A good son and brother, a kind neighbor, an active man of business—in all of these outward relations he was but one of a class.
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His love for my mother was the green spot on which he Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives 41 stood apart from the common-places of a mere bread-winning, bread-bestowing existence. Of all persons whom I have known, she had in her most of the angelic,—of that spontaneous love for every living thing, for man, and beast, and tree, which restores the golden age.
The term also evokes the political common, the scene of democratic cosovereignty, and juxtaposes it with a feminine privacy that is the site of higher law. Theorizing education as transferable capital, she gratefully acknowledges her own lessons as a form of privileged primogeniture. In this scheme, the value of both learning and learner are determined from without, and measure status rather than knowledge. More, expression is governed by audience and by the rationalized outward demands of intelligibility and accuracy.
Both the subject of her studies and a favorite symbol of U. The principles of self-determining democratic citizenship and market agency were incessantly contrasted against the dependence relations that had preceded the political and market revolutions. These men.
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And yet Fuller characterizes such will and expression as always already Roman—that is, as modes of subjection to Rome and the story of Rome. Read one way, this passage describes Fuller as a developing citizen who nourishes her youth and strength for public action. For her, the Roman is not only personally harmed in being misrecognized; he also deprives those who misrecognize him. Its heroic image reveals no higher truth or law. Yet, forgive, ye wild asters. Living and blooming in your unchecked law, ye know nothing of the blights, the distortions, which beset the human being; and which at such hours it would seem that no glories of free agency could ever repay.
Yet, interestingly, Fuller never makes that connection overt. In fact, she attributes the negative consequences of her training to youth, not sex. In the passage above, what Fuller laments is an act of self-betrayal. Fuller vividly portrays this problem of national deprivation with the story of a childhood nightmare provoked by her training in Roman selfhood. Both passages dramatize the costs of national progress. The tree speaks, and Aeneas recognizes the voice of his countryman Polydorus, who had been sent as an ambassador from Troy and murdered by the Thracians.
An iron hedge of spears covered my body, Pinned down here, and the pointed shafts took root.
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The wood, a community of souls who have squandered their own lives, provides Fuller with another metaphor for threatened national doom. Dante also extends this motif of injured bodies. All forms of existence seem fragile, the prison of time real, for a god is dead. The years that lay between the woman and the girl only brought her beauty into perspective, and enabled me to see her as I did the mountains from my window, and made her presence to me a gate of Paradise.
Recognition of the other provides not just an image of but access to a higher plane of existence: the vision of her friend is a gate to Paradise. Human relationships, she asserts, come in different degrees of intimacy. These not only know themselves more, but are more for having met, and regions of their being, which would else have laid sealed in cold obstruction, burst into leaf and bloom and song.
Both seem to rise at a glance into that part of the heavens where the word can be spoken, by which they are revealed to one another and themselves. And, as the reappearance of her fertility motif suggests, Fuller codes this zone of perfect mutual recognition as a national space. For, as Hegel has it, to recognize is also to create a higher condition in the other and in oneself.
Like both Aeneas and Dante, 48 Owning Up she is burdened with an untellable narrative.
Book Review: Owning Up
In the works that follow her autobiography, she seeks a new approach for publishing private lives and cultivating recognition. For many of these, too, I was indebted to a friend, whose property they more lawfully are. In the following section, I examine how Fuller pursues this new ethic of recognition in Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Although she still associates the body with the damage of misrecognition, she no longer mourns it as a symbol of lost self-unity.
In Woman, bodies represent that which must be shed in the struggle for transcendence. This request for an intimate audience with men is quite startling, given the risk that Fuller took by Tarnished Icons, Shining Lives 49 addressing topics like prostitution and marital sexuality as an unmarried woman writer.
Her project will be to deploy that image and widen its scope. In Woman she will prove deeply attuned to how the violence of self-alienation maps across social geographies, causing the masculine and feminine dimensions of selfhood, Woman and Man, to be misrecognized as historical women and men and divided by unjust differences in power. With this new angle of critique, Fuller offers an important revision 50 Owning Up of Emersonian transcendentalism, one that potentially requires his idealism to grapple with social politics.
