hatstuck snarl

theoretically, a hairstyling salon


Some things I just learned and/or forgot to say about tofu:

1. Tofu is very cooling to the body. This is one reason that you don't want to eat it raw. Tofu can be applied to the head through cheesecloth in order to make a plaster that will draw out the heat of a headache. If you want to make a tofu salad dressing you can blanch, steam, or gently boil the tofu before doing so in order to increase digestibility and reduce the cooling properties that will chill your digestive tract.
2. My macro cookbook by Aveline Kushi says that a "small amount" of tofu can be eaten every day in addition to or in replacement of beans. A “small amount” means very small I think.
3. Tofu is traditionally solidified with nigari. (Like cheese is curdled with rennet.) Nigari is the residue after sea salt is extracted from sea water. It is high in magnesium and iron in particular. Another natural solidifying agent is calcium sulfate, which comes from gypsum found in the mountains. You can also use lemon juice to solidify tofu if you make your own at home. Commercially sold tofu is now solidified with vinegar, aluminum (linked to Alzheimer’s), refined calcium sulfate, or other chemicals.
4. Tofu is high in protein and oil so its natural complement is salt (miso or tamari). Adding tofu to desserts (like pies or cakes) and using it with sweeteners is an American custom. If you really want to enjoy sweet tofu, it is better to add a small amount of mirin rather than rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.
5. Frozen tofu (which I have just discovered!) keeps longer and reportedly has a smoother and finer texture. (I find it pleasantly gritty.) “According to legend, frozen tofu was discovered when a Buddhist monk dropped a bucket of tofu in the snow after being startled by a fox. The next day he retrieved the frozen tofu and brought it back to the temple, where its unique qualities were enjoyed by all.” Before freezing fresh tofu, press all the water out first. Frozen tofu keeps for three months. To thaw, place the tofu in boiling water for ten minutes then gently press out the excess water. Or, place frozen tofu in cold water for ten minutes then rinse and squeeze.




Date: 2006-08-12, 11:13AM EDT

SUPERSTARS ONLY NEED APPLY. We offer…$15/hour and up, health insurance, 401K, free yoga classes, tuition and much more. Here is your chance to really make a difference, express your creativity and LEARN HOW TO RUN A SMALL BUSINESS! Monday thru Friday, days only. FT/ PT. This is the CHANCE OF A LIFETIME.

What you will do…
Assist owner of a busy catering and corporate training enterprise. Duties to include…accounts receivable, sales, recruiting, implementing YOUR ideas, thinking, training, catering and community service.

Who we are…Crocodile Catering is not just a restaurant, but also a place where people like you can live out their dreams. Crocodile provides a fun, funky place to hang out, interact, and explore your imagination while being appreciated for being the superstar that you are by our inspiring management team. We are a very successful, very unique, very established company committed to creating more productive and joyous work experiences. For more, visit croccater.com

What we require…energy, perky-ness, EXCELLENT physical condition, EXCELLENT references, enthusiasm, professional appearance(feel free to include a head shot), excellent writing skills(feel free to include a writing sample), intelligence, sense of humor, fantastic people skills (we like our people Croc-y, not cranky), ability to lift 50 pounds. Persistence, iron will, optimism and drive. College preferred, MBA would be nice.

What we don’t require…pessimism, excuses, business as usual

We are located just west of King of Prussia, just off route 202.
WARNING…Philadelphia is TOO FAR AWAY! Traveling the Schuylkill everyday will make you (and us) miserable.

Compensation: $15/ hour

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Looking for HAIR STYLIST working on their portfolio

Reply to: job-191456262@craigslist.org
Date: 2006-08-08, 8:13AM EDT

filming a music video on Sunday August 13th at 5:30 am. There are five dancers and 1 model all female. They need their hair done nicely You get your work seen in an industry that calls for you constantly. This will be via major web sites tv promos both cable and satelite, plus the normal promotional methods.
This is an r&b music video.
basic info
Girls ethnicity
1 portugese
1 spanish
1 afro-american
2 white
I do need you so if you are interested and are hesitant to work for exposure alone, than still respond to this ad. Im not in the position to put out any further funds, yet if it is a two digit number then I wont be disrespected. Everyone involved is working for exposure. Its just coming down to the wire and our stylist bailed.

Compensation: ????

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yes -- OK to repost to Job Developers for Persons with Disabilities.


Monday, July 24th Breakfast:

Miso Soup with Aged Tofu
Soft Rice with Millet
Bok Choy
Takuwan Pickle
Pear Compote
Sunday July 23rd, Dinner:

Corn Chowder
Chickpea Soup with Shiso Leaves
Cucumber and Wakame Salad
Green Beans Almondine
Collard Green Rolls
Burdock Pickle


Whole Wheat Soda Bread

(from Christina Pirello’s Glow: A Prescription for Radiant Health and Beauty)

Makes 1 Loaf

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain rice milk or soy milk
1/8 cup umeboshi plum vinegar
1/8 cup brown rice vinegar
1/8 cup light olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 (175 Celsius)

Combine the flours, oats, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk and umeboshi vinegar together. (This simulates a buttermilk flavor.) Combine the milk mixture with the rice syrup and oil. Stir the wet ingredients gradually into the flour mixture to create a sticky dough. On a lightly-floured surface, knead the bread until it’s smooth, about ten minutes.

