A Model for Activists


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Becoming the Change 4.                    

I am beginning to read Mary Gaitskill—author of Bad Behavior, one of her collections of short stories, the novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin, and recently of the novel The Mare—and also about her personally. I am seeing her as a model for an activist.

It seems to me that somehow, early on, maybe very early on, she came to be deeply immersed in her vulnerability, and it became her way of being in our world. Too much of what she sees and experiences is either unwelcomed or severely screened out by almost everyone else. She has learned to fit in well enough to find enough traction to keep her from despair, but nowhere near feeling she really belongs. It seems she sees and feels too much and this gives her access to experiencing others and our world in ways that is extraordinarily difficult to share except through writing. If this is accurate, I would think that, at one level, she feels she is an outsider looking at the human dramas and melodramas she finds herself in. However, at another level she must know that she is seeing and experiencing from deep inside all of us and herself. And, for this, she must be ostracized. Or, find a way not to be without having to give up the gift of her extraordinary immersion in her vulnerability.

That’s intense.

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