#2 The Wallace Archive (A Research Visit amidst Personal Musings) – a temporary break with blog convention (well this one) as I conduct research at The Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX

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                                                 still a sign…

Day Two:
woke reasonably early, itching to go for a run. headed out onto the harris branch parkway, in the direction of the new gas station/redbox, and wondering if tiredness might be the reason i’m struggling to catch my breath – or whether i have just set off too fast (a common problem for me). make the two mile mark and wonder whether i’d better just head back, but decide to carry on as i seem to have hit my stride. then my stride fails me and my legs feel heavy and i wish i’d turned back sooner as i hit 3 miles and figure that i have at least a mile and a half back. being clever, i take a short cut down a path that looks like it might shave a half mile off my route, even though i have no idea where i am. after about 5 minutes of running around in a circle (i pass the same field of cute cows and realise i am lost), decide to pause and take a look at the gps map. gps map doesn’t work properly as my data roaming settings are turned off to avoid the £8 per hour charge that this would entail, but i can make out the green dot that signifies my starting point and so i figure that it shouldn’t be too hard to find my way back. the run is not a fast one, but it was enjoyable and ended up being 5.5 miles. for my warm down i take my sister’s dog out for an hour’s walk before heading to my room for a video call with my family, followed by a shower and stretches.
i have been thinking constantly about the supervisory meeting i had the day before flying out and the comments my supervisor made about the ‘flattening out’ of gender that occurs from time to time in wallace’s brief interviews with hideous men, and the ways in which gender roles, and expectations of those roles, are presented. a flattening out of gender is not a phrase i had thought of, but it perfectly expresses what i’ve been seeing in the work, and now i feel vindicated in choosing to focus on what is not an obvious area of research with regards wallace’s works. my sister and i take a ride out to the new whole foods store at the domain, taking the dog with us so she can have an extra walk, and we start a conversation about the films we’ve watched, and liked, recently. during the conversation we discuss google’s move to austin, and we talk about the vaughn/wilson film, the internship, and the infantilisation that such work ‘environments,’ with their workplace as playground/playground as workplace ethos, seem to promote. all of which is designed, primarily, to keep its workforce at said workplace for the optimum length of time. am i just too cynical?
am excited at the prospect of purchasing bananas, can’t seem to stop thinking of them. finish our grocery store shopping and head over with the dog to the domain. amazing to think how many smiles i receive from strangers because i am holding the dog’s lead, and how many people are eager to stop me and ask questions about her. buffy is 11 years old today, but still looks young, apparently. she behaves extremely well and it’s a pleasure taking her for a walk, quite unlike my own dog who is aggressive with strangers and who manages to ostracize us from the rest of the population due to her unpleasant nature with people and other animals.
on our return i mow the front lawn and dig up a vigorous climber that is interfering with next door’s garden, and that is apparently infested with fire ants. jump straight in the shower after finishing because the 23 degree heat leaves me feeling hot and sticky after the physical exertion. we watch a film following dinner, the guy who plays thor is a racing driver in the 70s. it’s better than i imagined it would be, but both it and the trailers prior to it exhibit a heavily biased aspect of the american film industry when one considers the amount of men in leading roles and also the roles that many of the women are playing in those very same films. i liked the film, the heat, with bullock and mccarthy for its antithesis to this. bullock is a great comedy actor (and great actor generally, but especially her comedy roles).
read one chapter of wallace’s the broom of the system, and am stunned once more at the book’s opening. the links are now forming more clearly when i consider how certain aspects concerning gendered roles are present across the wide body of his works. and i am amazed that wallace is still consistently read by critics as writing women in a ‘typically misogynistic way,’ or that his women have ‘no authority or agency,’ and that they are not ‘fully formed’ in the way that the men in his fiction are alleged to be. i wonder how much people choose not to read when reading his works?
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...reading, thinking, and thinking about reading... ...and then writing... View all posts by the textual silence project...

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