Shape into a round loaf and transfer to an ungreased baking sheet or stone. Refine the shape, and use a sharp paring knife to cut a large cross shape in the top of the loaf (so it doesn’t split as it rises).

Bake until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, 45 to 50 minutes.

Variation: After shaping the loaf, brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds or crushed pumpkin seeds for extra texture, flavor, and vitality.


I'd almost forgotten how to blog, or at least had forgotten special features.

Now that I can link again, here is where I am going this summer:

Kushi Institute Summer Conference

Please forgive the cheesy running woman.

I like where I'm staying, and am thankful to be here somewhat rent-free (I'm planning to get Brian's friends Beth and Loren a gift certificate to a restaurant they like called Astral Plane,) but this house is not as good in terms of puss-safety. There are many windows and doors, usually wide open, hence Lotti's sad confinement to our room (unless we are home to watch her every move. Lotti is ready to move.


I'm halfway throuogh Kevin Killian's Bedrooms Have Windows. It's pretty great overall though much different from the later Killian I'm more familiar with. More tomorrow. Brian has a half day tomorrow so I probably won't get quite as much work done.
I'm remembering that Brian and I also bought hijiki (seaweed) known for its particularly fishy odor and made this (4 stars out of 5, the fishy smell cooks down with the shoyu--we used tamari--and the mustard-tahini sauce helps keep the hijiki at bay):

Hijiki Summer Salad *

Serves 4-6

This salad is a wonderful way to get mineral-rich hijiki into your diet.

1/2 cup dried hijiki
Water to cover hijiki
1 tablespoon shoyu
Pinch sea salt
3 ears fresh corn
1/2 cup shelled green peas
1/2 cup bean sprouts
½ cup grated carrots


4 tablespoons natural prepared mustard
2 tablespoons sesame butter or tahini
3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup water

Soak hijiki 10 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking water, and rinse hijiki in a colander. Slice into 1½ inch lengths. Slowly pour soaking water into a pot (discarding any sediment). Add hijiki and, if necessary, fresh water to almost cover. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes. Add shoyu and cook until water has evaporated (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring another pot of water to a boil, add pinch of salt and corn cobs. Simmer 15 minutes. Take corn from water, allow to cool, then remove kernels from cobs. In the same water, boil the peas 10 minutes, and then the bean sprouts 1 minute. Place on a plate to cool after cooking. In a serving bowl, mix hijiki, corn, peas, bean sprouts, and raw carrot. Blend dressing ingredients together until smooth, then add dressing to salad. Mix well before serving.

*Recipe from Peter and Montse Bradford, authors of Cooking With Sea Vegetables.


wanted - - Co-author of a book about the world’s impoverished children

Reply to: see below
No contact info listed below? [
http://lags.cragslisp.net/?flagCode=30&postingID=160877264 ]Let them
know. Date: 2006-05-15, 2:30AM EDT


Co-author of a book about the world’s impoverished children.


I am looking for a co-author to write a book tentatively titled “the
Stories of the World’s Children.” You must be a writer - a seasoned writer
who is a published author or who is in the process of getting your book

Along with the research from now until the projected publishing date in
September to December of 2007, the co-author and I will write about the
lives, trials, and experiences of the world’s impoverished children, whom
I care very much about. The purpose of the book is to raise the awareness
of the conditions of the world's impoverished children.

I will, in August 21 to September 15 of 2006, be visiting Taiwan and
China. In June – Aug of 2007, I will visit many other countries in
Southeast Asia and Africa, to explore the lives and stories of
underprivileged children there. I am assembling a small team to go with

The co-author will visit these countries with me and possibly a
photographer and videographer/cameraman at his/her own expense. If
possible, we would like to shoot a documentary and have a photo exhibition
along with publishing the book.

The income of the co-author comes from splitting the royalties of the
book. I will donate my part of the royalties from the book. You, however,
are not required to do so. I will be responsible to find a publishing
company to publish this book. As I am a published writer, I am not
worrying about finding a publisher.


1. A humanitarian who cares about the world’s poor children, wants to
visit them to experience first-hand the conditions in which they live, and
spread their message/stories to the world 2. Must be in good health, live
a healthy life style, and love to travel to experience other cultures and
different parts of the world 3. Must NOT be a smoker; must NOT drink
alcohol 4. Must be a team player, have a cheerful personality, and be easy
to work with 5. Must be a writer - a seasoned writer who is a published
author or who is in the process of getting your book published

If interested, please email joyowet@hotmail.com and attach your resume.

Compensation: commensurate to experience, to be discussed upon contact no
-- Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster. no
-- Please, no phone calls about this job! no -- Please do not contact job
poster about other services, products or commercial interests. no --
Reposting this message elsewhere is NOT OK.



Yesterday I spent a load more money than I intended to.

We went to Chinatown, hence the $15.38 for the following:

Set of 5 Kitty Chopsticks ($4.99)
A Pound of Pickled Ginger ($1.59)
12 oz. Dried Lotus Root ($1.95)
A Pound of Dried Shitakes ($2.95)
Fresh Ginger Root ($1.00)
Soba Noodles ($1.75)

That's what I remember. We should have bouoght more soba noodles. The lotus root was a superior value. The only thing we couldn't find was dried tofu.

