselves as we simultaneously move forward in our own lives, somehow forever changed by the experience. Dorothy Allison writes: / am one woman, but I carry in my body all the stories I have ever been told, women I have known, women who have taken damage until they tell themselves they can feel no pain at all. (1995, 38) In the opening epigraph to "Albums and legends," Cixous writes: All biographies like all autobiographies like all narratives tell one story in place of another story. (1997, 178) This places her own autobiographical writing in the entredeux, a site that opens into risk, disruption and a house of language that is also a House of Mirrors, reflecting in myriad (mirror- iad) ways "the cracks in everything," the cracks the light gets in, and the light, too. Writing entredeux enables us to re-present ourselves through the features of autobiographies— contradiction, experimentation, word-body connection—that remarkably resemble the poetic and the in-between. 42 HYPERTEXTING flUTOBIOGRflPHKflL WRITING: NETflMIRRORS In Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. All ison wr i tes of a young man who t e l l s her about the p o s s i b i l i t i e s in using hypertext with one of her s t o r i e s : Every time you touch a word, a window opens. Behind that word is another story...Every word the reader touches, it opens again. (1995, 91) . Not only are there many stories to tell in autobiography, as Cixous suggests, but in the House of Mirrors, a word is a window is a mirror that opens onto more stories, an endless reflection of our lives and the lives of others. Hypertexting our stories, our autobiographical writing, we move away from the linear expectations of "great modern autobiography," and into multiplicity. There might be some comfort for those who like Irigaray are reluctant to divulge the personal, if we were to remember that our writing mirrors us, but that there are many mirrors. And the light in these mirrors changes, too. We may read autobiographical writing with satisfaction at reading of others' lives, of being inside the experience of another person who really lives and who tells about experience which did in fact occur (Conway 1998, 6) or in order to see what the image in the mirror then looks like (6). Yet there is always more. More angles, more light that did not yet get in, more cracks. Gordimer invokes Primo Levi's meta-mirror, a metaphysical mirror which "does not obey the law of optics but represents 43 your image as it is seen by the person who stands before you" (1995, 5). Gordimer adds: The writer is that person who stands before you. (5) The autobiographer, too, is that person who stands before you, reflecting and refracting you back, not only through what she writes of her self/selves, but through what she may write about others, possibly even you, steadfast reader. Our writing mirrors others, too; autobiographical writing is never a singular gesture. There are always others in the mirror, in the interval space, in the in-between. Entredeux, "literally, betweentwo (or entertwo) meaning the space or the time between two things, points, events" (Cixous and Calle-Gruber 1997, 113, f.n. 3). And the space or time between (at least) two people. And the space or time between one story and another. DECONSTRaCTING OUR OWN WORDS fIND TELLING SILENCES Jill Ker Conway deconstructs some of these stories in her semi-meta-autobiography. When Memory Speaks (1998), a book of reflections on and about autobiography by the author of 44 autobiographies of her own: Road to Coorain (1989) and True North (1995/94). Disappointingly, she only refers to her autobiographies on the last page of the book, deconstructing her own stories fleetingly (hence the "semi" in my above description of the book). She actually provides more analysis of her autobiographies in a newspaper interview with Max Wyman (1998). Conway's book is devoted to looking at the "very different ways men and women understand and tell the stories of their lives" (Wyman 1998, Dll). By looking at the ways we are gendered and the (mostly Western) cultural mirrors in which the autobiographer gazes, Conway asks what we are to make of the silences in women's autobiographies (1998, 16), silences which in some cases hide agency, romanticize successes and otherwise present public versions of private matters that have many, many windows behind the words. Her [Joyce Maynard's]first memoir, she says now, was "fiindamentally dishonest," the work of a "Good Daughter," filled with manufactured angst. (Kingston 1998, 69) These are telling silences, silences that are stories in themselves, and we can learn from these silences, constructing and re-constructing stories upon stories (more windows behind windows), text "also composed of silence for which no text can exist" (Neumann 1997, 92). There are many women's autobiographies which contain silences that scream of pain, nothing to do with success or the public, everything to do with the struggle to survive. Anna Neumann's essay, "Ways without Words: Learning from Silence and Story in Post-Holocaust Lives," 45 addresses Conway's question about silences. Neumann re-searched her father's Holocaust experience, a story she often heard throughout childhood, and then her mother's repressed story of her experience, only recently narrated. Neumann learned that "even in the silence of a story that lives without words, there exists a text to know and to tell, though its telling may occur in unexpected ways" (1997, 92). She learned that stories in text may emerge from untold (silent) stories. Neumann writes: ... even in the void of not-knowing, we nonetheless come to know, how even when we have no interpretation, we nonetheless construct one, gathering wisps of sight and sound that surround us into images that, through the weaving of interpretation, become real for us. (96) . Neumann believes that to unearth silences, we must attend more to what is absent, to what remains unsaid, to what is unacknowledged, to what remains unknown, to the "'not story' inscribed between the words of text" in the story of the past which lives in the present (108) . Such silences, such not- stories, exist in the cracks in the facade of the House of Mirrors, in the interval space, in the in-between {entredeux), in women's autobiographical writing. Conway exhorts us to closely examine our own stories and become conscious of how we "report ourselves to ourselves" (1998, 178), interrogating the cultural assumptions that may slide by us, what she refers to as the mirror of culture. But Neumann reminds us of the meta-stories (1997, 110), and although she also re-searches others' stories in her work, she is 46 conscious of how in her own autobiographical writing, she writes about others "in whose presence I become my self" (115) . Another kind of meta-mirror in the House of Mirrors. And a meta-mirror which may be particularly reflective for women, who very much see themselves in relation to others (Belenky et al. 1986; Chambers 1998a; Gilligan 1982; Jacobs 1998; Witherell and Noddings 1991). Like all memoirs. At Home in the World attempts to impose a fictional narrative on life. What emerges, though, a risk of the genre, is that the reader comes to know more about the writer than she knows about herself. Writing it, Maynard says, required multiple versions before she got it right. (Kingston 1998, 69) These meta-stories in the meta-mirrors layer autobiographical writing, and we can become conscious of all the autobiographical texts which preceded us (Conway 1998, 145), the intertextuality of autobiographical writing as well as its gender-ality. Both the silences and the meta-stories teach us, too, that "the live person always remains different from the text" (Conway 1998, 145). [writing of Louis Althusser's murder of his wife] I seem to be confusing the text with the man, and this is a crime in itself, from the standpoint of a reading practice which resists this kind of reduction. (Walker 1998, 43) This live person, Conway maintains, is an autobiographer, practising "the craft of autobiography in our inner conversations with ourselves about the meaning of experience" (178) . Though not all of us write autobiographically, we are all autobiographers, Conway adds. And if we are all autobiographers, we can all make meaning of our lives through autobiography, not only as craft but as re-search. However, we can never adequately 47 capture in language who/what/how/why/where we are. Moreover, "when memory speaks," it can do so in many voices, including ones that distort, change, silence, embellish, obscure, invent lives. Conway asks us to pay close attention to the "forms and tropes of culture" (178), but they seem deeply imbedded in individual experience and memory, and the way we see ourselves prior to or while or after we report ourselves to ourselves. So how can we consider autobiography in/as re-search? And how does women's writing contribute to autobiography in/as re-search? In the next section, I address these guestions by engaging with more autobiographical writing by women, and complicate the issues with the insertion of my autobiographical poems. I link the discussion to autobiography in schools and to a consideration of ethics that is further developed in a later section. 48  il. RE-SEflRCHING LIVES I spent the summer with Martha Quest. I grew up with her in the wild veld of Southern Rhodesia as she fought her mother, witnessed her wedding out of haste and habit, celebrated at the birth of her daughter, mourned when she abandoned her along with a loveless marriage. I sympathized when her father, a war veteran, succumbed to further illness, still embraced her as she embraced communism, a second loveless marriage, an errant lover. I understood her disillusionment following the war, as she prepared to move to England. In one of those strange psychic coincidences that sometimes occur, I decided to delay reading The Four-Gated City, the fifth novel in the Martha Quest "Children of Violence" series (1972), a novel which is all about Martha's life after she moves to England. By then I had also consumed Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook (1973) , and so I eagerly turned to Volume I of her autobiography. Under My Skin (1994). The autobiography stops temporarily, as I did, when Doris (Martha) moves to England, and so as a reader I unwittingly mirrored Lessing's autobiographical strategy of carving up her life into two distinct parts. Somehow this seems significant to me because I discovered Lessing only of late, as if my own life were carved up into two distinct parts. Just as I came late to the writing that is now a central part of my life. My younger sister tossed off this comment: "Well, haven't you read Doris Lessing? I read those books years ago." 50 It was worth the wait, because I believe I brought a lifetime of my own experience to Martha and Doris' lives. Intertwined among the three of them is all that has happened to us over the years. In her autobiography, Lessing writes of yearning, yearning, yearning, a refrain I am to hear again and again as I read the autobiographical writing of women, as I write autobiographically myself... Dorian if a face records territory travelled the lines spreading across the skin like the tributaries that branched from a deep river why should i be shocked i sat beside this old woman did not know the face whose eyes had glinted once as if she knew all my secrets could hold them in the irises could shut them away behind the lens with a smug smile did not know a face is a map that helps us find our way read the routes we have taken how could i forget the images left of where we have been and who we are fade like a sepia photograph 5 1 over the years my face a simulacrum at home in the mirror i look to see if i myself had not turned into an old ogre in the glass some female Dorian Gray comparing the graven image to the flesh THE STORY <1ND THE LIFE Leasing maintains that she wrote her autobiography in self- defence; biographies were being written about her, by people she has never met or even heard of. She writes about trying to claim one's own life by writing an autobiography (1994, 14). The story of a life is both story and life. We live an event, and then live it yet again when we write and even re-write that event. We re-live the event always somewhat differently because the lived past is cast in the writing present, knowing there is a writing future, too. The ever-changing I who writes/views particular events is shaped and acted upon by many different forces. Annie Dillard in The Writincf Life (1989) suggests that writing changes our perceptions of what we have already lived because we spend more time writing about the moment(s) sometimes than living them. After a while it is the writing part of the memory/event that takes precedence and looms large in our consciousness. So we can try to distinguish the life from the text as 52 Judith Summerfield does: The discourse is not the event. To distinguish event from discourse is to respect the confusions, mutabilities, shifts, and needs of memory...how writing itself transforms memory, and how discourse arises out of the writing or telling situation. (1994, 183) Even the form, the genre, non-fiction or poetry, for example, can alter the impressions conveyed in the writing, like applying very different lenses to the same specimen, and uncovering new dimensions and angles. Lessing asks in her autobiography: • . • were I to write it aged 85, how different would it be? (1994, 17) One of the most interesting juxtapositions of text and life that I have encountered is the story of a sister's death from a drug overdose. Two of the victim's sisters wrote quite independently about the same event, unaware that the other was also writing autobiographically. Reading both stories is like viewing the event from two very different kaleidoscopes. One sister, Zoe Landale, depicted her very difficult relationship with the drug-addicted sister and the pain involved (1993). The other younger sister, Marjorie Simmins, recorded her close relationship with the drug-addicted sister and how it pitched into a spiral of lies and deceit and disappointment, as the addiction took precedence over sisterly devotion (1993) . To further complicate the colors and refractions that radiate off the kaleidoscope glass, Landale, a poet, included scenes and images from the event in her book of poetry. Burning Stone. We can compare the following excerpt from Landale's story 53 "Remembering Karen" to the lines of one of her poems "Karen in the Kitchen Again": The sun was so warm I had the window open to let in some air. And I heard you laugh. I'd forgotten you ever laughed. What really surprised me was that I was glad to hear you. It was like watching you eat toast. You ate it piled with more butter than anyone I've ever known. The flavour of you was unmistakable. You laughed and went out the window. (1993, 58) This is the sister I see eating butter in the kitchen, black eye-makeup seeping down her cheeks while I lock my bedroom door pound hands over an emptied heart This is butter which stays dripping for the seventeen years since her overdose, until the sight of it, melting again on toast makes me want to break the frame.... (1995, 33) Which account is more "true," "honest," "accurate?" Truths are mutable when we acknowledge multiple perspectives and infinite possibilities of re-framing and re-writing. Although the truth can be regarded as a textual and temporal and tenuous affair, writers still cling tenaciously to the idea of writing "honestly." I am trying to write this book honestly. But were I to write it aged 85, how different would it be? (Lessing 1994, 14) Are we ever more "honest" by virtue of our own intimate knowledge of the facts? Erica Jong quotes Henry Miller, who quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson: novels will give way, by and by, to diaries or autobiographies—captivating books, if only a man knew how to choose among what he calls his experiences that which is really his experience, and how to record truth truly. (cited in Jong 1994, xxx) 54 "Truth truly is what I am after," writes Jong, but she admits that fiction often seems much more real than the "truth." In her autobiography. Fear of Fifty, she amusingly describes how she writes the section on her father, then decides to interview him to make certain she got it right. She dutifully tape records (or so she believes) their conversation over lunch, only to later discover the machine wasn't working. So she reconstructs the conversation and concludes: I will reconstruct the conversation as I always do anyway, writing fiction. It's all made up anyway. Especially the parts that sound real. (1994, 29) She also includes the page of notes her father typed out for her, in the autobiography! Most of the facts mesh with Jong's account, but how different they sound in her father's voice, and what angles they provide in contrast and likeness to what Jong has already written! Truth in autobiography seems to be relative, or at least, relative to what your relatives might add. What strikes me most is how the same episode can seem somehow dissimilar when the narrator changes. The kaleidoscope has been turned. Telling the truth or not telling it, and how much, is a lesser problem than the one of shifting perspectives, for you see your life differently at different stages, like climbing a mountain while the landscape changes with every turn in the path.... ... the landscape itself is a tricky thing. As you start to write at once the question begins to insist: Why do you remember this and not that? How do you know that what you remember is more important than what you don't? (Lessing 1994, 12) ... we make up our pasts. You can actually watch your mind doing it, taking a little fragment of fact and then 55 spinning a tale out of it. (13) In view of what Lessing writes, how can we consider autobiographical writing in/as re-search? Valerie Raoul comments that re-search may be defined as a search to find something that is there but buried, or a quest to give something new and creative, or both (1998). However we define re-search, the very ambiguities and ambivalences of autobiography, the acknowledgement that "truth" may be fictional, and that fiction may be based on some truth, can provide us with a vital means of re-search which could have lasting effects on the work we do both in the academy and in the classroom. At the very least, the notion that autobiography shifts and changes releases us from accepting any piece of text as finite and finished, the wor(l)d as Law, just as any life written about is far from over when we reach the last page. Even death doesn't end the story, one example being the revelations about Virginia Woolf's abuse at the hands of her step-brother, a part of the story added long past Woolf's death and countless diaries and biographies. As Carl Leggo suggests, "an autobiographical story cannot end with •The End'; ... the story always ends in etc." (1997, 85). Such a release from finality can be both transforming and informing, a learning experience that continues long after the concluding sentence which is never really a conclusion. Such a release moves us from a linear world to one that is full of the geometric shapes of the kaleidoscope, each turn or climb or landscape teaching us again and again and yet again. 56 The Truth Is "Truth is a woman" Nietzsche wrote and it wasn't a compliment either Nietzsche must have dressed her in chameleon seductive because her siren eyes signal immutable depths Nietzsche must have drawn her mother to fragments daughter of deception sister to suffering and singing a lullaby that pierces our neck cords i think Truth is a man and i 'II paint him in silver swords and shields that reflect off the frost on the ground the beams that scatter at the rainbow's refracting i'll name him father to the zenith son of the horizon brother to brokenness and it's no compliment either 57 fiaTOBIOGRflPHICfIL FICTION In The Golden Notebook by Lessing (1973), the narrator writes in one notebook about her novel-writing, while in another notebook the events of that novel take place, both of them mirroring one another with really only minor differences of plot detail or character name. (There are four notebooks altogether, not including the golden notebook, but I am referring to only two of them here.) After a while, as I read, I am unaware which plot I am reading, experiencing, vicariously living in—the story of the narrator, or the narrator-in-the-novel's story. And I don't much care that these distinctions become blurred anyway, because they seem to be part of one and the same tale, mutually dependent, congruent, offering another look at what is there. In the first volume of her autobiography, Lessing states that all one needs to do to know her life is to read the Martha Quest books (1994). She explains that a particular person is so and so in this story, in that book. She describes the straw yellow of someone's hair, the scene in a hospital. Read it in A Proper Marriage (1966a) or in A Ripple from the Storm (1966c). No, she will not tell you the real name of a character in one of her books, as she writes about the part this character played in her own life, because the person is now ensconced in high society. Yes, this person whom she admires so greatly is the same Greek character in her Martha books, and in tribute to him, she acknowledges the connection. As I read the autobiography, I even begin to recognize bits from the novels before Lessing 58 places them for the reader. I know who this is. Or, I see now how Martha's mother came to be written as she was. Or, yes, I felt Lessing's grief over the two of her three children whom she left when I read that Martha left her fictional child. Each Martha Quest book becomes a kind of golden notebook of her life for me, and operates in the same manner, a narrative collage which is overlapped with the autobiography. As a reader I lose myself in that autobiography as if I were steeped in my summer reading of the Martha books, and it is a powerful experience. On the flyleaf of Lessing's latest book. Love. Acfain (1996), a novel about a 65-year-old woman who falls in love with two younger men (Lessing is 79 now), she is described as one of the finest psychological writers of our time. I agree, and I would add that she is also a writer whose fictional work is,very autobiographical. Writing about his own "semi-autobiographical novels," Britt Hagarty recalls that "a famous novelist once remarked that all novels are autobiographical to a certain extent since they all come from the author's personal experience at some point" (1998, J4). Though this point can be contested, it acquires credibility when expressed by writers. The concept of the autobiographical impulse doubles, as autobiography crosses the boundaries of form and genre, but it also becomes more complex. Stories are changing arrangements of words, thoughts, actions that involve us in the autobiographical imperative (Randall 1995), the autobiographical impulse (Kadar 1992). 59 Marlene Kadar takes this term from Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own; "the impulse towards autobiography may be spent" (cited in Kadar 1992, 153). Kadar does not believe Woolf meant that autobiography was or should be passe (as if it could be), but rather that we must "theorize a new genre that goes beyond and yet includes the old word, the old gender, and the old style" (153). (Kadar is particularly concerned with what she calls the "pure term autobiographical," an adjective which she believes "has been used to dismiss women's text from the valued canon" [158]). All writing is autobiographical, as claimed by Donald Murray (1991) and others such as Jerome Bruner (1993). Such a claim is by now well-known (though still contested), and although I have no difficulty placing myself by Bruner and Murray, I recognize that the autobiographical qualities of any one piece of writing are related to its function and that some writing is certainly more deeply and obviously autobiographical. I remember, too, that there are writers such as Nadine Gordimer who stress that while the connections to real life exist, we cannot underestimate the role imagination plays in fiction (1995, 14) . And the role imagination plays in autobiography (Gilmore 1994a; Pagano 1991). 60 Cinemamoments i'm reading an excerpt from linda frum's memoir about her mother barbara and crying i can hear the deep timbre of barbara 5 voice from the TV in my head i'm watching the movie The First Wives Club and crying it's a comedy but i wipe my cheeks with a crumpled kleenex when my daughter asks me if i cried during the movie i lie and say i was laughing so hard i— you know the rest i explain pain in platitudes i enter the lives of screen women knowing all is fleeting despite my grip all as tenuous as tissue paper as easily torn or blown away as the most delicate filaments of ribbon 6 1 DOING flUTOBIOGRflPHY I included the following statement of purpose in a program description at the school where I teach one day a week: "writing expressively and autobiographically." I was then teaching a pull-out program across grades one to seven and so distributed my program description. A teacher came to me and said: "We've already done autobiography." None of us can have tapped the limitless potential in autobiography in one fell swoop, as this comment seems to indicate. Where do we think we stop? Lessing stops temporarily at 1949, and continues with Volume II. Were she to live another 100 years, no doubt we could expect Volumes III and IV as well. No autobiography is ever over. At the end of hers, Jong adds an Afterword which updates the reader on developments since the publishing date of the book. In the Preface Jong remarks that writing her autobiography is her way of facing mortality, but also, as she turns 50, of trying to make sense of her life before it is too late. What else has happened in her ongoing life story since writing the Afterword? "We've already done autobiography." My program description read: "writing autobiographically." That covers a wide area, not restricted to what we have come to accept as autobiography proper—and many boundaries are being broken in what we name autobiography. Kadar writes about the narrative unity that can bind autobiography into a more rigid form than what she prefers to call "life writing" (1992). 62 How wide an area can writing autobiographically span? bell hooks writes a series of vignettes in her autobiography, Boneblack (1996). Her compelling book of essays, Yearning; Race^ Gender and Cultural Politics, is most certainly autobiographical as well as academic (1990) . So is the collection of poems by Marilyn Bowering entitled Autobiocrraphy. after the long poem of the same name in the collection (1996). Helene Cixous' theoro- poetic essay, "The Last Painting" (1991), is as autobiographical as Frida Kahlo's intensely disturbing and beautiful paintings which detail her suffering and her humanity (Kismaric and Herferman 1992). Jeanette Winterson reminds us, in defending Gertrude Stein's Autobiocrraphy of Alice B. Toklas. that autobiography is not "a rigid mould into which facts must be poured" (1995, 47). Winterson goes on to call Stein's autobiography an "act of terrorism against worn-out assumptions of what literature is and what form its forms can take" (50) . What had Stein done, Winterson asks, but "take a genre and smash it" (53). We can be autobiographical terrorists in the classroom, too, and smash rigid expectations of what autobiography can be. In the Bathroom Thou Shalt Eat Stones "In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones. Sufi proverb in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood in the bathroom at intermission she fluffs her dyed blonde hair 63 she's gorgeous i step aside in the path between the stalls and sinks the flower who primps with me at the mirror a sleek willow dressed in black who i don't yet know is the same Nicaraguan poet who once fled with her poems in a backpack exiles look different on PBS we smile shyly our eyes meet in a Hallmark moment this is the bathroom, after all and a woman who has eloquently spoken of how she continually put her family at risk by writing out is free to check her appearance a woman once told me my poetry is too harsh she's telling the audience by the time I realize i escaped from a crowded bathroom with Daisy Zamora this poem is for that woman Daisy begins ends: a woman who eats bonbons while i eat stones 0, Daisy there is no sacred sweetness in chocolates for any woman and stones like hairdyes come in many shades and sizes we all sound harsh in the mirror have reflections weighted with monumental poems 64 THE ETHICS OF fiaTOBIOGRflPHY "What about your husband and children?" a friend and colleague asked when enquiring about my work in autobiography. "Won't they mind?" I assured her, first of all, that there are many ways to write an autobiography, or autobiographically, as my personal essay in the introduction of this dissertation illustrates. Even if it were possible to write the entire story of my ordinary life from a to z, I would surely put everyone who waded through it asleep! There is another assumption in my friend's friendly question that needs to be challenged, the notion that we can ever control other people's responses to what we write. Even when we write with the noblest of motives and with what we believe to be the finest of ethical standards and the most protective devices (such as changing names or details), we have to accept that we may offend someone. Writing is dangerous. There are risks. (Re-call Joan Didion's famous lines about the impossibility of pleasing anybody one describes, also addressed earlier in the introduction.) Writing autobiograph(icall)y is dangerous, because of course we are never just writing about our selves, but about all those to whom we are in relationship, and that spans a very wide area, too. Could it ever be any other way? We live in relationship to- the world: our families and friends, our colleagues and students, our pets, our neighbours, strangers, foreigners, presidents, queens...We never take a step without 65 affecting some/one/thing. Have we stepped on a snail? Crunch! Have we misjudged and twisted an ankle? Have we taken the right path? Used well that fleeting moment to step aside? Have we stepped when we could have hopped or skipped or stood absolutely still? Writing is dangerous. Absence is always present for me. What is not can always be a possibility. Valerie Raoul adds: "what is said cannot be unsaid" (1998) . Though it can be erased, written over, given a different slant or version. If I write autobiograph(icall)y, if I re-search my selves, I am seeking to search for the [what, who, how, why, where, when] I [am, will become] as my plural I's revolve around the spirograph of many, many Others. Like other feminist re-searchers such as Janice Jipson (1995), I have come to feel that I must approach re-search in this way. The reading I have done in feminist theory alerts me to the colonialism of the privileged studying and then writing about the less privileged; to the appropriation of others' voices for research purposes; to the misrepresentation that can occur in paradigms that are very much steeped in hierarchies and power structures. As I have listened over the years to feminist researchers speak of their work, I began to notice how often they insisted that the work changed them. They became a part of the research. I am seeking a place from which to re-search our selves as we exist in relationship to Others, including the Other in our selves as Julia Kristeva theorizes in an interview 66 (Clark and Hulley 1990-91). Those eternal questions echo: aren't we, who are in the academy, part of an elite, privileged and advantaged group? If we focus on our selves, do we contribute to what William Gass has pejoratively called "Autobiography in an Age of Narcissism" (1994)? The question of just who is part of one elite and who is not (and who gets to decide) is a relational one. As a student, I am decidedly not elite if you line me up beside the full and associate and assistant professors. But change the line-up to street people, or newly arrived immigrants who have fled war- torn countries, and the relative status changes drastically. Change the cast of characters once more to the male editors of mainstream publications which predominantly feature men's work, and I am less elite than ever. Step back in time and people the line-up with Nazis, and I am not only non-elite, but my life is in great peril. I concur with Trinh Minh-ha that anyone can become an oppressor to an-other at one time or another (cited in Ellsworth 1992, 114). Furthermore, we are all oppressed at one time or another. And while I do not claim my Jewish experience is unequivocally identical to bell hooks' black experience, I think I can understand hers because of (or in spite of) mine. I do not apologize for my life of relative privilege, but I am very aware that it places me somewhere very different from the place of many women and men who have not had two loving parents, a happy childhood, a middle class upbringing, and now, a fulfilling and 67 equally middle class family life with a husband and three children. I join Jacques Derrida in exclaiming: Narcissism! There is not narcissism and non-narcissism; there are narcissisms that are more or less comprehensive, generous, open, extended. What is called non-narcissism is in general but the economy of a much more welcoming, hospitable narcissism, one that is much more open to the experience of the other as other. (1995, 199) I am re-searching autobiograph(icall)y through the mirror of my selves, in the context of the great body of work that already exists, and in relationship to the living and textual Others that I meet and live with and love and encounter every day. I know that I continually chase words in order to even begin to come close to capturing what I think is there. And I know I will never quite capture all there is. I continue to chase words in the mirror passages that follow and that lead into the next section which re-turns to Martha/Doris through poetry. Cracked Pottery all weekend i dropped objects: my husband's $100 motorcycle helmet, the lid to my mother-in-law's Brown Betty teapot, words that ought to have followed a preposition i was reaching: for a boot which caused the helmet to skid and land with a THUD, for the lid which simply slipped out of my hands, 68 for immortality in ink i watched it all fly in slow motion knowing the ending before it hit like watching a film fully foreshadowed it^s just a helmet a lid nouns until the breakage then objects animate with an afterlife of wrath or grace me scrabbling a weaponry of defence my husband of course temporarily unforgiving a furious contrast to his mother's acceptance that the lid was inexpensive and had lasted longer than ever she imagined it would this morning the crows cawed to one another from the housetops they had been rummaging through plastic garbage bags picking turkey off the bones sifting through scraps of cracked poetry and dented debris calling calling: look past broken lids which sometimes last longer than ever we imagine they would 69 I am at the mirror. What do 1 see? Today, a middle-aged w^oman w îth w îld hair and glasses, w^ho hasn't yet gotten dressed. Naked w^ith her w^ords. I am at the mirror, dressed for my teaching day, in comfortable shoes and a cool dress that will carry me through the heated tensions of children w^ho claim they do not w^ant to be pulled out for my program and teachers who offer children's names, then send them late, or not at all, or say they have no idea about what I am doing. 