culture and anachronism

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 14:36:29 CST

*floruit* of Shulamith J. Firestone to 1971-1973 so needn't do it myself.

Monday morning, I ran into Name Withheld on the Washington St Blue Line
El platform, then filled him in on Sunday night television:
"This one says, 'Take that! you followers of Shulamith J. Firestone!' That
one says, 'An insult to one Shulamith J. Firestone is an injury to all women!'"
"Who is Shulamith J. Firestone?"
"Was. That's the point. Published a one-shot bestseller, The Dialectic of
Sex, in 1973. Which I thought at the time badly needed saying, but which nobody
would say today, because this is *much later*." For one thing, the Dialectic
has got so deconstructed by this time, everyone is supposed to know it's where
the Roman Catholic Double Procession of the Holy Spirit meets the masculinist
perspective in sexual intercourse; Marx has become so far out-of-it he'd turn
over in his *cradle* and never bother living. This is without mentioning the
contents of the book, which I have anyhow forgotten but would still consider
very good for its time and cultural-historical context, most assuredly.
"I was out of school in 1973, don't know who was famous that year."
"Nor do a lot of other people, I'm sure, who wouldn't ever call someone
a McGovernite or pro-Nixon. That's an *obvious anachronism*. But arguing over
Shulamith J. Firestone doesn't become anachronistic until a socially
convention exists to the effect that Shulamith J. Firestone is obsolete,
archaic, superseded, or part of the socially-constructed cultural past."
[What I actually said was much less coherent than this. Who am I kidding.]

Suppose that over here we have one or more people so gripped by cultural
lag, or whatever it's called these days, such a laggard myself, I am, as to
lack awareness that Shulamith J. Firestone has gone to the Land of the Formerly
Famous, where all the Famous, living or dead, must go when the fifteen minutes
are up, ie, has no followers, *strictu sensu*. While over *there* we have one
or more people at least equally certain that to acknowledge the supersession
of Shulamith J. Firestone is to impugn the validity or timelessness of her
*content*, contextualized or elsewise. Would we do the same, either way, with
Benjamin Franklin or Virginia Claflin Woodhull? No, because we know these are
certified Dead People, albeit Famous Long Ago.(*)

Daniel A. Foss
(*) And I have it, as attested by much more authoritative sources, that
reports of Robert Johnson's demise are indubitably authentic.