In several places he extends this idea to assert that we never truly register the existence of other individuals. In particular, she is concerned with how, viewed through frames of capitalism, patriarchy, and nationalism, women are misrecognized as prepolitical subjects and the property of masculine possessive individuals. Privatized as a form of property, she can neither access nor actuate the transcendence of privacy. However, it is a mistake to read Woman—widely considered a founding text of U. Fuller demands equality, but only because its absence impedes progress.
Fuller has no identity politics, no use for the recognition of women as women. Difference, in this sense, is the by-product of a fallen political economy through which we misread the other as property and, because difference manifests itself as a system of interdependent unfreedoms, a perpetuation thereof. In this, her project corroborates the theory of recognition advanced by Charles Taylor, who argues that when contemporary activists and theorists call for the equal recognition of marginalized identity groups, they contradict the very philosophical principles they invoke.
Recognition, according to Taylor, is always predicated upon an assumption of universal human qualities; the thing acknowledged is not particularity but sameness. Thus, recognition is fundamentally at odds with the goal of equal approbation for cultural differences. Thus, ascribed difference ultimately becomes that which must be stripped away by the struggle for recognition, and nonwhiteness in particular becomes an expression of nontranscendence.
In Summer, where she aligns the possessive gaze with Manifest Destiny, Fuller uses Native Americans to examine the cultural oppression of women. Persistently, Fuller reduces racial difference and racial injustice to signs for the constraints of gender. D Throughout Woman, Fuller literalizes the notion of misrecognition by focusing on the different ways that women mis function as public spectacle. Yet the sort of misrecognition that most concerns Fuller is not denigration, but idealization.
The names are of threadbare celebrity. Indeed they were not. But with time enough, space enough, their kindred appear on the scene. Across the ages, forms lean, trying to touch the hem of their retreating robes. The youth here by my side cannot be weary of the fragments from the life of Sappho. He will not believe they are not addressed to himself. A recluse of high powers devotes himself to. He would have been to her a friend, such as Abelard never could. His sorrow is truly pathetic.
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Yet, when she considers the posthumous admiration accorded these women, her tone is still not quite approving. But Fuller also emphasizes that the object of idolatry is constrained. Fuller echoes their theorization of seduction when she treats idolatry as misappropriation of something beyond ownership, and links it to profound collective national loss.
Like them, she wields the principle of private femininity against its compromised applications in U.
Self-interest, even self-advocacy, traps women in the phenomenal world, and in the self-ishness that we see Fuller striving to overcome in her journal. For Fuller, the trouble is not that injustice takes place within historical and material relations, but that this injustice distracts women from looking beyond those relations. She asks them, that is, to seek freedom from self over possession of self. It makes women property rather than activating Woman as relay to self- non possession. Embodiment is also the place where Fuller uses racial meanings to represent this problem.
In the autobiography, as we have seen, bodies signify a Romantic unity with nature and spirit that, although feminized, belongs to men as well as women. And yet, after Fuller frequently represents her own body as the locus of a female-sexed identity that she inhabits with deep ambivalence. Rather, it corresponds to the prison of misrecognized femininity. Reduced to corporeality, women become property, and even commodities to be exchanged among male agents. But she pushes this logic a step further by aligning all female embodiment with slavery.
Each is a work-tool, and article of property, no more!
In perfect freedom. As the trope of enslaving corporeality develops in Woman, not only slavery but nonwhiteness itself aligns with the thrall of corporeality. Here the word tarnish suggests that by indulging self-interest women render themselves a kind of coinage to be exchanged, implicating themselves in fallen material interests. With this circle of overlapping constructs, Fuller maps nonwhiteness, transgressive sexuality, self-interest, and status as property over each other as expressions of the embodied limits imposed on Woman.
Racialization is not just another mark of cultural difference produced by misrecognition, equivalent with feminization.