I also bought subway tokens and the Kushi book mentioned below (for $9.38 at Molly's Bookstore in the Italian Market.)
I'm reading Michio Kushi's The Macrobiotic Way. The Spicer biography is waiting in the wings. As is The Lazy Crossdresser.

Brian and I are making pan-fried rice balls today. And our housemate is making mochi with adzuki beans. His mochi mix calls for sugar, which is somewhat disconcerting.

We are going to walk back to Whole Foods later today and see if they have more macrobiotic samples. They also had (veggie) hot dogs and hamburgers and ice cream and cheese and hummus and crab dip and butter pound cake and other stuff! I think they were competing with the Italian Market Festival (which we also walked through.) I'm thinking there's not a big overlap in clientel however.

My sister started a blog. Here's the link. I can't figure out how to link it on the sidebar yet:



Try this too:

Cannellini with Olive Oil and Parsley


30 ounces Eden Organic Cannellini White Kidney Beans, 2 cans, lightly drained
2 1/2 Tablespoons Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 pinches Eden Sea Salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced Serves 4

Prep Time: 0:05
Cook Time: 0:05

Nutritional Info
Per serving 252 Calories, 11g Fat (36% calories from fat), 11g Protein, 31g Carbohydrate, 0mg Cholesterol, 137mg Sodium


Place beans, olive oil, sea salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the flame to low and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Turn flame off and add lemon juice, parsley, garlic and red onion. Mix and serve hot or chilled.
$4.28 Cheap Pink Shower Curtain (Valu-Plus, Broad and McKean, South Philly)

$2.48 Bulk Olives (Italian Market)

$3.00 Lemons, Limes, Red Onions, Yellow Onions (Italian Market)

Had a great walk to the West Side. Ate dinner with Brian, Patti, and Patti's new girlfriend Vicki.

Make this if you get the chance:

Curried Carrot Soup


1 Tablespoon Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon Eden Sea Salt, or to taste
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or kombu dashi (see Eden's recipe)
2 pounds carrots, cut in 1" cubes
1 cup cold water
2 cups Edensoy Unsweetened, Edensoy Original, or Edensoy Extra Original
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced Serves 4

Prep Time: 0:20
Cook Time: 0:20

Nutritional Info
Per serving 198 Calories, 7g Fat (31% calories from fat), 9g Protein, 27g Carbohydrate, 0mg Cholesterol, 309mg Sodium


Heat the oil in a 4 quart saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, curry powder, black pepper and sea salt. Sauté over a medium flame for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender. Add the vegetable stock, carrots and 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Turn the flame off and add the Edensoy and mix. Puree the soup in batches until creamy and smooth. Place in a medium saucepan and heat almost to boiling (do not boil as the soymilk will curdle). If to thick, add a little more water to reach the desire consistency and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the flame, stir in the lemon juice, ladle into serving bowls and garnish with parsley.


I'm interested in the conflation between identity and sexual orientation. These should be separate (I think) but orientation seems to (unfairly) dictate identity.

Any responses you have are welcome. I'm free associating at this point, using my own life, the lives of my friends, and a discussion with a queer theorist I recently met. I will anchor my object of study after a few more weeks of thinking.

This is a response to my friend Kristin, who asked why bi people are left out of LGBT. As a bonus, there is an easy miso recipe included here:

OK. So I am starting to think again. (What a relief.) I had a brief vacation from anything smart or academic. I've been mostly making somewhat weird macrobiotic meals. (Who knew that there were recipes for "Sweet and Sour German Style Macrobiotic Red Cabbage" easily available on the internet? The cabbage was really good actually.) C, one of the boys in my current housing situatioin (which I hope to be out of by Tuesday, not that it's so bad here, but I am ready to have my own space), lived in Japan until he was 12. He taught me that cucumbers smeared with miso are a summer treat for little Japanese kids. You should try this. It can also be done with high quality soy sauce, though the miso option is much richer. (We used barley miso.)

So back to bi. I was talking to C the other day (C is gay) and he mentioned that he went to look at an apartment and he talked to an "effeminate" guy for an hour and a half and was weirded out when the guy mentioned that he had a girlfriend. He wasn't interested in dating this guy. But he said something along the lines of his world not making sense in situations like these and how he needed or wanted it to. It's natural to feel upset if someone we thought was one way turns out to be another. (This is why H is upset when her exgirlfriends date guys. At least I think it might be one reason?)

Bi people have to be (or feel they have to be) chameleons. There is no heroic, grand threat of danger (which is part of what Halberstam seems to resent) as there is with trans people in public/hetero space who don't pass but blur gender. But bi people know that they will likely not be accepted in LGT communities if they try to date women and men simultaneously. This is a problem with the way in which we construct our dientity according to who we are oriented towards (who we want to date) rather than who we are.

I've always wanted to turn sexual orientation labels into identity labels. Hence, I would be a femme faggot. (Most people in Asheville called me a faggot.) It seems more fun to identify as who you are rather than who you sleep with.) This ends up happening a little bit anwaysy. I was really pissed off at a friend once when she told me that I wasn't a dyke. (I thought she was referring to my inbetween bi identity). She actually told me that she thought of me more as a lesbian than a dyke. (Dykes being tough and more butch? I don't know.) It then became more complicated when she told me I was a lipstick lesbian. Which is a somewhat derogatory term now that harkens back to 1950's femmes who lures butches in. (Actually it sounds fabulous as I describe it, but the label is somewhat dated and LGBT always seems to be caught up in the cult of the new.)

