Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paul Guest/ John Ashbery

Paul Guest has responded to my questioning of him letting Ashbery call him an invalid on his book jacket, and hence being mistaken for buying into the mainstream notion of what it means to be disabled. Guest doesn't confront the question, exactly. He does through out a number of insults throw, which is fine.

As I have said before, my bone isn't to pick with Guest. My problem is that there are very few people with disabilities in the mainstream, virtually none. So, it is alarming that when someone with a disability perpetuates the stereotype by allowing people to refer to them as invalids, which implies that we are unhealthy or to be pitied etc.. Guest states that he 'doesn't understand' this comment. Perhaps I think he doesn't. I am not sure if he's involved in any disability rights or has read any thinkers with disabilities. He still hasn't answered this question. To read people like Michael Davidson, Harriet McBrdye, and Simi Linton and disagree with them would be fine. Guest is part of a minority. If he doesn't want to represent the major ideas of that minority (that disability is largely a social construct and there is a difference between disability (society) and impairment (bodily)) that is fine, but why doesn't he want to at least acknowledge that there are other people with disabilities who have a different view? Why would he not what to hear these voices? This very attitude, that we are 'invalids' is what keeps society from treating us equal and what makes society able to resist the very same things that Guest complains about (non-accessible cabs). If we are able to convince the world that disabled people deserve civil rights, that it is more than just the personal problem, then cabs would be accessible. Note: Wheelchair users chained themselves to the street and went to jail to get the MTA to have assessible buses.

Guest notes, "That I'm not really cognizant of a word's weight or that I am aware in the most calculating, self-hating ways." But, he still hasn't addressed what the word means to him or why he thinks it's relevant when applied to him or the fact that (historically) people with disabilities are trying to dispel this myth. He hasn't explained, in short "Why?" Does he not see negetive value in the word? Would a woman be called 'bitch' on her book and not explain why it's appropriate?

The way Guest is shown in media seems to imply that he thinks his disability is the greatest tragdy of his life and he would give anything to be able-bodied. While I am not sure this is his perspective, he has done little to confront people like Mary Karr or Ashbery who imply this. And his publisher has made the perceived horror of disability into it's primary marketing point - which is unfair to Guest and other people with disabilities.

Many, many, many other people with disabilities do not want to be pitied or cured. We are happy/comfortable with our bodies. We don't want to be regarded as invalids.


Dear Curtis, RE Eigner, ok. You win.

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