Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's hard to know how much I like Virginia Woolf's writing. I have many reservations. She also created basic food groups that are hard to find--things essential and yet so rare that it is hard to say what they are.

Her writing is the island from the missing continent of works created by women. There is something about her thinking and her noticing that is very her and part of that is a woman's way of thinking that many women had to repress to survive.

So I read it and reserve away--she's a snob, limited things she's looking at, when she know her limitations and tries to bring in more, beyond her usual round of living, she's not so good at it.

All that I could define in detail if I wanted. But I can't define what is there and so rare. A bit of the vast noticings tha have been prevented by raw squashing of people.

What she notices and how she notices is freeing. It's also subtle, from here, from the continent where so many ways of noticing have been so submerged they never got to exist. Sometimes it is hard to get with what she is noticing because it is different. I have to be with it a while to get that it is a bit of the missing home.

A book of hers that is difficult to read in a whole other way is the novel she wrote to prove she could write a regular novel. Dragging through it is tough, not fun. She presumably experienced many novels by other people that way--slow, low level pain. The pain of not matching one's own experience of life.

Whereas the novel's she wrote her way, as best she could, can be suddenly light. It's tough to get what she's up to and then suddenly I'm up there with her going, "Yes." I have then more chance of knowing what it know.

She wrote in essays against a common phrase of her time and of right before her time--"an angel in the house."

A woman was supposed to be "an angel in the house," subtly, pervasively making everything work in a wonderful way for people other than herself. In the kind of world where that phrase was used the angel in the house was the woman of privilege who had lots of servants to help with that smoothness, who weren't referred to as angels in the house. The tough, physical labor bunch.

Virginia Woolf railed against the angel in the house and became another kind of angel, making it easier to see how one might see one's own way, one might hear what one truly hears.