This conclusion, of course, marks the most banal moment in the text, when the sensation novel becomes least distinguishable from any other kind of Victorian fiction. Herein, one might argue, lies the “morality” of sensation fiction, in its ultimately fulfilled wish to abolish itself: to abandon the grotesque aberrations of character and situation that have typified its representation, which now coincides with the norm of the Victorian household. But the project, however successful, is nothing here if not drastic. In Barchester Towers, by contrast, the normative elements of heterosexual coupling— the manly husband, the feminine wife— are ready-to-hand early on, and the plot is mainly a question of overcoming various inhibitions and misunderstandings that temporarily prevent them from acknowledging their appropriateness for one another. In The Woman in White, however, these elements have to be “engendered” in the course of the plot through the most extreme and violent expedients. The sufficiently manly husband needs to have survived plague, pygmy arrows, and shipwreck in Central America, and the suitably feminine wife must have been schooled in a lunatic asylum, where she is half cretinized. Such desperate measures no doubt dramatize the supreme value of a norm for whose incarnation no price, including the most brutal aversion therapy, is considered too high to pay. But they do something else besides, something that Victorians, in thrall to this norm, suspected when they accused the sensation novel of immorality and that we, more laxly oppressed than they, are perhaps in a better position to specify. This is simply that, recontextualized in a “sensational” account of its genesis, such a norm risks appearing monstrous: as aberrant as any of the abnormal conditions that determine its realization.
― D. A. Miller, “Cage Aux Folles: Sensation and Gender in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White,” Representations 14 (1986).
Yep, Girls’ Generation doing bassline is still amazing, good to know.
Star-Crossed is mostly a sci-fi show about a future earth dealing with the arrival of aliens, but also apparently in the future communism will be a cool thing for high-school kids to be into, so that’s good.
Why would any white/Anglo woman engage in this task? Out of self-interest? What in engaging in this task would be, not just in her interest, but perceived as such by her before the task is completed or well underway? Why should we want you to come into our world out of self-interest? Two points need to be made here. The task as described could be entered into with the intention of finding out as much as possible about us so as to better dominate us. The person engaged in this task would act as a spy. The motivation is not unfamiliar to us. We have heard it said that now that Third World countries are more powerful as a bloc, westerners need to learn more about them, that it is in their self-interest to do so. Obviously there is no reason why people of color should welcome white/Anglo women into their world for the carrying out of this intention. It is also obvious that white/Anglo feminists should not engage in this task under this description since the task under this description would not lead to joint theorizing of the desired sort: respectful, illuminating, helpful and empowering. It would be helpful and empowering only in a one-sided way.
Self-interest is also mentioned as a possible motive in another way. White/Anglo women sometimes say that the task of understanding women of color would entail self-growth or self-expansion. If the task is conceived as described here, then one should doubt that growth or expansion will be the result. The severe self-disruption that the task entails should place a doubt in anyone who takes the task seriously about her possibilities of coming out of the task whole, with a self that is not as fragile as the selves of those who have been the victims of racism. But also, why should women of color embrace white/Anglo women’s self-betterment without reciprocity? At this time women of color cannot afford this generous affirmation of white/Anglo women.
Another possible motive for engaging in this task is the motive of duty, ‘out of obligation’, because white/Anglos have done people of color wrong. Here again two considerations: coming into Hispano, Black, Native American worlds out of obligation puts white/Angles in a morally self-righteous position that is inappropriate. You are active, we are passive. We become the vehicles of your own redemption. Secondly, we couldn’t want you to come into our worlds ‘out of obligation’. That is like wanting someone to make love to you out of obligation. So, whether or not you have an obligation to do this (and we would deny that you do), or whether this task could even be done out of obligation, this is an inappropriate motive.
Out of obligation you should stay out of our way, respect us and our distance, and forego the use of whatever power you have over us-for example, the power to use your language in our meetings, the power to overwhelm us with your education, the power to intrude in our communities in order to research us and to record the supposed dying of our cultures, the power to engrain in us a sense that we are members of dying cultures and are doomed to assimilate, the power to keep us in a defensive posture with respect to our own cultures.
So the motive of friendship remains as both the only appropriate and understandable motive for white/Anglo feminists engaging in the task as described above. If you enter the task out of friendship with us, then you will be moved to attain the appropriate reciprocity of care for your and our wellbeing as whole beings, you will have a stake in us and in our world, you will be moved to satisfy the need for reciprocity of understanding that will enable you to follow us in our experiences as we are able to follow you in yours.
For years his life had balanced like the world of legend on the backs of great elephants, which stood on the back of a giant turtle; the elephants were his partnership with Archy, and Aviva’s with Gwen, and the turtle was his belief that real and ordinary friendship between black people and white people was possible, at least here, on the streets of the minor kingdom of Brokeland, California. Here along the water margin, along the borderlands, along the vague and crooked frontier of Telegraph Avenue. Now that foundational pileup of bonds and beliefs was tottering, toppling like the tower of circus elephants in Dumbo. Not because anybody was racist. There was no tragic misunderstanding, rooted in centuries of slavery and injustice. No one was lobbing vile epithets, reverting to atavistic tribalisms…. It just turned out that a tower of elephants and turtles was no way to try to hold up a world.
― Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue