Monday, September 24, 2007

Introductions, Lies, and True Denials

Now that we must write self-introductions for class, I think of my self-introduction below (first post):

"I am not a doctor. I am not 25. I am not Korean. Nice to meet you."

This is silly, but I think denials of this sort are interesting. They can evoke counterfactual worlds, as where I am a 25-year-old Korean doctor. More interestingly, they involve selection: out of the innumerable things I'm not, why choose "doctor," "25," and "Korean"? So these denials require an active intelligence (I don't say an "intelligent intelligence"), which can set them apart from simple reporting.

So Wallace Stevens in "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock":

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.


yukki said...

When I first read your self-introduction with negative sentences, I wondered why you chose those categories (doctor, Korean, 25 yrs. old) to describe you. I'm still wondering...

j.taylor said...

I had to choose something, and our vocabulary was limited... Otherwise, I'm not sure.