Sunday, January 22, 2017

BOOK: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
read by the author, 4 h 40 min

A raw, non linear memoir, covering many topics but primarily non-traditional family and pregnancy. Nelson is married to the artist Harry Dodge,a gender fluid trans man, inherits a step-son, and surprisingly to herself, wants to get pregnant.

Interspersed between the personal, are references to queer theory which Nelson debates or comments on.

“A day or two after my love pronouncement, now feral with vulnerability, I sent you the passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new.”

The writing is dense, full of ideas and I easily would go back five or ten minutes to re-listen to a passage and still miss parts of the narrative. This might have been a book that the print version would have been more beneficial to me. I had to take my time to absorb the language.

Much thinking required, but Nelson's thinking is so different from my life experience, that I liked the parts I got. She is not afraid to discuss anything, and much was deeply personal. 

This book is from the list 40 New Feminist Classics. 5/40 read