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IA Closing Ads 5: Hillary (3)

January 31, 2016

Watching her ads, it seemed I could feel how truly Hillary wants to be a warrior, which in our time can only be seen (by the general viewing public and potential voters) as her wanting to be a woman warrior. In the minds of most Americans, that’s ambiguous. For some, it’s like trying to hold in mind simultaneously two equal and opposite truths, and never jumping to one by eliminating the other. What gives them a way out, of course, is that to them these truths are opposing unequals.

[I grew up in a military family (Air Force), with intense awareness of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam (which I actively opposed), so I’ve given some thought (maybe not as much as one would expect—I’ve been ambivalent) to war and warriors. When some boys wanted to be a fireman, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. As a teenager I tried to impress girls by telling them that my father was a member of the Strategic Air Command (a very minor member, but they didn’t know that). It was a manly thing.]

Now, if woman cancels warrior, and if Hillary believes that she can not achieve the elected position of warrior, indeed of knight champion, without appearing to be tough, very tough (in a tough world, certainly), like a warrior in the popular imagination, i.e. a man . . . she’s in a bind.

She particularly wants to be a champion for children and women, and the downtrodden generally. I think that what best qualify her to be that warrior champion are the sensitivities, experiences, and insights that she possesses because of having lived the life that she has known as a woman, and that inform her imagination with compassionate understanding. Her warrior strength lies in that integrity and vision.

It’s not enough to be tough. Maggie Thatcher was tough, and fought a war. But a champion?

It’s a Taoist thing. An immortal image. I’m thinking that to be all that Hillary believes she can be (if only Bernie will get out of the way), she has to be a tough, smart, compassionate woman. Because she is a woman, in a society that is yet gender-specifying.

But can she figure out what that is, and how to be that, outside of being it? And especially if a sea of voters don’t get it, and don’t like the thought of such a being? Even with all of her experience in government, including the White House, might she have to be the first woman president for a few years in order to figure out what that is?  Meanwhile, she has to truly imagine that, and help us do the same.

Of course as narrator of this novel, and specifically in the context of these ads, I’m interested in how Hillary’s working this out involves the creation, by her and people assisting her, of images, stories, and conversations that go to depth.

The literal details of the women in our military don’t really work as images of the kind of warrior that I think Hillary wants to be.  One can’t simply heap facts into being an image, story, or conversation. And the facts, as well as the images, stories, and conversations of the experiences of our women soldiers seem to me to be still too muddled and too culturally peripheral—as they strive and suffer to create the images etc of their specific condition.

Meanwhile, the woman warrior image that has been accepted in our culture is the masculine one of the Amazons, who cut off a breast so as to better use their bows (we’re not at a point culturally where we can recover that image of one of de-genderizing).

What if the better image (story & conversation) of a woman warrior is Jane Eyre, who toughed it out and developed eyes to see? Her story (and conversation with the reader) complicates love, honesty, and integrity to achieve a true nobility. Her narrative fuses the elements (including fire) in their full ambiguities, and culminates in her direct declaration to the reader of a marriage of the true feminine and masculine (not literalizing Rochester, who became more than “a man”).

I don’t think there are many people who are stronger, more capable, or more beautiful than Jane. I’d put her up against Putin, even with his shirt off—especially with his shirt off (having seen his ads).

One can’t achieve depth without living at depth and being true to that life. What triumphs, for women or men, is loving truth, which is beauty. As Keats pointed out, we know it, we feel it, deep in our heart’s imagination.

I know that there is a lot of analysis being offered of how being a woman makes being a candidate much more difficult. Surely that is the case, and maybe this muddled matter of being a woman warrior champion is illustrative.

[Previous Hillary page of this episode; next page.]

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