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7/23/06
Do we Own that which we Understand?

Dear Kim:

Okay, more follow up.

(Kim: Because I have a secret theory that we can only understand that which is like ourselves and that lesbians have the right idea in this regard.)

Not sure I get the lesbian reference. Would only understanding that which is like ourselves then not also apply of gay men? Or Jews? or African-Americans? Or people who live in the Central West End?

Obiviously, I am being a little silly.But I am wary of essentialism. I can't tell you how many lesbians I do not get at all.

You have managed to stay in the understanding game with each other for a long time, Kim. What is it, 36 years?

(Kim: I don't like the word "managed" . . . sounds too much like a job rather than a treat.)

I love how protective you are of your relationship with Linda. It seems to me like you bristle slightly when you think I have gotten it incorrectly.

Do you? Bristle, that is.

(Kim: Yes, I don't like the words you use . . . like even "understanding game.")

I know you two seem to get along very well. But I do think there is a degree of managing for anyone to truly get along with another, especially over a long period of time.

(Kim: Obviously relationships are hard work, if that's what you mean.)

We don't have to talk about you and Linda if you want. But maybe we should discuss this idea.

I think gettingalong with someone involves some erasure of self in certain places and enhancement in others. It is something with which I struggle.

(Kim: No, I don't buy this . . . that we have to erase part of ourselves, etc.)

Do you not feel that you have to manage yourself and maybe your experience of other people? How about in your capacity as dean?

(Kim: Yes, as dean, one has to work hard.)

What did Jennifer Holzer actually say and where did you read it?

(Kim: "you can understand someone of your sex only" http://mfx.dasburo.com/art/truisms.html)

Are all of thestatements on the website by Holzer?

(Kim: I think they are all statements that most people believe in one way or another.)

How did you find the site?

(Kim: Google.)

Do you agree with all of her statements?

(Kim: I believe that she cites these as commonly believed truths. I agree that there is some truth in all the statements. I think her wisdom is not in the statements but in the way she stirs things up.)

How do you feel about it?

(Kim: I think it is more courageous to try to understand things different than yourself.)

Any act of truly trying to understand might be seen as an act of courage.

(Kim: I don't see how fear can be a shield.)

It can be a shield when it morphs into a kind of body armour by way of defense.

When I am not afraid, whenI lived in Laguna Beach for example, I experienced myself and my body very differently. I was not afraid to walk freely by myself. And interestingly, it translated into what i was willing or even wanting to wear. I wanted` to wear more skirts and dresses. Not to catch anyone's eye but for my own sensual pleasure.Without a shield of fear, I was free to experience myself sensually and perhaps more significantly, to project that to others.

Can a man know what it is like to feel the sting of often not being taken seriously in a work environment?

(Kim: Yes, I think so. Sensitivity can help us feel all kinds of things.)

Or the economic disparities in many situations.

Or to feel the personal power of a certain kind of feminine flirtation? The kind I can pull out when really needed and that works on men from 7 to 70?

(Kim: Sure. There is a similar power (sometimes) in being a dean.)

I would like to hear more about that. Do you think you can talk comfortably about that? Or draw about it?

(Kim: It would have to percolate.)

These are old examples. And in some ways cliched except they are based in my experience of reality. And that of many other women that I know.

Let's go back further.

What does it mean to understand?

(Kim: To take ownership. To be able to recreate.)

What are you recreating? What do you mean by ownership?

(Kim: The neat thing about owning knowledge is that you can give it away and still keep it. When a person in ancient China said that they had seen something they meant that they could recreate it from memory.)

What do you mean by understanding?

(Kim: The act of becoming one with the object/subject.)

What do you think Jennifer Holzer meant?

(Kim: I'm not sure she meant it. It is a truism—something most people believe.)

Surely there are points of commonality basedonvarious shared realties. But I refuse to accept that we cannot understand each other, whether male and female or any other groupings. And as an artist, if I believe I can't really understand the other, whoever that other may be, I have no palette or vocabulary but myself.

(Kim: We don't even understand ourselves, do we? I asked my sister (a psychoanalyst) if we ever can get to the truth. She said no, that the layers go on forever.)

I am the starting point. But not the ending point.

(Kim: For some people, we are all part of the same energy. "I" is not a very meaningful concept.)

Otherwise, it is narcissism.

Later,

xJoan

Monday, Nov 21, 2005

11:30 PM

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