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June 13, 2005

My image

Don’t laugh, but I really like what Yoko Ono has to say about feminism, aging, wifedom and just life in general in this interview. It also recalls a few lines from her “Grapefruit” poems, with their “Imagine a raindrop”, imagine imagine theme. Which went on to be the song “Imagine” of course. But I just made the connection now that this idea of “imagine” is very much a Japanese product. In Japan, the English world “imagine” has a certain resonance. People are often reluctant to think outside their own experience, and “imagine” is this sort of magical buzzword that allows anyone creative freedom. If we are setting up a role-play and everyone was a bit confused, all it took was one person to say to me, “Imagine?” and I’d nod. And then they’d all say “Ah so so so” and the scene would flow. They also say it differently than we do- it’s like “image-in” rather than “imaa-gin” and when they speak of their own opinion or impression of something, they will say “My image is…”. There is a certain profundity to Japanese imaginings, one that we would be more inclined to give to realised visions. Part of this is because it takes such effort to get them, whereas we take it for granted. Also, in Japan, dreams unrealised are just sort of accepted as they are, and moreso precious for that.

Lionel Shriver, Orange Prize Winner, writes about how uncomfortable women are with naked ambition. I wasn’t prepared to like what she said. I personally find naked ambition tacky, and the reason most of this world is governed by scumbags. Anyone who feels they are entirely deserving of an honour will lack the humility to serve that honour respectfully. There was an article by Oliver James in the Observer Magazine yesterday about “imposter syndrome”, when a person “get[s] good exam results or do well at sport or art, they do not think of themselves as bright or creative and believe they have simply fooled people. They put subsequent professional success down to luck, contacts or having to work harder than others, rather than to their own mental capacities.” Apparently women are more likely to take on their neurosis than men, having a natural affinity for neuroses in general I believe, and being a bit less arrogant. I understand this. I am still waiting to hear from my graduate program to let me know I was admitted by an error, and am not in fact eligible to attend. I liked Shriver’s take on this though. First of all, she was talking about a contest. I think in a contest, it’s perfectly acceptable to want to win. That’s probably the point. In an election, however, a ride up a career ladder, or for a limited place in a grad program, I think one’s reasons for wanting to be there have to be more substantial than sheer ambition and you can’t just expect that you deserve it. An inflated sense of entitlement is not attractive. Perhaps I am overtly idealistic about this, but I think someone has to be. There needs to be a balance to what Oliver James talks about, and Shriver prescribes that. She writes of “acting like a man” when she admitted her ambition, and then of her competitors who “acted like women” when they shook her hand afterwards in congratulations. Everyone needs a bit of both. Ambition for the sake of ambition is deplorable, but humility for its own sake is not so admirable either.

Though Canadian Poet Wendy Morton’s ambition is a bit admirable. She barters poems for free flights.

One thought on “My image”

  1. Jennie says:

    In the my first week of Grad School we had to sit through a two hour lecture on Imposter Phenomenon since it is so prevalent in academia. It was deathly boring.

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