A Jeanne Site
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: July 17, 2000
Curran or Takata.
There's a time conflict with this conference, but it fits our work so well that I thought we'd like to follow through with it. Perhaps one of our graduate students can take over the presentation. And perhaps we can find another place to submit it that's close to home.
Some of the themes I'd like to address:
- To what extent is Lilith a literary icon for women in the criminal justice system?
- To what extent does Lilith personify the "bad" girl, "good" girl theme?
- To what extent is this different from the pattern of relationships the male has with the criminal justice system?
- To what extent does Lilith serve as a literary icon for the "bad" mother myth?
- To what extent does Lilith focus and aid in the expression of female validity claims against female oppression?
- To what extent does Lilith's survival challenge the adversarial obsession?
- To what extent does this theme apply to female adolescents?
Consider Susan Gold's Divine Mornings in Which Lilith?:He once let her breathe deep
into an ear of his apple orchard,
and she could feel his sky's chest sigh.
Lilith knows where God's eyes can be found;
she has kissed them.
And when she wakes
to find the earth's sheets wet with dew,
she knows he still dreams of her.at p. 127
Oddly, my copy of Which Lilith? opens automatically to Susan Gold's poem. I've been drawn to it over and over. Never stopped to wonder why until Professor Ernst's e-mail suggesting that I might be interested in this particular conference. Professor Ed Qualey said I might be, and he was right.
Lovers: Birth of Lilith
Read Gold's poem again. Think about issues we have discussed in Criminology, Juvenile Justice, Women and Crime, Social Justice:
- Respect, disrespect
This is a poem about God. Does it show respect or disrespect?
- Pat, that priest you told me about, who said that God had no sex, and you thought maybe he meant for you to worry for God about that. How does that fit with the image Susan Gold evokes here?
- If God is all powerful, wouldn't be a tad risky to disrespect Him? Is there another plausible explanation for Gold's narrator? Could this be love?
- What about "she kissed his eyes"? Is that not love? Is that Eros or Agape?
- When certain Catholic orders envision the nun as the bride of Christ, is that not Agape?
- How effectively can we separate Eros from Agape? My sense of W.H. Auden is that he could tell us much on this subject. He pondered it long and hard.
- Now, let's come back to Fellman's Rambo and the Dalai Lama. If adversarial compulsion and mutuality compulsion are based on denial of ambiguities, might not Eros and Agape be so confused?
- And what does that tell us about our need to allow inconsistency, unique not-necessarily-rational responses to our world?
- What about intimacy and distance? What do the dew of earth's sheets tell us? Do they not suggest intimacy. And yet does not "still dreams of her" suggest distance? Does not the use of the small "h" in he not suggest intimacy, while the capital "G" of God suggests distance?
- Why does my copy keep opening to this poem? I don't have a clue. There are some feelings I prefer just to have.
Use of literature to approach social crisis. This may be one way to build what Henry and Milovanovic call replacement discourse.
Interactive exercise like the Paix Manquee, but this one on story writing.
Illustrate the poem.
Put up the painting. Alter the painting to bring out many different elements.
Then put a criminal justice twist on it. Then retell the story to match the new painting - the feelings.
How about Lilith manquee. The young woman who tried to be brazen, stand up - take back the night. Then she finds she really does want his love. What icons change to leap out? Use the mother of the six-year-old.
Rewrite the story by making choices, but not the kind like opening a door. The kind like, she hides the truth. She tells the truth. She loves him. She hates him.
Specific References:I specifically want to look at the importance of the "gaze," and who is doing the gazing. In Susan Gold's poem, Lilith is reflecting on herself. That gaze is very different from the gaze of others, particularly others who have been defined by the male gaze. I still haven't found that reference of the feminist writer who says that woman cannot define her "self" as woman for she is dependent on the reflection of the context in which she finds herself, which is a male-dominated reflection. So that even other women reflect the male perspective because that is the normative reflection of the social context in which they live. Since the reflection of others is essential to the creation of identity, woman are hampered in their construction of self identity by the male-dominated reflection. In her poem, Susan Gold just leaps over that problem by having Lilith in a context all unto herself. No "others" are mentioned in the poem, other than earth and God. (I refer to Susan Gold's poem as Lilith reflecting on herself, by virtue of its inclusion in Which Lilith?.)
There are a couple of references on this that I have located:
- Seyla Benhabib, "Critical Theory and Postmodernism: On the Interplay of Ethics, Aesthetics, and Utopia in Critical Theory," in David M. Rasmussen, ed. The Handbook of Critical Theory. Blackwell. 1996. (pbk, 1999)
At p. 332: "Culture is the process through which the human self acquires identity in the face of otherness." Self and Other are at the root of this Lilith issue. Benhabib quotes Adorno and Horkheimer, who "with relentless rhetoric, uncover the 'structure of identitary thinking' underlying Western reason:"When it is announced that the tree is no longer simply itself but a witness for another, the seat of mana, language expresses the contradiction that something is itself and yet at the same time another beside itself, identical and non-identical. . . . The concept, which one would like to define as the characterizing unity of what is subsumed under it, was much more from the very beginning a product of dislectical thinking, wherby each is always what it is, in that it becomes what it is not. (Citation omitted.)"
At p. 333.
So here we are back to the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition in which Lilith first appeared." Some of the traditions
- Reminders from previous classes and discussions
- Unruly women
- Status crimes
- "Bad" Mothers
- Age old myths, same old story
- Fellman's recognition that we are not consistent, not rational, not all adversarial, not all mutuality. Eve is icky-poo sweet and acquiesces. Lilith "runs with wolves." Lilith became the symbol of feminist groups in the 70s in the US.
- whole criminal justice system based on adversarial approach.
- early women's prisons tried to move to mutuality approach.
- conflict in sexual images and in mother images
- shooting of the six-year-old by six-year-old: bad mother; and our role-playing of "bad" mother.
- Lilith One of Alan Humm's Sites
Link first to the Overview, then to Bible (Isaiah), then to the Discussion: Does this passage refer to Lilith? Notice the careful documentation, and the problems with translation.
- Looking for Lilithby Eliezer Segal
- The Lillith Myth
The Gnosis Archive
Dear Professor Ernst,
What an interesting idea for a conference! I am in the process of setting up on the Web a new course in Distributive Justice, in which one of the texts will be Gordon Fellman's Rambo and the Dalai Lama. I am intrigued by Fellman's use of film to illustrate his theory on adversarial versus mutuality paradigms, and I am further intrigued by the use of literature to facilitate communication and break down some of the opposition between paradigms.
I would be interested in putting together something on the themes of Lilith, taken by women writers, the strand of fairy and folk tales that feature the "dark" woman, and what this whole strain of literature means for those of us who work with women in the criminal justice system. Texts I had in mind are Which Lilith? (1) and Among Women (2). Would this be appropriate?
- Enid Dame, Lilly Rivlin, and Henny Wenkart. Which Lilith? Jason Aronson Inc. Northvale, New Jersey, Jerusalem. 1998.
- Louise Bernikow. Among Women. Harmony Books. New York. 1980.
Again, thank you for alerting me to this conference.