70  I am at the "mirror," my body partner in a drama exercise. We gaze into one another's eyes, then by tacit agreement, my partner raises his hands slowly and I follow^ those movements exactly w îth my ow^n. After a while, I spread my hands in an open gesture of acceptance and I w^atch as each time my hands w^iden, his do, too, in a reverse replica of my fan. Sometimes something unnamed is silently passed back and forth betw^een us, drifting to him, then back to me, as ŵ e continue to move, ever-so-slightly out-of-focus to an observer. Eventually, the rhythm is as even as tw^o people breathing together and neither of us can tell who leads with the body, w^ho f ollow^s, so that we meld into silver. This silver swallows the two of us and we are one. 72  I look first into the mirror in my oivn room, ^vhich elongates my frame, and check my appearance, pleased, then -walK to the mirror in my daughter's room 'Where I appear squat, and am appalled. Which reflection is me? Which reflection should I embrace? Both? Both. 74  mirrorsmirrorsmirrorsmirrorsmirrorsniirrorsmirrorsmirrorsniirro ... and I saw truth in the mirror of words. Marilyn Bowering in Autobiography C1996, 4) I do not think she would have agreed it was only her truth— instead she often said she looked upon her w^riting as a mirror. Elizabeth Hardwick in the foreword to Mary McCarthy's Intellectual Memoirs (1992, xi) 76  ... the philosophical tradition of identity as the process of self- reflection in the mirror of (human) nature.... Homi Bhabha (1987* 5) What is profoundly unresolved, even erased, in the discourses of post-structuralism is that perspective of depth through 'wrhich the authenticity of identity comes to be reflected in the glassy metaphorics of the mirror and its mimetic narratives. In shifting the frame of identity from the field of vision to the "space of ^irriting," postmodernism interrogates that "third dimensionality" that gives profundity to the representation of Self and Other and creates that depth of perspective f̂v̂ hich cineastes call the fourth w^all; literary theorists describe it as the "transparency" of realist metanarratives. (Bhabha, 6) 78  She looked at herself in the mirror. Her w^hite and delicate face lost in darkness, her eyes open î̂ ide, her inexpressive lips.... Going out of the limits of her life she did not kno^ir ̂ «rhat she y^as sa^ng 'While looking at herself in the mirror in the friend's room.*.. The mirror episode continues: I am here in the mirror, she shouted brutal and happy. But -what could she do and -what couldn't she do? From a book w^ritten by Clarice Lispector, as cited by Helene Cixous in Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing (1993, 70-71) 80  III. MflRTHfl-6ND-l-m-NIRR0RS I offer the previous passages and the metaphor of the mirror as a movement deeper into this House of Mirrors. The profoundly personal and poetic autobiographical act has not only taken me deeper and deeper into the silver lining of my own life, but into a House of Mirrors peopled with other women. This collection of mirror passages is but a sample of the many mirrors I encountered in autobiographical literature and theory, and in cultural practice. For example, in one essay alone, "The Self as Other," by Robert Folkenflik (1993), I counted twenty references to the mirror. I came across so many references to the mirror in my reading, and (surprisingly to me) in my own writing, that I began to see the mirror as a sliver of glass piercing many discourses. I see this sliver of glass, not as a knife that cuts through difference, but rather as a sharp object that makes holes and gaps and pokes through to other dimensions. Georges Gusdorf writes of the invention of the mirror as disruptive to human experience, after which mirror-gazing became an everyday aspect of modern life (1980, 32). Nature did not foresee the encounter of man with his reflection, and it is as if she tried to prevent this reflection from appearing. (32) Gusdorf might also have written that Nature, knowing what she did, foresaw the encounter of woman with her reflection, as the mirror of autobiography widened to include the second sex. "Autobiography is not a mirror," stated curriculum theorist 82 'rl'\ m J^ f - . - ^ V . ̂ ^ j a ! \ j ^ £̂  • ^ 0!^;^j?;;:s;^i^^ jj?^^i^?vi^S^ij^^Jv^ ,jrvsor\\rV^^jy^^ • J/-^jj/!ji-jJ!\^jjf^^-J?-^-J!?^^ ^V]^^^ Poetic Surgery j ^ So^S>- it's a lot like cosmetic surgery -^ p̂ ^̂ îj;̂  the liposuction of fat word cells Sv î̂ Â ĉ  lopping off a spare tire of a line S^ ĵ p̂̂ l; augmentation of full-breasted images "i^ j^'f^-fyp^ into a more enhanced ^>; Sj ^ ^ ^ lean body of verbs ] ^ 1̂ ;̂ ^̂ ;̂ ^ the poet looks in a mirror too "T^ ^;^^^:^ ...m/5cribct> upon the XAMikncss :^ ^i^^^^^ even the silence -j^ C ^ S ^ w A mirror... IC^ ^ Q ^ From M(other) of the Text ^ ^^SjOS a poem by Renee Norman 3C. ^ ^ ^ ; ^ ...tfowr fAce tVie one i know ^ : CiSC>- from mirror* Anb p̂ ctvires... ]rij ^ry^r^ From For 5ara af 7M;eZi;e ^ J?5^C^ ^ poem by Renee Norman " ^ .^^iS^S^i^C-^Cjy^^C^^^ip J^tvSCS>SCv?^^ -•^v*mry'7v?-mi;mrvvy'v-mZ^^ \?:?^!^!!^!:^^ >^8? and autobiography doyenne Janet Miller at the JCT Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice (1997) , perhaps in response to Gusdorf's essay in which he writes: "If it is indeed true that autobiography is the mirror in which the individual reflects his own image..." (1980, 33). Later in her address, which conceptualized Ellen's coming-out television episode in autobiographical terms. Miller claimed that Ellen is mirrored in difference. Not-mirror or mirror? Or perhaps both? Miller might have clarified: autobiography is much more than the image we think we see at the moment we gaze in the mirror. It is complicated by invisible but weighty cultural and gendered constructions. But autobiography can indeed be a mirror, if we are willing to visualize the mirror differently: as an ever- changing House of Mirrors, bending and curving and de-forming images into distortions; as a rear-view mirror, reminding us of what is behind as we simultaneously move ahead; as side-mirrors, affording us a larger-than-real/reel view of what approaches or what has disappeared; as a two-way mirror, where we may or may not be aware that there are others gazing at us as we simultaneously,gaze at our selves. These are the mirrors of autobiographer Andrei Codrescu, who writes: The mirrors there, at the junction between past and present, make it appear that there are thousands...[of famous people]. But there are only a few. (1994, 28) These are the mise-en-abyme mirrors of Gusdorf who also writes: Any autobiography is a moment of the life that it 84 CooA6<C itUO' <t ^^toAcH' ^ from a poe 'HH&I teew Shadow m by Rene se Norit lan ^ ^ i85 recounts.... One part of the whole claims to reflect the whole, but it adds something of this whole of which it constitutes a moment. Some Flemish or Dutch painters of interior scenes depict a little mirror on the wall in which the painting is repeated a second time; the image in the mirror does not only duplicate the scene but adds to it as a new dimension a distancing perspective. (1980, 43) These are the mirrors of Folkenflik who writes: This is the narrative that serves Augustine as a mirror of his own life. And yet it is both mirror and anti-mirror [because it points out what he has not followed, what he has not done]. (1993, 217) And these are the mirrors of women autobiographers, theorists, feminists, writers, among them Doris Lessing, who in the novel The Four-Gated City writes: One's got to stand by what one is, how one sees things. What else can you do? And I've had the other thing too, the mirror of it: all my life I've believed that somewhere, sometime, it wasn't like that, it needn't be like this. (1972, 82) The mirror is symbolic of the autobiographical I, but not in any uncomplicated way, and not just in a metaphoric sense, either. I realized after reading Leigh Gilmore's Autobiographies (1994a) that the trope of metonymy cannot be excluded here, and that often the self (part of the selves) looking in the mirror is/are but a part of some imagined, reflected whole. The mirror reflects what is located near or opposite it, a contiguous association that is metonymic. Gilmore suggests metonymy is much more representative of women's written lives. Women see (them)selves in relation to others metonymically. However, Gilmore does not discount metaphor: While I would agree that autobiographies are filled with metaphors for writing and for the self and that these metaphors are a crucial part of autobiography's rhetoric, 86 %J" ' Tpj" TriT ' TriTTriT ' TriT ' TriT ' TriT ' TKTTHT ' r̂iT ' TriT ' TriT ' TriT r̂T ' TriT ' TriJ ' ^p^ ' TriTTHT f "^ i f^^ A s c e n e from t h e mov ie , Fahreneit 451: "^ J j i ^ ^ ^ One of t h e " f i r e m e n " i s i n an o l d woman's h o u s e 3 ^ ^O^AoJ" w i t h Montag, who i s a l s o a f i r e m a n . _^^ ^f^'^rf^ The house i s f i l l e d w i t h s h e l v e s of b o o k s . , ^ v ; [\HV^^23rii H® i s sweep ing books o f f t h e s h e l v e s , ^ r ^ j r y ^ f f j . r a n t i n g t o Montag a b o u t t h e s e f o r b i d d e n p l e a s u r e s , /^ f-mZfi'^/vy i n p r e p a r a t i o n t o b u r n i n g a l l of t h e m . m-j^ 'iy'^^iy^ Novels, he s p i t s o u t d i s g u s t i n g l y . ^ ^ >^^5l-^^ All about lives that make our own more unhappy... ^v%r ^ S C ^ J K Philosophy—one book says one thing, I S ; jc^^^^^i^ another book the opposite. Ĵ ^̂ T. ?x>??K>" And w i t h p a r t i c u l a r venom, ^JJ^ j j ^ > > j " he g a t h e r s up an a rmfu l of bound words and c r i e s : "VV." Jv^^J^ Autobiography! D ^ J S y ^ S ^ They start with the urge to write. " ^ > " ^ V x ^ Then two or three books later, ^ x ,p^^^rp^ they think they are better than everyone else. ^v^ .y:^^^^.'^^^ v^C:X^A'vOv^i^y^C^ J A - • .^vsJv^ • J ? ^ • ̂ S « • J v ^ • Jv^»^^L • J^L " ̂ C^ • J ^ i • i Jvv^^ • J S - • JvX-• J ? ^ • Jv^-^v^ • ^^^^^^^iS^^^'^^^^^^^^^ri^^^'^^^S^^^T^^Sri?^!^^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ it is autobiography's metonymies that seem to ground it in real life. Thus, as I will argue, it is within, the structure of metonymy that autobiography's metaphors have meaning. (68) Though Gilmore points out that metonymy seems much less theorized in autobiography studies, it is also, I think, more slippery. But back to the mirror, the "I-as-mirror" in Gilmore's words (54) . According to Jacques Lacan, when the infant looks in the mirror, it sees where it is not, in relation to other objects and people [namely the mother] (Lacan 1977; Raoul 1993) . The infant also sees what it is not in relation to the m(other) . This "drama" of the mirror stage "manufactures for the subject ... the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality ..." (1977, 4). When as not-infant, we gaze at our body in the mirror, we can focus on an individual part (such as a hand), or take in the total view, or move between part and whole. (Try experimenting with the drama mirror exercise described on Page 72 while locked in eye contact.) Is the face we stare at intently, temporarily forcing the focus off the rest of the body, really ours? To some extent, mirror-gazing is a leap of faith, and what we think we see is not necessarily what is there. Much depends on the angle of view, the way the mirror is turned, who is gazing and when and how, and whether the glass of the mirror is clear (as in a window reflection) or backed with metal. At times the body reflected in the mirror seems "whole"; at other times, an extension of something or someone else, as my "I am at the 88 d\ ^ ^ v On the Edge the top of the car is folded down like a quilt on a close night the Indian summer sun follows me home in the rearview mirror too bright in my eyes despite dark glasses a shining pinpoint of light it does not fade along the highway its flashing light atop my vehicle signals alarm with reverse glances i check what does this signify: a moon on a black-shadowed night a candle lit on a cake in a darkened room a beacon in a window that beckons me home this way t h e l i g h t summons through an open c u r t a i n this way, home when i turn up the driveway i have set the sun aside for another warmth much later i remember how the mirror caught the glare in my eyes Renee Norman 89 mirror" passages on the previous pages illustrate. The metaphors and metonymies of the mirror can be related to the mirror experiment I learned about at the school where I teach. In this experiment, many mirrors are placed at angles to one another. If the angle is right, a light flashed in one mirror bounces off all the other mirrors. The mirrors produce a metaphoric/metonymic light show that complicates I-as-mirror, the light bouncing off the paper mirrors throughout this textual House of Mirrors. Vacuum inside a thermos hot soup warms the silver lining made possible by an empty space between the walls smooth broth scorches the throat a downward path of heat to gullet when I gaze into the concave flask emptied afraid to touch bottom a thermos house of mirrors reflects back my face distorted in a grimaced grin disturbed by circular criss-crossed lines in the silver glass I cannot look into a thermos fill it with my soupy tears perceive the future there I keep the cold remains until the slosh of more broth heats the vacuum 90 d\ ^ ^ a.Yn in <::A/\ii.i. c^Jtma i lootn, iittin^ on the. sA^s, of ksx IJEJ,, mu Ijaa^ liiff z&ading Iz&z what U fiaus, anCtt&n down, and ih& iayi., <c/^o, no, JJvu, i/zat won't do. crj- itoxy Un t a Inoksn tnizxox, fiUa&i, of glan alL oust t/U hfaas,. erf- iiozij ii. a urfzoLs, minq, it nai, a l7£,^imzinq and an £,na. Like, a boLt of aLotn. f r o m First Nights by S u s a n Fromberg S c h a e f f e r , c i t e d i n Telling Women's Lives Page 166 But Stories, like mirrors, reflect back images, and like mirrors, stories can sometimes break and shatter, so that the pieces of glass show only small parts of our selves, parts that can be rearranged into countless patterns. The whole thing is also the sum of the broken parts. 91 I have come to know that enclosed space swallow it whole and keep it warm A thermos house of mirrors. Many mirrors reflect my engagement in the autobiographical act of writing poetry. Recently, when discussing (yet another) autobiographical poem in a tutorial, George McWhirter mused: "So many reminiscences..." This particular poem originated during my teaching day. A bright student told me how he loved to take things apart and rebuild them, and that made me remember Gerald Zucker, a classmate who had built a vacuum that really flew. I told the story of Gerald, and as we laughed, that brought on a whole spate of memories about Gerald, who sat behind me and used to love to write in ink on the back of whatever I happened to be wearing, and about the class of thirteen children with whom I attended Hebrew School for seven years in Calgary, Alberta. And so a poem was born, now published in a Calgary journal (1997b), where Gerald is Phillip Jacobs, among my other former classmates, who might or might not recognize themselves with/in the protective pseudonyms I gave them. When Vacuums Fly in 1961 Philip Jacobs rebuilt his mother's vacuum so it flew first prize at the Science Fair also wrote morse code dashes in ink all over the back of my favourite white dress the designs of a genius while i drew pimples on a portrait of Mr. Ripkind during our weekly half-hour of art 92 "It has literally become impossible for anyone to read a work of fiction except in terms of the author's life. Plays, novels, stories, poems, are "taught" in schools, in terms of the authors' lives.... (Doris Lessing, Page 489 from The Four-Gated City) "We have come to Martha Quest, which begins about this time- -and a need for explanations. Readers like to think that a story is 'true.' 'Is it autobiographical?' is the demand. Partly it is, and partly it is not, comes the author's reply, often enough in an irritated voice, because the question seems irrelevant: what she has tried to do is take the story out of the personal into the general. 'If I had wanted to write autobiography, then I would have done it, I wouldn't have written a novel.' One reason for writing this autobiography is that more and more I realize I was part of an extraordinary time..." (Page 160) "In short, when I wrote Martha Quest I was being a novelist and not a chronicler. But if the novel is not the literal truth, then it is true in atmosphere, feeling, more 'true' than this record, which is trying to be factual. Martha Quest and my African short stories are a reliable picture of the District in the old days." (Page 162) "I then got a room, from an advertisement in the Herald, in the house of a widow—but i t i s in Martha Quest.. .No wr i t e r can come up with anything as merciless as what Life i t s e l f , t h a t savage s a t i r i s t , does every day." (Page 197) "Now begins A Ripple from the Storm, the t h i r d in the sequence Children of Violence, and of a l l my books i t i s t h e most d i r e c t l y autobiographical ." (Page 267) "There i s no doubt f i c t ion makes a b e t t e r job of the t r u t h . " (Page 314) ( D o r i s L e s s i n g , Under My Skin: Volume I of My Autobiography.) 93 worried I'd have to ask him for my first kotex saw him half-smile when he passed by my desk hurt outlined in his pock-marked face a lesson in cruelty and homely Joanie Dvorkin came to me declared she and Tommy were an item i•d have to bow out after years of our mothers crying: machetunem whenever they met in shul it would not be my first rejection and Sarah Holtzman wild Sarah Holtzman whose mother spanked her with a wooden hanger the wire ones had no substance ran a black market pencil and eraser store out of the teachers' stockroom at Hebrew School played strip poker with her male cousins made Dvorah who'd arrived from Israel take off her top so we could see her well-developed breasts you didn't have to do it i told Dvorah next day as i wrote steamy entries about red-haired Harry Holt for five years in my five-year diary: (today Harry squeezed me in a game of tag; it felt good) who knew then Becky would come to my engagement party in leather pants and a see-through blouse no bra Sarah would leave her pearl ring in an airport washroom love a married man who left his wife and three children then dumped her Joanie's firstborn would be housed forever in an institution and i would have recurring dreams about Jerry Goldfarb's house where i•d never been long after we went to prom (i wore the same pink gown in every dream) long after the year he died (a brain tumour) while i was at university 36 years later in a school 94 tC^ CTTYid, ikandincj hsxs,, Tsslinq ksxiElf I ox xaiksx, tk& iuxfaas of hsxisLfj to ire a mail of fiaanzenti, ox raa&ti, ox hiti. or tnLxxox xs^Lsating c^uaiitUi. sYnboduA in ot^x hsohfs,, JzB Looked at tns aiasnaina itaCxi, muak naxxoiv£X and liesksx k&xe, than Lowsx in tks, fiou.i.£., ana, at tns, saqsi. or saalz itaix, and notsd that tns aaxLst nssdsa xsnsurina. "Martha" P a g e 3 65 i n The Four-Gated City, Doris Lessing 95 Chris my student tells me he likes to build and take things apart Philip Jacobs rides again! Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth but not its twin. (Kingsolver 1996, 71) Yes, memories and reminiscences, and the desire, no, the compulsion to write them into poetry is unabated after six years. Sometimes I wonder if I am bottomless, like the mirror. Will I ever hit bottom in the abyss of autobiography? "It gets harder every day," Oprah Winfrey confessed in an interview (1997). "When you've done it [daytime TV talk show] for twelve years, you've covered every topic." Can autobiographical writing, like daytime TV talk shows, run out of material? In an attempt to help me focus, and perhaps sensing my desperation that every poem I write might be my last (how long can one go on writing about the selves?), George McWhirter suggested I needed a project (although I confess I thought I already had one). The project became the Martha poems, which grew out of my obsession with the five Martha Quest "Children of Violence" books and author Lessing's autobiographies, where she writes that her life is written in the Martha Quest books. 96 1 read history with conditional respect. 1 have been involved In a small way with big events, and 1 know how quickly accounts of them become like a cracked mirror. (Page i i ) Women often get dropped fi-om memory, and then history. (Page iz) Under My Skin: Volume I of My Autobiography, to 1949 Doris L e s s i n g 97 k douxncd Snbiu ^Uou ns-sA a jixois-ai, i-aid ^eoxqs., and D tnougnt £1 aLxs-adu nad om. fZE iixzd of X£.adina acrout mu oxauzaxu Life: CoiuMn t bs.. crfs. ioLd ms. ones. ilzai ins. iixanacit anaxaais-Xi. ns, nad E.U£.X m£.i—and ns, xs-adi. a Loi of fiaiion and fio£,ixu—oj£X£, iL onzi. ns. d nz&i in mu hLO£.ixu, out of mu oxdinaxu Lifs.. ^vvai ns fssLCna mu oam LndLxsaiion, mu i£.ni£, inat £1 nad no Lifs anumxjxs unLs,i.i. U nad ioms-inlng in ii io ixniis ahoui, mu fsax inat saan hosm uriLts is, m.u Lai£, U na'js noinina moxs io s.au, inat i. ii, U m. finiinsd, smfiiu, lioxuLsii., LToiioms-d out: c/r>^ jj^i CL^ -^ /zocir (xniis ahoui <::::yV{axina, inii anaxaciex U naus Lifisd and uoxxoiKrzd fxom J^oxii. -£si.5,ing, aoniidsxing ksx Lifs. and timsi., ii ii. aiiLL ms arno msaki. into iL tiosmi., axssjiina in unannounasd not onLu trsivassn ins Linsi. and i-ianxai., brut offsxinci dsiaiLi, and imfixsi-i-ioni, and smoiiom. of mu ovjn Lifs fox <^:A/{axina io uis, a auxiouiiu fxssina and unasmoxsd sxtisxisnas vansxs U knovj i) am aonismfxLaiing and ivxiiina ahoui susnii. in mu Lifs vjnich IJ would nsusx riaus uniiisn ahoui lo ofisnLu undsx ins auiis of mu ovjn najns. Exiting iks .jy[axika ji osm.s. ii. Liks ivxiiina a no(jsL, oniu D can Lsaus hia aajii. and ofisn s.fiaasi, fox <:^J\i\axina and ms, io movs axound in. And so I encountered Martha in the mirror, and the autobiographical act of writing poetry expanded to viewing/writing Martha. This mirror reflects back the Martha of Lessing's Bildungsromane (that is, as I read and interpret her) ; the Martha who is in me; and my selves as they filter through Martha's reflection. These Marthas come to light in the mirror of writing, a process at times metaphoric, at times metonymic. And so I entered Martha, inhabiting her like a spirit for a series of poems. These poems are as much about me as about 98 • JV V . I ? fm m J! ^ ;? ; jS ,^^^^w?:^^ JS^ No AnimAls in tlic Uingbom ^ j(^ except for hum^(y\s Anb c>iimpA>irces S ; ^ unt>erst^&^i> thM A reflection in tlie yyiirror 2^ !(^ i5 tVie self ^ j ; ^ Anb not Anotlier Animal. ^ ^ ^ Fact offered ; ^ ^ ^ on the Discovery Channel ^ ^ ^ ^ O ^ j > ^ ^ j q ^ ^ j ^ ^ ^ j - ^ ^ JSWC^̂ C^̂ C |̂SC^ J^Ovi^'v>^'^S>^ ^W^^j-^Sjj;^Sl^^ _^\:^^v^jc^^j^^j^^^^^ • p j " ' T»J" j-rv'm'^di^' ^^99 ^ • I? rC • Martha, or Doris, and I found that in the process of exorcising Martha from the books and giving her a newly re-written life in my poems, I was also exorcising even more of me. I was also considering all I have never been. There apparently is no bottom; autobiography follows me everywhere; and Oprah is wrong, not every topic is ever covered. What is especially interesting to me in the autobiographical venture with Martha are the many differences between Martha and me. She is Rhodesian, I am Canadian. I am Jewish, she is not. She was for a while an avowed Communist. I have little interest in politics. She left her first husband and only daughter (Doris left two out of her three children) , I count myself content in my life with my own three daughters and my husband. And yet, and yet, both women, both wives, both mothers.... In the words of one of my Martha poems: yet if she rose off the pages swelling in novel possibilities i would recognize the limbs hers a composite heart transplanted where a person is most worthy of the color of her skin the cold ungentle parts of her that worded me.... The cold ungentle parts of her that worded me. With/in the differences, there are mirrors that reflect back metonymic parts of the body of humanity and living, frames of resemblance whose wavering silvery pictures are both one thing and another at once, a doubling, in the sense that Homi Bhabha evokes: 100  The performance of the doubleness or splitting of "the subject" is enacted in the writingiecriture of the poems I have quoted. (1987, 7) This doubling is both a presence and an absence, both inside and outside the frames. Bhabha adds that ... the subject cannot be apprehended without the absence or invisibility that constitutes it ... so that the subject speaks, and is seen, from where it is not. ... (5) The splitting of the subject is further compounded by the doubleness of Martha in the mirror, Martha as Other. This is the Other of ecriture feminine, a form of literary expression which articulates "the inarticulable 'Other'" (Perrault 1995, 9), a "metaphor for whatever appears to disrupt a uniform presence, authority, or (re)presentation" (9). This is the Other of the female body, which, in Helene Cixous' terms, is written and is already text: Life becomes text starting out from my body. I am already text. (1991, 52) The text of the Martha poems re-writes my body and its parts into a new kind of autobiography, combining elements of self (auto) with Other, life (bios) with text, writing (graphie) with imagining. Autobiography seems to be everywhere. Store windows, ponds, spoons, TV screens, picture glass, Bhabha's "third dimensionality," and novels that are Bildungsromane, all mirror us back, however distorted. 102  Qjowincd Snbui Jhs, <^:Jy\qxina hosmi, asi into iotnsvjnai din£.X£,ni isxxitoxu: auioLrCoazafmiaal fCctlon wkiak uii.fiix£,i. fCatixjnal autoljCogzahku. ^^^i^^ij coLLui.Con vcriik a ketConal akaxaatsx (who t i xs-aLLu auioijioqrahkLaaLj, (xrnom U tksn Lnkcuxit and aniis, auoui as ij £1 am Lifjinq ksx iioxu. U itoxu ksx Lifz ojiik vcrkat U am alio Liuina (and kaus. Lius-dj. Jks. xzudsx aonn£,ation. ii. uxouakt into ins. (xnitsx/tsxi biiad in a usxu dominant wau: ins, xsadsz noi onLu inisxhxsii ojkai ins. {Kniisx/isxi onsx, Lrui iaksi. ikii. a iish. fwiiksx and axsaisi. anoinst kind of itiad: xsadsz/vcxiisz arko voxiisi nsvj isxt vcrkiak kai axiisn oui of/inisxisaisd ojiik oxiqinaL isxi fox near xsadsxi io iksn inisxh-xsi in a nsva xsadsx/viniisx/isxi ixiad. ^xuLu an inisxisxiuoL and muLii-isxiuaL Lausxina of iks xsadsx xsifioms.. jJi ii moxs ikon xsadsx xsibonis, xsalLu, ai U xsad noi onLu as a xsadsx kui as a voxiisx. LPsxkahi. vers oLL do? H/msn Jj ksain io vpxiis oui of vcrkat U kaus xsad, U ksaoms a vjxiisx/xsadsx (a vjxiiina xsadsx J and iks nsva isxi ii Liks a kuxLafi tkai vjaxnzi. iks fxozsn qxound. Ui istnhoxaxiLu aofjsxi. ovsx iks qxound of iks isxi undsxnsaik—vjkiak ii alvcraui. iksxs. <ct>oynsiiynsi aomhlsisLu kuxisd, tui fsLi ox knovcrn io irs iksxs. •c^omsiimsx haxii hoks ikxouqk, ox ionzsiimsi iionsi and xooii. of isxi axs foxmsd in nsvj vaaui, xsiainina iks old, c^j^ Virksn iks kuxLafi ii. xsmovsd, iL nsvj isxi ii. fissLsd avjou, and iksxs Lisi. ins isxi ikat aams usjoxs, [ookincj iks i.a)ns, kui ioniskovj diffsxsni dus io iks ismhoxaxu aousxina. <:^oyns Liisxaxii sxoiion oaauxi. Folkenflik suggests that since for Lacan the self can only exist in language, the self in autobiography "is the only thing we can call a self," but the self as other "is a condition of the autobiographical narrative" (1993, 234) as we consider the I who is talking and the I of the past, the Writing I and the Written I. Gilmore refers to the three identities of 104  autobiography and calls them: "the I who lives, the I in the text, the I who writes I" (1994a, 93) . Roland Barthes, on the other hand, distinguishes between the self who was, the self who is and the self who writes (cited in Stanley 1992, 131-132). (There is also the self who reads, observes, assesses....) Folkenflik concludes his essay by suggesting that what he has called a "mirror stage in autobiography" can instead be conceived as "autobiography itself as a mirror stage in life, an extended moment that enables one to reflect on oneself by presenting an image of the self for contemplation" (234) . He continues: This does not happen in early childhood, but, if at all, in adulthood or old age. And the self is not that of the mirror or photograph. In Lacan's terms it is part of the symbolic, not the imaginary. I say this because if the "I" relates to a "you," it is not simply narcissistic, as in the infantile "mirror stage." Autobiography promises intersubjectivity.... (234) Autobiography may also leave room for Julia Kristeva's imaginary and "semiotic," which come to life in the jouissance of poetic language, and "[continue] to co-exist with the symbolic" (Raoul 1992, 269). Nevertheless, Folkenflik presents a "mirror stage" that extends into the autobiographical act, much more than a mere self-gaze, much more than a stage of our lives in any historical or biographical sense. He offers a compelling reason for the autobiographical venture of writing self into language, at any age. Drawing upon Lacan, the self in autobiography is/are always more than what is at first glance reflected in the mirror, always what is also not there, and additionally, what is 106  written into language. This I who relates to a you. This intersubjectivity which autobiography promises. "I am not Martha," I have written in the poem, "For Martha's Ears Only." (See the "Martha in the Mirror" poems included at the end of this section.) This line calls into question the slippery subjectivity of the I, a contested place/space in the post-structuralist enterprise. The divided I, the split I, the contradictory I, the multiple I, the unstable I, the non-unitary I, the separated I, the autobiographical I, the I-in-the-mirror, dividing and subdividing like cells. This "dance of I's" (Gilmore 1994a, 90). And in the Martha poems, the I who claims not to be another I, but writes her self into the poetry of Martha. How do we accept the holistic Self of some feminist rhetoric (as Jeanne Perrault terms it) , the Self of ecriturefeminine which validates difference, the Self which becomes selves, and still hold on to some sense of identity without resorting to the binary opposition of either/or? A contemporary feminist does not have to delimit the I-in-the-mirror identity, but rather in blurring it, can re-cover her body in the mirror and acknowledge its changing dimensions in the textuality of how she is continually written and re-written. Kristeva suggests that we are produced in our texts as we produce them (Lechte 1990, 58), an eternal subject-in-process of a text-in-progress (Norman 1995a, 25). I once wrote: No longer composed of the same parts I slowly gave up, but 108 /( ^ ^ w l-in-the-mirror I l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l l I I this "dance of I's" (Leigh Gilmore 1994, 90) I I I I i the divided I/I i the split i-i 7777777 the contradictory I 7777777 the multiple aiiii the un iiiii stable I the non-unitary I/I/I the autobiographical I/eye the sep-ar-ate-d e-y-e-i-l 109 missing them, I am an apparition apportioned into poems and stories and other written matter: eyes replaced by words, images instead of ears, a nose of metaphors, ink to taste pieces of life-sustaining nurturance, and memories that probe like fingertips. (Norman 1997a, 33) Perhaps it is in the production of text that we hold on to some sense of identity, however this changes. The record of words is the record of an identity, however it is subject to the next experience that comes along and re-forms it. No sooner do the words inscribe experience, another experience comes along and re-writes a life, the already written text be/coming a record of words subject to the multi-faceted subject who recorded them, subject to the multi-faceted subject who read them. And always, subject to the multi-faceted texts reflected in that mirrored sea of texts. (Norman 1995a, 28) The Martha poems re-present the autobiographical I in an autobiographical body of poems that is layered with material and textual selves. The Kristevan intertextuality which is glassy throughout these poems is "guilty" of re-writing which occurs through re-reading, re-reading which occurs through re-writing, an inter-textual inter-connectedness which is not innocent of the words and interpretations of others (Norman 1995a, 28): Reading then is writing, in an endless movement of giving and receiving: each reading reinscribes something of a text; each reading reconstitutes the web it tried to decipher, but by adding another web. (Conley 1991, 7) A text is always guilty, in an Althusserian sense. A text is a rereading, not only because we must reread in order not to consume but also because it has already been read. We approach it with the memory of other texts, and there is no innocent reading as there is no innocent writing. (12) This "guilt" of intertextuality pokes holes in the mirror stage of the autobiography of the Martha poems, so that they are "incoherent" in the positive sense in which Gilmore uses the 110  term (1994a, 81). In the exemplary text of the Martha poems, autobiography is a mirror stage of my life, involving moments where I am reflecting on my selves by presenting the image of Martha written in the language of poetry. If, as Gilmore contends, ... autobiography provides a stage where women writers, born again in the act of writing, may experiment with reconstructing the various discourses ... in which their subjectivity has been formed.... (1994a, 85) and "writing is born when the writer is no longer" (Minh-ha 1989, 35) , then I have been born again through Martha, experimenting and mapping "loss and transgression" (Gilmore 1994a, 73). I have also been writing the Martha poems as a kind of trespassing between genres, experiencing a "desire to write as trespassing" (63). Re-call that Gilmore asks: "Where is the autobiographical?" (13), claiming that autobiographical writing can be expressed in a variety of genres. I answer: "Here, in the poetry that writes my life and Martha's," always mindful of what Jerome Bruner playfully writes about autobiographers in Plato's Republic, namely, that they would have been as dangerous as poets, since they practise essentially the same art (1993, 55). Gilmore insists that more than genre is at stake in autobiography, that it is also gendered. The Martha poems (and indeed, all my autobiographical writing) are a gesture towards mapping some of that gendered territory. I can move around in all the spaces which the mirror opens, all the "glassy metaphorics" and metonymies in-between I-in-the-mirror and Martha-in-the-mirror. 