“…and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance”
“What if, instead, we asked writers to use methodologies that muddle or reposition the argument(s) at hand? In other words, what if composition functioned as a disordering agent (McRuer 2006)?” -Hillery Glasby quoting Robert McRuer in “Making It Queer, Not Clear”
When I was sixteen or so, Emerson’s thought made so much sense. It seemed a lot like what I thought. I don’t know if I fully realized that it was a way I was being taught to think. Emerson’s saying: say what you believe, abide by your own “spontaneous impression,” or else someone else will come along and say it well and you’ll have to accept “with shame” your own opinion “from another.” I think that’s perspective that weaves through a lot of American individualism. Thinking about it now, I don’t understand why there’s shame in that. Or force.
This morning, when I was reading Glasby, I was excited from the first sentence. It’s lovely to find someone saying things that make me dance about thinking, “Yes, yes, I thought so too!” Having someone else say it, and say it beautifully, wasn’t like having my thoughts stolen. It was more like coming home. Like finding a friend opening closets and unfolding blankets and making a pillow fort. And then I wasn’t watching them make: I was making with them, and unmaking, and throwing things around in this delightful disorder of make believe and make and believe. I don’t want to put that together. I don’t want to claim that as mine. I want to muddle around, and celebrate the together.