I'm going to stop talking now. I can see what JH means about trans undoing gender and bi stabilizing hetero and LG identities. (Because bi people move between genders and trans people occupy the inbetween perpetually.) But if we adjust our timeframe, then bi people can be seen as inhabiting an inbetween rather than shifting between two separate oppositional orientations.
Wednesday May 17th

$4.29 Fair Trade Red Leather Cat Coin Purse, Perfect for Subway Tokens (Ten Thousand Villages, Center City Location)

$1.00 Boston Guide for My Friends Brent and Crystal (AIDS Thrift Store, 5th & Bainbridge)

$1.10 4 Roma Tomatoes, 1 Huge Yellow Onion (Corner Store, McKean & 9th)

Read chapter one of Killian's Spicer biography. Killian writes very conversationally, a pleasure to read.

Walked four (?) miles. From 10th & McKean to 11th and Walnut (via Broad St.) to 5th & Bainbridge to 9th & South back to 10th and down to McKean again. Then later, to the corner store.

Switched over to read chapter one of Charlie Anders' The Lazy Crossdresser. Fabulous and trashy and fun. Smart too. This book will be useful for my "project" of discerning the overlaps between bi people and trans people.


I just realized that I stopped posting my thesis after a certain point. Both Steve and I finished though. I am heading out for the gayborhood soon. Window shopping and maybe reading Killian's Spicer bio with some actual glamorous gays surrounding me. I'm thinking of Millenium which I think is near 10th and Chestnut. (Or 12th?)

Brian and I are staying with friends, which makes me feel fairly isolated. Tomorrow is the big day. He works 9-9 (with classes and work). I will be at home making food etc. A perfect housewife.


6.50 Subway tokens (5 pack) at the South Philly Rite Aid

5.29 Yeast-free spelt bread and grain-sweetened chocolate-covered raisins (Whole Foods)

.50 Goya Chickpeas (South Philly Acme)

9:30-1:00 Transited to West Philly, walked back (4 miles) to South Philly, stopped at Rite Aid, Whole Foods, Acme

1:00-2:00 Drank tea, felt tired, read "Maine Well Being" newspaper, considered reading Kevin Killian's biography of Jack Spicer, emailed Brian to inform him that we are having Sweet Miso Soup with Squash, Leftover Cabbage, a mystery grain (Brown Rice?), and Fried Tofu for dinner

Too excited to nap. Am considering consolidating my student loans.


peculiar seeking to write news where none seems otherwise extant -

Man seeks to beat up van driver for indecent exposure
published March 24, 2006 10:24 am

CANTON - A Haywood County man was driving along Champion Drive in Canton Thursday morning when he pulled up beside a maroon van and noticed that the driver was exposing himself.

52 Sundays for $52

The driver, a man in his late 20s or early 30s, had short dark hair and was not wearing a shirt, according to a police report on file at the Haywood County Sheriff's Department.

When the man realized what the van driver was doing, he rolled down his window and cursed at him.

The van driver then drove off and pulled into the deep curve behind the Blue Ridge paper mill. The man followed the van because, as he told police, he wanted to beat the driver up for what he was doing.

Before he could get out of his car, the man in the van sped off. Police are still looking for the 1990s model van.


on a more serious note - more from the War on Terror in western North Carolina -

Bashing Bush costs Mars Hill student his computer

By Clarke Morrison
March 16, 2006 6:00 am

MARS HILL — The U.S. Secret Service seized a computer from the dorm room of a Mars Hill College student after he posted a message on a Web site apparently deemed threatening to President Bush.

Freshman Tim Willis said he meant no real harm in using modified song lyrics describing the violent death of the president on myspace.com, a site popular with millions of young people as a place for personal expression.

“Even though I don’t like the president and I don’t like his policies … I don’t want to hurt anybody,” he said. “I’m very peaceable. I don’t desire any conflict or anything.”

Jamie Cousins, the Secret Service agent who paid a visit to Willis on March 7 at the college and carried off his computer, said he couldn’t talk about the case.

“We don’t comment on any ongoing investigations,” Cousins said.

Willis said he made the post in late February as a response to a posting about Bush by a friend, who also had his computer seized. Willis said he took the lyrics from “Bullet,” a song recorded by The Misfits in the late 1970s, and replaced the references to President Kennedy with President Bush.

On March 6, a Secret Service agent left a note in the mailbox of his Newton home asking him to call, Willis said. The teen’s mother then called him at Mars Hill to relay the message, and Willis called the agent.

“He said he needed to talk to me because I threatened the president,” Willis said. “At the time I didn’t think I was threatening the president. It’s just lyrics to a song.”

The next day he met with Cousins at the college and signed papers agreeing to turn over his computer.

“He asked me if I was a member of any organizations, and I told him I was in the Boy Scouts and got my Eagle Scout,” he said. The agent also asked him if he was aware of any plots to overthrow the government, and told him the First Amendment doesn’t protect threats to the president, Willis said.