112  MBRTHB IN THE MIRROR (a manuscript of poems) by Renee Norman 114 CONTENTS Martha, in White/116 I Am the Land/117 Between Friends/118 Between Wor(l)ds/119 Mother/120 Martha, Leaving/121 Martha's father/122 The Mouse Ran Up the Clock/123 Assignation/124 Dream Moments/125 Dear Doris Lessing/12 6 Martha Answers/127 These Women in the Mirror/128 Till Death Do Us Part/129 Messages from Martha/130 Through the Crib Bars/131 Martha in England/133 Lost Landscapes/134 In the House on Radlett Street/135 Confetti/137 On the Rug of Madness/138 Martha in the Mirror/139 For Martha's Ears Only/14 0 What I Dream for Her/141 115 Martha, in White she has sewn a white gown for herself the vestal virgin of discontent she dances in this bridal skin out of a mudhut home floats over the deeper mud in the rains still unsullied except for spatters on the hem like blood they stain the white fabric weigh down the gauze of the dress with fingertips heavy and black as if someone is dragging her back, back snipping the threads she worked so carefully exposing all her darkness underneath 116 I Am the Land this mud, the rains the heat of the veld and the movement of a jacaranda tree throb in her heart the rhythm through centuries of weather-beaten abuse on skin the country the scarred back of a monkey-kaffir— skin like muck trod upon— sucks her in covers her head she breathes moist earth loose from the plough of footsteps running hers 117 Between Friends he lends Martha books the latest in socialist trends between navy blue hard covers that replace the childhood games of their youth books held against her chest to block his gaze at her new breasts does he daily chant the Jewish prayer which thanks God for not being born a woman as he lectures her on dialectical materialism and the plight of the worker? it is his smouldering Jewishness as much as the books which attract her over and over to his father's store the old man (eyebrows raised) peering at her from beneath his yarmulke distrustful of another Gentile shiksah in a land where white supremacy is draped like carpet across the veld with Marx and Engels and the trouble in Spain they spar his passion to bend her thoughts turn another kind of prayer 118 Between Wor(l)ds in book time between wor(1)ds books stacked like steps around the architecture of her rented room Martha does not sleep snacks on sentences all night long gone is the flat line drawing of her day the structure of the office the symmetry of a prim supervisor the tailored suits on cool skin in her nylon slip she climbs and climbs the words a stairway to her reformation amazed at first light of morning to be identical she has not moved at all 119 Mother the word lays claim to Martha a heavy breastplate of armour encircling her until she finds it hard to breathe sometimes she wants to slap her mother throw the nearest object at those two nervous chattering lines of lip which always seem to dribble criticism: the unsuitable close fit of your dress, Martha the wildness that sends you to those books, those ideas, Martha can't you just settle down with the child and welcome matronhood Motherhood the word like a drawstring pulled tight and then unfastened back and forth between the chafe of strangulation and the freedom of relief love with anger edginess with pride ownership with fear Martha pulls away from the endless tugging her mother's thin body birdlike over a hundred broken dreams laying the sharp sudden burn of a noose letting go 120 Martha, Leaving mama she can hear the bleat like a lamb knows the thumb will find its way to the bottomless hollow of mouth sees the diapers hanging to dry unfolded, white flags of surrender she can feel the small body weight pressed against the ache of her breasts though her hands are empty but flung out weightless no longer attached to the part of her that thinks limbs drooping out of embroidered nightgowns she remembers the calendar on the wall months of softness of pink and blue wool knitted into patterns the smell of fresh, innocent powder through the sharp yellow of urine that spot on the neck where she buried her nose to breathe baby she feels and remembers all of it as she watches her hands break through the door to air 121 Martha's father: the boy-man damaged by war & the Englishman who emigrated to Southern Rhodesia with a Queen Anne chair he is a heat sensor who reflects Martha's change in temperature or a veil that is drawn to distance confrontation he knows the restlessness in her but did not question her marriage did not pass judgement either when she left the child deep in a drug-induced sleep he mutters wisdom awake he offers nightmares fingers that accuse stakes of the fallen walls around his body his mind's grasp of the horror he brings home to her when she reads the first documented accounts of Hitler's atrocities it is her father's ribcage she envisions every bone of Adam another finger pointing 122 The Mouse Ran Up the Clock Martha knows how to wait in doctor's offices men's beds over bitter cups of coffee in cafes by all the sidestreets and alleyways leading to a different world the waiting is a virus in her blood that spreads like many women she lives behind the clock hands where they meet as if that overlap were protection from a lapse once a woman said: you're frightening the mothers picking up their children at the church- are you meeting someone here? can't you wait somewhere else? she moved away an excommunicated mouse felt her cheeks burn with shame knew for a moment what it meant to be black how the waiting must have flushed through her eyes red with desperation the mothers thought she'd steal their precious children like the dog in Cadiz, Spain who at last count had waited 7 years outside the hospital where his master died Martha knows how to wait 123 Assignation he enters Martha as he might a room where the light is blinding his eyes in the tub he draws circles on her skin with the soap laughing he tells her on his way to meet her approached and propositioned "i said i already have a lady" he pushes small beds together holds Martha where the space between them forms a crevice a hard ridge of earth she feels beneath her back overpowering his tender hold in this scented sinkhole talking the pronoun I rings in her ears it is then she knows the future her skin round with dried white foam 124 Dream Moments Martha felt his absence keenly when next day the meeting over he looked at her stubborn, unhappy defiant a kind of unperceptive dullness in his eyes missed moments that•s what she feared most from these encounters in her dream his kiss so fierce grabbed the unresolved feeling between them crushed it in the physical act of embrace today her arms empty like a baby torn from a loving grip he stood there only a dream away 125 Dear Doris Lessing Doris— i am borrowing Martha am writing autobiographical episodes under her name an alias for my own indiscretions Doris— i am signing her out like a library book opening her chapters bending the corners of pages and reading them backwards Doris— i am borrowing Martha will not return her in the same condition although she•s long overdue 126 Martha Answers you think you know me so well as you sit in your house with your middle class life that wasn't me why are you tainting me with your own pathetic stories waiting in the churchyard and hauling out my parents, my friends for re-inspection changing Doris• history what do you know of war or injustice i grew up with spilled blood in my veins & crushed skulls for breakfast rug fluff in an ovary you were not even born how dare you invade my soul 127 These Women in the Mirror while Hannah was interned in a Parisian detainment camp dreaming of a lost lover who signed Nazi memos Martha/Doris distributed pamphlets in the Black district wondering if her children placed their baby teeth under pillows not-too-late at night and Dorothy wrote poems and practised politics only feeling free the moment she learned of her husband's demise I was not yet born into this women's world an egg latent in my mother's womb rocked in forgotten memory on an immigrant ship how is it without ears yet formed I heard these women calling from a choric past years before I met them on the mirror of a page 128 Till Death Do Us Part she wakes to his snores air sucked into a rhinoceros her elbow in his back a pencil pointed writing her dislike no, it is not dislike, distaste strong and bitter with baked edges the baby cries out in her sleep, briefly a clarion that returns her to the domestic no, she has undone the apron of dumb acceptance she can smell the beer the smoke on the long drawn-out breath of another gigantic hippopotamus repelled by the injustice in his freedom to make such a zzzz she creeps around in her mind gathering twigs of hatred to fuel her blaze 129 Messages from Martha Martha wants to tell me how her body was stolen when she got pregnant how she could not find the bone on the inside of her ankle for months the pressure of her finger searching left a dent like poking around in the stuffing of a cooked turkey Martha wants me to know it was not her choice that women should throw up blow up stretch beyond all that could be imagined until the skin on her belly pulled parchment-thin was a hot air balloon about to explode in letters and Martha wants me to know every night when i arrange the blankets round the fireplace of a small reddened cheek and run my hand along the stove of a dear damp forehead i am touching the body the bone the heat of her scripture 130 Through the Crib Bars I. her pink cheeks leak through the crib bars asleep at last as if she hadn't been screaming that colicky high-pitched wail only moments ago shadows of the rails fall down across her small back with weightless rods that imprison her to Martha's care for an instant Martha sees the stripes as lashes from a whip she shakes the image off with loathing afraid to touch the soft skin for fear she'll wake and start the cycle again too soon she dreams the baby is pliant molded to her ribs like putty more like the babies in the books with four hour schedules and gurgles not this fierce creature hard to hold impossible to cuddle II. she calls the baby's name through the leafy openings in the hedge a kind of lament whispered in the floral underworld but the baby doesn't respond already she has forgotten Martha forgotten the vessel her curls are looser now the head upright she sits unaided fist tight around a plastic toy slick from saliva Martha misses her more than she would have thought possible a pink baby from some magazine Martha feels pain that someone 131 accomplished what she didn't III. the rules are that she must observe from a distance (her mother makes that clear) when Martha sees the child placed on her father's sickbed daily a small body curved into her father's emaciated thigh she can smell the camphor of the medicines hovering and her mother's servitude IV. in the photos a stranger with Martha's eyes glances back good-byes made years ago 132 Martha in England she is not the Martha i met on the pages of Southern Rhodesian veld this second Martha walks into the novel of an English family's life hidden in the complications of their British citizen's lives it is not the Martha i have welded into being all regret and pain and memory as if with this new landscape one which her mother and father breathed into her infant lungs she can exhale with ease the heat, sweat, wounds, iron of Jacob•s Burg 133 Lost Landscapes Martha! i call her name in the seance of this poem invoking the spirit of her land the heat of Southern Rhodesian sun beyond the damp grey English rains my own memory of landscape is patched onto my first flight away from the parched prairie the pull of the plane into the altitude of the unknown swelled with sorrow neither of us could bear to leave or stay knowing that if we grew into the moist soil of wet places our selves and souls would keep from burning dry 134 In the House on Radlett Street i cannot stay long Martha's caution to the household a distance she required unencumbered was the word she conjured the word transformed: entrenched in long years where she seldom remembered the initial warning the Martha who had walked the streets of London for days hungry exhausted inside herself reaching deep into a core of fresh apple flesh though this middle-aged Martha had nothing to show for years of service just prune-dried skin on her hands she was an apple doll on a stick stuck away inside someone•s bottom drawer in the house on Radlett Street but not ill-treated not at all likely would be missed if she left a part of dinner parties and family plans daughter of Eve she had grown from seedling to oak whose leaves changing colour signalled each new season in the house blending in to the stable colors but Martha knew it was a doll's existence the way she played house as a child mother of dolls wife of playmates and nothing real to call her own at the end of the day 135 when carriage was wheeled back into the corner lifeless because the players had disappeared to families of their own 136 Confetti more important than the people she sees through gauze in her interior life she visits corridors of memory that twist and turn a maze of pain re-visited again and again every phrase facial movement a remembered piece to complete the puzzle aloud she names no part of flesh so when her daughter•s name appears on a peace march placard CAROLINE she reads it like a newspaper eager for the first glimpse of the day but easily placed upon the fireplace hearth later when she revolves in the tunnel of madness her introspection has arranged that sign will appear from the top of a ten foot window distraught she plunges to the grassy dreams of half-asleep, half-awake and alive, broken she eats the excrement of ashes blowing high letters tiny print CAROLINE Caroline burnt confetti of a lost child 137 On the Rug of Madness one reddened leaf suspended in the air on the finger of a spider web this is what Martha thinks lying on the rug in the midst of their madness this is the place where Lynda always lives Martha visits the dying green the plunge off the great grasping hands of a tree caught on the happenstance of this limb of web not clinging precarious desperate or afraid but waiting for the sensation of the rest of the fall 138 Martha in the Mirror Martha in the mirror is a young girl expected to do so well at school a young woman drinking dancing at sundowners carefree alive a young wife and mother with a sense of purpose Then, who drew these lines on a neck? this pouch that sags underneath a chin? weatherbeaten hands that must belong to some farm labourer and a thin frame no longer voluptuous just thin image is reflected back again and again in the disinterested glances of men who quickly look away children whose faces never light up at airport terminals this 3-way mirror exposes every sharp angle of relationship 139 For Martha•s Ears Only if she were to take shape in my room i would whisper the only two words that fit i am not Martha not a child of war seeking solace not Martha trapped in a loveless marriage or oppressed by children's petulance yet if she rose off the pages swelling in novel possibilities i would recognize the limbs hers a composite heart transplanted where a person is most worthy of the color of her skin the cold ungentle parts of her that worded me and whisper: i understand 140 What I Dream for Her it's not what i dreamed for her this grey doomed climate following Martha over the mud of the veld youthful rebellion dried by marriage and motherhood the releasing rains of coiamunism and lovers in a spectacular, rainbow of abandonment finally to become housekeeper-cum-lover-cum-friend a dull autumn in a brilliant succession of seasons there have to be some other endings not failed marriages not dead lovers not lost children this whirlwind of the past a cyclone of madness i want to give her mild temperatures the contentment of a daughter's warm back lodged up against her own solid earth under the fallen leaves of a home of her own and love, a cloudburst of love 141 ROOM TWO: THE OTHER SIDE OF MIRRORS Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall (an inter-mirror) 143 IV. flUTOBIOGRflPHYIN/flSRE-SEflRCH:GETTING LOST i44 In Benign Remembrance (The Mirror of a Page) 153 V. THE STRANGENESS OF flUTOBIOGRflPHY: FRON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR i54 Autobiography as C u l t u r a l . 156 Looking in t h e Mir ro rs of Autobiography 160 Narcissism Re-wri t ten 166 Autobiography as Worldly wi th Hannah Arendt 174 Un-defining Autobiography 178 Autobiography in Language Education 184 A P o s t - s c r i p t 194 VI. BETWEEN FRIENDS: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR 155 A 159 These Women in the Mirror 161 Hannah • s Child 167 Between What Is Between 179 Anatomy of an Evil 187 Ordinary Politics 193 M 200 142  IV. flUTOBIOGRflPMY IN/fIS RE-SEflRCH: GETTING LOST As well as writing autobiograph(icall)y about Martha/Doris, in the previous sections I pondered autobiography in/as re- search. Re-search implies investigation, findings, data... Donald Blumenfeld-Jones and Thomas Barone in Daredevil Research write of alternative, artistic modes to display data in the educational research process: " ... we are concerned with relationships between data display and forms of expression" (1996, 84). What is my data? (A recent report in the news confirms I can now make data singular. Data is... not are.) In my autobiographical work, am I the data like Data on Star Trek, The Next Generation! Da ta i s . . . n o t a r e . Blumenfeld-Jones and Barone continue: " ... data display may be a form of concrete poetry that attempts to teach the reader about the findings of an investigation" (84). What am I investigating? What have I found? Echoes of Erika Hasebe-Ludt•s dissertation work, when one of her committee members commented: "I have read your thesis for the third time, and I still wonder: What did she find?" (Hasebe- Ludt and Norman 1996, II-9). Must something first be lost before it is found? Lost and Found: mittens, data, poems, socks... "To teach the reader about the findings...." Take heart, steadfast reader, I am not sure I must teach you anything in order for you to find out what I must have lost. 144 And perhaps what I have lost is simply—me. In Part III of Repositioning Feminism (Jipson et al., 1995), titled "Getting Lost," the authors write: To "get lost" is to continually interrogate and distance ourselves from the positions we take up as researchers as a means of locating sites of power and privilege. (135) They seek alternatives to traditional research, which can be exploitative and patriarchal. In a chapter on research as autobiography, Janice Jipson states: What I learn from research, I learn from myself. (188) and My only area of expertise seems to be myself. (188) and My quest is to invent an autobiographic inquiry: a methodology through which to find the patterns for understanding what has happened to me as a teacher and as a woman; a method for imposing meaning on my own life. (189) But what does Jipson mean when she writes about "imposing" meaning on her life? I know she is concerned about the theme of imposition in power relations between students and teachers, but do we impose meaning on our own lives? Or construct it? And is the one the other? I wonder. Jipson wonders: It is no longer just my story. But is it still autobiography? (194) and "How can this be real research? Where's your data?" And most stinging, "What does this have to do with the rest of us? With children? With schooling?" ( 1 9 4 ) I continue to wonder. 1 4 5 Jipson titles the chapter "research as autobiography." Is all educational research autobiographical? What happens when we reverse that? Autobiography as research. Is all autobiography educational research? Is there a difference between the two phrases? It seems to me that in the phrase "research as autobiography," we are saying that educational research has autobiographical roots and rhizomes worth investigating, what the writers in Learning from Our Lives: Women. Research and Autobiography in Education (1997) do, and I agree. [Every theory is a fragment of autobiography, said Valery (cited in Lejeune 1989, vii).] In this book, each writer is a researcher (not necessarily in autobiography) and writes autobiographically in the book about the origins of her research field and the extensions of her research to her life (and vice versa). All the writers conduct research in education and tell their stories in this collection. Everydayness is an important part of their lives and their process. Research is seen as relational (1997, 1), the essays are seen as "intellectual autobiography and reflexivity" (3). "Research as autobiography" may imply the autobiographical roots and rhizomes of a researcher/research field/research method, or may point to a particular author's use of autobiographical method (as in Jipson's essay), but it also infers that any kind of research may be autobiography, a disputable point. The term in reverse—autobiography as re- search—speaks to me about how we are aware that the writing can 146 be the research. Writing is what we all do—both re-searcher in the academy and writer at large—to make sense of matters, to bring them into some light, to weave together our own perceptions with what we encounter. As sociologist Laurel Richardson writes: Writing is not just a mopping-up activity at the end of a research project. Writing is also a way of 'knowing'—a method of discovery and analysis. (1994, 516) She is referring to social science research and how experimental, creative and literary writing can be models for social science enterprises, as Blumenfeld-Jones and Barone illustrate in Daredevil Research (1996). I want to extend her vision of writing as central to the re-search in order to promote the notion that writing itself can be the re-search, and that when the writing is consciously autobiographical, and we turn it over and over, it is autobiography in/as re-search, the additional preposition "in" floating back and forth across the backslash, opening what is signified to Ted Aoki's discourse of in-betweenness (discussed in the introduction of this dissertation). Carl Leggo, writing about his autobiographical collection of poems. Growing Up Perpendicular on the Side of a Hill (1994) , turns his writing over and over. Leggo reminds us that he is "not writing history in the commonly understood notion of factual narration about the empirical details of people in particular places and events. I know that with certainty. I am writing my impressions, and perhaps my impressions are writing 147 me" (Leggo 1995, 6) . He explains that "writing enables the writer to explore possibilities of meaning" (6) and that in his story poems which capture elements of his childhood in Newfoundland, " [he] wanted to leave a final testimony, an epitaph, a trace" (6) . While "exploring possibilities of meaning" and wanting to "leave a final testimony" seem like contradictory elements, they speak to the autobiographical impulse and the desire to leave a public imprint, while acknowledging that this imprint is only ever one part of an ongoing story. These elements are part of writing autobiographically in/as re-search. Recently I agreed to participate in a doctoral student•s research on mothers who are also doctoral students. Sitting out on my back patio, the researcher answered my own questions openly and autobiographically for a while, with the tape recorder off, and I answered in a similar vein, with the tape recorder on. But if she writes and analyzes what she hears of my life, not hers, and even if I get to respond to what she writes, it will still be her words and impressions. Is her ethnographic, dialogic research "autobiography in/as research"? Like Patti Lather and Chris Smithies* work in Troublincf the Angels (1997), her research contains autobiographical dimensions and depends on autobiographical details. I am one of x number of women speaking into a tape recorder, answering her specific questions and waiting to see how she heard and interpreted me, compared me to the others. In her role as researcher, she re-constructs my 148 speaking, re-interprets my life as doctoral student-mother and produces the subsequent writing, in response to how I have constructed my stories for her tape recorder. How will she re- present all the layers (and contradictions) of that production and re-production? Lather and Smithies offer a postmodern text, where the women's stories run across the top of the page and the re-searchers' stories run along the bottom of the page as a subtext. Framed areas provide information about AIDS and are interspersed throughout the chapters. Chapters of angel intertext interrupt and disrupt these stories, chapters that draw upon "angelology," that is, a survey of angels in both theology and popular culture. Lather and Smithies write that the angel intertexts ... are intended to serve as both bridges and breathers as they take the reader on a journey that troubles any easy sense of what AIDS means for our living in the world. (1997,47/48) This detour into angels is intended both as a breathing space from the women's stories arid as a place to bring snapshots from poetry, fiction, sociology, history, art and philosophy.... (47) The book is difficult to read, but important, calling into question any easy interaction between reader, writer, text and serving as a model of what a postmodern text might look like, as a model of how to work with the autobiographical as researchers of others' stories, as a model for including the researchers' autobiographies. How differently do my stories of student-mothering appear, if I write them without the friendly researcher (which I do) , in 149 and out of many dialogues, contrasted against many textual or living others, always related to and affected by other relationships, responses, theories, autobiographies, but from the vantage point of me as re-searcher? There would be no necessity for a "member check," though I could share (and have learned to) some of my constructions of self when they involved others publicly. Ultimately, what I do with the shared reactions is mostly up to me. And the consequences are all mine! I have also shared my constructions of self with others, not as an ethical check or to prevent potential relational difficulties, but to share a view of self, a way of presenting a part of me that had been under the surface or unexplained until the autobiographical writing. "Why have we chosen autobiography as method?" the editors ask in the opening chapter of Learning from Our Lives (1997, 7). They answer that first of all, autobiography is a window to the organizational and institutional lives of the women researchers (7) . The editors view knowledge itself as an "institution that frames the lives of researchers" (7) . Secondly, the editors continue, autobiography sheds light upon how knowledge and discourse affect women's epistemologies in research and teaching. Thirdly, autobiography helps us make informed changes: " ... the experience of reading and writing autobiography may provide the reader/writer with the reflective space necessary to reimagine her life, and her work as reflective of her life" (8). Jipson intersperses an autobiographical account of her life 150 with questions about autobiography as method, but she is not necessarily looking at that account as (only) intellectual autobiography. I sense that hers is an emotional autobiography, too. Her use of autobiography could be said to comply with the above answers to the question, "why autobiography as method?" And the women featured in Learning from Our Lives certainly include an emotional dimension to their essays (Anna Neumann's wording is evocative at times). However, Jipson experiments more playfully with form and content, allowing a letting go that I don't always detect in the more tightly wound, controlled (but still remarkable) essays in Learning from Our Lives: a letting go that is emotionally deep and moving, but that also interrogates the words and the possibilities of meaning. Something seems still hidden behind the more linear narratives of dates, facts, curriculum vitae details of the intellectual autobiographies, though of course there is always something hidden behind all our words. But when the spaces are so filled with dates and facts and the narrative is more linear, do we detect what is unsaid and silent? What is in-between the lines? Where might the windows behind the words be? take us? lose us? Perhaps what I have lost is simply—me. Perhaps I am not the only one who gets lost, and getting lost may create important spaces in autobiography in/as re- search. Jipson concludes: 151 And yet, I see other researchers also challenging the imposing cultural universals of research ... creating opportunities for new methods for doing and displaying research; making spaces for new ways of knowing and doing. (197) Perhaps it is in the doing that we find (our) selves when we feel lost, in the doing that we lose (our) selves so something can be found. Find and lose your self in the following two sections, whose pages are intermingled so that one part plays with and against the other. 152 In Benign Remembrance ...how is it the s u n a medall ion of l ight i n a mohair fog w^arm on your feeble knees fuzzy ^vith the memory of that jaearanda tree o n African soil the day your husband died miles Ja-viray and you felt free the touch of young girls' hands u p o n your oivn a father's ne-wsprint stamped forever i n your brain a mother's poetic legacy -w^ritten over -with a 'woman's lot without ears yet formed i heard these women calling i l ived w^ith y o u three days unt i l y o u died sivirled like the fog among t h e chapters of your l ife w^ondered: how^ did Gina die? and n^hat about your son, Peter daughter, Marcia as y o u sat i n that nursing home a grey fog on your knees i n search of a sun a drop of benign remembrance the neivspaper eulogized a matriarch of poetry equal i n scope and talent to an earl the mother of us all y o u w^ere not about to go fotgotten this fog the s u n your poems mist o n my cheeks -where your ^vords b u m noiv Dorothy Livesay died December 29, 1996, as I was reading her memoirs. from a choric past years befi)re i met them on the mirror of a page.. 1 5 3 V. THE STRANGENESS OF flUTOBIOGRflPHY: FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR Turning now to an/other woman in the mirror, I view Hannah Arendt. Re-searching "I" leads to exploration of the other, a stranger I don't know, yet connect with as Jew, thinker, not- mother, friend. From autobiographical theory to letters between friends, I move between one side of the mirror and the other, between what can be extracted from the strangeness of autobiography and what I perceive in Hannah. But first, I begin with a recent review of a new autobiography by an Egyptian writer. The reviewer, a PhD candidate in comparative literature, states that this autobiography with its eccentricities will happily expand what we have come to know and expect as "standard autobiography." The reviewer states: " ... if not for the book's title, the reader could be forgiven for not suspecting that this was an autobiography at all" (Echoes of an Autobiography by Naguib Mahfouz, reviewed by Harris 1997). Fifteen years earlier, Janet Varner Gunn wrote in Autobiography: Towards a Poetics of Experience that "Autobiography completes no pictures" (1982, 25). She wrote about the "unruly behaviour of autobiography" and "the attempt to control rather than to respond to its strangeness" (11). Her reconceptualization of autobiography places it in the "larger context of hermeneutics, narrative theory, and the current debate about the determinate meaning of texts" (11). Reviewer Harris' words, on the other hand, echo the remains of what seems 154 VI. BETWEEN FRIENDS: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR May 3, 1960 Dearest Mary: I slowly get used to not having you around and still miss you. Your letter arrived just in time when I had started to think if I should start worrying. But had not yet. Today is a bad day for writing. Letter-writing day—like housecleaning. How is your work? back to the novel? I am still translating The Human Condition and cursing God and the world, history and my own stubbornness. Except that nobody listens. Certain not Heinrich... Love and yours, Hannah June 27, 1951 Dear Hannah: You needn't apologize to me for slowness in writing; I am a frightful correspondent, having never learned to communicate in a brief style. I've been delaying over writing to you for the past ten days, to ask you whether you and ... [Heinrich] would like to spend a week with us in August, very simply, without compulsive cooking on my part.... My own book [The Groves of Academe] is going along. I find it harder and harder to blend the action with the opinion of the action and yet don't feel sympathetic with the talk-novel where the characters discuss the ideas—\iYiile. they are being enacted. Our best to you both, Mary (From Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy 1995, pages 69 and 3) 1 5 5 to be a lasting tension between what autobiography could be and what it is traditionally expected to be. While he characterizes the autobiography that he is reviewing in terms of its own strangeness and eccentricity ("The last third of this book is even stranger than the first two"), he reminds us that there is still an expectation of what autobiography proper should be, that there are yet boundaries to be broken, that the book he reviews (favourably) somehow lies tantalizingly outside the realm of autobiography. His description of the exotic qualities of the autobiography sets it outside of the genre even as he lauds how it will open the boundaries. 6aT0BI0GRflPHY US CULTaRflL Gunn discusses these boundaries as cultural territory, not the parameters of taxonomical divisions of autobiography into memoir, confession and so on, which is more common (Goodwin 1993), Sidonie Smith emphasizes this cultural territory, too, when she writes: With contemporary writers, autobiographical acts become occasions for searing cultural critique as autobiographical subjects vigorously interrogate cultural subjectivities. (1993, 184) This cultural territory is the landscape of the self (the autobiographer), the text [the "flesh made word" in Gunn's own words (43)] and the reader. This reader can be the self as well as an other, locating meaning from an autobiography in a referential way that is also autobiographical in terms of the 156 e-mail from erika hasebe-ludt to renee norman 1123197 hi renee ... i just had to re-read some of hannah's letters last night after our conversation, i think we are at a "space of vibrant possibilities" as ted [aoki] would say ... (i'd like to somehow engage with the notion of correspondence which is such a prominent aspect of her life), multiple ways of layering voices... e-mail from renee norman to erika hasebe-iudt 213197 and 21919 hi erika ... i love your idea of using correspondence re: the hannah project, i got her between friends book... why don't we call our project "between friends: letters to hannah arendt," and actually write letters to one another about our reading and thinking? what do you think? i have something to start us off, and that's the very interesting story about how hannah and mary met and immediately disliked one another because of what mary said about the holocaust which hannah found so offensive, that got me thinking about how you and i met ... in [ted's] narrative course ... there is the german-jewish connection between us, altho' hannah gets to claim both, and the feminism, of course, so it seems somehow right for us to be interacting and intertextualizing with hannah and mary's words ... i came away with the sense that here was the autobiography of both of them in all that correspondence .... 157 reader's own life. In other words, we read what we want or need to read, see, understand, find, experience. We also read an autobiography, as Bruner informs us, as a cultural product, that is, constructed out of "the meanings imposed upon us by the usages of our culture and language" (1993, 38-39). Gunn, too, is viewing many autobiographies as already strange, as a result of the complex act of interpretive activity which autobiography as narrative necessarily involves. Autobiography as narrative always involves the unsaid as well as the said; in Merleau-Ponty's words, "the presence of the unpresented" (cited in Gunn 1982, 14). Within what is presented and what is unpresented (yet somehow still present), we look back with a forward thrust. We discover, we create. We resist, we accept. These many tensions nudge autobiography outside the realm of binary oppositions (standard or strange) and well with/in a range of experience that is "strange" already by virtue of how much can be read into it, again and again, and differently. Autobiography is more than merely "a life copied down" (104) . It involves a "discourse of interpretation" as well as a "discourse of witness" (Bruner 1993, 45), and in this witnessing, we are always re-writing culture as well as our lives (40). Smith again: If we look more broadly, we would find an array of contemporary autobiographical occasions—the comics of Lynda Barry, the quilts of Faith Ringgold . . . the provocative videos of Madonna.... On the eve of the twenty- first century, we find autobiographical subjects all around us, and they are stretching textual forms, multiple media, and diverse occasions to fit their excessive negotiations of subjectivity, identity, and the body. (1993,187-188) 158 fl. I finished Between Friends, the correspondence between Mary McCarthy and Hannah Arendt, the ending chronicling both their deaths-Hannah in 1975 from a second heart attack, and Mary in 1989. Why do these women seem to call to me, begging me to learn of their lives, so that after a while I feel I know them, have spent time with them, the way I spend time in halls, xerox rooms and stairwells, talking listening, remembering...Xerox rooms and stairwells, where intimate conversations permeate the walls and echo back and forth across the spaces, the machinery. "I don't know how you women do it," a male acquaintance commented to me in one of these stairwells. We do it with love, we do it for our children, we do it for our selves. We do it, get frightened, pick our selves up and do it again, because we know it matters somehow. Again, I entered the lives of two women, previously unknown to me. Their letters affected me deeply in a lasting way, gathered as they were out of authentic lives and spontaneous correspondence, and set against a cultural, historical and political backdrop which included many life-shattering events. The reminiscing that we all do seems to take on a different land of reflection when mirrored against the lives of others. Their letters were testimony of a deep friendship bound by a love of writing and words, and by an interest in philosophy and the political events of the day. I was struck by how often they discussed world events-the Eichmann trials, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, Watergate, Nixon... To read of Hannah and Mary's essays and books published in the context of such historical markers is fascinating but set as they were within the context 159 Gunn starts, not from the "private act of a self writing," but from the "cultural act of a self reading" (8). This reading occurs both by the autobiographer who reads his/her life, and by "the reader of the autobiographical text," which I take to mean not only an/other reader who lives outside the text, but by the autobiographer who is also at times the reader of his/her own text. She states: As the reader of his or her life, the autobiographer inhabits the hermeneutic universe where all understanding takes place. (22) LOOKING IN THE MIRRORS OF flOTOBIOGRflPHY Gunn's hermeneutic universe, as she calls it, is one which grounds autobiography firmly in the field of language education, where life and experience are taken up into language for examination and re-examination, the "flesh made word" which we can view from many angles and surfaces, the "flesh made word" which is reflected back to us in the many mirrors of our own ever-changing experiences and the many mirrors of those around us. Alluding to Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Thincfs Past. Gunn remarks: The reflection he sees in these eyes provides him with what he acknowledges as "the first truthful mirror I have ever encountered." (22) But Philippe Lejeune points out the trap of the mirror (1989, 118), describing Norman Rockwell's painting. Triple Self- Portrait: We have a back view of the artist, seated on a stool, leaning over in order to look at himself in a mirror posed on a 160 of their domestic lives, too, I enjoyed the politics more than I usually do. Both wrote extensively for lh.