Friday, August 14, 2009
Friday's "Forgotten" Books: GOING OUT OF OUR MINDS, Sonia Johnson; MAGIC MOMMAS, TREMBLING SISTERS, PURITANS & PERVERTS: FEMINIST ESSAYS, Joanna Russ
Sonia Johnson was the best Presidential candidate we've had so far...and, in 1984, she couldn't vote for herself. As a fellow Virginia resident, I couldn't vote for her, either, as she was the candidate of the Citzen's Party (and, in Pennsylvania, the Consumer Party)...Virginians in 1984 faced the dispiriting choice of Walter Mondale, Ronald Reagan and Lyndon LaRouche. I voted, grudgingly, for Mondale, but had been genuinely enthusiastic about Johnson, whose platform was at least as good as any of her Green successors...and this book, subtitled "The Metaphysics of Liberation," is largely though obviously not exclusively the account of her campaign, as well as the followup to her earlier political memoir, From Housewife to Heretic. Her intellectual and emotional journey would take her to even more controversial conclusions (such as suggesting that any sort of permanent romantic relation, even one between Enlightened lesbians, requires a sort of self-suppression at best, which Emma Goldman's generation of free love advocates had known and could describe articulately a century before). But at the time of publication of this book, she hadn't yet withdrawn from most of society, nor was she quite done with men (when I met her, after the publication of her next book, she suggested she couldn't understand why a man would like any of her work).
Joanna Russ has had a somewhat more nuanced vision of relations between people, even if at first some have had difficulty picking up on that nuance. This slim, very funny and very deft volume includes her coming-out memoir, an early essay on Kirk/Spock (or "slash") porn--that subgenre of fan fiction mostly written for (mostly straight) women by women, yet involves (in the early form, at least) homosexual encounters between the Star Trek characters. And there are Russ's clear-eyed assessments of the feminist movement around her...this is as good as any of her other usually excellent books.
Pity they're both out of print, and have been for years.
For more books, pleas see Patti Abbott's blog. Always worth a look.