Dan Lunsford, president of Mars Hill College, said he doesn’t know much about the matter.

“The only thing I would be able to say is we certainly will look into the case and we will cooperate with law enforcement officials,” he said. “But we certainly want to protect our students’ rights as well.”
the war on terror in western North Carolina -

Man shoots mule-chasing dog

CLYDE - A Clyde man, frustrated by dogs chasing his mule, shot at two that were in his pasture, hitting one of them.

The incident happened Wednesday on Laurelwood Drive in Haywood County. After being shot with the .22-caliber handgun, the wounded dog ran toward its home at an apartment complex on Rush Road, the man told deputies.

The same dogs have been in the man’s field chasing his mule several times, and he had called the sheriff’s office on those occasions to register complaints, according to a report on file at the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department.

After talking with the man, a deputy went to the apartments on Rush Road and was told by neighbors that the dog’s owners had taken their pet to an animal hospital. The deputy reported that he has been unable to find out the condition of the dog.


Current Soundtrack:

Tori Amos (Scarlet's Walk)

Current Obsession:

Unsweetened Grain Cookies

Current Favorite Friend in Bangor:

Kevin Davies

Current Extracurricular Reading:

Jennifer Moxley's The Sense Record
Verlaine's Selected Poems

Current Embarrassment:

Overconsumption of Brown Rice Syrup

Qi Gong of the Day:

Swimming Dragon
Chapter One, Section Three

It (Prostitution)

Mina Loy’s unpublished play “The Sacred Prostitute,” housed in the Mina Loy Papers of the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, is archived both in a hand-written draft form and a typed manuscript. All citations here will be drawn from the typed manuscript which is presumably the later of these works. Although both manuscripts are undated, “The Sacred Prostitute,” according to both Burke and Kouidis was written concurrently with Loy’s early satires (see Burke “Becoming” 186 and Kouidis 16). Unfortunately, the play is incomplete; seven pages of manuscript are missing between pages 18 and 19 of the 32 surviving pages. Presumably, what is missing is a play within the play, entitled “Man and Woman.” The last gesture on page 18 is a stage direction for the men in the play to arrange their chairs in a circle on the outskirts of the stage in order to watch “Man and Woman.”

The cast of “The Sacred Prostitute” includes the following (in order of appearance): Some Other Man, [A Male] Youth, The Idealist, Another Man, Don Juan, A Man, Tea Table Man, Futurism, Procuress, Women, Dolores, Love, Nature, Reality, Purity, Joy, and World-Flesh-Devil. Relying heavily on exaggerated stereotypes, the first third of the play follows the interactions of the various male characters. As Kouidis writes of “The Sacred Prostitute”: “Set in the ‘World Brothel,’ it satirizes male attitudes towards women: Don Juan and ‘Idealists,’ and ‘Tea-Table-men’ as well as the Futurists” (16). But the play also satirizes the willing domestication of women, as represented by the hermaphroditic character called “Love.” Love, thought by the other women in the brothel to be a hermaphrodite, is relieved to be revealed as a woman by Futurism, who then sets out in a successful conquest of Love, “the most feminine thing” he has ever seen (SP 15). This conquest only occurs after Futurism’s unsuccessful appeal to Nature in hopes that she will alter biological determinism so that men can reproduce amongst themselves free from the temptations of women. After Futurism’s seduction of Love, Love and Futurism proceed to dawn boxing gloves but before they can begin to fully throw punches, the scene dissolves into a romance overhead in fragments by the audience. Although Love and Futurism carry on a conversation for quite some time in the “low, sustained and intense tones of two people who are very much in love” (SP 26), the play ends in Love’s jealous rage directed toward “all the other women” in the world (SP 30) and her knowledge that, although she has been possessed by Futurism, through the relatively-chaste gesture of a kiss, she will never be able to possess him.

Although “prostitution” is named in the “Feminist Manifesto” as a category that woman is reduced to by the social, prostitution is infrequently depicted in Mina Loy’s writings. “The Sacred Prostitute,” like “Magasins du Louvre,” which we shall return to, both offer similar portrayals of the conditions of prostitution. Interestingly, in “The Sacred Prostitute,” the depiction of Love, the sacred prostitute, reveals that women, rather than men, can prove to be women’s greatest enemies, thus bringing a new understanding to both the enmity of sexual difference and the role that women play in each other’s subjugation. In light of this understanding of “The Sacred Prostitute,” the gaze of the narrator in “Magasins du Louvre” can be reconsidered. Although in Virginia Kouidis’ analysis, virgins are the ultimate example of “an otherness awaiting someone’s permission to live” (32), Loy’s depiction of prostitutes reveals that the otherness of prostitutes, whom are made abject by both men and women, might be more extreme. Shifting between use value and exchange value, and thus in an even more unstable relationship to their identity than either virgins or married women, prostitutes are completely dependant on the gaze for recognition. Despite this dependence on the gaze, however, we shall see that Loy refuses to place responsibility for the conditions of prostitution on either women or men.