& New YoTcyier magazine. Mary was a journalist, too, who covered many main events such as Vietnam and Watergate. Hannah covered the Eichmann trials in Israel, and both supported one another through criticism and unfavorable reviews, giving feedback about drafts and finished pieces. I loved how throughout their correspondence, they sent flowers to one another, as if the cut blooms which both appreciated so much, represented the colorful aspects of their lives, emblems chosen and selected and sent. A reminder of how their friendship bloomed and flowered, mainly through words—letters, writings—but also as they visited one another sporadically over the course of the years and their busy lives: writing lecturing living. These Women in the Mirror while Hannah was interned in a Parisian detainment camp dreaming of a lost lover who signed Nazi memos Martha/Doris distributed pamphlets in the Black district wondering if her children placed their baby teeth under pillows not-too-late at night and Dorothy wrote poems and practised politics only feeling free the moment she learned of her husband's demise I was not yet bom into this women's world an egg latent in my mother's womb rocked in forgotten memory on an immigrant ship 1 6 1 chair....The painter and his image in the mirror correspond to one another perfectly....On canvas, oneself painted like someone else, a mere portrait; in the mirror, a portrait of the self in the process of painting himself ... in "reality" ... the relationship of the first two images with the painter ... what we see here is both exactly what the painter cannot see and what the onlooker of the. self- portrait imagines. (1989, 111-112) When I look at the painting, I am immediately aware of the fourth Rockwell, the one painting the self-portrait. In the painting, Rockwell (seated) peers in the mirror, that ultimate object of our gaze, a kind of satiric statement on how we gather information on ourselves for self-portraiture, as if the mirror could ever show all we know or learn about ourselves. In this mirror-gazing moment, it is not the infant realizing that it is separate from an/other, but rather the adult who, having experienced many events already in her/his life, looks back to the mirror to see if what she/he thinks is there is really there. But as Rockwell shows us (and Gunn reminds us about autobiography), mirrors have depth as well as surface, and the Rockwell reflected back in the mirror is only part of the picture. (Rockwell paints the Rockwell-in-the-mirror wearing glasses which the Rockwell as he is painted on the canvas does not wear.) The Rockwell whose back is to us, the metonymic picture of Rockwell's head on the upper lefthand corner of the canvas, the glasses which hide his eyes—these are all the mirror reflections, too, emanating in and around the appearance of Rockwell-in-the-mirror. Rockwell looks younger on the canvas painting than in the mirror painting, glasses removed and eyes 162 how is it without ears yet formed J heard these women calling from a choric past years before I met them on the mirror of a page B. Hannah was criticized for writing about the part the Jewish Councils played in supplying lists of membership in the Jewish community to the Gestapo, but steadfastly claimed she only stated factual truth, did not opinionize or comment upon the matter. This was, of course, a sore point with the Jewish people at the time, and a letter even went to all rabbis, entreating them to sermonize against her. (They did not.) What I find contradictory is her avowal that what she wrote is simply the truth, and that the furore was somehow misplaced. This does not seem to acknowledge how we can frame our words so many different ways, whether those words are alleged "truth" or not-truth. This does not seem to consider how "the great unsaid" (Brunner 1996, 10) can also shape what is written and then interpreted; how the reader brings her own experience to the text. Though I am aware that some writers believe that reader response may be too overemphasized, that it is still the writer who must call the reader to the writing. Considering the many missed-interpretations of Hannah and Mary's writing over the years, I would have to conclude that Hannah deluded herself somewhat over the Jewish Council issue. But having absorbed her "love of the world" philosophy, I have no doubt her motives were only honorable, and motive is what matters in the ethics of writing. This philosophy places all 163 open, looking out into (one imagines) the eyes of the painter, whose back remains to us in the invisibility of our imaginations. Here, a self-portrait is truly a House of Mirrors, and what we see when we look is different from what we paint, the difference between mere appearance and what a person thinks, feels, is, always coming into play in the arrangement of the portrait. Gunn's mirrors are not those where a Narcissus-like self drowns in its own image, but rather, those where an Antaeus, a mythical giant, is grounded by his contact with earth (1982, 23). About Gunn's Antaeus conception, Robert Graham suggests: ... we might begin to consider [this] an alternative myth to capture the essence of autobiography. (1991, 31) I like the image of Antaeus with his feet on the ground, but I would like to suggest that even if Hercules had not come along and strangled him, Antaeus might have lost his bearings when the ground shifted beneath his feet. I would like to suggest that in order to remain in touch with an earth that not only quakes, but has fissures where we might occasionally try to put down our feet, we need to embrace Narcissa as she beckons us into the pool of water. Like Virginia Woolf who invents, then invokes, Shakespeare's sister in Room of One' s Own (1929), I want to invent Narcissa, sister to Narcissus, and invoke her name as I re-call a different story of what is narcissistic. 164 humankind as inhabitants of a world in which we must act--v ita activa—which we are not only capable of, but responsible for, and which creates "the web of human relations" (Zerilli 1995, 183). As she wrote between friends, Hannah dreamed of the between as a space "in-between which consists of deeds and words," that "physical, worldly in-between," that "something which inter-est, which lies between people and therefore can relate and bind them" (183). C. / wish Hannah had written more about her youthful affair with Martin Heidegger. She only laments his aging after a reunion with him, and laments her own aging for that matter, referring to the world filling with strange faces, as more and more of her friends and loved ones die: I must admit that I mind this relentless defoliation (or deforestation) process. As though to g^ow old does not mean, as Goethe said, 'gradual withdrawal from appearance'-which I do not mind-but the gradual (rather sudden) transformation of a world with familiar faces (no matter, foe or friend) into a kind of desert, populated by strange faces. (Brightman 1995, 352) It struck me as I read through the letters that after Watergate and Heinrich's death (Hannah's husband), a floodgate of sadness opened up, washing over Hannah and Mary, as year by year they grew older. Frightening to read and contemplate and experience via the letters at this stage in my own life. Hannah never had children. Her biographer Elisabeth Young-Bruel explained that as Emigres, Hannah and Heinrich waited until they could afford it, and then it seemed too late. I wonder sometimes what her children would have been like... 165 NflRCISSISM RE-WRITTEN The strangeness of autobiography that Gunn refers to is certainly a strangeness which women have become accustomed to over the years, their autobiographies added slowly to the established canon (Jelinek 1980). The cultural territory of women's autobiography is one where the boundaries dissolve as more and more women write, but the stigma of narcissism persists. Valerie Raoul, in a chapter on "Narcissism in Psychoanalytic Theory," refers to the term which is "frequently used in everyday speech to designate a self-centred and self- indulgent type of behaviour or attitude that others do not usually find pleasant" (1993, 14), although she does point out past situations where the term was both complimentary and indicative of postmodern writerly practice. Raoul notes that the expression narcissism "currently denotes a wide range of behaviours and interpretations, which may sometimes appear contradictory. These include the distinction between primary and secondary narcissism ..." (15). Primary narcissism refers to the "pre- mirror state of non-subjectivity" (16) , which exists prior to the mirror stage theorized by Lacan, and is associated with self-destructiveness. Secondary narcissism, which has been associated with personality disorders as well as necessary self- preservation, refers to self-objects as "a part of the self, a double (reflection) of the self (as it was, is, or would like to be), or an extension of the self with which the self identifies 166 Hannah's Child would have been precocious female of course chattering away in German & English before she let go of Hannah's desktop to try walking would have learned to scribble quietly while Mamala worked filling papers with the dizzying marks that fenced out a distance loved of course she would have been a child of the republic a light ahead of the dark times behind more at ease with adults whispering to her teddy about Aunt Mary's blueberry pancakes until she begged again to hear the story of the Holocaust a family album of never forget this page Buba Martha sounding strict turn over to someone named Walter Benjamin the sad pallor of suicide in the tone of voice a puzzle when she pointed to a framed picture of Uncle Martin on the desk & in the way that children can imaged a second picture there in her mother's measured reply black & shadowy like a silhouette 167 excessively (child, loved one)" (18). The Narcissus myth can be re-written as the Narcissa myth in light of these parts, doubles, extensions, so that the feminist self looking in the mirror is reflective of positive self-representation. I wrote my Narcissa into being before reading Raoul' s article on woman as diarist (1990), where she, too, invokes Narcissa, as a young girl looking in the mirror as a subject, and recognizing that she is Other, that she is Echo, the nymph whom Narcissus refused to see, and who becomes anorexic and disincarnate, her body disappearing to leave only her voice, a voice which can only send back, deformed. Narcissus's own words, an acoustic double of the mirror reflection. (1990, 21) I have written my Narcissa differently, more like Kristeva's "stranger within" (Clark and Hulley 1990-91), the Other in our selves, and a feminine other at that, one whose body does not disappear in drowning or anorexia, but is re-born in possibility; one whose voice sends back her own words, not in a deformed echo of Narcissus' words, but in a chorus which joins other words and drowns out the echoes of gender division. There are several stories about Narcissus. In one he reaches into a pool of water, having fallen in love with his own reflection, a curse he is condemned to by the gods. He falls into the pool and drowns. In Ovid's version (cited in Raoul 1990, 20), Narcissus does not drown, but his body wastes away, and so his image dissolves as well. A third story, the one which I am interested in, involves a twin sister with whom Narcissus 168 D. Yesterday felt satisfying, filled with the sort of work I have come to love: writing arranging my words to send them away... I am determined to write more in my journal, and not let my thoughts disappear. Hannah, writing to Mary, said that it is so much easier just to go on thinking instead of writing. Writing stops the thinking Hannah wrote. Writing interrupts the pleasure of her thinking. But writing also records the thinking. I love what Hannah said to interviewer Gunther Gaus about writing to understand (Kohn 1994, 3). She considered writing a process of putting down what she had already been thinking through. I do not think she sufficiently paid attention, though, to how the writing itself adds to, even changes the thinking; how the writing is a medium which pulls thoughts together, sometimes in ways which can surprise us. In the interview, Hannah claimed that if she could remember everything she would not write at all! I have signed out more Hannah books, but they look so dry. I'll attack the Hannah/Karl Jaspers correspondence first, hoping to find life within those letters. I prefer extracting wisdom and philosophy from the words embedded within a life. Perhaps it is the epistolary form that adds to the reading-learning experience for me. The participants are not physically present when conversing, and so must infuse their dialogue with the niceties of life that I have come to regard as providing a down-to-earthness that I don't find much in theory. I seem to need that down-to-earthness in order to re-affirm my own particular circumstances of mother-scholar. 169 has fallen in love. It is her that Narcissus sees reflected in the pool of water. It is her that he reaches for, and he drowns. How interesting that in this third version of the myth, Narcissus sees a female vision of himself in the pool-mirror and this is what beckons him into the water, where he not only drowns in his feminine likeness-image, but where he is drenched by a vision that was absent, may have only been in his mind, a divided part of himself perhaps. I want to complicate this story of the myth by suggesting that Narcissus • twin sister is not the impetus for his unfortunate fate, but rather the inspiration for his movement to a new mirror world, one that is inhabited with feminine promise and new beginnings. Must we accept that Narcissus drowns, or can we remain open to the mirror world, a world where Narcissus' sister leads the way to the other side of our selves? As Narcissa beckons us into the pool of water, there we imag(in)e new forms, in particular, ways of looking at our selves that do not penalize us for mirror-gazing. We can re-vision drowning not as death but as a re-birth of possibility, in a mirror world that is populated with women as well as men. The alternative myth to capture the essence of autobiography is that of Narcissa, who rises up from the mirror water to claim both the fragmentation and the solidity of humanity through writing and re-writing women on the earth, hands extended to all those gazing in the mirror. I envision Narcissa looking back from the pool of water at Narcissus with the same love he extends to her, 170 E. Hurricane-strength winds are blowing as I sit curled on the couch in the playroom... Hopefully they will blow away my vague discontent, too... I have been reading the Hannah-Karl correspondence which recounts a student- teacher relationship that grew into an equal meeting and corresponding of minds. It occurs to me that with the advent and convenience of e-mail, we may be losing a form of autobiography to cyber-purgatory. What may once have been expressed—and kept—in letters and correspondence is now dispensed over the cyber-waves, perhaps saved to disks, but more likely than not, deleted in order to save disk space. And there goes all those details and records of many lives, the nitty gritty that those bound-in-ribbon envelopes full of lives held. In years to come, where will we look to corroborate dates, names, places, events? In the min(e)d of some computer? And where will we look to find the human, the humanity, that is so evident in Hannah's letters? Will a web site give the same insight that one of Hannah's letters offers? How many "hits" of Hannah-Mary, Hannah-Karl library books can we count? In the future, will these hits be a factor of the immediate present, not a consideration of a future which looks back to the past? Hannah's "absent tenses": the "no-more" of the past and the "not-yet" of the future (cited in Gunn 1982, 43). It is a fascinating experience to look back at the past through the eyes of Hannah, Mary, Karl, as written in the everyday form of the letter. Susan Koppelman writes: "lean write more about your questions if I know that you want to use my work in letter form. I hate writing essays. I never have a clear sense of audience when I try to write that way. I know I prefer reading letters to reading essays. I like the special feeling of being addressed that letters give me-either I am being addressed, 111 twinned i n t h e i r mutual r e f l e c t i o n s by s i m i l a r i t i e s and by d i f f e r e n c e s , N a r c i s s a c a l l i n g : Come, enter, the pool of water is a House of Mirrors. And behind every reflection is another reflection. Behind my body and my form are the bodies and forms of many women. Narcissa knows, like Jacques Derrida, that there is no shame in looking at one's selves if one also sees others there (1995). / am at the mirror. Narcissa, dripping wet, reaches into the depths of the pool of mirror and pulls out a child, another child, a third child, a man she knows she loves, and a reflection of her own dripping body that she has not seen for years. The water glows in droplets that cover her with jewelled mist, and she drowns herself with the images she has pulled out of the pool of mirror. I have already cited Derrida's claim that there is no such thing as narcissism or non-narcissism, since we are all narcissistic (1995)• It is important to re-member the positive notions about narcissism in order to re-admit the "self" of autobiography and the selves of women's writing, legitimately and without guilt, to language education enterprises. Graham, who has admirably related autobiographical theory to education, discusses the tension between the literary function of autobiography and the historical, an interplay which has social dimensions that counter the narcissistic withdrawal of autobiography (1991, 42) . I like to think that the narcissistic withdrawal of autobiography is in itself a social function, which, far from removing us from the world, helps us see our place in it. Bruner writes that we cannot reflect on the self 172 or I am eavesdropping on a personal communication" (1993, 75-76). I notice many differences in the way Hannah wrote to Mary or Karl; the latter with more deference and respectful distance, as to be expected, as Karl Jaspers was Hannah's teacher, mentor, hero. But there is a quality of down-to-earthness in the Hannah-Mary letters that I don't see in the Hannah-Karl ones, which hold back emotionally. Hannah calls her husband Heinrich "monsieur" continually in the letters to Karl, but only rarely in the correspondence to Mary McCarthy, who I imagine laughing herself silly over that salutation. I can't imagine calling Don "monsieur"!! I can't imagine Hannah continuing to refer to Heinrich as "monsieur" after his affair with another woman, a fact not disclosed in the letters to Mary, but discussed as a painful but passing event in Hannah's life in Young-Bruel's biography (1982). Of course, lam reading the Karl letters and comparing them to other student-teacher relationships. Hannah continually sent food parcels to Karl and Gertrud Jaspers, too, a generous post-war gesture, and an appropriate parallel for the spiritual and intellectual nourishment they gave one another. It is not unusual for such love, respect, contact between a teacher and a student. "Anjin's Story" which TedAoki writes about comes to mind (1990). I wonder if there is something very important in the notion of like minds writing to one another that we should be capitalizing on more in curriculum, a correspondence "between friends." 173 "without an accompanying reflection on the nature of the world in which one exists" (1993, 43). (laTOBIOGRflPHY fIS WORLDLY WITH HflNNflM fIRENDT Gunn certainly offers us legitimacy as well as urgency when she theorizes autobiography as worldly, such worldliness derived from Hannah Arendt's writings. I find it interesting that although Graham takes up Gunn's notions of the worldliness of autobiography as important to the field of education, he does not mention the link to Arendt, as if she had never existed. I am redressing that oversight and incorporating Arendt's beliefs as they elucidate Gunn's theories. In so doing, I highlight another woman thinker in an attempt to add her to the autobiographical arena. Arendt believed that to live in the world was to be a part of it, to be part of a "common world shared by others" (cited in Gunn 1982, 27), where we must think and act in relation to the world of politics and happenings. Such beliefs were a result of Arendt's own life story: she had to flee Hitler's Germany and her home in what became for her a jolt of awakening as to how we are all affected by living in the world. To live unaware is to live at even greater peril. Arendt would not likely have been very happy about connecting any of her theories to autobiography, even her own, believing as she did in the strict separation of public and private, commenting about her own autobiography: 174 F. Hike the wayHanna Pitkin, another Hanna, uses the biographical details of Hannah Arendt's life to conceptualize her notions of the social, that is, the p a r i a h who is capable of human action, as opposed to the p a r v e n u whose "conduct can be seen in all sorts of conformism, denial, cowardice, and short-sightedness, and it often widens into appeasement...." (Pitkin 1995, 77). Pitkin writes: ... Arendt made a series of discoveries about love: the thrills but also the costs of romantic love with its unrealistic fantasies of merger, behind which lie exploitation and inauthentic self-abnegation, and perhaps also about the possibility of a different, more neighbourly sort of loving. She made discoveries about ambition and the intellect, and particularly what they might mean for a woman and a Jew in Germany who has a gift for philosophy, with its characteristic d e f o r m a t i o n p r o f e s s i o n e l l e , liable to turn her into a political idiot and a scoundrel She made discoveries about Jewishness and assimilation, about the complex relationship between self-defense and duty in the face of persecution, but also about the possibility of autonomous action and of solidarity. These lessons were profoundly interrelated, and all of them together—political and personal, intellectual and emotional, shaped Arendt's vision of the parvenus, and consequently of the social Omitting Heidegger from the story would make these links incomprehensible. (71) Hannah Arendt herself said in an interview: "I do not believe that there is any thought process possible without personal experience. Every thought is an afterthought, that is, a reflection on some matter or event" (Kohn 1994, 20). "There is no theory that is not a fragment, carefully prepared, of some autobiography" (Valery cited in Lejeune 1989, vii). But I would like to reverse such a statement, too, so that it reads there is no autobiography that is not also a fragment of some theory, autobiography land theory assuming some middle place of poetic language, a Kristevan revolution that produces theoro-poetic and autobiographic writings. Autobiography is a vital aspect of education, and an educating aspect. So Hannah's rather dull, dry Life of the Mind takes on 175 If I write my stories down, who will come around to hear me tell them? (Young-Bruehl 1982, xviii) Yet Arendt • s biography of Rahel Varnhargen was in its own way very autobiographical, under the guise of another's "bios." Her letters, most of them consciously and conscientiously preserved for posthumous publication, except those to her former lover, Martin Heidegger, remain as epistolary autobiography of the most intimate, confessional and personal nature. Even the letters to Heidegger were bundled up and sent away for safekeeping, rather than destroyed. Ironically and somewhat sadly, despite Arendt's wishes, soon even the letters between Hannah and Martin will be available for public consumption through publication (this information provided in a footnote in Larry May and Jerome Kohn's book 1996, 7). No doubt Arendt's early unhappy love affair led to her fierce belief that our eagerness to see recorded, displayed and discussed in public what were once strictly private affairs and nobody's business ... is probably less legitimate than our curiosity is ready to admit. (from her review of a biography of Isak Dinesen, cited in Young-Bruehl 1982, xvii) What would Arendt have said about the fascination with the life and death of Princess Diana? It seems important to keep in mind that Arendt's doctoral dissertation dealt with St. Augustine, whose writings are considered to be one of the earliest autobiographies, very personal and confessional in nature. Though Arendt's reluctance to mix the world of private and public was very real, such a division may be impossible in a world where binary oppositions dissolve in the intertextuality and intersubjectivity of post- 176 a mind with/in the life. The term/concept d e f o r m a t i o n p r o f e s s i o n e l l e is interesting. It speaks to the tendency in academia and philosophy to disregard the simple, ordinary realities of everyone else's political lives. This is the term which is aptly applied to Martin Heidegger (Hannah's teacher, mentor and lover) and his connection with the Nazi party, so bewildering and upsetting to Hannah and others in light of his poetic and profound thoughts: The poet need not think; the thinker need not create poetry; but to be a poet of first rank there is a thinking that the poet must accomplish, and it is the same kind of thinking in essence, that the thinker of first rank must accomplish, a thinking which has all the purity and thickness and solidity of poetry, and whose saying ispoetry....In order to say what he must say, reporting what he sees, relaying what he hears, the author has to speak of the gods, mortals, the earth, shoes, the temple, the sky, the bridge, the jug the fourfold, the poem, pain, the threshold, the difference, and stillness as he does. In truth, this is not philosophy; it is not abstract theorizing about the problems of knowledge, value, or reality; it is the most concrete thinking and speaking about Being...In this thinking which is the thinking that responds and recalls ... the thinker has stepped back from thinking that merely represents, merely explains.... (Heidegger 1971, x-xi) Ironically, there Hannah dwells in the foreword of Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought, thanked for providing advice and assistance to the translator on certain German words and meanings. [Ironic when we consider Hannah's years-long estrangement from Heidegger, and her critique of his writings (how he privileged being over thinking). Understandable when we remember she studied with him and admired his beautiful and poetic words.] Between What Is Between i read you in between these letters to your dear friends all you did not say or write, Hannah 111 structural postmodernity. Our fragmented selves and the textuality of our existence move us back and forth between wor(l)ds, between the private and the public, between people and texts. Understanding the self through language ["the matter of autobiography," "its form as well," (Gunn 1982, 43)] is to begin to understand culture, too, and the landscapes of that culture. Gunn's placement of autobiography as an interpretive activity means that any interpretation involves our selves in relation to the world and to others in the world, in acts which help us become "fierce with reality" (1982, 3). I somehow believe such fierceness would be looked upon with approval by Arendt, who lived her own life fiercely, and who was "loved fiercely," as her friend and publisher Bill Jovanovitch said at her memorial (Brightman 1995, 391). This is the fierceness of the personal, the emotional, the embodied, the feminist and the poetic in language learning, which autobiography embraces through its unruliness, its strangeness, its refusal to be the "dark continent of literature" (Gunn 1982, 29), and instead, its willingness to be much more than a mere account of details and happenings. aN-DEFINING flUTOBIOGRflPHY Aoki reminds us: ... we need to be cautious about 'defining,' as by so acting, things that have infinite possibilities of meanings are being reduced to one finite meaning. 178 the great unspoken silence of your heart your love of the world a woman's love for that which never could have been did you re-read his beautiful words for those years after you parted incredulous a second childhood growing upon the first did you feel a traitor to all the women who later breathed the gas? between the letters you sent flowers to Mary a botanical friendship over the years and food parcels to Karl and Gertrud another intellect aged in cheese and sausage food, flowers emblems of a capacity to love to give away what fleets of flowers would not adorn or did you bum his beautiful double words the flame igniting relief your own bursting into fire 179 (cited in Hasebe-Ludt and Henry 1997, 2) Bruner's view is pertinent, too, that "definitions of a genre (particularly autobiography) serve principally as challenges to literary invention" (1993, 42). Certainly Lejeune's initial attempts to define autobiography (which rather narrowly privileged prose over other forms) have met with criticism and have led to Lejeune's own revisional work in 1989 where he asks: "Is it possible to define autobiography?" (3). However, it seems impossible to consider autobiographical theory without some reference to the term "autobiography" and its meanings. Domna Stanton and Jeanne Perrault both prefer the term autography, removing the "bio," the life, so the self is the focus, the writing of the self. Stanton explains this in the preface of her book of essays with the statement that the "excision of bio from autobiography is designed to bracket the traditional emphasis on the narration of a 'life,' and that notion's facile presumption of referentiality" (1984, vii). She justifies this removal by suggesting that ideally she is attempting to "create a more generous and dynamic space for the exploration of women's texts that graph the auto" (viii) . Liz Stanley disagrees in part: Narrative—in this case, in the form of the story of a life—is neither so simple nor so easily dismissed as this argument suggests, and nor is referentiality. (1994, 135) Stanley claims that many autobiographical writings by women are constructed referentially out of a life, but that they "do so in awareness of the 'inner' fragmentations of self" (135). 180 G. The discussion of identity politics and feminism with respect to Hannah's writings is contradictory if not vacillatory, depending on whose theories you ascribe to: *difference (or standpoint) feminism *diversity (race, sex, class, etc.) feminism *deconstructive feminism (the non-universal subject; fragmentary and shifting positions which open up new spaces) and now we can add: *dissident feminism [characterized by the work of women like Donna Laframboise who contend that the statistics lie and that gender work needs to be more balanced (1996)]. In terms of what I am learning about Hannah, I think I teeter in the spaces among the first three feminisms. Most of Adrienne Rich's difference feminist criticism of Hannah is based on her reading of The Human Condition. Rich said that Hannah wrote like a man (as discussed in Honig 1995). I maintain that reading about the life and the philosophy through the life can give one a totally different picture of a person's writings. Are the Hannah-to-Mary letters the writings of someone who is a woman who thinks/writes like a man? (And these categories of man and woman are not as uncontested and uncomplicated as Adrienne Rich's essentially essentialist statement implies.) Virginia Woolf wrote: "It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities?" (1929, 95). But Woolf also wrote: "It is fatal to be a man or woman 1 8 1 Perrault, who names women's self writing as that "whose effect is to bring into being a 'self that the writer names 'I,' but whose parameters and boundaries resist the monadic" (1995,2), comes closest to an in-between zone where self and life meet, both with connection and with transgression. She differentiates autography from autobiography (and I read this as "traditional autobiography") in that the former is concerned with writing as a textual site/sight of self construction. In The Intimate Critique; Autobiographical Literary Criticism. Kendall invents the term duography to demonstrate her deep self-involvement in another woman's autobiographical writing (1993, 273), not unlike my own responses to various women's writing. I think perhaps the term might be amended to auto-duo-bio-graphy, to capture self as well as other in the venture of writing with/in a life. Regardless of one's preference for the term of one's choice, it becomes clear that autobiography can no longer be regarded without contestation or complication, and whether or not we say one is writing a life or writing a self or dually writing and reading lives and selves, one is most certainly writing. The "graphie" of autobiography remains, whether the language is in the form of a written narrative or a video or a quilt. In 1964, Gunter Guas, a well- known journalist interviewed Arendt on West German television, asking her: You live in New York.... Yet I should like to ask you whether you miss the Europe of the pre-Hitler period.... When you come to Europe, what, in your impression, remains and what is irretrievably lost?" Arendt replied: "What 182 pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly" (112). Leigh Gilmore mentions Denise Riley who "argues ... 