Verbal Privilege

Here is a different take on the legacy of what we write as scholars, and what kind of knowledge is produced as a result, a topic I’ve been exploring in some recent posts (here and here). This is from a poem by Adrienne Rich entitled “North American Time,” and posted (some time ago) to the blog Language Hat.

Everything we write
will be used against us
or against those we love.
These are the terms,
take them or leave them.
Poetry never stood a chance
of standing outside history.
One line typed twenty years ago
can be blazed on a wall in spraypaint
to glorify art as detachment
or torture of those we
did not love but also
did not want to kill

We move but our words stand
become responsible
for more than we intended

and this is verbal privilege.

I can’t think of a much better way to explain why anthropologists should read Derrida, without making everyone feel all iterable.

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