The first difficulty, and intrigue, that must be addressed when discussing “The Sacred Prostitution” is the composition of prostitution in this play. There is a general chorus of prostitutes, identified as “women,” and a procuress, both of which point to the conventional definition of prostitution, but the sacred prostitute is named to be Love. Differentiating prostitutes from virgins, Irigaray comments on the fact that, “Prostitution amounts to usage that has already been exchanged. Usage that is not merely potential: it has already been realized. The woman’s body is valuable because it has already been used” (186; emphasis in the original). In “The Sacred Prostitute,” however, Futurism expresses desire for Love precisely because Love has not yet been used:

Futurism Do you feel much like a woman?
Love Not much—I don’t think I could. I’m so well watered down with civilization.
Futurism Ah—you have never been galvanized by the force of undiluted masculinity—There isn’t any left in the world except in me. Come here. (Love approaches.) Do you want to know what it’s like?
Love Awfully. (SP 27-28)

This scene, and Futurism’s treatment of Love in general, is staged more as a seduction than a purchase. In what sense, then, can we understand Love to be a prostitute? And how do we account for the conflation of romantic love and prostitution that occurs because of Loy’s decision to name Love as the sacred prostitute? Although it might be conceptually difficult to separate prostitution from the trade of material bodies, it is a bit easier to understand Loy’s metaphor if we consider Irigaray’s definition of prostitution as “usage that has already been exchanged” in relation to romantic love. Romantic love, as depicted in Loy’s writings in particular, is a cultural concept dependant on myth and exchange. Love’s remark that she is so “well watered down with civilization” marks romantic love as a concept that is dependant on both usage and exchange. The interaction between romantic love and civilization is what perpetuates and creates the concept of love. Loy herself reminds us in the last lines of the Love Songs that romantic love is created and sustained by the circulation of cultural myths: “Love — — — the preeminent litterateur” (Lost 68). It seems to be this symbiotic relationship that causes Loy to link prostitution and romantic love.

Thus, the personification of Love in “The Sacred Prostitute” emerges as a prostitution, or circulation, of outdated cultural ideals. During Love’s first scene with Futurism, she functions as a passive receptacle, willing to answer affirmatively to any remark that Futurism makes. She repeats, “Yes dear” five times upon meeting Futurism. She answers in the affirmative to requests to “be atrociously carnal” and to Futurism’s statement that “women are only animals, they have no souls” (SP 12). Like Gina in “The Effectual Marriage,” Love is willing to do whatever is requested of her, with one exception. When asked by Futurism “(very rapidly) will-you-love-me-will-you-love-me-will-you-love-me-love-me-love-me-love-me-me-ME—??? I must have you—You see I have never had you before,” Love sets her conditions, “But I don’t want this sort of love—it’s too quick. I only want love that lasts for ever and ever” (SP 13). Returning to the “Feminist Manifesto,” Loy expresses disgust that women are able to “manoeuve[r] a man into taking the life-long responsibility of her” (Lost 155) without offering anything more than their virginity. In the manifesto, Loy refers to marriage as a “trade” (Lost 155), thus again explaining why “parasitism” and “prostitution” are connected by “&” in the manifesto.

Irigaray comments on the way in which prostitutes increase in value as their subjectivity decreases and their status as a commodity is thus sealed: “In the extreme case, the more it has served, the more it is worth. Not because its natural assets have been put to use this way, but, on the contrary, because its nature has been ‘used up,’ and has become once again mo more than a vehicle for relations among men” (186). Loy’s stage directions reveal that Love is to be depicted as a commodity. While Futurism’s presence on the stage is described thus by Loy, “(whose every gesture propounds vulgarity intensified to Divinity, slaps his bowler hat onto his head, crooked, and struts magnificently)” (SP 10), Love is identified by the following stage directions as she speaks to Futurism: “(smiling whimsically and folding her hands in resignation)” (SP 11), “(calmly)” (SP 12), “(Passively)” (SP 14). Love is open to whatever Futurism desires and however he wishes to treat her. But Love’s status as a commodity is not even the decisive marking that allows Futurism to recognize her. Nor is it her figure, which Futurism later claims that he is able to discern under her “formless roseate garment” (SP 13), as Futurism has “x-ray eyes, and ears of steel—He can see everything without looking at it, and stand any amount of noise” (SP 13). It is Futurism’s perception of Love’s interest in the market that allows Futurism to recognize her right away: “Men Just looking at it makes no deep impression—but it’s hardly seductive. Futurism Love is a feminine concept spelt ‘Greed’ with a capital ‘G’—this is female, all right! (drags off Love’s roseate hood, dislodging a shower of golden curls) ” (SP 10). As in the manifesto, women on the marriage market are engaged primarily in a quest for financial protection, to “strik[e] that advantageous bargain” (Lost 155) that is marriage. Likewise, prostitutes are invested in economic exchange. In “The Sacred Prostitute” Loy draws attention to the similar economic goals, or “greed,” of Love in order to show the way in which the quest for romantic love is often conflated with, or mediated by, a quest for economic security. Women are willing to trade their subjectivity for either economic security or love. While married women have the advantage of securing both in one transaction, prostitutes are forced to continue trading themselves in order to allow them to secure the economic advantages of marriage, and prostitutes admittedly have little chance of pursuing the luxury of romantic love.

