After all, if philosophy is taking place in works of art, philosophers ought to be able to recognise it as philosophy. I have long been frustrated with criticism that reduces the literary text to an example of a pre-existing theory or philosophy — whether this means looking for convincing illustrations of existing positions in moral philosophy in Charles Dickens or Virginia Woolf, or tracking down Foucault in Jane Austen, Derrida in George Eliot, or Deleuze in Henrik Ibsen. The more you write, the more you’ll be convinced that you can actually do it. Can you see it too?” The appeal may go unanswered. The challenge for someone who wants to think about literature and philosophy, then, is to ﬁgure out what her question actually is. For me, writing is definitely thinking. Study yourself. Moreover, and more radically: Is there a way to read philosophically without having recourse to a given philosophy at all? If the experience of reading disappoints, the responsibility for the result does not rest with the writer alone. She had just finished The Ethics of Ambiguity, and was wondering what to write next. KNOW YOURSELF. Instead of embracing and expressing feminist complexity, Woolf aims to transcend it, which, for Showalter, means writing and thinking in a more traditionally masculine style—an aim diametrically opposed to the principles of feminism. Writing, the process of writing, getting down to doing it: it is crucial in our working life, as students, graduate students, teachers and intellectuals, and yet we talk about it too little. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. On the other hand, I am a strongly lateral thinker in the sense that one idea quickly leads me to another, which leads me to another, which suddenly lands me in a place I never thought I’d go. What do I want to say? In my own case, I have learned that if I stick with it, if I write a little every day, if I continue to produce dozens of files filled with outtakes and irrelevant materials, then one day my pathetically ugly duckling will become a swan. You have to give writing the priority it deserves in your life: the first thing you do every morning. (Surely this is another reason why we are so quick to hide behind the authority of acknowledged master thinkers in our readings and viewings.). (You may of course be a totally different kind of writer: the point is to figure out what you are like and work with that.) This updated article is available in free-to-view only with permission of Oxford University Press. To say that Woolf did not do this and therefore to call her work "impersonal" is not to say that it is apolitical, or that Woolf separates art from politics. Could you please explain Toril Moi's argument that Anglo-American feminists have largely ignored the form of the texts, thereby reducing female... What arguments does Toril Moi use to warn against creating a separate canon of women's texts, rather than looking at sexual differences? Given that philosophers have never agreed on what philosophy is, and given that even the most agile minds have failed to produce a convincing deﬁnition of literature, this is not a promising path. It exposes our judgment to the potential ridicule of the world. I also learned that if I do write every day, I not only write more easily (believe me: there is a writing muscle: exercise it and it will get supple and strong) and I get to do the work I care about most every day. Here Beauvoir has reached Cavell’s neighbourhood: writing and the other are intrinsically connected. At ﬁrst, we may only form a hazy idea of the whole. In any case, the point is that Moi does correctly argue that Woolf's experimental writing style is not at odds with her feminist political stance but an expression of it. This feels risky. Reading a novel enables Beauvoir to feel that she, for a moment, genuinely becomes the other without ceasing to be herself. To trust the process is to accept that you are the kind of writer you are, and develop a way of working that builds on that. Toril Moi grew up in the countryside in the south-west of Norway, and was educated at the University of Bergen. How could I have presented that mess in public! This goes to show that the difﬁculties involved in “taking an interest in one’s experience” are the same in life and in art, as Cavell points out: The difﬁculty of assessing [one’s experience of a ﬁlm] is the same as the difﬁculty of assessing everyday experience, the difﬁculty of expressing oneself satisfactorily, of making oneself ﬁnd words for what one is speciﬁcally interested to say, which comes to the difﬁculty, as I put it, of ﬁnding the right to be thus interested.
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