Anonymity, She Said [A Short Story]

Prologue

i

Anonymity, she said, He says (something he wishes he understood better than he can, better than he suspects he cannot).

ii

He says, I wish I understood you better.

She says, No you don’t. You say you do, but you don’t, not really, not ever, only words you know I might want to hear.

He says, Why do you say that? 

iii

Another lame account amounting to nothing, and you will say the same tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, every day after day in petty paces kept, just as it was true yesterday. You make my skin crawl when you speak as you do about me, about wanting to understand me, about what you think I want to hear, syllable after syllable, and I wish I were deaf, she says, snuffing everything out in me as if I were a candle.

 

I

Thinking about something, about its meaning, what it means, what does it intends to convey, to indicate, or to refer to (a particular thing or notion); to signify. What then is it to be mean or not to be mean, all meaning therefore in the meaning, its intention, although intentionality should no more restrict meaning than etymology should, which does not mean we should ignore what the parameters of intention were in what a word means, or what a word’s etymology is that could then help us to understand its meaning. What an author intends should not preclude interpretation; author intention is still a proscription of sorts.

To define is to set limits; here the limits of understanding meet the limits of knowing? To know her or not to know her, that might be question to ask, I could ask, would ask if . . . I am genuinely asking if semantics is governed by epistemology in an absolute way? More questions.

She examines what she knows, what she thinks–in fact she has said that she does not know what she thinks unless she writes, puts it on paper–she has said enough times in the past that the way she was taught writing was a way in which thinking gets taught–yes, she would insist, there is a way to think, a how to think. I know that there are too many people who believe otherwise, but then listen to them talk, listen to them thinking–read what some people write.

It is frightening, she would say in other words. But this notion of anonymity, what it is , how it can be understood, what its significance has been for women historically, as she would say, is important to flesh out, give it something it has been denied . . . is that what she is doing here has done here, in these pages of word after word after . . . all of this is and so on and so on.

What is it that she has done here can only be answered by reading what she has written here and elsewhere, put in words for you to understand . . . but mostly for her to know what she thinks and how she thinks because it is impossible for her to know exactly what she thinks she believes without having written, a dialectic of selfhood she would say she has written said almost similarly just the other day–I do not record her, although I am a very,very close friend and confidant, whatever that means.

What she says she says how she says and remains completely inimitable. As for a woman’s anonymity, what it is, how it is, when and where it is has been seems as if it will be . . . more and so much less at the same time is said, has been said, needs to be said. The questions she raises she does so without equivocation. She is not apologizing for her opinions which are more than mere opinions–the mereness of any opinion is not in the opining but in the opinion of those prejudiced against opinions in themselves.

“How many methods of discovery do we employ in our self examinations?” She used to ask often. “To discover is the opposite of cover, but is it to uncover what is as is? How much woman is she when she is, woman?” She used to ask; the used to does not mean she no longer does so because she does and will do so, I know. Virginia said so, she said, that a woman is anonymous, or that the history of anonymous in literature was the history of woman’s literature or that the history of woman’s literature was the history of anonymous, but then there has always been a kind of anonymity for women of women in all societies, some more than in others for longer.

Can you say without offending anyone that black Americans have suffered only what women have suffered here or there longer or shorter, greater or lesser, woman has ben the prime nigger of the world, and continues to be in many,many places still.

“I repeat myself, I know, when I say that a woman is and in this is everything is. Yes, she is; this woman or that woman, firstly and lastly, is. What she is is another endeavor; who, when, where, why and how are all of them together subtraction,” she said, and so far how can you disagree? I do not. You should not if you wish to keep your mind opened–and yes, if you disagree with her ad hoc then you are close minded–if you disagree with her on principles that are apart from her saying what she is saying being what she is who she is then this too might be closed minded, I mean what is there to disagree with in her words herein phrased as they have been?

“I am, I say,” she said and would say and has said often, in one or another context, but mostly in her talks about being and existence and the differences there between the two. “I am not this or that when my being is concerned,” she said. “I am; I exist, although I know that to exist and to be are not exactly the same thing.”

To be without the complement not to be. Whether named or unnamed, this woman is, she is. Hamlet’s soliloquy herein referenced is also every woman’s soliloquy. She is not further removed from Hamlet’s Cartesian inquiry than I am because she is a woman.

“How is Hamlet not relevant to me?”

[You should pause here briefly. Take a breath.]

II

“Now, the history of anonymous is the history of woman; or is it that the history of woman is the history of anonymity?” She asked.I have asked as well. You should have asked. She believes and has believed for a long time that this is an investigation worthy of pursuit. Nonetheless, as she has said, has asked, “Woman is anonymous? She is in anonymity? Anonymity is a place history has reserved for woman? The history herein is one and the same whether it is written or unwritten, irrespective of whether or not there is a historiography to support it in the way all historiography has a way of aping Moses descending from Sinai,” she wrote.