In “The Sacred Prostitute,” it is men, namely, Futurism, who are endowed with a sense of the penetrating vision that women lack. It is the male gaze, then, which proves to be essential for the recognition of the prostitute. While this necessity of the male gaze might seem to be an obvious conclusion to reach, we should consider that Loy grants a sense of individuation to only one character in this play, a female figure named “Dolores.” Loy also demonstrates, however, that this figure is unable to see. Despite the fact that Dolores is the only character in “The Sacred Prostitute” who is marked by a non-allegorical name, thus implying that Dolores is the only character with the potential for a developed subjectivity, Dolores is also unable to recognize that Love is female. Love has been living amongst the prostitutes but she is disguised in a “formless roseate garment” (SP 13) as a hermaphrodite. Although Dolores only speaks the following lines in the entirety of the play, her role in “The Sacred Prostitute” is important. Addressing Futurism, Dolores says: “You seem to have successfully plumbed the feminine shallows. Could you tell us anything about this bare-acquaintance of ours of hermaphroditic aspect—it calls itself Love” (SP 10). According to the stage directions, the Procuress then “herds all the women off stage in order to spare them disturbing recollections” and “Dolores draws LOVE forward” (SP 10). There are no stage directions for Dolores to exit the stage, but Loy’s stage directions are spotty, or impractical, at best. We can presume that Dolores exits after Futurism reveals, without hesitation, that Love is female as the subsequent scenes are staged between Love and Futurism alone. Dolores’ true purpose is to betray her own lack of vision. Although her name marks her as individuated, Dolores is unable or unwilling to recognize the subjectivity of Love, as admitting that Love is female could impact her own sense of self.
It is significant that it is Dolores who chooses to out Love. Her appeal to Futurism to discern the status of Love could be read as a movement towards the abjection of Love. An understanding of “The Sacred Prostitute” allows us to reformulate Loy’s understanding of the hostility of sexual difference so that we can realize not only the tension between the sexes, but also the tension bred between members of the same sex. Dolores’ desire to unveil Love reveals that she is threatened by the presence of Love in a brothel and that she wishes to rid the brothel of the possibility of recognizing a “female” characteristic that would move the other prostitutes away from their interest in their current trade. That the other women quickly exit upon realizing that Futurism might reveal the identity of Love signals an unwillingness to realize their own relationship to Love. Love is thus maintained as a non-entity and a stranger to the women of the World Brothel, likely because their trade precludes them from striving for love. Sexual difference, or sexual tension, as happily supplied by Futurism himself, is required to actually decipher the nature of Love’s disguised sex. Recognition in “The Sacred Prostitute” can, thereby, only be achieved by men. This seems to be true not necessarily because men are in control of the conditions of prostitution, but because women are unwilling to experience their own relationship to romantic love, one of the forces that helps to stabilize the marriage market, which in turn creates an underground market of prostitution. In light of this analysis, we can understand the narrator’s gesture in “Magasins du Louvre” not as mere embarrassment for the cocotte’s recognition of themselves in the glass eyes of the dolls, but, rather, as a negation of the cocotte’s identity.

In the second section of this chapter, we examined the narrator’s relationship to the cocottes in “Magasins du Louvre” as one of embarrassment. This gesture can also be seen, however, as one of negation or withdraw. As previously discussed, the cocottes of “Magasins du Louvre” understand their position in the market, unlike the virgins in boxes on shelves. So too we can assume that the prostitutes of “The Sacred Prostitute” understand their relationship to their trade. Given the prostitutes’ unwillingness to recognize Love, however, it is apparent that Loy’s prostitutes are only willing to extend their vision within certain parameters. For their own protection, prostitutes impose limitations on their vision. While such is, perhaps, understandable in a practical sense, the narrator of “Magasins du Louvre” seems to have a conflicted relationship to the imposition of such limitations. Returning to key passages in “Magasins du Louvre,” we see that the narrator’s decision to avert her eyes can be interpreted not only as an empathetic embarrassment for the conditions which prostitution has imposed on these women, but also as a decision to withdraw herself from their situation:

They see the dolls
And for a moment their eyes relax
To a flicker of elements unconditionally primeval
And now averted
Seek each other’s surreptitiously
To know if the other has seen
While mine are inextricably entangled with the pattern of the carpet
As eyes are apt to be
In their shame
Having surprised a gesture that is ultimately intimate

All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass. (Lost 18; 26-36)

Throughout this stanza, the narrator has appeared to follow the gaze of the cocottes, to trace the movement of their eyes as they look into the eyes of the virgins. At the end of the stanza though, the narrator emphasizes that “while” the cocottes have looked upon the dolls, the narrator’s eyes have been “inextricably entangled with the pattern of the carpet.” The emphasis on “inextricably” calls attention to the narrator’s refusal of this scene. She has seen how the cocottes relationship to the dolls has caused them to revert to a primeval state, and she herself is unwilling to share in this scene. So much so that the narration in the first part of the stanza technically appears to be achieved by someone other than the narrator. Although the stanza proceeds as if the narrator is watching the cocottes as they gaze at the virgins/dolls, the line that begins with “while” emphasizes that the narrator has been staring at the carpet while the exchange between the virgins and the cocottes takes place. Thus, the narrator herself has flatly refused to watch the scene unfold. The narrator clearly wishes to separate herself from the exchange that occurs between unknowing (the virgins/dolls ) and willing (the cocottes) commodities.

