Sunday, July 29, 2012

La Conciencia da la Mestiza

     In La Conciencia da la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness, Gloria Anzaldua proposes an all new way of thinking: a new mestiza consciousness. In her work she defines la mestiza as 'a product of the transfer of the cultural and spiritual values of one group to another.' More specifically, la mestiza is someone of mixed races. Once referred to as a 'cosmic race' which embraced the four major races of the world. In her work, Anzaldua tries to disprove the common belief that these people are inferior. As depicted by much of mass media, I must admit that Anzaldua is correct in her thinking that this stereotype is a widespread belief. These stereotypes do not solely target people of mixed races, but it seems at though Hispanic people as an entire culture of people are targeted as well.

     Within her definitions, Anzaldua is very inclusive. She does not limit la mestiza to women of Hispanic decent, but virtually to all people who feel as though they belong to more than one culture. However, this multiplicity of cultures results in a 'state of perpetual transition.' As a direct result of her multiple cultures, the mestiza faces many struggles and difficulties concerning identity and her very being. Anzaldua refers to this struggle as a cultural collision. How does one cope with is constant struggle? Anzaldua urges for a knew collective consciousness altogether. She does not just refer to this new consciousness, she provides a guideline that anyone seeking a new way of thinking could refer to. "Only by remaining flexible is she able to stretch the psyche horizontally and vertically. La mestiza constantly has to shift out of habitual formations..."Anzaldua urges that the work of any mestiza consciousness is to 'break down the subject-object duality' that la mestiza a prisoner. What does she mean by all of this? Through her call for a massive uprooting of dualistic thinking, it is obvious that people should rid themselves of their constant need to categorize. She wants people to get rid of the idea that something is either black or white, or this or that, always categorizing and defining things by dividing them into two. 
     Besides her remarkable proclamation for a completely new consciousness, it is also important to examine the very way in which Anzaldua writes this text. (I mean it is a writing class after all!) She does not simply write about the multi-cultures consciousness she actually DOES it. She is quite literally writing in a la mestiza way. Throughout her text, Anzaldua is fluctuating between English writing to Spanish writing. The versus in Spanish contribute to the overall authenticity of her work. She is not just telling her readers to practice the la mestiza consciousness, she is doing it herself in the very moment they are reading! This constant changing of languages also emphasizes the struggles of la mestiza in her constant crossing over between cultures. Through her words and her unique style of writing, I believe Anzaldua would accomplish her goal of moving towards a new la mestiza consciousness. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Laugh of the Medusa

   In her Chicago journal entitled The Laugh of the Medusa Helene Cixous urges women to WRITE! She urges women to begin writing and partake in predominately male field. You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with me? In 2012, there are plenty of female writers who have come into success and fortune due to their writing. J.K. Rowling, amidst others, just happens to be the first that comes to my mind! However, when this journal was first published in 1975 the world of Harry Potter was simply unknown. Cixous isn’t simply urging woman to write, but rather to write in a certain, or uncertain, way. She is not referring altogether to the mundane act of writing itself, but is referring to breaking both traditional boundaries and structure. These structures, she believes, have been a round since the very beginning of writing and were emplaced to maintain phallocentric ideals. Why so much passion and advocacy towards writing? Cixous argues that writing is the “springboard for subversive thought.” The problem with writing is that women draw their stories from history. Unfortunately, this history tells of her own oppression and is based on phallocentric tradition. Cixous urges that we must seize the occasion to speak and, therefore, break this tradition and ancient boundaries. We must write from our point of view and allow the Old woman to make a remarkable transition into the New woman.
(Photo of Helene Cixous)
   Cixous boldly declares that women have been “kept in the dark.” What is this darkness you may ask? I believe this darkness directly refers to enlightenment. Women have been kept in the dark about enlightening themselves. This enlightenment does not strictly address the area of writing, but all forms of academia and knowledge. “Women have been taught that their territory is black. Because you are Africa,” explains Cixous. Dark, because it is an unknown, often simultaneously frightening, realm. Africa, because is an area for men to invade, conquer and colonize. However, men’s greatest crime against women it teaching them to hate other women, to be their own enemy, and to mobilize their immense strength against themselves. Essentially, phallocentic traditions have taught women a specific kind of “anti-narcissism,” or hatred of oneself. Cixous states that all male writing is “marked writing.” This is because they cannot drop their viewpoint, and inherent privileges, as a male. Cixous also states that although “it is impossible to define a feminine practice of writing, it will always surpass the discourse that regulates the phallocentric system.” This is because as women, we hold a certain intersectionality and vantage point that allows us to see the world in a different way than the dominant most. We need to write as ourselves and give other women the confidence to do the same!