Post Your Opinion
by C.D.J.

IN Proper Deafinitions: Collected Theorograms (Press Gang, 144 pages, $11.95 paper), Betsy Warland investigates such contemporary feminist issues as the female/feminine body and language, lesbian sexuality, the relationship with mother(s), and incest. Such a book could he stimulating, challenging, important. This one isn`t. Warland styles herself a language-centred writer. Her frequent forays into word histories aim to release dormant potentialities: "intact, in-, not + tactus, to touch." Often, though, they only state the obvious or diverge so pointedly from contextual usage as to) become meaningless. Apart from the etymological treasure hunts and some punning, Warland`s writing tends to be flat, flavourless: "Sometimes I say, `Why make it so difficult for yourself?... The writing alludes to a more serious problem: radical simplification of complex issues. Warland seems unaware of the constructedness of self, adopting instead an egocentric, univocal "I": "[we must] theorIze in the 1st person, give I witness accounts ... it we are to trust our own gaze." Simple subjectivity invites the narcissism and auto-fetishizing that plague the book. As well, the writing consistently insinuates an originative lingual truth; dictionary replaces patriarchy in authorizing this brave new world. In a painful irony, the title of this book puns most powerfully on Warland`s unrelenting deafness to the sophistication in voice and argument that must attend feminist writing in the 1990s.

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