Rules of Engagement

After a very long summer break I finally feel up to putting a toe in the murky social media water where my blog perforce resides. There’s so much about life online that has become painful to my geezer incarnation that I can’t indulge without massive ambivalence.  On the other hand….

Right now I’m looking out my window at some pretty murky water weaving through the reedy marshes of a coastal island. I’m not exactly playing hooky since CUNY does not schedule classes on Jewish holidays. It feels like hooky though, and fortunately the thought of being eaten by alligators has moved me at last to sit down at my computer for more than email.

I do not usually dwell on alligators in the days surrounding Rosh Hashanah.

nancygatorsFrom the treatment of alligators (don’t feed them) to university matters may seem like a stretch, but it’s led me irresistibly to highlight the article in Monday’s New York Times (still the main source of irritation, hence inspiration for me) about a young woman at Columbia, Emma Sulkowitz,  who has conceived a brilliant piece of performance art. She created the piece to protest a rape she endured on the campus and that has not, in her account, been taken seriously. Under the many rules of engagement  the artist has created for herself, “Carry That Weight” entails dragging a mattress across the campus without asking for help. Roberta Smith comments: “It is so simple: A woman with a mattress, refusing to keep her violation private, carrying with her a stark reminder of where it took place.”

Depressing as the prevalence of sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States continues to be, it is also exhilarating to witness a woman artist daring to demand her right to be heard in public―confronting the silence that so often rules, especially in private universities. Yes, we remember―to what end?: the personal is the political.

I can’t resist: the Sunday New York Times Magazine (all articles devoted to men) revisits the devastatingly ironic  ways in which Gary Hart (for those old enough to remember) learned that lesson.

And shana tova.