“How much is left unknown at the end of a relationship?” she has asked in this and in other contexts; it has appeared in many pieces written by her. “What is a relationship where the woman or the man or both are perpetually becoming other than each is. How much do the happiest spouses really know about one another, or the unhappiest (we do imagine misery is wiser which might explain the propensity for misery we all have). A lover dies, a spouse is put in her tomb and who was she? No one was; the one who is is not who she will be when she becomes who she was. But traditionally woman has remained a modified man in the collective unconscious of men. In this, they are part not a whole, except of course in the homophonic, hole.

Women then are . . . what? What? What are they? What is she? [Who is more important than what?] No, I demand as she has said I should demand that they are not what, but who. So then, Who are they? ‘They’ is too big to manage? Are they? As I am we, woman is they? Does this make any sense. I imagine it does, but then this I I am is macrososmic to the many that make up the subject complement we in I am we. I know the arguments for I am we are rooted in understanding a selfhood that is plural, a many selves Self, I recall my father having said Milton had said. Every person should be able to say this with conviction, I am we. It is true for each of us, but then that is not exactly what I am saying when I say, A woman is they. This woman here, this woman now, the one in front of me with a world of inquiry and response between us, potentially, is what, is who, is when or where, these are the dimensions of this they she is when we know, like I am we, she is they . . .” to continue with what she has written (what she wrote) might be fruitful, but space here is a consideration and quotes handled correctly–or should I say appropriately–will suffice to reveal something more than just a bit of what she thinks.

“Place and time as much as the things we are or the persons we are, become the dimensions of our world projected outwardly toward the world, into the world; this world, we know, is a stage. Yes, each of us to its many parts. But the selves of the Self are microcosmic to the greater Self we are in its singular totality. These are thrust outward and take place around us in the effect of details, she wrote. “The I, I am is I am; the I am is macrocosmic to all details of our world or any world or all the worlds together in the one larger greater all encompassing world we mistakenly think is larger than us because the physical dimensions are so much greater than each of us is,” she has written.

 

III

“The [fore mentioned] ‘they’ inside her is encompassed by the she we use for her, this one and only woman who is herself and every woman as well, both, yet sometimes neither, sometimes someone else. All the time she is who she is whenever she is anyone she is, all the masks she wears inside or outside dependent on the ones worn inside . . .[,]”she wrote.  “[A]ll the parts she plays, the players she becomes–in the sense Shakespeare asserts–they are, she is; women and woman are. That’s it. She is. I am. They, them, those people, women. We know no one, not really–who do we know? I ask. Do we know the people whose minds we cannot know completely, whose lives have been lived independently of ours, whose eyes we do not see the world through, whose shoes we do not wear, whose ears we do not hear with, listen with?I ask; I am really asking. Examine this . . . [,]” she said.  “What?” She asked.  “Who do we know? How many of our selves in the Self remain hidden? How can we know anyone? So how could we know any woman?” She had written before she wrote again what you have herein.

“Who is she, again, the question gets asked and if asked . . . I contend that asking is not always to look for an answer, and not every response is an answer as we should know from their etymologies, although I do not want to enforce meaning through etymology. And oftentimes asked without the intention of waiting for an answer, a particularly annoying contemporary trait we have all acquired. But how many of us avoid asking any question like this at all?

Responses are not answers; I’ve asserted this above and before in other essays. There are plenty of responses we give, we feign attachment to or connection with, but the answers we seek–do not answer a question with a question she used to say, a woman I once knew. No question is an answer, yet we offer questions as answers, responding as we do not with the rhetorical questions that answer, but the questions in responses that avoid answering. Everything to avoid answering. Irrespective of any answer to any question, She is. To respond is not to answer but to put again, to place once more. To put once more is a placement nonetheless, it is a choice of arrangement,” she has written. “A woman is” should be the first line of discussion when any thought of her right to choose anything arises. In her is, there is no longer any subtracting devices such as who, what, when, where, how or even why. None of these questions are pertinent or relevant to her inalienable right to choose. There should be no equivocation for anyone sane enough to want to save a woman from the unnecessary horrors that existed before Roe versus Wade. I’ve said this in essays before, and I will reiterate it again and again in essays to come.

There were horrors before the law got behind a woman’s right tomchoose safe medical procedures rather than the rock or the hard place in back alleys, and yes, there were back alleys; curtain rods and all that sort of letting the air in. I’ll never forget the end of Goddard’s Masculin et Femminin, or Hemmingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” where the word abortion is never mentioned. What am I saying? How can I say anything for her? How can I not? How can I afford to disallow myself the ability to speak rationally for woman. Defending a woman’s rights is an obligation I take seriously, which sometimes sounds as if the one asserting the severity of the responsibility misses the point. I assure you I do not, but then who am I to you or for you? I do have an obligation to defend a woman’s rights as I do anyone’s rights because I exist as a moral being. Not to defend human rights in any way anywhere is to reduce one’s self in one’s moral stature. Even if it is at a dinner table in face of indifference or diffidence or ignorance or prejudice,” she has written, we are reading.