'women' is not as stable, as inevitable (let alone natural) a category as it seems" (cited in Gilmore 1994a, 24). Mary O'Brien critiqued Hannah's strict division of the public and the private, as well as her elevation of the public realm which women infrequently occupy (as discussed in Honig 1995). The Hannah-Mary letters are private and deep, public and tender, all at once. What would Hannah say now if she knew those very personal letters are published? Like the categories of "woman" and "man," the distinctions between the private and the public are blurred, often contradictory and certainly difficult. Do we somehow wish our personal letters preserved—which implies shared-because they were not destroyed? Many women have quite deliberately burned their journals and letters. Perhaps many of us are so unwilling to face death and our own mortality that we cannot bear to do anything with our letters but collect them, as if each new letter is a further investment into our sojourn in the physical world. With e-mail, there is much less chance someone will encounter a letter in an attic trunk, unless one prints and saves the hard copies. Or reads what was never meant for his/her eyes. On the other hand, our e-mail may be less private when sent than a letter sealed and delivered in an envelope, a rather flimsy but ever-effective symbol of privacy. But as Margaret Atwood writes in the poem "Dancing": There is always more than you know There are always boxes put away in the cellar, worn shoes and cherished pictures, notes you find later, sheet music you can't play... (1995, 90) 183 remains? The language remains." (Kohn 1994, 12) In autobiography, the language remains. flUTOBIOGRflPHY IN LflNGaflGE EDUCflTION In the area of language education, where language lives, autobiography can play a vital role, if it includes autobiographical writing by and about women, and we utilise strategies that interrogate this writing and our own. As we re- think women's identities in autobiography, as we re-cognize the body in and of women's autobiography, as we re-consider genre and gender in autobiography, we can feature the strangeness of autobiography in a constructive sense. Driving one of my daughters home from school, she commented to me: "I like writing about myself, I don't know why." I want to encourage her to continue writing about herself. When Blanche came to me in the classroom where I teach and said, "You'll know much more about me when I finish the autobiography I am writing for Ms. Davis," I smiled and nodded my agreement, letting her know that I am yet another interested participant in her autobiographical performance. And I can expand and complicate both my daughter's and Blanche's notions of autobiography to include the view of the following writers. Andrei Codrescu declares: The truth is that I am not all that interested in "myself"—I am only curious to see what kind of person is going to emerge from a certain arrangement of personal stories, which are themselves not facts but earlier arrangements, for certain practical uses. (1994, 30) 184 H. Reading Hannah and re-reading Hannah through the filter of others, forces me to face my own Jewish question. I understand the ambiguity with which Hannah described herself her identity, writing as a Jew at times, as a citizen of the world at others. It is similar for me. Although I am nowhere near as politically astute or involved as Hannah was, I still at times respond strongly through my identity as a Jew, for example: in a class where we were examining culture and roots; in social situations where unthinking anti-semitic remarks were made. At other times, I discard my Jewishness because it is neither relevant nor useful, and even at times, it seems dangerous. This danger is not what Hannah experienced, fleeing from Germany for her life, or escaping from a Parisian internment camp just in time. It is not the danger my own grandfather experienced a world, a generation and a lifetime ago. He fought as an officer for the Germans three times in Czechoslovakia until he realized he and his family would have to leave in order to survive. I sometimes feel danger, the danger that is behind ignorance and prejudice and the totalitarianism which Hannah theorized. I felt danger one Christmas night when a relative by marriage, on my husband's side, lit into me, accusing all Jews of being technocrats because of his boss' views. Then I was representative and accountable for all world Jewry, the silence and the tension down the long festive table background to my reluctant and clumsy defence against this person's overgeneralizations. That night was an epiphany of sorts, a realization that just to be a Jew, not even a devout Jew, was an identity I would have to cope with all my life. Another memory, more recent: "You aren't afraid to wear your magen dav id?" the grey-haired woman with a Jewish accent asks my 13-year-old daughter in Fanny's Fabrics 185 And Leigh Gilmore refers to: . . . autobiography as a performance played before others who witness (and may judge) how writing itself is one way of "Adding to My Life." (1994b, 8) and forcing an acknowledgement of that which is not represented and, therefore, of the limits of representation in autobiographical writing. (12) We can respond with much more than a simple yes or no when our children, cultural consumers of the TV/Video age, turn to us and ask, as did mine: "Did it really happen?" (They were watching the film about writer Janet Frame's life. Angel at My Table.) We can respond in classrooms, too, with more than the typical book report assignment on auto/biography to construct a chronological time-line of a life. "I'll have to do 'other options,'" my daughter commented. She was reading bell hooks' Boneblack, a series of childhood scenes, dreams, memories, vignettes. Where does this fit into timelines? Where does bell hooks fit into mainstream Canadian school life? "She sounds like an interesting person," wrote the teacher to my daughter. "You forgot to say if she is still alive." (In the chronology of life, alive-ness must be counted.) £Jnozi£.i. OT ^ixLnooa LrzLL nooki. a crook Z£.hot£ uu c^axa i^Noxman, at ins. aqs. of 72 ^fiLi. uook, cJjout IJ£.LL nooki. fins aos.5. not aafiitaLLzE. nsx namsj, U aijout a (voman wno X£.lj£,Li. aaaimi vanai ii. s-xkis^tsA of net ai. a aizL Jhs. 186 when we are purchasing material for her home economics class. "No," my daughter replies with an attitude, the large star of david she wears around her neck her emblem of individuality, identity and difference. "I wear one, too," I add, lifting it. "Yes, but yours isn't showing," the woman points out, my star hanging back underneath my shirt. Anatomy of an Evil aren't you afraid to wear that? a grey-haired woman with a heavy Jewish accent points to my daughter's magen david on a chain no, my daughter retorts with an attitude black lipstick wild hair trademark adidas and some boy's initials carved on her hand in colored felt i wear a magen david, too point to mine around my neck it's hidden, the old woman announces my star under the collar of my shirt it takes several generations to learn not to flinch How poignant that Hannah wrote a biography of Rahel Vamhargen, who only realized and confessed to the value of being a Jew on her deathbed, after a lifetime of trying to make up for the shortcomings she perceived in such an identity. Hannah's biographer, Elisabeth Young-Bruel, believed that Hannah identified strongly with Rahel and that the writing of Rahel's biography was Hannah's way of working through some of the events of her own life. Hannah realized she had to face the Jewish question as it so profoundly 187 vrook ruxi. Ij£.£n unitts-n io it ii. imhoiiiuLs. to do a tints, tins., so hsxs. axs- lonzs. of tfzE main Evsnti. and outtaksi. ^nii. crook nas tr£,£,n unittsn io tnat it i Liks. IJ£,LL as a aniLd ix talking, and in iotns, jiaxtx as tkougk kex bxotksxs and sistzxi. axs. taUzincj. Jns, book is vinitt£.n in snozt akabisxs of ahout tojo ox tkxES, fiaass, and £.aan anafitsx is a Yns-fnoxu and snoxt sasns.. Dt s a uook about a feminist, and now sns. is a xsbsL in nsx famiLu. Dt maks-S as tnougk in soai&tu at tnat tims., feminists axs. ss^n as XZ.IJS.LS and f%£.aks. -Jkat in soms aasss is txus. of tnis tinzs also. 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Jj find tkis to as txus. —jSsLL kas a Lrssi fxisnd, c/\sna (a Last nams is not statsdj at a uouna aas. cziks and <if\sna talk about susxutking: uous, hooks, sta. JSSLL dsaiass at tkis tims sks wiLL not maxxu. <^ks is Laugksa at, told of aouxss sks wiLL maxxu. --JBSLL S fatksx Lrsats ksx motnsx. <::^ks stands ufi fox nsx motnsx, tkinks, and knows, tkis is not xiant, crfsx motksx wiLL not do anutkina so ksLL tsLLs nsx fatks,x to stofi. cHsx motksx aaasbts tks abuss Lrsaauss tksu'xs maxxisa, and ks maij bsat ksx if ksd Liks. JDSLL tksn ssss maxxiags as a txafi, a aaqs, in wkiak a woman Losss aLL xiants. <:zins. is sssn as moxs of a hxoBLsm akild fox tkis. 1 8 8 affected her life, and although she weathered much criticism for some of her views, she also worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of Judaic groups and causes. Hannah's belief that who-ness should take precedence over what-ness is a strong statement about identity, one which I am pondering as more and more of my own Jewishness creeps into my poetry. I. Hannah believed that v i t a c o n t e m p l i v a (thought) and v i t a a c t i v a (action), a life of the mind that takes root in social action, could be accomplished as a conscious pariah, a term she borrowed from French thinker Bernard Lazare, which captures the marginalized aspect of her own background and existence. She had less respect for those who were assimilated and led a p a r v e n u existence. Eleanor Skoller claims that Hannah rode between these polarities, avoiding binary oppositions and so resided in the in-between (1993), the and!or. This is so like curriculum theorist and wise man Ted Aoki's philosophy. I like Eleanor Skoller's postmodern reading of Hannah, but feel neither her book nor the book on feminist interpretations of Hannah take into account what the letters written between Hannah and Mary reveal. (The letters were published in 1994, which may account for some of the omission and oversight, but certainly their friendship was widely known.) For example, Skoller discusses how language-aware Hannah was, how she knew words disclose or hide as well as communicate, how she knew we must look critically at the meanings of words that evokelconnote/intend: "Sense how the purest story I Still hides everything. Hannah Arendt, from an early poem" (cited in Skoller 1993, 97). Again, it is almost as if I hear Ted Aoki speaking. But Hannah was not really as much of a deconstructive thinker as Skoller 189 — lL>o not IJ£,LU.UE inat hs. ivno arould i££.k to aonifozt uou Liu£,x unbiouhLsA. jSe-LL Li. zxLLecL nom nsx famiLu. chns, U isxxiijLu unkah.h.u, brut X£,m£.mlj£,xi, in£,i£, ujozdi. vjtisn i-ns, Li. tninkinq it hs-ttsx to ais. tnon Lius. miiuncUzitooa. _Jh.il is vjnat ins i, s-xiLeu rox, the. miiuna£.ritanainq of nsx, of nsx Lifs,. --JSSLL kai a ojnitz, ftisjzd ivko ins. t i trsTy cLois. to. Jnsxj uottt xsiysL aaaimt vakat ii ^xfis-atea of vjnits. and trLaak qixLi-. JDZLL i- famiLu do£.i.n t urant /Lx to asioaiats. vjitn cffkits. gixLs.. JDELL dos.5. not tsLL tksJn tkat ksx fxis^d ns-sAi. ksx iuftfioxt. c:rfsx fxisizd txisA to kilL ksxis-if lis-aaiiis a Lrou iks. Lo(j£,d so us,xij muak, did not xstuxn tks. ftsdinqi., Ls-t oLons. knovcr sks. cvas aLiuE.. joins a Cnxistian akuxek, and Latsx u£.(ioni£,s in(joLu£U in aamjius nzinistxu. ^kis is a axusads. fox CJixist. ^ « £ ioins (j£.aaus£. it ux£.aks tks. kaxxisxs of tks. ojkits and kLaak fisofiLs. ^^ks. ins.sts a fixisst tkxougk tkis, and sauss ksx, tkat is to saXj, ks, S££.s ksx standina on ksx aiiff in ksx mind, about to jumfi, and ks, huLLs ksx off tks cliff. jDsfoxs anuons goss to tkat xsal fiLaas vjksxs ojs Lsaji to oux dsatk, tks duing kas to ks imaginsd. Betty Bergland advises us: If understanding diverse cultures and multiply positioned persons remains an ultimate goal of cultural knowledge, helping us to live together co-operatively and harmoniously, then we must radically rethink how we read, understand, and teach autobiography, especially ethnic autobiography. (1994, 131) We can expand "doing autobiography" in schools to writing an autobiographical episode from our lives, as Erica Jong does in Fear of Fifty. Just as Jong lunched with her father to check her version of events, students could discuss their episode with its significant participants. We can ask questions like: What part did memory play in your autobiographical writing? Did you forget or embellish or invent, according to the people 190 may have projected onto her. Consider again her insistence in a letter to Mary that she is simply writing the factual truth about the Jewish Councils in her book on the Eichmann trial Consider, too, her discussion in an interview with Gunter Guas in 1964, where she refers to the impartiality of truth, a far cry from James Clifford's postmodern placement of partial truths (1986). Hannah's action stance seems to be what mitigates her to many feminist theorists. This stance moves beyond her so-called gender blindness, which in some ways is conceptualized positively because it does not focus on essentialized differences. Hannah does not "collapse difference into sameness" (Zerilli 1995, 184) and "... the plural subject of action is animated by a semiotic drive-force that resists the formalization of meaning and conformity" (184). 1- Reading about Hannah and the Eichmann trial brought back that time to me-1960— when I clearly recall Mr. Eisenberg the principal of the Hebrew school I attended, and an Israeli citizen, fervently denouncing Eichmann and his crimes against humanity. I recently asked my mother what she remembered about the Eichmann trial—as she is and always has been part of a strong Jewish community in Calgary, with many Jewish friends and a member of the synagogue and Jewish women's groups. My mother replied that she remembered little, explaining: "You must remember I was at home with four young children, two of them under four. I wouldn't have had time to notice much or even read the papers." We cannot forget this is often the reality, even today, and we can add the busyness 1 9 1 you later consulted? Did this change the heart of what you wrote? Do you agree or disagree with their version of the episode? What would you say to be the "truth" of the matter? Is there any one truth? Is truth relative? Is truth one of your relatives? Can you write the episode another way (or two or three)? What connections can you make between your experiences with this autobiographical writing, and any autobiographical writing by an author that you have read? Did gender play any part in how you wrote about the episode or how anyone responded to what you wrote? Have you read any autobiographical writing by women? What did you notice? What is your response to this line by Andrei Codrescu: "Had my mother become a rich and powerful woman she might have written her autobiography" (1994, 27)? We can expand children's concepts of self-and-other representation to include the less powerful and rich, the ethnic and the feminine, the edges and the margins, the gaps and in- betweens. In other words, what we have been overlooking with the singular patriarchal eye. And we can alert them to how language plays a central role in culturally shaping and re-presenting and mis-representing women, and how patriarchal values have bent the images in the mirrors, sometimes unrecognizably. In an article in 1997 I wrote: 192 of work outside the home in order to contribute vital income to the family. The privilege some women do have to pursue thought and action is always a contrast to those who simply cannot, whether because of time, finances or energy. Ordinary Politics in the Greek p o l l s no one is cutting the jagged toenails of someone else's feet scrubbing dried feces off the rim of toilets no one consoles the sobs of an adolescent huddled in a comer or soothes the itch of a holly berry rash in the Greek p o l l s there is the sound of words tossed like rubber balls against the walls which echo like bullets an adult's game of onesie twosie played for passion in the Greek p o l l s beautiful phrases seduce young minds consorting with the enemy letters learned while sucking dry the breastmilk of forgotten labourers K. Dear Hannah Arendt: I write you 22 years after your death at 69, as if somehow you will hear me from the grave, a fellow Jew, a woman, a stranger. I know from reading your letters, from reading about you and your work, that at the 193 In our classrooms, in our homes, we can articulate our own lives and the lives of many women. In a recent six-part series on CTV entitled "Women: A True Story," narrator Susan Sarandon asked what knowledge has been forever lost because we do not know what so many women did, thought, believed? Similarly, Nicaraguan poet Daisy Zamora lamented in an interview that she knew nothing about the women in her family, only their names: "You never heard what these women did because they were involved in minor activities which have no lasting impact. I mean, maybe they did embroidery, or maybe they cared for children, or maybe they kept all the family memories in albums, but I never learned what they/e/M never learned what they thought" (Moyers 1995, 432) . In her poem "Mother's Day," Zamora writes: "ever since I was small like you/ I wanted to be myself—and for a woman that's hard—[even my Guardian Angel refused to watch over me/when she heard]" (Moyers 1995, 436). When Zamora was asked in an interview if her children understood what she was trying to tell them in that poem, she replied that she always brings her children to her poetry readings and that they comment freely and sensitively about her work (438) . The poetry (and the narrative) that we write is our legacy to our children. Our students can also be encouraged to read autobiographical books that are compelling written testaments of women's lives. (Norman 1997a, 31-32) 6 POST-SCRIPT As we write these stories, as we read these stories, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of embarrassment, the embarrassment of liberal guilt (Ellison 1996, 345), particularly with/in the confessional moments of autobiography. "The confessional is not my cup of tea" (1997, 31), Patti Lather admits as she writes about her own response to an AIDS test, a test that momentarily at least casts her on the same stage as the women with whom she becomes involved as both re-searcher and friend. Nevertheless, the confessional plays a large part in 194 same time you were "loved fiercely" and fiercely loved back the world, you were intensely private, believing that the realm of natality should shift and revolve from the basic world of love and household and labour to the elevated world of thought and action, not be amalgamated. And yet, Hannah, as I write you in-between my own amalgamated life, your letters to Mary indicate to me you were more in both worlds at once than you might now in mortality wish to admit, to whisper through your grave. I know this letter of mine intrudes upon your need for privacy, even in death. I'm sure you would not even wish to be posthumously disturbed. But Hannah, my curiosity may be invasive, but it is not malicious. I seek to understand my own life through the lives of other women, and oh, Hannah, what a life you led. You see, there are many who do not see the value in confessional writing, the "possibility of political opposition based on testimonial and confessional writing as forms of resistance" (Gilmore 1994a, 41). As if the details of our lives did not continually configure our destinies, as if the lives of others were not a mirror with which to regard our own. "I have filled in the dark or bare places with my own life and the lives of other women" (Griffin 1993, 262). I crave some vestige of detail from or about an author, even in a factual academic piece. This knowledge seems as important to me as the opinions, facts, theories, hypotheses being presented. Ultimately, this personal knowledge seems a more forthright kind of writing granting of course, that it can range high or low, left or right, up or down or across a wide continuum. We converge, diverge, merge and re-converge always in an amalgam. So here I am, Hannah, reading your letters as you once read those of another Jewish 195 Lather and Smithies' book, and I am assuming that by confessional Lather means the disclosure of personal information. How could the confessional possibly be avoided in such an undertaking, pages and pages of women's stories of pain, hope, life with AIDS, death struggle, activism? Autobiographical pages that detail both the horror and the everydayness of this plague of the twentieth/twenty-first centuries. Gilmore's discussion of confessional writing, which links it to gender, is also an important one (1994a) . It includes some mention of confessional writing as a transgressive act which seeks to break expected boundaries of form and propriety (41). With/in the classroom, the confessional can be both disclosure and transgression. There we need to get "between theory and embarrassment," in Julie Ellison's words (368), between embarrassment and confession, in my words. So we are somehow steady when a child writes "I hate my father" in his journal when asked to evaluate himself in a program, a child whose death threats to his father have yielded a visit from social services. When the class' group work was seemingly filled with locked-in-battle headlocks over details and decisions—there are many strong personalities and they are all bright—I brought them together for a discussion. How could we resolve some of the conflicts? What were some good strategies that helped include ideas, make decisions and not hurt anyone? It was Brad who offered 196 woman years ago, Rahel Vamhagen, and I am making sense of all our lives as they are filtered one onto the other: my letter written after your letters written after Rahel's letters. Generations of letters, epistolary layers, an intertextual postal web. I live always with a sense that what/who I love can be swept away in the flood of an instant. How important it becomes to make sense in the autobiographical terrain "between friends." Please understand, I only associate myself with you through this reading through this ruminating. I am no great philosopher or politician or theorist. A poet and writer and teacher, yes, and there I like to think we intersect. A student alive to ideas as you once were. A daughter but a mother, too. An ordinary individual who confesses to scanning headlines, to treating politics with apathy or scorn, when I muster up the energy to care. More often than not, my days are filled with lunchboxes and playdough, trying to remember what crucible means so I can explain it, reading and thinking when the needs of others are temporarily stayed, writing between drives to and from volleyball practice. I think as much about the towels and the toast as the human condition. To be heard in our community of women, we tell our stories ...We listen to stories, we talk about other women's stories and we gossip, basically. We tell our bodies. Our lives are political: we're the body politic. That phrase seems perfect for women. Barbara Herringer, a former nun. (Telling It Book Collective 1990, 99) I. What is the call of autobiography and why is it so compelling? We want to read and know others' stories, we want others to know our stories. We don't want to be invisible. At a conference last year, a professor who taught me what I consider to be the worst course I 197 sensitive and constructive solutions, bright with wisdom and sincerity as he spoke. With me knowing some of the parts of his autobiography that formed a surreal backdrop to this brief episode of sanity and reason. "Try to work in some part of everyone's ideas," Brad suggested. (Make death threats because you write in your journal that you hate your father.) "Let each person offer some part of the group project," Brad continued. (And some part of this: When you are living in a foster home and your father doesn't come when invited for Thanksgiving Dinner, and the social worker sent to the school for intervention says he can't work with you, come to school.) Come to school, somehow steady, and take attendance as Daria, eyes wide and disbelieving, blurts out: "Daddy pushed Mommy out of the car when we were driving home." It is not possible to avoid the autobiography of children's real lives, or how this is constructed through the events of which they find themselves a part. If we are embarrassed by confessional telling, perhaps it is an embarrassment that begins in our own childhood loss of innocence, an embarrassment which we can deconstruct through our own autobiographical moments. 198 ever experienced in my graduate career--a course on research-looked at me blankly, no glimmer of recognition in his face. Of course. I was invisible to him then, a ghost still I had early in the course been moved to defend my paper on male talk dominance to which he and a colleague had reacted negatively. At that time I was writing columns for the city newspaper. Even the Dean had mentioned my freelance writing at various functions. Yet to this professor I was invisible. No one to remember, not counted, no special history, no future worth noting. As I watched this professor interact with various other students, I wondered how I had become so invisible in my 40's when in many ways I felt more alive than I had for years. Perhaps this is what calls me in autobiography. I want to immortalize women. I don't want them to be invisible, and perhaps I see my selves resurrected and come-to-life through the filter of their lives, every time I read/write/re-write them. In reading/writing autobiograph(icall)y, we are validating lives, using the poetic language of life. 199 N. I think British feminist (and former midwife) Mary O'Brien's criticism of Hannah's writing/thinking may be very much related to Hannah's childlessness. I can't help feeling some of Hannah's ideas were affected by the biographic fact that she never had to raise children, did not know the interruption and plurality of motherhood. That may account for Hannah's strict division between the public and the private, a division which of course is criticized by many feminist thinkers. Hannah was a historic figure of her time, someone brought up not in feminist emancipation but rather in the intellectual rigour of an equality assumed by brilliance. The women's movement made her uncomfortable because she feared that if women divorced their causes from the rest of humankind, everyone would lose out politically. Perhaps, too, she never embraced feminism because she never felt she needed to. Reading in the footnotes, Elisabeth Young-Bruel, confirming my own conclusions, maintained that some of Hannah's beliefs on public/private arise out of the fact that she was not a mother:"... / would speculate that one of the key reasons why Hannah Arendt did not focus her attention on sexism is that she never had to confront personally the complexities of combining motherhood with an intellectual public life. She could also stress the private side of child rearing and insist on the prepolitical nature of education without having been challenged as a parent by the grey zone where private and public meet..." (Young-Bruehl 1996 324, f.n. 11). The next section of this dissertation moves directly into this grey zone with the m(other) in the mirror. 200 ROOM THREE: MIRRORS OF PEDAGOGY M is for Mother, Microwave and Mirrors (an inter-mirror) 202 m . SPEC-UL^TING WITH M(OTHERS) 203 Irigaray's Wor(l)d 207 A Dozen Brown Eggs 208 Maternal Narrative and Poetic Space 210 Journal Entry 215 A Mother/Daughter Story 219 The Note 222 An Excerpt from "Like Mother, Like Daughter" (poems) 227 Teaching as M(othering) 237 Journal Entry 238 When Mirrors Fly! 240 VIII. FOaR REFLECTIONS O N THE ETHICS OF fiaTOBIOGRflPHY 241 The Long-Handled Fork 242 A Fork, A Slap, A Poem 244 Every 4200 Years .245 Reflection 2 .247 Reflection 3 250 Reflection 4 252 Creation, evolution take on new meaning in 90's 257 Letter to the Editor 261 M is for M(other), Metaphor, Metonymy, Mirrors 263 IX. MIRRORING THE CLASSROOM 264 Daily Planners 265 Journal Entry 2 68 Loving Others: the Finest Act, the Riskiest 270 Daily Planner 271 Journal Entries 272 At the Tables 276 Journal Fragments 277 Autobiography Form 281 June Report Card 282 Untitled Narrative 283 Journal Fragments 284 Exiting the House of Mirrors 285 BIBLIOGRflPHY 288 201  VII. SPEC-aiflTING WITH M(OTHERS) IN THE MIRRORS OF PEDflGOGY "Yes," said Molly. "You haven't really thought it out. Children...no one who hasn't had them knows what work they make." Here David laughed, making a point—and an old one, which Molly recognized, and faced, with a conscious laugh. "You are not maternal," said David. "It's not your nature. But Harriet is." (The Fifth Child, page 13) But when Harriet gives birth to a defective child (a monster, an alien, a throwback, a changeling, a gnome, a troll, a hobgoblin, a hobbit, in Lessing's words), it is Harriet's maternal nature that is challenged and called into question. It is blamed not only for the birth of Ben, their fifth child, but for all the problems this birth causes the family. Harriet openly admits to herself that she does not love or like Ben and cannot seem to summon any deep feeling for him except disgust and hatred. Yet she saves Ben from the institution in which he will surely die, more as an act of moral courage than one of motherly love. Throughout the novel, which seems to operate on literal and symbolic levels, Harriet and David's original blissful belief in family and parenthood is not only challenged but punished. There is the sense that Ben is there to teach them about living with the difficult and that with/in our humanity we are all as inhuman sometimes as Ben seems to be. The maternal mother metaphors that society thrusts upon us are also our burden when something goes wrong. These metaphors are perhaps requiring too much of any of us. If we mother monsters, we cannot, as mothers, kill monster-children, even if these children damage others. There is no way out, no solution, just a shroud of bleak destiny where we are at the mercy of our own genes. Everything Harriet does to protect the others from Ben, to protect Ben from himself and a cruel society, turns back against her as never-adequate, a not-solution. No one, especially family and doctors and teachers, recognizes how hard Harriet struggles to balance her sanity and morality and maternity. Her maternal instincts receive the ultimate test, a test in which she constantly fails, because as a mother she is not supported. As a mother who gives birth to a monster, she becomes suspect. At one level, the novel is a heartbreaking account of what it is to live with difficulty and disability, of how mothers bear the brunt of such a life and always come out not-quite- good-enough. At another level, the novel is a searing critique of what we have/can become as a society, of what we are capable of—the Bens in all of us—if we are not careful to analyze our own culpability in contributing to society's ills. As Ben grows up, Harriet is gradually cast into the role of pariah and outcast, too. She is seen as the bad mother with bad 203 genes who cannot love deformity that is evil, but is held accountable for that: the bad mother who cannot put an end to her own child, flesh of her flesh (the evil side), for which she is also held accountable. Like mothers who experience both the joys and the burdens of maternity, Harriet can never win. She can't do enough, be enough, take the right turn, make a wise decision. She is forever mirrored by a mother image that is de-formed because of her defective child. Doris Lessihg subverts stereotyped maternal metaphors in The Fifth Child (1988), as she does in the Martha Quest novels and in her two autobiographies. Motherhood and mother-child relations are woven into complex webs of silences, contradictions, unmet needs, burdens as well as joys. In her own life and in her fiction, Lessing confronts her desires and capabilities as dutiful and loving mother, as dutiful and loving daughter. She finds she cannot live comfortably either with her mother who annoys her, holds her back, disapproves of her, clings to her, or with her child, whose needs and demands remind her of her deficiencies. Thus Doris Lessing's heroine, who has felt devoured by her own mother, splits herself—or tries to—when she realizes she, too, is to become a mother. (Rich 1976, 236) Reminiscent of Jill Ker Conway's story of her mother who wants to run and ruin her life, forcing her to finally separate and release the unhealthy hold (Road to Coorain 1989, True North 1995/94), the fictional and autobiographical Martha makes an emotional break with her mother (in the fifth and final Martha Quest novel). Martha also leaves her daughter, conceiving of her departure as a gift which derails yet another stifling mother- 204 daughter relationship, not as an act of abandonment, although it is that. The fictional Martha mother-story is complicated by the autobiographical Doris story in which Lessing leaves her first two children but raises her third child as a single mother. ... Martha resists the notion of the child as an end-in-itself; she sees, with bitter clarity, beyond the sentimental image of "niotherhood" to the life-span of the woman defined as mother; instead of a "peak experience" she perceives a continuing condition. For a creative woman ... the child can be perceived as a disaster, as an "enemy within." (Rich 1976, 160) Conway, like Hannah Arendt, never bore children, but Conway refers often to the many maternal experiences expressed in autobiographies and how such writing contributes to the sentimentalization of maternity (1998, 43) and the gendered re- presentations of women in our postmodern culture. Perhaps it is partly Conway's own status as unhappy daughter, but seemingly content not-mother, that leads her to write: Then there is the related myth of the maternal female, always nurturant, always able to process everyone else's emotions, the caregiver who is at her best when those around her are in crisis ... This maternal female is the inspiration for many strands of contemporary feminism ... [from groups] who want to base a worldview on women's connectedness to others. (179) In contrast, Arendt's close relationship with her mother, another Martha, is not replicated either by bearing children or by fully conceptualizing the private and the public in terms of what it means to (be a) mother. Both Arendt and Conway are daughters and not-mothers, yet both in different ways enter the contested territory of what it means to (be) mother. Di Brandt, who wrote several books of poetry that deal with her own relationship with her mother and her daughters, suggests 205 that maternal subjectivity has another side, not-mother (1993, 160) , and that not-mother is part of all women (9) . My own writing demonstrates some of the not-mother in me, for example, in the essay "Genesis": "I miss that Renee sometimes [the pre- parturient Renee], I would be lying if I didn't confess that" (1998a, 93) . Like me, Brandt characterizes maternity as the most important and transforming experience of her life (6) , but Brandt writes that "none of the texts I had read so carefully . . . had anything remotely to do with the experience of becoming a mother" (3). Brandt believes the mother has been absent and suppressed in Western narratives (7) and that writing mother stories is both important and political. And she is not alone in this belief, as Susan Rubin Suleiman demonstrated when she wrote: "We need to have more information—more interviews, more diaries, more memoirs, essays, reminiscences by writing mothers" (1985, 362) . (A recent article in the Globe and Mail by mother- writer Margie Rutledge (1998) includes interviews with and reminiscences by women who combine(d) writing and mothering: Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Rosemary Sullivan. Other writers focus on mothers and the autobiographical, too, such as Daphne Marlatt who offered a course at UBC on mothers and daughters in 1995.) Though Brandt mostly examines fiction writing, her call to write and re-read "mother" aligns her with Luce Irigaray whose work she both cites and honors. 206 IRlG^RflY'S WOR(L)D Irigaray privileges sexual difference (in addition to equality), insisting that we must have love of self and of the same, not just of Other/other (the capitalized Other referring to the symbolic realm). She valorizes the maternal, mother- daughter relations, eco-feminist belief in the earth, the natural, the spiritual. A post-Lacanian, she is critical of Lacan who places the mother as the figure from whom the subject must separate and who ignores the daughter in the Symbolic and the Imaginary realms. [Irigaray was in fact expelled from Lacan's Ecole freudienne (Moi 1985, 127)]. Irigaray believes women need their own Imaginary/Symbolic, beyond the "law of the father," and that we must speak (as) women (Whitford 1991) , using a language that is not simply the patriarchal one imposed by men. Irigaray theorizes that the Lacanian image of woman as "hole," as she who derives her unconscious from how she is perceived/gazed upon by men, must be re-placed to give women their own place. She proposes the image of two lips (speaking lips and vaginal lips) re-touching, always open, never sutured or closed. She interprets the unconscious as that which is not-yet, the yet-to-come (73). Irigaray is hopeful for a more creative wor(l)d, one which recognizes the debt to the mother and allows for a contiguity between the two lips, between mothers and daughters: horizontality in addition to verticality, reminiscent of what Ted Aoki theorizes about Discourse C and metaphor and metonymy. 207 Her two lips image is metonymic and re-turns speaking to women in a way that is open like the two vaginal (labial) lips. Much of Irigaray's metonymic writing speaks of/to/from the in- between, this and (not or) that, what cannot be defined. She envisions mother and woman—the double threshold (195)—to re- imagine the female subject (not object) more w/holey (my word), in all her fragmentation and division, a sexual and desiring (not just desired) woman. Her writing speaks to daughters, too, who need not merge into mothers-to-be and hate/blame mothers. Daughters are differentiated be/comings who have agency in the acknowledgment of their difference. Irigaray maintains that women have been exiled from Heidegger's house of language, and that the Lacanian mirror image does not fully realize women. She re-turns them to r speaking through body and word, and thus to a metonymic writing in a House of Mirrors. A Dozen Brown Eggs free with $100 purchase courtesy of free range chickens and the health food store like tiny eggs i lay out my evening primrose oil (lumpy breasts) calcium with D (nails too soft) phytoestrogen (what's surely soon to come) in rows pills like ellipses to be continued... in.between.the.d.o.t.s. your breasts are lumpy too much coffee but i don't drink coffee 208 or it's hormonal but i d o n ' t dr ink hormones it is difficult to find abnormalities but i c a n ' t f i n d normal speculum in place it pinches my lips the doctor asks if i am still writing for the newspaper i think it is an odd question considering the view considering abnormalities i reply with pursed lips wonder if my eggs are brown free range unbroken Michelle Boulous Walker's discussion of Irigaray's work on the maternal contrasts it to what Walker calls the romanticism of Helena Cixous' work (1998, 175) and the ambiguity of Julia Kristeva's work—that is, that Kristeva speaks and writes the mother's body, but the mother cannot do this as speaking subject herself (156). (All three women theorize the maternal, but differently.) Walker remarks that Irigaray's contribution is to re-turn the repressed, murdered, silenced mother, speaking her body. I appreciate and often emulate the romanticism of Cixous, who calls upon us to write (our)selves. And I find the ambiguous spaces with/in Kristeva's revolutionary poetic language open enough to admit my writing, despite her focus on male avant- garde writers (and Walker, too, emphasizes the importance of poetic writing). However, I agree with Walker that "we need to re-chart the maternal as a terrain of body and word" (140), as Irigaray does, so that "the maternal can be played against and with the mother" (125). 209 NflTERN6L NflRR^TIVEflND POETIC SPflCE Playing the maternal against and with the mother, throughout the text of this dissertation I (make) present maternal narratives and poetry. Maternal metaphors and metonymies pervade the House of Mirrors, reflecting and refracting back the (m)other in the mirror. For example, in the memoir "Genesis," I write about writing as giving birth, a re-turn to one's self, very Cixous-like. In "The Note," a story which follows on Page 222, I write about one of my daughter's school experiences and this writing is doubled by the mothering that winds its way throughout the story. The poetry and narrative with/in the personal essay which begins the text of this dissertation, "Surviving Treason," is filled with images and references of mothering. In the poem "Hannah's Child," I re-write Hannah Arendt • s childless state, imag(in)ing what her daughter might have been like. In the section "Four Reflections on the Ethics of Autobiography," I write about my mother through the poems "The Long-handled Fork," "A Fork, A Slap, A Poem" and "Every 4200 Years." In that section, I also describe a conversation with another mother about mothering. The Martha poems are very much about Martha's mother, Martha's daughter Caroline, and mothering. "Martha, in White" (page 116 of the "Martha in the Mirror" manuscript) , does not at first glance seem to be about the mother-daughter relationship. However, in the first novel, Martha Quest, Lessing describes how Martha sews herself a beautiful white dress for a party, much to her mother's disapproval. Her mother would prefer that she wear the youngish clothes that hide her contours, her bloom. But Martha's will prevails, and the well-made white dress carries her through the party, through her inner stirrings of being 210 alive, young, something about to happen. The white dress symbolizes both the brightness and the blindness of youth and beauty. This is no white flag of surrender, nor a pure and innocent white of unsullied virginity. This is white heat, white noise, the blank white page, white that is a roll of paper about to unfurl. Martha sews herself, Martha re-writes and re-whites herself. When the hem of the dress drags in the mud of the Southern Rhodesian veld during a skirmish with a young man, the dress becomes heavier, stained with the muddy complications that white rebellion opens itself to. The blank white page, the blank white dress of Martha growing away from home and mother, away from restriction and convention, is marked with mud prints that write a new white for Martha, replete with danger, excitement, unsettled thoughts, and most of all, possibility. I can compare Martha's sewing of the white dress to my adolescent daughter's sewing of a costume for her school medieval fair, a project she chose herself. Like Martha, my daughter wanted to make a statement to her classmates and her mother. Though not as restrictive as Martha's mother, I still hold final say, arbiter of taste and suitability! Both Martha and my daughter were playing dress-up, grown-up, donning the dresses of adulthood and fantasy. My daughter wanted to create something wonderful, out- of-the-ordinary, that said: "Look at me, I am not invisible. I am beautiful and I can create beautiful things." This is not so very different from Martha's desire. Martha's frustration with 211 her mother who always clucks and disapproves is parallel to my daughter's frustration that I don't sew. Unspoken: What kind of mother are you? You don't sew? Can't help your daughter with the costume? What kind of mother are you? My daughter, unlike Martha with her mother, was occasionally generous about my shortcomings, but how we agonize over them, making ourselves mothers of/to failure. In my poem "Martha, Leaving" (page 121 of the "Martha in the Mirror" manuscript) , I draw upon my own experiences of mothering as I contemplate an act of leaving which I have never experienced, at least not in any permanent sense. When Martha/Doris leaves an unhappy marriage and children, she is going against the conventional grain. She is acting out a different scenario, one that women may have fleetingly thought about, but not acted upon, one that creates another kind of mothering, a more distant and self-centered one. When Doris embarks later upon willing single motherhood [with her third child, as told in Walking in the Shade (1997)], she adds another mother-role to the roster, perhaps foreshadowing a family unit much more prevalent today. We leave our children all the time, whether or not we come back to them. One of the central understandings of mothering is that we must prepare ourselves for separation from our children, although Irigaray suggests to us that we need to re-conceptualize this more positively and imaginatively and resist the Freudian, Lacanian images given to us by the fathers. . 212 In my poem, "Confetti" (page 137), I mark absence with a poem. In The Four-Gated City (1972), I am struck by Lessing's description of a placard at a peace march: CAROLINE SAYS NO! It is not only a powerful yet simple statement of hope and idealism, it also contains the name of the fictional daughter Martha left—Caroline. Yet nowhere in the novel does Lessing deal with the fact that Martha in England sees her abandoned daughter's name on a placard. There is no acknowledgment, almost as if Lessing forgot by Novel Five what Martha did in Novels One to Four, what and who Martha was. Did she? Was she so caught up in the events of Novel Five that she didn't pull that thread through? Or want to? Yet Lessing brings back Martha's mother in Novel Five in a sad reprise of guilty love and longing. Perhaps Lessing couldn't bear to return to lost children, children left. Perhaps she repressed Martha • s deed and left it buried in the earlier novel. I pick up some clues in two significant passages of Lessing's second autobiography. In the first, she addresses criticism of her first autobiography. Volume I, namely, that she does not write about the pain and heartbreak of leaving those children behind. She defends this by writing that of course it was painful, that goes without saying. " ... I describe leaving two small children, and I earned criticism for not going into what I felt about it. It seemed to me obvious that I was bound to be unhappy and any intelligent reader would understand that without ritual beatings of the breast" (1997, 156). 213 In the second passage, she writes about one of the Aldermaston peace marches in England, where she saw a young woman carrying a placard whose message summed up for her the spirit, intent, aspirations of the peace/disarmament movement: the Caroline of CAROLINE SAYS NO! The stark simplicity and humanity and particularity of the message impressed Lessing, so much so that she wrote this into Novel Five. But still no reference to poor fictional Caroline, no acknowledgment that this is the name of Martha's daughter left behind, although she frequently links the Martha Quest fiction to her life throughout both autobiographies. I am convinced that Lessing was so focussed in reminiscence on her own real-life children, that Martha's Caroline remained, even in autobiographical retrospection, in the emotional shadows. It is there, though, in the earlier novel, not in the autobiography, that I feel Lessing's pain, regret, confusion. There that she deals with the conflicting emotions, the torn longings. There that she writes why she acts as she does and how it feels. This virtually glows through the lines, and I pick up the intensity when I read, so that the silence in Volume I, and even the brief defence of it in Volume II, and Martha's faulty memory about Caroline in Novel Five, are glaring to me, deliberate absence in the reflections of the mirror. I write, re-write and cite "mother." 214 J.ou.xn.aL cl^nbiu icA/yialis.Uls. ^Walfisx tlisx^xizs,! tnz. matsxnoL in hriiLoiohfTiJ as tkat vcrlziari dos-i not riauz. to oaauhu an outiias i.h.aa£./hlaas, as thai vjnich ii. sLasiia, amfjiquoui., Lroifz mstahfioxiaaL and xsaL, axiiauLatsA in txaniaX£.isi(j£, i&nziotia Lanauacjs. and LaijiaL lloqia I a La UxiaaxaXj j . —Ins, mais-xnal is. xs.-b.xodu.asA in non-fixoduativs hostia Languags ( non-J2Xoduaiius msaning ins arfixmaiius alisxnaiius io a (ixoduaiius masauiins, Loqia/Laljouxj. ^Waiksx dxavcn. uhon .J\iiiiscra i iuhjsai-in-jixoasis and ins ynatsxnaL cnoxa and xsuoLuiionaxu Lancjuacjs, oirniLs axiiiauina ilzs omission of vjomsn as auani-aaxds cvxiisxi. of nots and uis aJjisnas of ojomsn as shsaking suhisais in -/\xisis(ja i vjoxk. nA/alksx xs-aaLLs Cixous (xrn.iis ink as a msiahriox vjriiafi sijoltss uniiinq as frixiri and xs-uixin, iris moinsx s miUz as ilzs ink itzai nzakss itiis hossiijLs, (xrniLs aaknovjLsdginq Cixous xonzaniiaism. ^WaLksx ah.h.xsaiaiss Uxiqaxau s hoxixaual of ins nzoifzsx (and ssxuaL diffsxsnasj as J2axi of a sumijoLia, insids Languags, vjiin an imhoxtani Languags of iis o(xrn. Jns Ynoihsx-dauanisx hond, too, in Uxiaaxaij s isxtns, is (jiial io ojomsn, hui fias LaxgsLu fjssn iqnoxsd and sxaLudsd in JLaaanian and iJxsudian insoxu. ^ vaLsxis <c/\aouL rtas aonzmsnisd irzat soms of mu ivxiiing in soms vaaus xsminas nsx of Cixous. arfs D xsfLsai ufion iiris hosiia naxxatius vcrnian aomfxaxss mu coming to ivxiiing to ins bixtn of a fouxtiz mia-Lifs aniid, anoifisx daugnisx, U xsaLizs ina£ ins matsxnai in mu uniiina is mu fjodu shsakina ifzxougn/as/in ins moinsx. -Jns xsai moinsx fzas misaaxxisd ivjias, LTssn jixsgnant fius timss, giusn bixtn tnxss timss—a muLti-tiaxa. crfnd tfis msiafifzoxiaai motlisx, vjfzo nas giusn fjixth. to voxitina, xs-hixsssnts a jouissanas that is uoxns in jiosiia cvxiiing. IHsxfzafis ilzs msiahnoxiaaL moinsx snoulul bs xs-namsa ins msionumia moinsx, foLLoojinq UxiqaxaXj s dis-hLaasmsni of bodu tiaxts: ins bx.sast(sj, inat sits of suckLing, inai tixoduasx of vcrniis ink, qiijinq urau to an ofisning, ins Labia, a sits/signt ojnsxs fLuids stiLL fLour but vjnsxs oinsx Litis sfisak. erf siis/siani ixrnsxs ins maisxnaL bxsasi-tuxnsd-fauast, ones ins obj'sai of man s aazs, fLoojs into ins ssxuaL/ssxsd fiLaas of vjoman s dssixs. 215 rit oaauxi. to ms,, too, thai mij tojo mlsaaxxCa^si, the. curoxtsd atts-mjiti of mu bodu to xs-fixoduas,, to caxxu the. zmBxuo to t&xm, and tns iLLsnt huxisA axizf vjnuik foLLoojsA, axs. ths. ixxcauxioxi. to mu aomina to vjxLtuza. £1 bxoks, i.iL£nas. and the. X£.-jxx£.^i£A Lanauags. of mu hodu-in-axiui, aTzLL£.d ufi and out and ifiiLLzA ousx in. ivxitina, an sijsnt tnat oaauxxs-d onLu aft&x tns. Lrixtni. of mu tnxEs. daugnt&xi.. <:^^}j coming to vcniting aouJld not/did not nahif2.£,n until D Lrsaams. a moinsx to Liuing daugntsxi, until U (vai aJjLs. to corns, to tsxmi ojitn and usax the. unlj£.axahL£.—iKrnicn vjai mu matsxnal irodu failing ms, xs- minding ms. of its. tsnuous fios-ition outbids of language, outi-ids of tns sxjmJjolia. Jj xs-msmbsx tns. fixii vjxitina U did as a axixfaaing fxom unds.xns.atn mu dsnial. •^^}j matsxnal irodu, at Isatt tns ons LI orai conaitionsA to sxfisat, kstxausd ms, a trsbiauai fisxfjstuatsd tu silsnas on tns. luuisat of miicaxxiags, lilsnas aJjout tns gxisf (xrnian aaaom.fianisi. no lioxn anild to mouxn, an aJjis.nas vjnian is. tns 5.fiaas bssiAs madnss.±. U xs-msmlrsx tL outfiouxing of gxisf as tns smfxtuing of mu todu-mind-soul fanoxa. J, tns 5.fiiilags of i.alt and (xratsx in tsaxi., a flour vjnian smfitisd ms of tns imfios-iiiris trloakags of vaoxds.. ^Woxds. tnat flovcrsd fixst along aritn tns tsaxi. and tnsn trsuond tnsm into fiostia language wnian ufjon tns smotions. of mu matsxnoL xsal and mstahrToxia and mstonumia. Un iSuxui^ing —hsaion U (xnits no(Xj ins ink is, iniias ms: Jj msak momsntaxilu to hissl an oxangs, and :is(jsxal sections, tuxn blaak fxom tns inkstaini., Iiut U sat tnois is.ams.nti. anuarau. Jks ink ii. ini.ids ms. ... figg6, 17j. Un ^snsili. nggSJ U cvxits of kotk tks diffiaultu and tns jou of tks mxxtsxnal, novj tks matsxnaL ii. dsnigxatsd in oux tikaLLoasntxia cuLtuxs, and U (xjxits of kooj tks maisxnal ksaams asntxal to mu ovjn voxiting, a xs-kixtk of mu i£,Lf snaatsd tkxougk mu daiigktsxi.. Un muak of mu fiostxu, U asLsuxats soak and all of mu tkxss daxigntsxi., and tks motksx-daugktsx kond amona Ui.. U gusition tkii uond, too, fiaxtiauLaxlu tkxougk mu motksx and tvjo i.ii.tsxi.. Ut ii, tks matsxnaL in ms. that imfisli. ms. to aomiasx <^A/{axtka/j^oxii. Vijko xs-UTxitsi. (xs-futsi.fj tks motksx-daugktsx bond in diffsxsnt vaaux; to 216 aomidsx c^annak vjho t i (jsxu aLois io nsx oixrn moinsx, tui Liks ^l/ixainia ^WooLf, nsusx xsaLizsi. nsx dxsam or aiuina Lrixin to a andd. ^ l/ixainia Lrixirzi. Lx vcniiinq. 'Crfannan uixini, jioLliiaaL tnsoxu. crf-nd mu raiaincdion vaLin c^annak i uouikrul affaix vaiik <:yV{axtin cyjsidsaasx can tisxkafii, bs unasx5.iood as ynu xscdlzcdion iked, ths daugkisx of a fainsx fiauxs muit xLis uk. and out fxom iks dominailon kii. Lavj/vjoxd/Lotjs jixotjidsi., in oxdsx io l^ixtk fzsx ovan isLr and hkcLoiohliu. _/o go bsuond daugkisx as. ssx obisai of dsilxs; ksijond ins dsiixs to Lo(js ins faiksx; fjsuond iks faiksx i. dsiCxs toUo us and aonixoL iks daugkisx. f Walksx cvxiisi- of <::y\/{iansLs J^s J^osun laxiiina of kruloioh-kiiing womsn wfio ihaxsd iksix Lovs of hkiLoiohfiu ikxouak itzsix Lo(7s of a haxtiauLax hkiLoioh,ksx, and tris sxoiiao-ilzsoxsiiaaL ixanifsxsncs aixaiiLating fjsivjssn fsnzals disaih.Ls and moLs hkiLoiohfisx /aitsd in ^WaUzsx IQQS, 21J J. <^^U sxhsxisnas of coming to tins bowsx or vaoxdi. did not oaaux unid U vcrai. ahis to fjixik mu dauakisxs., mu isLr, and io fjxsak out of iks Lavj of iks fainsx, iris J-acanian and iJxsudian dxama wkiak kad i^axihisd ms ax dutiful, idsnt, noi-ivxiiing ixrifs and ons-dimsniional, unamkiguoui., dsvotsd moinsx. c^sidsggsx kad ixoukLs vjiik crfannan i. iuaasii. and fox a Lona iims nsiirisx xsad nox aaknovalsdgsd frisx vcixiiings.. ^^^^U sisau, <^uxviuina Jxsaion, akxonicLsi. iks difficultisi. vjkiak coming to cvxiiing f and fsminiimJ (jii.it uhon mu maxxiags and tks ckangsi. and kauoc ikii. vjxsaki.. -Jfisxs ii iom£, xsioluiion koik fox crfannak and muislf, but not vjiikoui cxixii, jiain, and a Lou of innoasnas. -Jks failisx fvjkstksx oLdsx Ixjusx ox kuxkandj cannot fjs ckalksngsd vaiikoub incidsnt, (xriitzout comsqusncs, ojiifzout xsksxcuixion. -Jkii. hxoducsi mousmsni to a nsvj, uLiimaislu ksiisx filaas, kui a filacs thai ii. danasxoui, unisttLsd, fxiafiisnina, susx-cfianaina. xoasii. of naming and un-ao<jsxing iksis m.a£sxnal ikismsi. in mu autofjiogxalikicai jixojsci ii. ons vakick xs-mindi- nzs inai cvomsn axs multikLs and conixadictoxu. iJox (uxoui., vcroman xs-iuxm. to ksxisLr ikxouak voxitina, xs-fjoxn ikxougk iks lakoxioui. bxsaik of ivxitina, a maisxnal imagsxu. LJOX ms, (ffoman xs-tuxm. io ksxisif ikxouak auiofjioaxahkiaal vaxiiina, xs-koxn and 217 %£,-Vinitts,n aaain and aaain in ins, jios-iia isxii. inai axs, hsx Lirs,, hsx bxE-oth, hsx lauowi. I mirror what Conway writes about the maternal in autobiographies: that the maternal experience is one which many women (and men) write about (1998). I mirror what Walker writes about the maternal in women's writing: that "we need to look at women's writing, to investigate the ways the maternal surfaces there ..." (1998, 128) . I mirror what Brandt writes: Contemporary woman writers . . . particularly in Canada, have begun writing mother stories in large numbers despite ... theoretical and social difficulties, and in defiance of the constraints of the Western narrative tradition with its long history of enforced maternal absence. (1993, 16) My poetry, narrative, and even my theorizing, enter into what Brandt calls the "maternal narrative space" (160), what I prefer to call the maternal narrative and poetic space. And despite the long history of maternal absence, this space does not exist in a vacuum. Authors Cynthia Chambers, Antoinette Oberg, Arlena Dodd and Mary Moore wrote "Seeking Authenticity: Women Reflect on Their Lives as Daughters, Mothers and Teachers" in 1993. In this essay, teachers reflect upon their practice and "write about the life in which they are immersed" so that a "deeper understanding of who we are and who we have been opens the horizon of possibilities for who we can become—as teachers, mothers and daughters" (75) . A recent (1998) double issue of Canadian Woman Studies was devoted to the theme of Mothers, Daughters and Feminism, my own contributions included in it. A conference on Mothers and Daughters was held at York University 218 in 1997 and I have been invited to an upcoming conference at Brock University in 1999, "Maternal Pedagogy: Mother Matters and/in Education." (In 1998 the theme was Mothers and Sons.) One of the conference organizers, Dr. Sharon Abbey, wrote about the collaborative research she and several colleagues conducted into their daughters' educational experiences in connection with having feminist mothers who are university professors (Castle et al. 1998). They also investigated how their daughters' schooling experiences affected them as mothers. The authors point out that "in their life stories, women have talked more about the mothering they received than the mothering they had done" (cited in Castle et al. 1998, 64). When theorised as mothers of daughters, women always speak. (Walker 1998, 181) e NOTMER/DfiaGHTER STORY "I couldn't put it down," one of my daughters tells the other. "It" is one daughter's autobiography, neatly typed and hole-punched, arranged in a binder. One hundred pages of teen- aged angst, love, hope, regret, determination, anger, loss, titled Why Me?. A female Catcher in the Rye, a story of growing up and coming of age in the Nike age, this document has had my daughter(s) in its spell during the entire year of its labour. (The writing of this autobiography continues to this day.) Jockeying with me for computer time, my daughter discovered that if she wrote about it, she could make sense of it, and most important of all, she could preserve it. [Echoes here of Carl 219 Leggo's words: "I wanted to leave a final testimony, an epitaph, a trace" (1995,6).] This autobiography was written wholly out- of-school, but it is very much about school experiences. It is both a magnet and a comfort for my daughter as she grows up female in the 80's and 90's, filling its pages with stories of gender bias, harassment, unrequited love, acquaintances who are children of divorce, schoolyard bullying and many other symptoms and features of postmodern life. I mention this autobiography (autobiographically) because it seems to me it is one important example of how autobiography can operate in that turbulent time of female adolescence, how autobiography can assume centrality and importance in a child's life. I am excited by the possibilities in such autobiographical writing for children. If we can capitalize more explicitly on the desire to write-it-down-because-it-happened-to-me, and then interrogate the silences, spaces, contradictions, constructions, perhaps we can utilise autobiography as a tool for growth and learning as well as writing and reading. We can look at what "language does to limit, shape, and make possible one world or another" (cited in Miller 1998, 150). It seems a shame that most of my daughter's autobiographical writing is conducted and validated and turned over and over out-of-school, but school is the very place where she most needs to make sense of what is happening. And a place where interrogation seems not only possible but desirable. The story that follows is an autobiographical piece that is 220 a blend of my words and my daughter's, a story that both plays with and calls into question whose stories we are writing, which stories should be told, and always, what is hidden or revealed in those stories. The story could be an example of one collaborative way to take a lived autobiographical experience written by a daughter/student and complicate it by layering it with the words/experiences of a mother/teacher. The story re- presents, too, an/other side of mothering and writing than that offered by writers such as Lessing who have left behind a great deal in order to write. The story is not only about a daughter's experience, it is also a story about mothering. And writing as mother. An/other reflection in the fDirrOr of women writers. 221 THE NOTE by Renee Norman (with Sara Norman) Bricolage—like a collage, incorporating material in a new work, and so transforming it. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms) On a daily basis ... personal narrators assume the role of the bricoleur who takes up bits and pieces of the identities and narrative forms available and, by disjoining and joining them in excessive ways, creates a history of the subject at a precise point in time and space. (Smith and Watson in Getting a Life: Everyday Uses of Autobiography 1996, 14) 222 This is not my story. I tell you this because she said so. One day when I was washing the pots and pans while she dried them, I casually commented that I would write about it. "It's my story," she stated clearly, though I for one confess that I cannot ever tell where her story ends and mine begins. . .where my story ends and hers begins...My eldest daughter once inside my womb kicking me awake with rhythmic taps resides there still. Only now we fight for computer time, birthing our stories with the electronic midwife, the rhythmic tap tap on the keys, both our heartbeats in the womb of words... So this is not my story. I am sitting at the desk in the computer room, wrapping presents, waiting to use the computer, hands always busy in a family of 3 children, 1 dog, 1 husband. It is my husband's desk, he makes that clear by the way he fills it with his papers, his books, his invoices and letters and pictures and calendars and memos, all spread so you have to guess that the grainy wood is underneath. So this is not my desk. Already my story which is not really my story is taking on more territorial tones. I wrap the presents by placing them on top of all the papers and just by sheer luck, managing not to cut through some invoice or accidentally tape up some sentimental picture of Don on a motorcycle. Sara is directly across from me at the computer, working on her full-length book, 100 pages now, an autobiography of her life titled. Why Me?. Perfectly suggestive of teen-aged love and angst, a kind of female Catcher in the Rye. She wants to get it published so I suggest she may want to fictionalize the names of the characters to protect the guilty. I add: "Have fun with the name changes. Think of some code. Or some attribute the person possesses and work from there." A teacher we both think is picky becomes Ms. Starch. Her teaching partner who is caring and kind, Mrs. Kindred. A boy who harassed her, Aaron Harass. You get the picture. I have not used any codes so far in this story, not that I'm aware. Sara is Sara. Don is Don. The dog sitting on and warming my bare toes while I write is the dog. It is Sara's story, as she reminded me, but I'm in it, too, with no alias. It's hard to find an alias for "my mother." And I am writing Sara's story, sometimes calling it mine, as you must have noticed in the previous paragraphs. Cut to a day at school. Sara, five feet ten inches tall at 13 years of age, big and still growing, wants to be six feet tall, wants to play on a university basketball team in the future, wants to find jeans that are long enough. Sara is playing basketball with the boys. She hates playing with the girls who are mean and cliquey and stop to fix their hair in the middle of a pass. The girls don't like Sara because she is different: tall and good and gentle. Schools don't often honour difference or gentleness. School has been hard for Sara. One year when she was eight and couldn't seem to cross the threshold 223 of the classroom door without clinging and crying, I homeschooled her until some of the bruises healed. Cut to the principal's office. I am sitting across from her, my eyes on her well-cut flowered polyester suit, on the desk photos of her children and grandchildren. Asking why my daughter was asked to stay away from the school basketball court. Asking why my daughter was advised to "pick and choose her battles." Asking why girls are expected to be the peacemakers and the blametakers. Asking why. Excerpts from Why Me? After I got a rebound, he gave me a "spanky wanky" as he put it. Then when I put up a protest, he said, "Isn't it okay to give someone a spanky wanky?" No, it's not. He went around and told the boys, "I spanked Sara." "Would you like an orgy Sara?" I tripped over someone's foot, backing away from him, so as not to let him get close enough to touch me again. He is scaring me and I can't even think straight when he does this. Could you tell him to stop? He is sick, he is perverted, he asks inappropriate questions, he touches like he shouldn't, and thinks it's okay, he puts his arm around me, and tackles me while playing basketball when I get a rebound or basket or even receive a pass, he's absolutely crazy in every way and I hate his guts. Any personal story, any autobiography, is more than merely a life copied down. Always there are subtexts and intertexts. Parts of the story that exist running alongside of the narrative like the gorgeously illustrated borders of Jan Brett's books. Borders filled with mice and rabbits and other ground creatures who live a story, too, in their own particular minuscule world within the larger story world. Always there are parts of the story we don't know. I am picking up clothes off the floor of Sara's room, trying to decide if they go in the wash or the closet. Is this camisole an item she decided not to wear, or the cast-off soiled garment of a busy day? Sorting. Wondering. Moving clothes around like words. A bricoleur of laundry, in this bricolage of a story. Out drops a folded piece of paper from the pocket of a pair of not-quite-long-enough jeans. I could tell you I didn't open it up and read it. Maybe the paper wasn't even in her jeans and I'm just writing that so you don't think I was snooping on Sara's dresser and not respecting her privacy. None of that changes what the paper revealed, what Sara wrote, the part of her story that I didn't yet know, that she didn't tell me, that I shouldn't tell you, that is not my story. 224 Cut to the basketball court. One of the boys is attracted to Sara. I can tell by what she reports he says and does. But adolescent boys often seek attention by being offensive, gross and disgusting. As Sara puts it in Chapter 2 of her book, which she gave me permission to quote: "...he makes rude sounds that should not be out of the bedroom, occasionally burps to be macho, and attacks on call (or insult)..." These days, adolescent boys also seek attention by being overtly sexual. Excerpts from Why Me? I decided that no matter what he does, I will always play with the boys and will have to deal with him. My mother says I need to tell him that I will go to someone in authority and tell them all about his harassing me, touching me, and his inappropriate remarks. I will not hesitate for one second to do so. He told me today that I play with the boys every day, and I wasn't going to today. I did anyhow. No one tells me whether I can play with the class basketball or not. He made like he was going to shoot the basketball but passed it to me suddenly. I knew he was going to do that...so I jumped up and caught the ball, and did an incredible hook shot that was a swish. He didn 't say anything about me for the rest of the lunch hour. Today he came up to me at lunch. "Sara, would you like to lick my juicy jell?" I answered no. "Sara wants to lick my juicy jell," he announced to the entire class. I ran out the door with the basketball. Yesterday he came close to me, pointed at his penis and said: "Inch by inch by inch." Then he bragged to his disgusted and tired-of-his-antics friends. My long-standing problem is now ending (THANK YOU LORD) and I will not miss the things he did to me in the least manner. My mother is going to Ms. Starch and saying, "Hey, this is enough, I don't want this to happen anymore." He has pushed his limits. Even his friends told him to stop, but no, he doesn't know when to quit... These fragments from the 100 pages of Sara's book are part of her story, but she agreed to my including bits and pieces of it here. This is not like the finding of the note. Sara wanted me to read her book. I have read all of her story and she has read mine. Though you must note that again I am claiming what was never mine to begin with. Sara wants me to edit her book and suggest revisions. Therefore, I am only providing brief glimpses of Why Me?. small tastes, and if she gets it published, you will have to go out and buy it to fill in the gaps. The note, the note. It plays in its absence like a tune that will not leave your head. It contains the missing piece in the puzzle of this story. It contains Sara's shock at the one incident that she could not seem to come to terms with, and instead wrote about on a scrap of paper. It established that the principal should not have said "just-seeking-attention, Sara's- ambiguous-signals, thought-you-were-his-friend." 225 Alice Walker writes about the empty mirror, but I can't fathom how a mirror is ever empty. Surely it still reflects the furniture in a room, the sunlight streaming through a window, the garbage can spilled over on its side, the folded paper that fell out of a pocket... Excerpt from Why Me? He is not a problem anymore. But today when I came to school, the boys greeted me with an accusation that it was my fault the class had to stay after school for knocking over the garbage can, and that I should have confessed to it. Sara and I are walking the dog on a hot summer's day in the cooler air of dusk so we will not have to wear sunscreen. I have to speed up to keep up with her long legs, freed for the summer from too-short jeans. I finally broach the subject of finding the note, carefully, gently, hesitantly. We walk and talk, talk and walk...I say I understand that she could not comfortably voice the words aloud, not to the principal, let alone me, her mother. But I also add that this one fragment of information, this jumble of words and feelings she committed to paper, left no doubt. Would probably have spurred the principal on to more appropriate and serious action. Would it have prevented the reverberations that followed? Who knows? I suspect that Sara knows at some deep level that because I am her mother I feel compelled to bring things to the surface, more out in the open. Away from the decorative illustrated borders and spilling into the illumination of the mirror, never empty, brimming with stories, hers, mine, ours... 226 I agree with my philosophical, literary and educational sisters that mother stories (and poems) need to be written and heard, and the maternal narrative and poetic space must also make room for how these stories and poems, like any autobiographical writing as re-search, can be turned over and over, so that we open the space to the in-between, the entredeux, the interval space that re-writes them from many different perspectives and in performative and intertextual ways. Then we can not only attend to what needs to be heard and made visible, but we can both present and move beyond some of the more limiting maternal myths. When women are theorised as mothers of daughters there is much to be said. (Walker 1998, 181) AN EXCERPT FROM "LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DfiaGHTER" (a poQtry rQading/performancQ p«rform«d live at Vancouver's Cityfest In May 1998) Welcome to LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER! This is a poetry reading that celebrates and complicates the mother-daughter relationship. We will end with the performance of a Jann Arden song, GOOD MOTHER, by my daughter, Sara, 14. (Introduce Rebecca and Erin, too). In relationships with our daughters, we consider our own mothers. Where does she begin and I end? Where do I begin and where does she end? The I is blurred. The daughter is in the mother. The mother is in the daughter. Think back through your mother, Virginia Woolf said. And so I did, back, back to the time when my first daughter was born and my mother was there to assist... 