“There will always be dilemmas for her, even if aborting an embryo is legally sanctioned. This is not to say that legally sanctioning abortion is a fool’s errand. To each woman her own personhood, her own psychology rooted in her biology, her physiology and her experiences? She has reason; she is capable of reasoning, of being rational or irrational; capable of being passionate or dispassionate. She will have different levels of education, different jobs or careers; her income will vary, as will her home situation, her relationship status, her religion, and so on and so on. But the roller coaster she rides will be hers to ride when and where she chooses. To decide or not to decide should be her question and hers alone. I have shifted gears quickly, but we cannot see any effort to control abortion or the availability of safe nedical procedures for induced miscarriage as anythning other than controlling a woman;s body, her right to reproduce or not, which when centered in the opinions of men might be nothing lese other than Uterus envy. It was through the womb of a woman that in Christian Theology, God becomes man; the Son of God, begotten not made before time and creation is gestated as the incarnation through the uterus of Mary,” she has written, has said in other words some of what has been put down here, words, words and more words she has formed reformed, shaped—what was it our friend Addie used to say about words? Shapes to fill a lack. 

 

IV

“Now, if Roe versus Wade were a complete fabrication, if it were a docudrama, would that mean that the majority ruling was somehow made weaker, argumentatively? Would the truth of it, whether true or not in the most pedantic sense of trueness become other than true? Roe versus Wade is just as strong in support of pro-choice whether or not the trial was justified on its factual merits. A trial is just that, an essay on a thesis, and whether it was factually justified does not undermine the results of the debate. The text could have been fabricated entirely by a novelist and placed in a novel. Would that make the argument irrelevant, invalid, sociologically? The argument would maintian ethical, moral and socilogical veracity throuhg–even in spite of–its verisimilitude Fictional truths have as much valency as actual. I should say that veracity in fiction is deeper than verisimilitude; it carries metaphysical weight; it has epistemological density.

But this is not solely the point. Hypotheses are presented all the time in politics and law; the sacred law of our land delivered by Divine Providence, itself a holiness above every insipid conception made by illiterate minds twisted in their bleak deserted imaginings of a God whose baseness as a Lord can only muster an angry call to human intelligence to submit humanity and all humane being to a fearful jealousy, born of barbaric cruelty, fueling a misogyny greater than all traditional hatreds of woman, coupled everywhere it has spread like a virulent venereal disease of the mind, all vicious, all violent, all consumed by  hatred, severed forever from any connection to the One True Transcendental Holiness, a Wisdom of Love, Compassion, Redemption and Forgiveness, way beyond the lame and guttural recitations of a most contemptible and corrupted  re-connection with God . . . and all of the United States when subject to ratification was a hypothesis subject to the most critical examinations. It took a great deal of intellectual effort to get The Constitution ratified.

The majority ruling in the Roe versus Wade does not become invalid for us epistemologically or ethically, no; it remains valid in its thesis. Nonetheless, the prime thesis here in any discussion of a woman’s right to choose is a Woman is.

There must be a first and last step in all reasoning about human beings (human being, being humane), and for human beings, that asserts loudly and clearly He is; she is; thus, I am which would be the primary and teleological determination for all ethical considerations of each and every one of us, and there has to be an us. Why does a woman deserve respect for her person, for her choices, for the integrity of her selfhood?” She asked, she wrote, has written in these exact words, although rearranged now and then for reasons other than just avoiding redundancy.Or . . . there are always ors? In others the same nevertheless . .. what? If you were her, one thing known or understood; if you were I, what then?

“Because she is, she exists should be First Feminology; her to be following is all of her metaphysics and physics,” she has said time in and time out, the same and not the same. I wish she were the kind of woman . . . what? What do I wish specifically? I could or I could not imagine her; I might or I might not speak her into being, an existence existing like a tree exists in its existence—but a tree is not as a woman is. She has being; the tree does not. If no one is present to hear a woman falling, does her having fallen make a sound?

Epilogue

We understand this is often too much for any one person to handle, all that he is, that he has been, is being, will be, will have been, might have been, could be, should be, would be if or when; what has happened to should have been? I should have been what, could have been . . . I will have been; I would have been–then what?

 

Author’s Afterword

Who is she? You ask. Who is the narrator? You ask. Who am I? I would not ask; you might. Who are you? I should ask. I could, whether I am who I am at the moment writing this, or whatever I become thus am as I speak this to you; the you who hears it or reads and the you you are every day, I assume, but these assumptions are often in error. There is a real world you and a you who reads the text not as a real you you but a you you become in the text. You could spend some time sorting all of this out; but I do not us spect that you would want to, so leave what you have read as it is and do not consider this author me wearing a mask of authorship for you wearing a mask of readership. It’s all about the world and all of it a stage and all of us merely players, many players, a player playing many parts, parts together equalling what whole, an entirety rhyming with hole, the great abyss we all fall into?

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