227 Backhand Through the Mother the blur of nights when all else asleep the two of us rocked in the creak suck sound of minutes wanting her to finish one part drifting off to sleep each draw and suck a shock of body pleasure you passed me hot cloths early morning hours knew my pain sought to ease the crust hot compresses drew my reluctant milk softened the click tsk sound of seconds you cooked scrubbed organized red raw hands dry folds of skin crooked index finger (never properly healed) shook your fatigue pointed out my dependence gratitude guilt my hands dry folds of skin hold pass cook scrub organize mother to daughter daughter to mother mother to daughter your touch there your print left on the creak suck click tsk sound of seconds smoothed between us 228 Our daughters grow, so do we, and we ALL get older. The mother- daughter-mother relationship is a three-way mirror... Chop chop! my mother dices zucchini like a sushi chef with a flourish every piece small and tidy uniform white nuggets cut with green coats migod, her shirt is on inside out she hasn't even noticed the tag at the back sticks out its warning duly alarmed i watch her precise movements as she sweeps vegetables into a bowl is this how it begins? and how do i handle this without cutting into pride without a word i turn my mother who cries, what are you doing? i lift her shirt off her shoulders the way i undress my youngest child when her head is stuck my hands radiate tenderness and humour my mother laughs with me at the adjustment made exclaims: your damn aunt; we went shopping, she didn't say a word t h i s i s how i t begins 229 Between the Lines what's wrong with your hands? she asks as i grip the steering wheel how to answer a child who writes madly, deeply about a boy she barely knows? a veneer of tracks i had not noticed until now drives over my skin do i reply: my skin's wrinkling, the elasticity's gone, it's soybean time, it'll happen to you, watch the sun, watch the road, watch what you read in those girls' magazines? instead i say my hands are dry i need some cream (and cosmetic surgery and soft lights and trick mirrors and a time machine) it is a turning point all day i check my hands rub in lotions make the lines disappear I think it was former New York Times columnist and novelist Anna Quindlen who said she had to write two more novels for sure, because she had dedicated one novel to one of her three children, and she promised the other two their turn would come. In our house it's poems. Counting how many get written about whom. Checking about poems. And also, occasionally commenting after a conversation: AND DON'T PUT THAT IN ONE OF YOUR POEMS! So the next three poems make sure to even out the process, a poem for each of my three daughters. The first is for Erin, the youngest, and it is about how we watch our children grow too quickly, the bittersweet delight of being a mother to a daughter... ' 230 Dog Day the dog lies in the same sunbeam day after day in this summer heat too his curly black coat blacker than hot tar the clothes on the line stiffen creases glue sleeves together tight no air between the fabric like summer tempers fused raspberries drop off the bushes unpicked hidden under weeds & brambles scarlet spots that mark our languor i empty torn knapsacks & put away half-used scribblers broken crayons wrinkled pictures my youngest child dances with her paper body drawing as if she knows she i s waltzing with a memory step she is dancing in the sunbeam step she is dancing in the space between the stiff sleeves step she is dancing all the fallen raspberries into wine step she is dancing so fast with paper shadows The next poem is for Rebecca, my daughter in the middle, in- between. I have learned so much from my daughters. This poem, written on the occasion of the last lunar eclipse of the century, honours all that I have learned from Rebecca, and it is about my love for my daughters... 231 Lunar Alignment under the orange glow she explains to me how the earth comes between the sun and the harvest moon how the moon slips into earth's shadow as i have slipped behind her to view the eclipse from her eyes she sounds like a Science textbook i try to fix the facts in my head as she pontificates but the moon is mystery to me an occasion for a poem a reason to trek outside with daughters and stand in moonlight my hands light upon her shoulders our voices so clear in the night a couple walking past turn their heads and stare you are the sun, the stars, the universe of light i am the harvest moon absorbing whatever rises between us as i stand in your dark night shadow together we look for Saturn's rings in a jewelled sky i warm your back this the most celestial motion of all The third poem in this series is about the mother-daughter relationship as it gets seasoned in time, written when Sara turned twelve... For Sara at Twelve you sat by me while i relaxed in bathwater no rubber ducks launched around my thighs no plastic ships sailing through my legs connected by your body stretching into womanhood 12 years old today 232 you run your hands along the ceiling leaving fingerprints sticky with childhood the length of mine you chase the dog for a hug never quite catching on to his game but always second-guessing me like a thermometer you rise and fall your mercury held in my hands you're not the mother crabs your youngest sister when you admonish her the red lipstick i gave away slashed across your lips wax fire waiting to be heated by love your face the one i know from mirrors and pictures the same knots tangle your hair and mine we both squint through glasses spotted with breath sometimes you are the mother swirling as water rubber ducks and ships get suctioned into drains Not all is sweetness and light in raising daughters, in parenting of any kind. Do you remember the man who was thrown in jail overnight several years ago for spanking his daughter in a parking lot? Well, at the time, I envied him the night in jail!... Shit Work toilet paper roll replacer filtered water jug retopper clothes refolder toothpaste swisher close-the-cupboard-doors snack and lunch co-ordinator used kleenex detonator print remover toilet flusher turn-off-every-light Barbie search and rescue captain 233 violence and sex detective family rooster in-house psychic close-the-cupboard-doors daily planner form signer time keeper appointment maker child minder wound binder turn-off-every-light protect deflect detect inspect advocate and engineer save the planet search and rescue close-the-cupboard-doors And every year about this time, I get a bout o f — I. Mother•s Madness is this what you want them to remember? the mud on the floor on the dress-up shoes on the rug on the salamander on your face the mother who rose up from the deep the tension i'm sorry i'm sorry a massive throbbing amoeba crowding the room so viscous it spreads like gel across the children across the years i felt my own mother's anger in the kitchen in the potatoes in the silence i filled with worry about words unspoken is this what you want them to remember? stop running up and down the stairs stop teasing your sister stop bothering the dog stop interrupting me when i'm working stop stop stop expecting me to be/hold everything together in my hands which are wringing words out of children which are folding words into apologies 234 which are throwing words up into a barricade STOP is this what you want them to remember? II. Out of the Fire and into the Frying Pan for god's sake get a grip you watched enough June cleaver brady bunch smile encourage a salamander in time saves nine good night sleep tight don't let the children bite to bed, to bed says mother head after a while says it all put on the ritz put on the supper there was an old mother who lived in a poem 1 potato 2 potato the 3rd potato looks like me lullaby and good night Daughters are so special. At no time is this brought home to us more than when we consider loss... Segments we are cutting the buns in half the oranges into quarters when i mention my youngest daughter threw up 3 times the night before it is then she tells me the young heal quickly your daughter will be fine daughters are special she loves her sons but a daughter oh a daughter she had a daughter once she quietly adds one minute there at the dinner table the next gone and she could not accept that absence that loss my eyes fill with the crumbs 235 gathering on the tabletop the juice released from sweet oranges her split citrus pain it is something from which we never recover, i say recalling my 2 miscarried babes and the terrible joy of daughters who are only ever on loan from one moment to the next we sweep the crumbs into a bag she cuts the orange quarters smaller even smaller And now finally, before we conclude with Sara's rendition of Jann Arden's GOOD MOTHER, let me conclude with a poem that is in a way about the new territory that we enter with our daughters whether we like it or not. Sara decided she would sew a costume for her project at school, part of their Medieval Days Festival. But I'm the mother who buys plastic capes at Hallowe'en. I don't sew. I wasn't too much help, but I saw Sara in a new light and as I frequently am with all three of my daughters, I was astonished... The Costume i can't help laughing don't sew but know lop when i see it sided the next day down on my hands and knees material spread out like a billboard poster awaiting a message i help her pull out more threads pin measure hunt re-pin the ungifted leading the eager drawing upon the artistry of common sense and love at the machine intent head bowed like a woman in prayer she runs the costume under the needle that pinpricks the fabric lightly of this scene she is so much more than me a blessing in/at disguise 236 Sara (singing): I have a good mother./ Her voice is what keeps me here./ Feet on ground, heart in hand, feet on ground, heart on hand...(fade out). Rebecca: I'm hungry! Erin: Can we go home now? TEACHING 6S N(OTHERING) Where the maternal intersects with autobiography in education is at the axis of the teaching as mothering myth, a myth that Janice Jipson examines carefully in her own teaching, a myth that she finds she cannot live up to and may not desire anyway. While trying to be the good mother to her students, Jipson reflects that she becomes instead the wicked stepmother (1995, 32) . In critically analyzing her attraction to the romantic and essentialist notion of mother as self-effacing nurturer who serves all (except herself) , Jipson decides that being the mother to her students defines them as children (33) . Such an analysis would be more upsetting to someone who teaches (young) adults, and I am thinking here of my own teaching in the elementary school, where I really am teaching children, a role that requires a fair amount of caretaking. Even so, I am hopeful that in re-constructing what she calls her metaphoric definition of teacher as mother (to teaching for social change), Jipson does not totally relinquish what Nel Noddings and others such as Jane Roland Martin have theorized as a curriculum of caring. A curriculum of mothering. It is important politically, aesthetically and ethically for women to adopt the maternal, 237 despite the considerable risk of doing so. (Walker 1998, 4) We can still nurture (mother) while we recognize and encourage independence, agency and social change, our own and others. For me, this is as important in teaching/learning and mothering as it is in writing and mothering. I am not Hannah or Doris/Martha in that I gave birth to children and I continue to mother them. And yet I am Martha/Doris and Hannah, too, as I work against the constraints of mothering and teaching, mothering and writing. When we leave our own homes and our own children to teach/mother the children of other mothers, as Madeleine Grumet points out (1988) , we can be mindful of not becoming the wicked stepmother and not letting m(others) project us into such a role. Jouxnal Sntiu <::77i is-achsxi., ore uoik mothsx oux i-tiumzti. ana Lzaus ikzhz £.(j£Xij aaij. _ ^ <^\oxtn. c^mzxiaan aona£,ht or aood motnzznood i££.mi. to hs, ons. or saaxifias., aLL for ins. cniLax&n. to ins, zxaLusCon. of tk& is/cjei. ^vzxu dinsxazi, i.au, irian noar anCld'is.n are h-azs-ntsd and iauqnt on a kibbutz in Uixas-L, ins, aoLL£,atiu-& takinq tzihonubilitu fox nzanu haxzntal akoxzi. and du.iis.5,, and z.u£n. s-iiabLiikmsni or (JoLu&i.. J.^iA iims. ii. ihsnt ixriik akiLdx&n in ins. i-inqLs. ramiLu . unit, rax Zkii tkan in an ausxaas. ratnilu Liuina in an czrfmsxiaan. lubuxb. Un JSxitain, boaxding icnooL taksi nzanu aklLdxen awau rxom tn^ix h.ax£.nti. at tks, tE.na£.x acj£. of J ox S, auttina foxmaiiuE. tisi.. -Jn£.i£ daui. both J2ax£.nti. vaoxk in nzanu famitisi-, tns. i-iaif-at-koms. <::y\/\pm of tL ig^O i -f^V i.itcomi. and tks, fundamaitaLiii moas^nz^nt an anaakxoniim ojko nzuii £,axn doLLaxi. to nzLfi kzafi tks, fanzilu finanaiaLLu afioai. ^kii (voxkina i::y\/{oyn oftzn vjoxki- doubts, tinzs, out-of-ths-nonzs. and back in it 238 IsvicUnae of tne hsztJosCueneii. of ike, good moiksx muiti: ihsXE, Li, mote to do, om jui-i i£.LfLEi.iLij dos.6. it J. Un the, sanooLi., ore tsacn and motksx ihxdsnti, vano axs, vcritnout motksxi. £.ith£X djus. to vjoxk outi-ids. tns, norm o% diuoxas,, and vjs. t£,aari and motnsx i-tudsnti. vjitn moxs. tnan one, motnzx, and cue teaan. and motksx i-tudznti vjitk. tns. txaditlonaL ^ a n £ Cds-ofjex motnsx, too, aLthouah. ihs, hai. bianifoxtmA. to tlU go i. usxiion, ofts-tt manCfs-i-tsd in. Iioms. b-Ui.ins.iis.1, a i£/2i£ of angit aliout fuLfiLLincj ksxis-Lf, and a aontinuing isaxan. fox aaditional hzsaninaful aatujitu Mich as cvxiting ox xstuxnina to xanooL f<=^yVovLr ttiai loundi itxikinaLu famiLiax. J cSo <ir4^ t i fox <^A/\otn£,x ii fox manu (jaxiaiiom. and tiEtmutaiioni. of xoU-i. and suvri's-et hoi-itions, Lsajuing motn£.x-t£.aan£,x to tans, ufx anu iLaak ox jUaaLs, oLL ihs. manu luxtamoutiom.. As we "mother" our students to write and read autobiograph(icall)y, we can both embrace and move beyond the metaphor of the nurturant caretaker who wants her family of students to express themselves. We can encourage our students to turn their own writing over and over, re-thinking, re-writing, re-vising... We can re-sist the wicked stepmother role, too, by keeping spaces open for metonymic possibility with/in the revolving words and bodies in the House of Mirrors. Only two sections remain in this House of Mirrors, before exiting to the bibliography. The following section re-turns to some of the ethical issues in writing autobiographically, such as disclosure and the complications of memory. The final section describes an autobiography project in a classroom. 239  VIII. FOUR REFLECTIONS ON THE ETHICS OF flUTOBIOGRflPHY REFLECTION 1. "There i s no e th i ca l question about wr i t ing : wr i te i t down." Kamala Das I read this quotation in an anthology of non-fiction whose autobiographical contributions include my own (Cockfield 1997, n.p.). I have been writing it down... My mother asks me for a copy of the poem I wrote about my grandmother's fork. She is proud that the poem is published in a special double issue of a journal devoted to the theme of Jewish writing (Norman 1996b). That I readily tell her. What I haven't yet said is that the poem includes a slap she gave me years ago at a Passover Seder at my grandparents' house. (Not only locusts and the slaying of the first-born make up the ten plagues at this Seder. Spill a drop of wine for the slap.) What's one slap over the years from a loving mother? But this past summer, when my family and I visited and spent two weeks in my mother's house, there was tension: don't play with the cupboard doors she tells my children who should have known better should have immediately hung the wet towels after swimming and the eldest should not be allowed to wear lipstick the same color as mine 241 i have to tell you she says in between clarifying what she meant when she berated me for allowing the youngest to phone an aunt and leave a message she 5 90 years old my mother reminds me she 'II get confused you're so jumpy she comments after the latest lecture on not placing bottles in the bathroom garbage the cause pinpointed for yet another accumulation of water only this time it turns out the sink is leaking the whole household is letting my mother down What color would a red slap turn our relationship? My mother asks me again for a copy of the poem I wrote about my grandmother's fork. She will be spending a few days with us at our house, so I risk telling her about the slap at long last. The Long-Handled Fork long strips of noodles dry the dining room table a lattice a screen door slams as we run in and out my grandmother pokes a chicken boiling in the soup pot her long red-handled fork piercing its skin small eggs harden in the broth later my cousins and i will fight over who gets to eat those eggs hard yellow balls dissolve in your mouth in those days we never thought about dead chicks or pregnant chickens i sat at that long table set for Seder ma neeshtanah halaila hazeh mecoll halailot why is this night different from all other nights 242 too shy to sing the four questions the year i was the youngest my face reddened all eyes on my indecision until my mother (impatient with my games) broke the hold with a slap don't Shirley, implored my grandmother poking her red-handled fork into more than chickens stewing when i left home i took that fork after my grandmother's heart had stopped (always a complainer no one listened to her complaint: the ache in her chest) at the airport the fork posed a great security risk the attendant tossed it carelessly into a box large enough for a table as if he somehow knew this was no mere fork the box chock-full of ghostly noodles phantom yellow eggs fictive footsteps i use that fork in my own kitchen the red paint peeled off the handle down to the plain grainy wood as my children run in and out the slam of a door a skitter past long-handled forks that pierce the skin of more than chickens the ache in my chest 243 A Fork, A Slap, A Poem my grandmother•s fork poking about in a poem my mother wants a copy she remembers only part of this story the outrageous: my trying to get through airport security with a weapon from her kitchen and the slap she doesn't recall at all i soften it by admitting i deserved it but this is written through holes like a wood table showing through a lace tablecloth the wood makes its own pattern which you see both separate from & underneath the lace one person stands in a pose taking a picture behind her someone else clicks the camera too & behind the 2 of them a 3rd lens records the record of a record a fork poem stirs a poem about a poem my mother muses about how careful a mother should be how slaps leave imprints on our children but you know that she reminds me you have your own my own standing behind me with their cameras 244 When my mother visits, I read her the long-handled fork poem, the poem above, and some other autobiographical writing in which I pay tribute to her: " ... [my mother] commented to me that she reads my articles and wonders in awe how I know so much. I know whatever I am today is because of her" (Leggo and Norman 1997). She cries. I cry. I write it down again. Every 42 00 Years above the room where my mother & i talk the Hale-Bopp comet makes its appearance for another night i am eager to spot it before it disappears from view for another 4200 years my mother, 71, has just put corrective drops in her eyes she doesn't care for comets her vision is inward streams of viscous tears rain down her cheeks i don't know how many more times her eyedrops will turn to salt my yellow words light a sodium comet in the room and one of Hale-Bopp's tails wags a trail of dust in the universe 245 On the phone my sister, with a residual trace of sibling jealousy over all the attention I am getting, says: I told her you still wrote about how she slapped you! I gave my mother copies of the poems and the tribute. But not the poems from the summer filled with tension. One slap at a time. Sometimes a slap wakes us up, and maybe what we write autobiographically is a way to speak to those with whom we are in relationship, a way to say what we would otherwise have kept silent. 246 REFLECTION 2. Di Brandt writes on a preface page in her confessional book of poems, Questions I Asked My Mother; "some of this is autobiographical and some is not" (1987, n.p.). We know from her powerful and moving essay, "letting the silence speak," that her mother was devastated by what some of those poems revealed, including the abuse that Brandt experienced from her father (1990). I tend to doubt the disclaimer, "this is not an autobiographical book/film/play/sculpture...," when I read or hear it because I think we are often not totally aware of just how our life stories shape what we do, say, write, create. At the school where I teach one day a week, a school to which I was new two years ago, I discovered another writer on staff, a talented woman who has already published a novel and a book of short fiction. One day we were talking... "Renee, will I make a good mother?" I laughed and reminded her: "J., you have been a mother for 2 3 months now! " In the spirit of beginning friendship, she lent me her prize-winning long poem, all about her abusive father and the pain she and her siblings and their mother suffered (Mitton 1991). (her father threw her mother out a closed bedroom window one day) The poem is powerful and riveting, raw, confessional. And very brave. I felt privileged that she shared it with me, and I 247 understood at a much deeper level what she had half-jokingly asked me. (in her poem she mentions how she wrote her journal in code, so when her father read her words, he would not understand) (her poem ends as her mother instructs her and her siblings to each pack one box of special things) There is no code in her poem. Zoe Landale's book of poetry, The Burnincf Stone, chronicles her re-search into her family history (1995). In the process of meeting her "beautiful ghosts," she uncovers the story of an abusive relative. Such disclosures that divulge family ghosts and secrets can cause much anger and discomfort, but like Di Brandt, Zoe wrote autobiographically, "letting the silence speak," and she sought and found publication. What are the ethics involved in this kind of autobiographical writing? Do we ignore our mothers and our fathers and write anyway? Do we bury unsavoury pasts and words that expose? And what about those of us who are not only writers and poets, but are writing autobiograph(icall)y in the re-search we do in the academy? Do we risk angering and upsetting our biological parents and upturning the laws of the fathers? And unsettling those fathers and mothers of the academy who sit around oval tables with us at defences? Theories of feminism and postmodernism and literary theory encourage us to speak and write out of the silence, to move from the centre to the margins (with bell hooks 1990), 248 to take off our strait jackets (with Jane Tompkins 1993). But do we risk: —being silenced for breaking silence? —being pushed off the edge of the margins? —getting caught in the sleeves of our straitjackets, as we shed them like old snakeskins? 249 REFLECTION 3. Today in class, our drama became quite theatrical, tension- filled and powerfully emotive, as one by one the residents of our fictional space community stated whether or not they would leave our white hole/black hole for other parts of the universe. We had been roleplaying for weeks, imagining and developing this space community and the parts we each played in it. Reaching a point of crisis, each "resident" considered the risks of remaining in the "hole" or the hazards of further journeying. I ended up in the hall, hugging and comforting Donna, who broke down and cried. Her father died this year, and I think the emotion in the drama brought her feelings of grief once again to the surface. During the drama, she insisted on re-doing an improvisation so that she could revise it. In the first version, she is seated in a rocket, about to take flight, but it crashes. She was desperately upset about having "done it wrong" (her words), not the way she wanted to. She redid the improvisation by cancelling out that shattering ending and adding more hope to her exodus, a sense that everything could once again be rebuilt. Such drama is a kind of writing inscribed with/in the body, a potent force that enables children to work through life's events, and a strong example of how the autobiographical details of our lives shape our invented stories. In the hall, speaking to her about how she missed her father, I felt so useless, and all I could think of to do was hug her and say "I understand." The role drama is a fiction, enacted in the dimensions of 250 time, space and imagination, concocted out of the children's fascination with white holes, black holes and the endlessness of the universe. But for Donna, this fiction is mostly autobiographical, all about the death of her father, and autobiography pulls her through space, like the rocket trip she mimes in her improvisation, a rocket which takes her to a different, more hopeful world. I think of my story of Donna in the drama, and I know, with the knowing that comes from loving parents and children, that her story will shape her now and for all the days of her life. We need to embrace the risks of autobiographical writing and acknowledge the significance of writing our lives by body and by pen. But what about the reliability of memory, that source and instrument of autobiography? How do we re-member (and forget) our stories, as we engage in the important business of autobiographical writing, "memory work" (Chambers 1998)? 251 REFLECTION 4. When you write about anything—in a novel, an article—you learn a lot you did not know before. I learned a good deal writing this. Again and again I have had to say, "That was the reason was it? Why didn't I think of that before?" Or even, "Wait...it wasn't like that." Memory is a careless and lazy organ, not only a self-flattering one. And not always self- flattering. More than once I have said: "No, I wasn't as bad as I've been thinking," as well as discovering that I was worse. (From Under My Skin: Volume I of My Autobiography by Doris Lessing 1994, 13) What is a memory? Is it a recollection of actual events, filtered through our perceptions and consciousness? Is it a series of sharp or hazy incidents and images which we occasionally pluck out of the past for our own purposes? Is it yet another story out of the stories of our lives, a story which can change in the way we tell it, the way it is received, the context within which it is framed? And while I'm asking, is there some Memory Judge somewhere sitting on a throne with a Book of Facts who knows when you've strayed too far from the "truth" (whatever that's supposed to be) or when you've perhaps come too dangerously close to it? ***** I consider that I have a good memory, a visual one, filled with sights and sounds and smells and pictures. I remember many of my memories like a movie, re-playing them again and again. They are full-screen, fully colorized and I can still hear voices and tones and nuances. I can remember what people have said to me, and the way they looked when they spoke, and the circumstances around the speaking. But I don't remember 252 everything with absolute clarity. I lose the order of things sometimes, and I am left with a jumble of juxtaposed and blended occurrences. And when it comes to a sense of direction, my memory is totally disabled. My youngest daughter continually gives me directions while I drive and I am grateful for the assistance. My other daughters led me off a ferry once to our waiting relatives. Still, even with my direction-disability, I believe my memory about my life to be sound and fairly intact. Subject at times to the exaggeration and embellishment we all sometimes use to adorn our lives, but with underlying grains of substantial accounts of actual lived experience. ***** In 1994-95 when I was writing my autobiographical master's thesis, I said that when I first began writing, I didn't really consider the public or the private. "But Renee," Carl Leggo reminded me when he read this preposterous statement, "what about when you used to carry every word you'd ever written around with you in your briefcase, for fear of someone else seeing it?" Oh, yeah. Right. That's what friends and committee members are for. Reality and memory checks. How could I have forgotten that stage? Or glossed over it so? Re-constructed and re-written it? What I meant to say was that I didn't really consider all the ramifications of making public my private life, like the time my prose poem about my twenty-year marriage was published in the newspaper. 253 It took some more sifting and re-membering to get a more accurate version. Or do I mean merely a different version? I find that when we write and remember, this process is colored by the present moment, and just how much writing and remembering we are doing...memories can be suppressed, forgotten, filtered by time into what we want or need at the moment...it takes a great deal of writing and introspection to uncover a "truth"...writing a memory may only be a tiny beginning kernel of a "truth," or an untruth waiting to be re-sifted... ***** There's no doubt that our words and our silences color our memories (and our inventions). There's no doubt that time and other events change the way we look back at something. But does this make a memory invalid? false? just another construction in a long row of warehouses that store our lived experiences in boxes of facts, impressions, clues, artifacts, feelings...Do we have to bring along a lawyer who argues our case for or against our memory? Geoffrey Woolf, in the introduction to The Best American Essavs 1989 writes about the story he wrote of an old friend from the Vietnam days who came to his house to forgive him for being a CIA agent and FBI informer. Woolf was neither. Woolf writes: One aspect of my account is not open to textual exegesis.... One truth, take it or leave it. Not a question of memory. A reader of that essay—a philosophy professor, for God's sake—an acquaintance, said he had scrutinized my narrative and found in it a subtext that persuaded him I had indeed been just the mole my ex-friend believed me to 254 have been. I say to that reader ... : Fuck you. (1989, xxxiv) ***** In 1995 I wrote an account of my first few years of teaching in a rural Bible belt in the Fraser Valley of B.C. in the early 70's (Norman 1995c). The memory of certain events is sharp in my mind, as sharp as the smell of the sweet daffodils I received in the Spring and the feel of the soft, purple plums offered to me in bags. I wrote these memories into an article published in the weekend newspaper. I wrote about actual events, happenings that I could swear to in a court of Memory Law if necessary: words etched forever in my mind because this was my first teaching assignment. An irate principal wrote back that my memory was selective, I distorted my account, and the interim had played havoc with my memory: to him some events were a figment of my active imagination—the latter a nice compliment for a writer, actually. Interestingly, this total-stranger-of-a-principal admitted he was principal of another larger school in the district, and based his account of events that happened to me on his own experiences. It seemed as if I had discovered a new syndrome: the repressed teaching memory syndrome. More likely, as one colleague suggested, I irritated the principal with my irreverent questioning of both teaching method and district procedure and Christian doctrine. You should irritate a principal at least once a year, this colleague added. 255 Accuracy of a memory, then, seems to be in the eye of the beholder. Or the beholder who has power. I look back at the words I chose to describe events and am conscious of how I framed them, what was not said, the interpretation that any writer/reader/text interchange brings. But I own that memory of my first few years of teaching, and however it was questioned, it felt right when I wrote it into words. Can we ever not distort what we write by virtue of the very words we use, the way we order them and choose them and arrange them? 256 SflTaRDfiY REVIEW Edacation Priorities have changed in education as they have in hfe Creation, evolution to ice on new meaning in '90s BY RENEE NORMAN All the attention recently given to the teaching of the creation theory versus the evolution theory in Abbotsford schools brings back memories of my first two years of teaching in Abbotsford school district. It was 1972, and teachers fresh out of university were lucky to be offered jobs in the Lower Mainland, so I readily accepted the first offer I received. I am grateful for my exper- ience in Abbotsford. It helped me form my philosophy of life and learning. I came to realize what teaching methods I did not want to use. I also discovered that I didn't like being bound by the strictures Imposed by IAN LINDSAY/Vancouver Sun REQUIRED READING: the Bible is read to class in an Abbotsford school in 1977 257 others. I understood something else, too. Something about what matters to me in the evolution of life and the creation of community. Feeling somewhat out of place—a Jew in the so-called Bible Belt of the Fraser Valley—I gingerly took the Bible out of the desk in my first classroom and turned to the Old Testament. I considered skipping this required morning ritual a l to- gether, but the children never let me forget, and in this district the supervisors conducted surprise spot checks and they checked everything. Were the child- ren divided into three traditional reading groups? Was I using the prescribed books? The children must sit on small chairs, not on the rug I'd brought into the room. The children must be given more blackboard busywork if they finished too quickly. No, I could not start a drama club in the school. When you're 21 and it's your first teaching job and you're on probation for the year, you read from the Bible, but it always felt like an intrusion. My own up- bringing involved all the familiar Bible stories, including Adam and Eve and the week the world was born. Moreover, I could pronounce the names of all the main characters such as Nebuchadnezzar with an impeccable Heb- rew School accent. These stories are laden with passion and purpose, messages and morals, and I believe stories are vital in education. But daily Bible reading was not my choice as a morning starter for a class of diverse, eager seven- year-olds in 1972. It seemed like an anachronism from a time when the Bible was also the reader, and the teacher was more than likely the matriarch of the family. Besides, there are other more innovative ways to introduce those stories into the class- room. Other more inclusive ways exist to create a feeling of spirituality and community in the public school. Many wonderful children's books deal with a variety of myths from many cultures. Bible reading has long been banished from the opening routines of B.C. classrooms, but I never forgot how constraining it felt to flip through this avowed best seller for some passage that would hold meaning for both me and my young charges, all the while looking over my shoulder for one of those supervisors. Priorities change in life and education, and the Bible and religious dogma legitimately disap- peared from the curriculum of class- rooms, I learned a great deal from those Abbotsford children that had nothing to do with the Bible. 258 When they chatted about cats in Show and Tell, they meant tractors in the fields, not the felines I envisioned. I received stacks of sweet daffodils and bags of soft plums and I learned to be patient with the boy who was late every morning in the spring because he had to help around the farm before school. I taught them many new songs on the piano in my room and I even introduced some drama activities (but called them something else). The biggest problems these children had were bed-wetting, boredom with my endless blackboard questions about wooden reader characters and—for some—poverty. Today, over 20 years later, I listen to the children I teach in Vancouver. It is a different world. I listen to Alice comment that the folk song we've just learned would have been a nice one for her auntie's funeral, the auntie who died of AIDS. Andy tells me how he spent the holidays with first one parent, then the other. And Sharlene a n - nounces that her mother married her father this week. Whether it was a big bang or somebody's rib that led to life, children's lives today are full of change and sadness. Once I drove down a street and saw some children I had taught years earlier. I saw dear, familiar heads, much bigger, perched on alien, elongated bodies, and I wanted so badly to call out the window some of what I had learned in my first years of teaching, much of it from those Abbots- ford children. Jimmy, I'm sorry I made you miss all those recesses to finish those useless blackboard questions, while your uncoor- dinated little fingers held the HB pencil too tight. Polly, I should have hugged you more, smell and all, lice and all, hugged and held your thin brown arms in that sleeveless dress you wore all winter. Danny, your mother was right. You could read. Randy, sing as loud as you can o f f - key, and never mind about the festival. These are the prayers and passages that I need to chant in the schools, theo- rized from love and tolerance and fo r - giveness, remem- brance and regret, defiance and humility. The age-old debate about creation or evolution rages on in a new context, one where children dwell with the awareness of dreaded diseases like AIDS, with divorce, with dysfunction, with disillusionment. So I'm going to concentrate my energy on many songs and stories, on harmony and move- ment, laden with recognition for both past and present but seeking hope in the future. ^^„ 259 Renee Norma-n is a writer tivinff in Coqxjtittam. a/nd a/nd "YmrMl detla/nce wrm fHJUTmtuM 260 SflTORPfiY REVIEW LETTERS Renee Norman's account of teaching in Abbotsford in 1972 was interesting, but I'm afraid the intervening 23 years have influenced her memory of how schools in this district operated during her first teaching experience. I was principal of one of Abbotsford's larger schools in 1972; at that time The Lord's Prayer and Bible reading were compulsory, without comment, in all classrooms in B.C. However, if a teacher had a legitimate reason for not participating it was the principal's obligation to find an alternate. Sometimes an older student performed the 90-second exercise. Her statement that the district supervisor conducted IAN LINDSAY/Vancouver Sun BIBLE READING: account of Abbotsford scfiools in 1972 was distorted 2 6 1 surprise visits are more figments of her active imagination. Many of the classrooms were fully carpeted and lessons were often conducted with pupils, and sometimes the teacher, ! seated on the floor. In some of the older classrooms, a small carpeted area was often supplied: for that purpose. As for drama being a forbidden topic, more nonsense. Most elementary schools put on plays, musicals and concerts. The secondary schools had drama clubs. In fact, Abbotsford sponsored a drama festival for many years. If one of her biggest problems was pupiis bedwetting, then her class was unique. In my 30 years as a principal, I knew it to be a problem with very few seven-year-old pupils. Some of the rare cases I did hear of were caused by insensitive and poorly trained teachers. If pupils suffered from boredom, that was the teacher's fault. Most of the Grade 2 teachers I knew made school and learning an exciting and worthwhile experience, even in Abbotsford in 1972. JM Abbotsford 262 M is Sor M(other) Metaphor Metonymy Mirrors Magnets For my birthday, I asked £or a hot tub. Don just laughed. So I settled for a (second-hand, $50) desk of my own in the computer room, w^here I either had been perching at one of our tw^o computers with my books and journal balanced over keys, or w^riting on top of the incredible mountsdn of paper on Don*s desk. If I don't have a room of my own, or a hot tub, a desk will do nicely for doing dissertation. I in^ted my daughters to w^ork at my desk any time I*m not there. Often during the day when they are aw^ay at school, I find a w^orld atias or a Sarah MacLachlan CD or one of my electronic grandchildren (a Tamagotchi)—more often than not dead~l^ng in- between my w^ords. As if to remind me tiiat my w^ork is grounded in other w^orlds, other people, other metaphors and metonymies. Sometimes after the rush of afterschool-supper-deanup-piano- saxophone-bassoon-singing, I drift downstairs to my desk for a few^ more minutes of dissertation, and my daughters join me in the computer room with their homework. I have made it clear that at this time it is okay to interrupt me when they need help. I move between autobiography and spelling (does bee rhyme w îth leave?) and mapping (what latitude is the Antarctic Circle?) and French (help me study the months; does decembre have an accent? how on earth am I supposed to fill out a passport application en fran^ais?). I am quite used to an interrupted life, but occasionally when I lose a thought mid-sentence in order to hear un-deux-trois or help fill in another one of those infernal blanks on those interminable spelling w^orksheets, I dream about a hot tub. In a room of my ow^n. Occasionally w^hen someone refuses to go get help from Dad (he's the geographer and I have no sense of direction anyway), I think it is the words I am writing, the project I am involved with, that bring my daughters like magnets to my side, so they can share me and my work. (And ansrway, Mom, I can't go to Dad with my French homework. You have the best French accent. Dad's sucks!) Vive le hot tub! 2 6 3 IX. N I R R O R I N Q T H E C L fl S s R o o N C L s s R o 0 N 264 DAILY PLANNER DATE April 21 TIME: 9:00 AM CONTENT: Begin Autobiography Project. Share excerpt from Erica Jong's Fear of Fifty, the one where she writes about her father, then interviews him for a reality check. Read aloud some of my autobiographical writing—poems and narratives. What is autobiography? Can it be defined? Their ideas on a long sheet of white paper rolled across the floor. Explain the project—writing interviewing versioning dramatizing. We will be writing autobiographical episodes, something that "really" happened to you, yet involves others. These will eventually be shared in various ways—readings, script, drama...We will look at truth, a complex notion. We will write various versions of the same episode, so it should be one you can stick with for a long time. You can interview any others connected to your episode and we will compare the versions, the interview notes. They should begin thinking of what to write about, REMINDERS: Felts and long roll of paper. Band people will have to catch up. 265 DAILY PLANNER DflTE April 28 TIME: 9:00 AM CONTENT: Display the long sheet of paper and discuss their views on autobiography. Share more of my autobiographical writing. Read several of the vignettes from bell hooks' autobiography, especially the ones that deal with what it is like to be a child. Begin writing a draft of the autobiographical episode. REMINDERS: Bring Boneblack. Band is cancelled today. 266 autobiography-the art of life WRITE REMEMBER describing experience YOUR LIFE autobiography: your life on paper experience of a life time something that makes you think about your own life expressing your life through your words a story of life YOUR STORY OF THE PAST A TIME OF IMPORTANCE my life a story of your closest stories your interpretation of life RECOLLECTION OF A LIFE remembering your past and writing about it GROWING THINKING REPRESENTING YOURSELF Story of a lifetime autobiographies are stories or important events in your life THOUGHTS & DREAMS writing a story about younelf and your life autobiography is a piece of work revealing the life of the author; but don't believe everything they say because they may screen or change (incidentally and accidentally) the truth RECALLING THE PAST reminiscences your own words or the words you've spoken FEELINGS ABOUT YOURSELF, BY YOURSELF 267 QjOUxnaL Snbiu U usqan ioms. vjoxk in/on autoiriogxahmj vaitn ins ^xads ^l6l'j'^ ijsiisxdau. SJ^ixit vers Looksd at ins vaoxd, and J^onaLd knsvir tnai auto msani isif and insxj aLL qusi.isd at hio and qxahniJ--aoxxsatLu[ £) ihixsad a Lona tiisas of fiahsx on ins fLoox and adisd insm to wxits (xrnat insu inouani auio/ljLoaxahnu msani ox sniaiLsd. H/vs vcriLL Look traak at inii Long fiahsx oj/zsn vjs vs movsd inxouan oux hxofsai aaiiuitisi, fujnian U (js dCuidsd into isationi. inat incLuds xs-vjxiiina and fixsisniina J, fisxnahs addina to ins fxafisx in diffsxsntLu aoLoxsd fsLti.. '\jsva nod aaiualLu xsad anu aiitouiogxafmisi. sxasfit fox ons fisxion mho nod xsad ahout a J^isnsu aaxioonisi. <Soms nad xsad Lriogxafinu and knsvj tns diitinaiioni. Ijstvjssn thsm. i^omsons laid, ^Ws us xsad oux ovjn auiob-ioqxafinu, a LousLu xsfsxsnas to novj vas Lius oux Liusi. in a (xnitsxLu/xsadsxLu jainion. c/ffisx U xsad ifzsJn ins sxasxhti from ^xiaa f-fO>^cj i auiobioaxafinij, insu vjsxs lioxisi of insix ourn aniLdnoodi., suoksd in haxi bu Sxica i. oojn cjuixku i-toxisi. as vjsLL o i nsx fainsx i. ^Ws nad to Lunii susxuons to tsLLina tvjo itoxisx sack, as tnsu xsm£,musxsd moxs and moxs inaidsnti- and sfiiiodsi.: JDOLT: ins onLu fiofifiu in a fisid tru an DiaLian uilla and insu vuantsd to hick that fiofifiu, LTui vjouldn't; a vjssk Latsx ins fisid fiLLsd vjitfi fiohhisi. <:d\o, JDOIJ i ivjin i-iitsx, <~iUian, aoxxsatsd, ins itoxu cjosi.--insu vjsxs isndina a aroundsd moin vcrno nit a (uindow. —Jnii. moin vaai- giusn to insm bu oinsxi- itaXjing in ins uiLLa, iinas tnsxj nad aanisusd a xshutation jox motn-xsuiuoL tsanniaixsi.. -Jnsij vjonisd to aias ins tsndsx taiiu moxisL of xaxs fiotifiu to ins moin, but VJSXS nsld back bu Hi. i.inauLax i-iaiui.. (Sanosi. of f10f1.f2.isi. in iJLandsx i iJisLdi. and ins xsusxsnas axsaisd fox ins fLow^sx, a i.umboL ones 2 6 8 a usat • ) cirfLL tnCi aaainit tns. i.ad iraakdxofx of vcfriat tn&ix hom&xoom tsaan&x riad jUii toid rm. that moxninq, t/U tL anddx&n aaxxuinq on. in tL noxmoLitu of tzLLLnq fauoxits. ijis-aiai taL£.i., itoxLEi. fuLL of fahzLlu biiji msmoxis.! and ths. vcrondsx of anildnood. arj-nd J^onna, vcrno Loit ncx fathsx Laii ueax, ds-iaxiirinq nova ins. isaxd:Lu aLiynlj£.d out nsx vainaooj onto tns, xoof, and £.ntijzsxi ^ounq jxisndi to do tnii., too. Sv£.nt\xaLLu uzaxi Latex, ins. aonfe-issA to nsx dad, ojno £.xaLaini£xi: if U d knovtm uou ojont&d to, U d nwjs, ti£,d a xofis axound uoux vjaiit and nE-Lfizd uou. c/r fathsx nonoxinq tns. dsiixs-i. of an inauiiitifjs, cniLd. crj-i. if Lii.tznsA., LI tnouqnt hour imhoxtant it ii. to axsats. a ihiacs, fox th£.i£. itoxiei., fox uxinalna ds-ad fatJfisxi. uaak. t£.mfioxaxiLu, fox fis^fiina duinq motnsxi. in tns, fiiatuxs,. czrfYid Aamls. trsainnina: Jnii ii. not xsaLLu mu itoxu, it i mu bxotnsx i....<:ho vanois. itoxisi. xsaLLu axs tnsXj: U ask, and do vers xsaLLu ovcrn tnsm? •cSnouLd vas tsLL/vjxits tnsm.: <::J\o anivjsxi., juit Loti of ausiiioni, and {J tsLL tnsm ons of mu daxxqntsxi, laid that to ms: Jjt i. mu itoxu. <^LL tnii. discuision vcritn tns Lausx of a dsLiaats usiL ousx m.u susi.-- issina tns tvcrim. motnsx in cSstitsmlrsx, imiLina, xobuii, fxisndlu, tsLLina m£, noar muan nsx aniLdxsn sniousd tns Cxsatius 'E.xfnsi.iion LMioaxam; tnsu vjouLd not join Band if it msant tnsu miiisd loms of it. <^:^y nsaxt sxfiandi. at oLL tns aniLdxsn 5. ivjsst and funnu and i.iLLu itoxisi., mu nsaxt bxsakina tnat a motnsx miant not hs axound to nsax tnsm anumoxs. 269 r Loving Others: the Finest Act, the Riskiest years & years in the same house then something else goes: the stove element a friend's breast the tiles are loose by the front door next: a uterus? a clock? a bowel? who will break & what will wear out next? that phone call very late at night —just a wrong number stops the heart temporality calls daily driving away from my house i pray for a return trip & new linoleum to cover the old i want another year without b i - foca l s or yirzat for the dead i don't want to conjure up more children navigating crosswalks motherless where i pause 270 DlilLY PLANNER DfiTE May 5 TIME: 9:00 AM CONTENT: Finish writing the autobiographical episodes. Band people should complete them by next week! Next—interview someone connected with the story. This must be done out-of-class. Either tape-record, take notes, or write it up retrospectively. Share some of their writing today and identify any other points of view for possible versions. For example, in "The Note" story I. read them, the principal. How else could the episode be written? Begin thinking about this. Imagine, or use details from the interviews. Refer to the questions I devised in Section V of my dissertation ("The Strangeness of Autobiography: from the Other Side of the Mirror"). Next—we will share the interview results, then write another version of the drafts, either in terms of content or form. REMINDERS: Meeting at UBC afterschool! 271 Ruined Snbiu Jns. cuiioljioazahn.u fiiojsai Li, sxaCilnq, cdi(j£. inriin hoi-i-LLrdiiCsi.' £) X£,ad insjrn ioms, of mu nazxatuusi. and l20£,biu, and insu VJSXS. io i-vjssi and afibx^aiaiius,: Hjou ihoidd fiut uowi fiosbiu into a book' —Jnsn U xaxid loms, of ins. irsLL nooks, u^iansiisi. io ohsn uji ins. itiaass. fox fotm ai. arsLL as aonisni. £1 alio zsad nzu iouaniJ-iofiCa <^:Afoi& iioxu, vanian ausitConi ocrnCan liozLSi. axs (vnois., and ins unknovtm fiaxii of xioxisi.. Jksu aouLd naxdiu vaaii to asi io insix noishooki. and ixjxiis, unLLks oiksx axumljLina oaaasLons. in i(U h.ast. lD>onna afitixoacnsd ms trsfoxs trsqinninq, vjondsxinq if vers vaouLd (js ikaxinq vcrnai vjs vjxois. JJ ius-i ini.iinaiiusLu knsoj ins vjonisd to wxiis aJjoui ins dsatn of nsx fainsx Laii usax, so D xshLisd inat U naa, i.aid vers ojouid inaxs and dxamatizs insix auioljiocjxahniaaL (xrxiiina--lJ oLojaXjS. nzaks inat aLsax trsfoxs (vxiiing ox dxamatixinq inroxk—ijut inat shs. eouLx do inat novasusx ins (vii.n£.d. \Jox sxamhLs, ins could ihaxs a h.axt of it. jDut iJ alio i.aid not to i,naxs it at alt if ins anois, inat arnai ojai iinfioxiani (vai. ivxiiina fjsxionoLLu about arnai i-ns fsLt ibionaLu. ons fioini duxinq ins vnoxninq, not iss nsx and inouani ins naa flsd, but no, i.ns anois a fxxiuats nook in (xrnian to (vxits, fixoud bu xsasa tims inat ins nad aottsn io vnuan aa<io)nh.Liinsd. CTri noon £1 xsad ujnat ins nod ojxiitsn, nauina saxLisx doubis-ansaksd inat thii. cvai. okau. U xsad it at mu dsik, ofisnLu axuinq. Ut arai an inaxsdibls hisas, about novj nsx fainsx i. dsatk rxssa nsx in a ibianqs ioxt of ojau, now ns vjiLL olvjoui. bs tiaxt of nsx... crrj-nd all mu hlani. fox fioit-iixuaiuxal aonisxiualization and aomfiLiaation diaoLasd as ii diisoLusd (xritn ins imfiaat of nsx nsaxtfuL, smotional vjoxd±. arfsxs in ins faas of nsx nsaxt ins fact inai insxs axs manu 272 ixuini. did noi nzaiisz susn a LiiiLE., noi usi at Lsasi. crfovj aouLx U intioduas usxiiom and diitoxiionn, in ins vjoks of a anitd i usxu xsaL qxisr and xsTLsaiion in xsihonss io a haxsni i. dsatn: CTTLL inat matisxsd at ins momsni or ins vjxiiinq vjai. ins ibisnain or ins rssiinai., ins dsuxs io aomynii ifzsnz io hahsx, ins xiik in (xroxdinq in a (jsxu fnujLia hlaas luen (jsxu hxiuais inouanii. id imjii and unaxEiSLoni.. D xsaLLzs that oux nsxt itsb.--io inisxuisoj hsohls aonnsaisd io ins sjiiiods—miLL naus io us ojoxdsd dinsxsniLu, so inat insu jssL jxss io aonasius of ins inisxuisfxj as a ihaxinq of ins J2isas, not an inisxxoqaiion in a dsaondxuaiius vsin vjnian miqnt sssm imsmiiajs io (jsxu xsaL, usxu ssnuiius nzatisxi.. —Jnsxs axs biq, uiq xiiki. on susxuons i fzaxi. njss, n u fx a/ns ilU nsxi finass as a inaxina vaiin an/oinsx vjnonz uis wxiiina ii. ahoui ox inuoLtjsi,. Jnsn iksij inouid xsmsmusx and xsaoxd ins xssuLii.. a xs-voxiiinq in anoinsx ksu, (ffiin xs-fisxauss-ioni. and xs-sonanasi,. 273 ^ouxnai Sntxu M 4 ^ coniinusA urCtn oux autoLrCogzahkiaal vjoxk, todau moitLu ds-uoisA to onitincj. H/msn tns, JSana itudsnti. Ls-jt, D izad tnsjn mit Stnuii. jiU-as. cuTout ths. axandmotksx i /o^^ jios-m, to dEmonibiats. ths. manu usxi-iom. and hsxynxxtaiioni. or anitina tnat aan a%ii£~ out or an inaidznt ox s-jiiiods.. D want tnan to nsax aaout mu ovan nci-Ctation in ihaxinq mu jios-m, but novn it tuxn£.d out okaxj, tnouan it i-tilL xaii&i. i^iusi.. U xs^xd aLL tn£,ix jiis-as-i. at xs/is-i-i.: J^onaid i. t i all 6na£an£.i. or diaLoaus. and fox ones., ru, waxm&d to tns, taik. dans, i ii i£/2itftore and tnouqntful. <=Sui4in i Irieaki mu nzazt, tns. lad undsxauxxsnti, of vjnat ii XS-OLLU nafifi&ninq novj in hsx life, anaxainq nsx mzmoxu-iioxu of a familu kolidau. f^Ss^ina a famz: no(v i.ns ojilL alixraiji. x£J7isml7£.x tnat moment. LLnvjxitt£,n: tns. fiainfuL xsalitu of a iiak motn&x ivitn aanasx. tvjinx issm. n.ah.k.ij, ohLi^jioUi. ^Wnsn Jj anaitsd ojitn Joanna auout nsx uniting, jJtoCdLx it ojai, an inaxsdiijLs and fiovjsxfuL fiisas. <=£)«£ told ms urnsn nsx J^ad uxai. duina ihs. fiut ufi a inisld to as-t tnxouan tnat tims. i=bns iaid thai i-ns. ivould trs vjiLLinq to inaxz vakat ihs. voxots I fox nsxisLfj, ijut tnat ins d bsit not hsaauis tks tojini. mom nas aanasx and tneu man Lrs ikisLdinq tnsmis,l<js± to aofis, too. U xsjilisd tnat tnii. vjas (jsxu isniitius of nsx, and vaiis, and tnat it i naxd to knoixr vjnai i hsii to do, Lrsaaias it ii. alio fjsxu nslfifuL fox othsxi. to know and xsad and ksax about tisotds goina tnxougn limiiax sxfisxisnasi. J^onna fiLam, to ihaxs and dxomaiizs a is,aond tiisas ojnian ins will vaxits. U think it ii. usii to dsfsx totalLu to nsx aniid-i.izsd vaiidom, vanian as fax ai. U m aonasxnsd, iuxfiasisi. tL aomf2ai.i.ion and numanitu of ioms adulti Uos known. Saxlisx wnsn ^ans kad hsgun wxiting, ins boLksd and sxalaimsd: xs going to ifiaxs tfzii??!!??" ^ s muit kandls autobioaxafinu dsLiaaisLu and bs (jsxu ojisn about oux hdam., Lsanjing Loti of Lsswau io akildxsn axs 274 re££ io diicLoi£, vjnai incu vcrii-n. and kssh i£,ax£,i, idsni, kcdd&tz vjkai iizcu vcrUk, too. c/fi iks. C^SCJ\CTT aonjEXsnas., <:y\/\ax. uan <:^^an£.n ao>nn2£.ni£A ika£ iscTefi otc7£ £,(jiA£na£. of a s^If. <:=io, ioo, do£.x auioljCogzahkiaal ixniiinq, and ins. i&LT urko voxiis,! qxah.hLz.i. vaiik many hszional and sikiaaL ixi,U£,i ikai kaus, io do ivCik oakai anuone urko brsaki. i-ilenas ox aomsi. io unLiina muii at ioms, iimz. aonhoni. Jkb, hxooEM. i££.yni. diffsxsni foz susxijons., and issnii, deoELohymniaL, ioo. ^^oYnddiinq ikai SIJIJI and fLovcn. Like iks iCds, oLvjoXji iksxE., in, oui, ckanqinq kowiLu, dadu, a ufs. fozas io Lrs. xsakon&d vjCik. ^I/VE Look (xrkEXs. iks icds. Li. marked ksfoxz vjs. knoixr vuksiksx Li ± safs ox ortie io vjolk aaxois iks, i.and. i^iAfois.: J^iXad ii, douzq kii, as a akxonioLs,, cvlik dats.5. and snixis-i.. Di {XjoL he. ini£,X£.i.iinq io ies. vjksxs. ii qosi.. Jexsia i. Li. Lcks a hosm, jxom kcx hoCni of uL&viT as a uounq ahu-d. <::yV£.xi cLaM., iksu axs. io xstioxi on ikz.ix i.kaxincj/ini£.xuL£.vji. uriik xianifiaani oik&xs and vjs, vaiLL dCsauxi- kooj ikai aoLoxx iks, oxiainaL cvxliCnq. D VJLLL LiksLu aih iksjm io wxCis uh. iks sxfisxisnas, of ikaxinq/ini&xuisifirina, iksn go taak io iks sfiLiods and xs-voxiis ii. crfova urouLd U^onaid x us diffsxsni in fixoxs: Gx JSxad x: CouLx <diiiian laxiis a jiosm auoiii iks favcrn? CTjnd kooj aouloi iksu inaoxhoxais infoxmaiion ox unfixsniom. fxom, iks inisxijisar/xkaxinq f 275 At The Tables this year death has been a presence in the classroom sitting among the tables like a new bully no one wants to rile invisible but clearly seen in the twins• mother diagnosed with lung cancer and Donna•s father who died last year and Jane's piece of writing which records her first day of school with a mother seven years dead the twins smile, write about summer cabins and fawns who came close enough to touch memories that will last longer than their mother Donna w r i t e s : there was a certain freedom when my father died he will always be a part of me aloud she tells me she was like the twins not yet facing up to death that bully the ghost of Jane's mother walks through conjured words too: the crisp scratchy feel of a new dress the relief at a beloved familiar face a t t h e end of a day she takes her place at the table 276 JouxnaL iJxaqnienti. .. .Aans, X£.aa nsx aXxtobioaxahn.iaoL tiisas., bsaxxtijuL ivxitina vjxitts-n in a uouna (joias aJjout tns. fixit aaXj of ianooL aaaomfianisA IJU hsx mom. \p£,XT£.a.tLu aafituxinq ths. aniLa-izm^. of not knovirinq (xrnat ii. qoinq axouna nsx in tns, adult KTOXUL, but fssLinq ssauxs. cvitn nsx mom. <Stz£. saxLisx inaxcd tns ixnitinq uritn a alaismais., and (xrnsn U aikza mnu, ins. xsjiLisa: J^saaiiis mu mom disd i£-(jsn usaxi. aao. U fsLt tsxxiljLs. crfi. a motnsx^ iJ am. affsatsd dssfiLij bij thsi£. itoxisi,. c^i. a tsaahsx, D am xsminds,d vas muii bisaa aaxsnxLui. 13ut tns anildxsn issm to nssd to (xnits ahout tnsis mattsxi, to talk ahout tnsm ofisnLu. QJtnsxocriis tnsu vjouid not naus anoisn to units ahout tnsm.... .. .£} osksd c/\ousxt if ns xsaLLu xsmsmhsxsd nil iioxu, ox if ns xsmsmhsxsd tns itoxisi. toid to nim, ox ijotn. erf- bit of both, ns iaid. -Jnat Lsd to a aood dii^Ui-uon of urnai uxs biuLu xsmsmhsx, uxnat urs xs toid, and svsn urnat vjs dxsam. f^oms of mu anildnood famiLu iioxisi vasxs xstoLd io oftsn U no fongsx xsmsm^sx fox aaxsj if it ii. t/zs msmoxi^ in mu nsad ox tns iioxij of tns m£.moxu. -L>O U xsalLu xs-aaLL xunnina aaxoi-i. a huiu CaLqaxu i.bisst o i a todoLsx, naxxovaLu siaahinq dsatn, ox do U xs-aaLL mu fiaxsnti. xs- countinq noar mu fatnsx Lst go of mu nand and nour ns urai xstiximandsd bu tns tioLias offiasx mno aauqnt ms?j <^^U ihuisnti. and U diic.Ui.isd oux saxLisi-t ms-moxisi, and tnsu alL o^isd to tsLL tnois, a nodas fiodas of imaqsi: axib baxi., Si,, aasfiinq fox bxsatn ai an infant (a fixsmatuxs babuj, alL luaqsitina UJS xsmsmbsx in diffsxsnt cvaui.. <~ioms of ui xsmsmbsx back to oux infancisi.. cTrLL tnii. issmi aomhiLiaatsd bu tns auxxsnt dsbats about xsb.xsi.isd m£,moxu lundxoms.. Un an axtioLs bu jouxnaLiit iPaJuLa JSxook ahout a tsacnsx faiisLu aaauisd of abuis, U xsad tnii: ... tnouan tns sxfisxti. did aqxss on ons tning: tnat msmoxu— alt msmoxu—ii. fxaqiis and iti xstxisuaL can bs aontaminatsd ... (iQQ^/ 26j. ^=^W itudsnti'itoxisi dsmomtxats dssh. 277 avaaxsne-ii. and the. ouiLiiu to tans, in and i£Jrn£,nzu£.x at saxLu aas,5,. cyfovir iniJ2X£.i.i-ionaljL£. KTS. aLL i££,)n in ouz ismoxu itaisi.. CoLoxi., imh.zs.ii.ions., rs-s-Linai. smotlonaL and taatiLs, ftks. axiij haxi. kuxt vanzn U jixs^i-iEa aqaimt tn£.nij... -JrLz,i£, aniLdx£.n Lous, to talk auout vjnai is. aoina on imids tnsix nsads., tneix consaioui ssLuss. IJ tnink of <:Tfd%isnn£, <:J\ian i, J20£,m, IBsaxs., figgo, llSJ: Lrsaxi tnat vcraLksA mu xoom aLL niqnt, ^vm£,X£. nous, uou qons, uoux sLz&k and faixu tux, ^1/ms.n did U Loss uou? ^vmoss najus. uou Lrsaonis? ^Imzu do Jj (vait and urait and nsusx nsax Uoux tnick noatuxnaL jiaainq in mu xoom: £H£.xhatis. <cf\ian s hostia aussiions htaas. msmoxu and aniLdhood in an ints-xs-stinq kgkt. m^s a£[ k afjs. us-axs of oux aniLdhood niqnts., X£.aL and imaqin£.d. <^om£. are kss-h, some, ewe foxqst, some, vers, oLtsx, some, ore qi^js, aarau in oux oven hosms and stoxiss.... ...—Jn&ix cLass.xoom t&acn&x nas. assiqn&d tn&m an autobioaxafinu to X£.ad. Ut vaiLL us. intsxss-tina to find out vjfzat tns.u us anossn, nova manu axs autnozsd tru vjomsn, and urnat tnsu tnink of hotn foxm and aontsnt. J^nsss cniLdxsn xsad adult Litsxatuxs, as. mu oLdsx dauantsxs Lrotn do. Jj vcronasx novj tns. xsadinq of tns autotrioqxahniss uriLL affsat tns h.xojsat vcroxk vjs axs doinq--vaiLL tnsu cjst moxs idsas fxom vanat tnsu xsad: ^WilL tnsu naus moxs ausstioni:.,. ...J^onna told ms hsx mom. qot a h.os.t-doa and tnsu arete movinq ousx tL summsx. iJ vjiinsd nsx Luck, of couxss, and said U d miss. nsx. Un nsx ssaond autoLrCoqxahkiaaL hisas, s.ns vjondsxsa. vjnai Lifs ujould bs Lins in a nsur hLaas vjitnout nsx dad. <:^ns tolxL ms vjnsn sns fixst aaJns to oux ianooL, sns nad to (vxits an axitohioaxaJihu, and nova that sns vaas, Lsajuinq, s.ns vaas, aqain 278 Vinitina autoLrLogzahnLaaLLu. LZO/Z aUiaLs,... [bsad Cn ins. alaii'iooni ...JDOIJ anois. an autoijioazahnu anittsn by a JD.C^. vjonian, aLL aJjout nsx ijoaiCng adusniuxsi. vjitn ns.% jatniLu. Unis-xsiiingLu, ins liaak aousx aoLLsd it a uioaxannxi, hut IBoh laCa aonrCdsntLu thai it ixrai. an autohCogtahnu, and ins fact inai tns hxoiagonist i. najms Li ins auinox s nanzs aonrixmi. ns i ahioLutslu xicjhil... .. u-iitsjning to ons anoiksx i sh.iiodsi,, 'jsxi.iom. Izai. xsaLLu h.aid on. Jnsg axs bixjincj uaxioui. roxnzs. and xsaLLu hLaXjina witn jioii-ihiLitisi.... ... Jnsis, axs ahiidxsn i. xsal Li<jsi,. ^Ws nssd to kixoassd aaxsruLLu cvitn scrsxuifilna ars iuij and do in tsaahlna. ^ns Lovjsx urs naus and hoLd and Uis,...c:rfovj KTSLL 1/ iiiLL xsmsmhsx <i:5T(Ti. cirj-oxn i. i-lak. aaxos.i. mu raas usaxi ago ins hook <:^^xi.. .Aahls inxsvcr at ms mu ^xads 4 is-aansx xsadina aloud jxom J.o i. jBioui. <::y\/{x5.. <^A/{iLLsx aoLLina ms uh. to ao ousx mu ivxitina aritn m£,... ^ns sano of mu oum Lifs as a middis afidd in a middis aLa^i famdu of foux hsnind alL insix vjoxdi and aatiom... ... iJssLing isn fsst taLL in mu nsoj gLai-^i., ins iffoxLd ikaxh. and aLsax ins hxoivn-gxssn gxaii. an d fx sonisi dxoohina fuLL of anii. 279 tks, uL££.din.a nsazti. zed Liks. 1/ nod nstj&z i&en inah. dzaqoni. oJ2£,n.in.q tksiz uzLLooij-zsJ.-h.Cnk moutns to cusLaoms. tnu nsocr isnis or acuCtu and hszas-htion... J^satk in tks, alaiizoonz mizzoz ...crfn intszsi.tincj diicUi.5.ion vaitk crfxisL usiiszdau. <^ks ikazsd ksx ojzltvna vcritk ksx dad, vjkai iks. aaLLsd autokCogzahkCaal hCatuzsi.. cyfs tkouqkt iks. mads, ksx ufs lound too xad and didn t Liks ons bazt akout ksz mom i, anqsz toocrazds kim. <So wkat CTTzisL did vjai. tons, dovan and zs-vjozd tkai ons, h.azt, kut iks itilL ksht tks zsit intact. U told ksz if tkouqkt iks, kad aatsd isniitivsLu kut as a urzitsz, konozina ksz fatk&z i. Tssiinai. kut itiLL makina ksz ovjn imhoztant vcnitinq dsaiiiom. .cSks. Looked lo hLsaisd... cyy- nsiv kiq VLTOZUI (xrkszs a motksz vjoaid not ks ...nt ii. ainaz.inq to diicousz koiv tksss akildzsn kandls. situations, tkai adult cvzits.zi./autokioazah.ks.zi. muii snaountsz... 280 <iaTOBIOQRflPHY FORN Your name: 1. Now that you have written and re-versioned an autobiographical episode and also shared it, how would you complete the following: Autobiography is ^ fiCe<ue Truth is '' jte^Se ! 2. Have your views changed at all from the beginning of our work when we wrote on the large roll of white paper? If yes, how? cawfihte' CAtHftieCe 3. What auto/biography have you been reading? Title: Author: 4. What compelled you to choose this particular auto/biography? (Be as candid as you like.) • , f/bt 5. co^nent on the auto/biography you are reading: ' ^ 6. Did reading this auto/biography affect your views on the writing of your own autobiographical episode? Explain. Luuit ^nnt 7. Additional Comments on the Writing, Re-writing and Presenting: 281 JUNE REPORT CfiRD During the final term, we ended the school year with some work on autobiography. This included the writing of an autobiographical episode, followed by sharing this writing with, or interviewing, someone who could provide a response to it. Throughout this project, we also considered what autobiography entails, heard excerpts from a variety of published and student autobiographical writings, and the students were asked to choose published autobiographies to read as part of their ongoing class work. During our work, we discussed many possible ways of rewriting an episode, such as including various points of view, using different genres, and even interrupting the flow of the narrative.Some students accepted the challenge of somehow incorporating the results of their interviews/sharing sessions into their written products, if possible. Others worked on expanding and complicating the original piece of writing in other ways. During the last two sessions in June, we concluded this project with dramatized presentations of the students' autobiographical work. For example: dramatic readings; scripted or improvised plays; dialogues; the presentation of both versions of the autobiographical writing interspersed one with the other, etc. The students have worked creatively to produce and present some interesting autobiographical project work and it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with them. Good luck to the Grade 7's and those who are moving on to other schools. I wish everyone well with their future pursuits. Have a safe and happy summer. 282 (aNTITLED NflRRflTIVE) Outside of Kamloops, the steady rhythm of the wheels on the highway with a forward thrust reminds me that many of the children move on to new schools, new places next year. Such leave-taking is a constant feature of school life and yet it is one which never fails to move me, with mixed feelings. I've taught these children over the course of two years, and although that was only for a part of the day, once a week, we have developed relationships. This builds regardless of the number of minutes. Time is relative to much more than quantity. In some ways I am so sorry to see them go their various ways, knowing it is likely that unless I run into them at a library or Safeway or glimpse them walking down a street somewhere in ten years, only the head familiar on an elongated body, I will lose touch with them. I remember students who have returned to visit. It is never the same. Some unnameable distance fills the air between us during the how-are-you's, what-are-you-up-to•s, good-to-see-you's. We have each moved forward. In some ways I am resigned to the fact that I may never hear much about many of them again, and even relieved about that. Donna will take up a new life with her mother and I will not hear about how that feels without her dad. The twins will learn to live with a parent who fights cancer and I will not keep thinking about how much longer. I will not keep thinking about the stresses of illness that can tear a family apart, which happened to my husband's brother's family. Our students move in and out of our lives. We move in and out of theirs. For a while, we are an entity, symbiotic and mutually dependent. Life intervenes like golfball-sized hailstones pounding down on the roof of a car. And I can't hear myself speak or think. Temporarily I am mute and deaf, adrift, unable to operate. And when finally the tempest subsides, I carry on in the calm and quiet, in the wake of all the shifting. Knowing that another storm can arise at any moment, but not caring about that. For the moment, all is calm. There is more work to be done. Good work. Caring for others and teaching them and opening myself to them, no matter how soon they move on. There are memories that together coalesce to form some sense of re-newal and re-birth, some sense that no matter how students come and go, come and go, they always remain. And so do I. 283 JjowmaL LJtaamsnti ...c^LTOvrs alL sLis, tizii. hxojsat nas Bssn an sxauxilon into Lijs fox t/zs-^s aniLdxsn.--xs-m£.rm7sxinq saxLisx aniidnood, qxal2f2Lin.q vjitn iii-usi. t/zat axiis. vjksn vers units oux Liusi. and oux isLusi,, diicousxina nsvcr aomm-uniaaiion. in. thsix ovjn xsLationJzihs. Untsxisetinq in tns i-tiaasi, Ijstvirssn urno vjs tnink vers axs, hour otnsxi. i££ Ui., nour ws iss otnsxi., and oLL tns xamijiaaiioni. tnat oaaux urnsn urs tans hazts or oux Liusi., iritx of oux isLvsi., and units tnstn, xsaoxd tnsm, inaxs tksm, aomidsx tnsnz, zs-units tnsnz. U xsaLLzs tnat in askina tnsm to xs-units at Lsast haxti. of tnsix i-toxisi., £1 am. tiuina to qius tnsm. ofisn 6.fiaasi. iniisad of aio^sd aaus±, nofis vansxs tnsxs miant onLu naus irssn i.adns5,i,, and tns uriidom and nzatuxitu tnat aomsi, vcritn knourina and unasxitandinq ujs nsusx oat oLons. H/mat urs do affsati. otnsxi, and urs muii units and Lius in niunans, aotnfiaisionats, stkiaaL uraui.. Un m.anu xsifxsati., tnsis aniidxsn naus tauant ms vjnat it msam to lis moxs human, moxs aakLobis of undsxi-tandinq... ...i:^A/a£s i.uqqsi£sd fox ^ans i. usxi.lon, ins aouLa Unaqins nsx nour iisLf Lookina doum tns nalL at nsx kindsxaaxtsn islf. <SuxsLi a xsi •.fxaatsd Look at/in tiU 284 EXITING THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS A red sign flashes. The door opens to blinding sunlight... We come to the end in this textual House of Mirrors, another beginning. Moving from one mirror to the next, and with/in the mirrors within the mirrors, it becomes apparent that there are many twists and turns, many ends and beginnings. In the carnival House of Mirrors, I catch or study my image reflected back and de-formed. But I accept that it is somehow still me when I gaze at the squat shape or the elongated toffee- pulled Renee. I am different yet recognizable. I know that what I see in this House of Mirrors is a momentary distortion, not necessarily how I appear to others, or how another mirror might reflect me back, or all there is to me. There is a surreal quality to the images that appear before me, that are me. The collection of mirrors a-mazes me. In the textual House of Mirrors of this dissertation, I examine myself again and again through autobiographical writing, placing my life up for capture by the mirrors. But I am never alone; the mirrors reflect back the actual, textual and virtual others with whom I am in relationship, an ethical complication. The mirrors can catch others unaware. And the mirrors never capture everything. Like Alice who goes through the looking- glass and realizes that in the glass, you can only see the back of the clock on the chimney piece, I know the limits of mirrors. I know, too, that whatever I think I see or find in mirrors, and however I write about it, I am both writing a life and living one. The life I write can be a mirror reflection that is just as bent or elongated as a carnival mirror, but it is still a reflection. What I write becomes another facet of self- examination. But this dissertation is more than a self-examination. This House of Mirrors is also peopled with many women's lives and words, a deliberate gesture to bring others whom I do not know (but can read about) to my life and text. By incorporating women's autobiographical writing into my text, and considering what they have to say and how they say it, I add depth to the surfaces of the mirrors, Homi Bhabha's other dimensionality. I am affected by the textual lives of others as well as my own. I open my text to other women and the boundaries of autobiographical writing expand. "New mirrors shatter limits of possibility" screams the headline in a newspaper article. It seems a team of scientists at MIT "announced what may be the most significant advance in mirror technology since Narcissus became entranced by his image reflected on the surface of a still pool of water" (Schechter 1998, A13). These scientists invented the "perfect mirror," a multi-layered dielectric mirror, one which holds promise for the 285 future and moves beyond the limitations of metallic mirrors (which absorb only a small fraction of the light that falls on them) and ordinary dielectric mirrors (which don't reflect light well). In metaphorical and metonymic terms, is there a "perfect mirror" in this House of Mirrors? The meta-mirror which Nadine Gordimer refers to reflects you back as seen by the person who stands before you. In another version of the meta-mirror, "becoming one's self" occurs in the presence of others one writes about. The mirror of writing is held up to what is lived and re-membered. Martha, Doris Lessing's fictional and autobiographical character, is a mirror. So is each poem I write. And so are the reflective ruminations on Hannah Arendt arranged as double-sided writing on the other side of the mirror. Inter-mirrors act as inter-ludes which inter-rupt the sections of this dissertation, each of which acts as an internal mirror in a House of Mirrors. The paper mirrors in Section III reflect back (and complicate) the text that is placed across from them. Mirrors fly, too, as Helene Cixous suggests, and they fly in this dissertation. The m(other) in the mirror. The mirror of daughters. The mirror of memory. The mirror of the classroom (and students). Are any of the above "perfect mirrors"? Or all of the above? None? Perhaps such a scientific feat as the invention of the perfect mirror is an impossibility in this autobiographical text, and the ambiguity of writing that can be continually reflected and refracted in many imperfect mirrors is what lends significance to autobiography in/as re-search. In this dissertation, I ask: How can we consider autobiography in/as re-search? How does women's writing contribute to autobiography in/as re-search? Each section has explored aspects of both these questions. Throughout the text, I have referred to many diverse examples of women's writing, including my own, as well as autobiographical, feminist and pedagogical theory. I have applied the re-search to school curriculum, describing som^ specific strategies for autobiography in education inspired by women's autobiographical writing. I have demonstrated how these strategies might be employed in the classroom, offering an illustration of how we can write about teaching, maintaining a sense of selves and others, admittedly and consciously writing from an autobiographical point of view. Autobiographical writing contributes to a transforming learning experience that is never really finished. We can re-turn to the writing and as it is turned over and over, more can be found, more is created, more questions can be asked. And so I have no definitive answers, only more questions... 286 are you holding the mirror to the light? drop it and what shatters? i welcome jagged shards so i will bleed words the fragments pieces of glass a broken mirror arranged the mirror is endless endless endless endless reflects back images i don't know someone else appears holding the mirror to the light 287 BIBLIOGRdPHY fluto/biography-Th«ory Bergland, Betty. 1994. "Postmodernism and the Autobiographical Subject: Reconstructing the 'Other.'" 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