“The Sacred Prostitute” further reveals the sense of isolation and competition that is bred amongst women involved in the heterosexual market. Just as the narrator of “Magasins du Louvre” refuses to acknowledge the subjectivity of the passing cocottes, Love, in “The Sacred Prostitute,” reveals that competition amongst women can breed hostility and discontent. In the manifesto, Loy herself has pointed to the enmity and competition of sexual difference: “Men & women are enemies, with the enmity of the exploited for the parasite, the parasite for the exploited—at present they are at the mercy of the advantage that each can take of the others sexual difference—. The only point at which the interests of the sexes merge—is the sexual embrace” (Lost 154). Thus far, however, Loy’s poems, with their focus on sexual difference, have failed to account for relationships amongst and between women. “The Sacred Prostitute,” however, allows Loy to extend her statement in the manifesto in order to examine what occurs between women because of the (hetero)sexual embrace. In “The Sacred Prostitute,” Futurism exploits the supposed parallel consequences of heterosexuality and complicates the aggression between the sexes by extending Loy’s metaphor in the “Feminist Manifesto”: “I am sacrificing my life to make things new—and only succeeding in making them louder. As for this, it’s only the external axiom in waging the sex war—that ‘Man and Woman’ are enemies. But that woman has one greater enemy than man—woman!” (SP 19). Although, unfortunately, the exchange that leads into this statement is part of the missing manuscript, we do have context for what comes after this statement, namely, Futurism’s desire to eradicate the necessity of women’s role in reproduction.

While Futurism’s stake in declaring the hostility of women toward one another might be summarized in relation to his desire to destabilize heterosexual difference in a manner that will allow men to harness complete control over the means of (re)production, Love illustrates the jealousy and competition that occurs between women because of men. Once Love has been kissed by Futurism, her desire for him becomes her sole focus:

Love I never knew how wonderful it is that hearts can beat.
Futurism What do you feel?
Love Very young—very foolish—very warm—very soft—in fact it’s becoming a physical discomfort—the not knowing how to purr.
Futurism Can you remember anything?
Love Nothing whatever.
Futurism Can you realize anything?
Love Nothing but you—.
Futurism Now what about the future?
Love The kitten’s growing to be a panther—I’m sure she’s dangerous—Oh, do shut me up in a harem, it’s the only thing I’m fit for—I shall be jealous. But at least when you die, I shall be burnt alive on your corpse. (SP 29)

Once she has experienced Futurism’s affections, Love can only express a desire for monogamy. The world, including all other women, fall away but also come too sharply into focus:

Love I must just go out and kill all the other women. Until I do, I can’t feel safe.
Futurism You touch the other women, and I’ll strangle you!
Love Any one of them might become the mother of your children!
(SP 30)

The competition of heterosexuality, expressed directly by Love’s implicit desire to attempt to claim Futurism through bearing his children, occurs precisely because women are evaluated, and only have value, relationally: “Commodities among themselves are thus not equal, nor alike, nor different. They only become so when they are compared by and for man” (Irigaray 177). Because women are dependant on such relational evaluations, they are also exploited by them. In the case of Love, her initiation into sexuality makes her particularly vulnerable because she knows that Futurism has no intention of retaining her. Hence, romantic love’s linkage to prostitution; romantic love is destined to circulate without stabilizing. In “The Sacred Prostitute,” Love’s initiation into sexuality turns her into a jealous, threatened, and “used” woman with few options. The logic of heterosexual exchange tactics prevents commodities from accessing the system itself: “The economy of exchange—of desire—is man’s business” (Irigaray 177; emphasis in the original). Further complicating Love’s situation, prostitutes can never possess their clients or lovers. Their exchange value, as is the case with virgins, is dependant on their relative value, but this value does not secure their position in the manner that marriage would.

If prostitutes are in danger because of the way in which they are only granted temporary economic protection, they are also a threat to the social order because of this same set of conditions. Irigaray explains the situation of the prostitute thus:Explicitly condemned by the social order, she is implicitly tolerated. No doubt because the break because usage and exchange is, in her case, less clear-cut? In her case, the qualities of woman’s body are ‘useful.’ However, these qualities have ‘value’ only because they have already been appropriated by a man, and because they serve as the locus of relations—hidden ones—between men. (186)
Prostitutes thus threaten the social order in part because they stabilize the network of relations amongst men with no possibility of enhancing, or even creating, a network of women. Irigaray’s statement thus offers an explanation for Love’s sudden hatred of “all the other women” (SP 30). The conditions of prostitution force Love to function in a network in which she can only be temporarily useful and in which her role in this network cannot be stabilized or confirmed. This jealousy can also help us to realize why the narrator of “Magasins du Louvre” averts her gaze from that of the cocottes. To acknowledge the position of the cocottes would also be an acknowledgment of the instability of a woman’s position within heterosexual marriage. Although Gina in “The Effectual Marriage” would like to believe that she inhabits a space composed of both economic security and Miovanni’s love, she can only be certain of either of these by averting her gaze. She wisely busies herself at the pots and pans in order to keep Miovanni happy, and she gazes out the window at falling stars as she wishes for romantic fulfillment. She has no way to ascertain if she actually has continued to be the object of Miovanni’s desire; Gina can only hope and wish.

Interestingly, Loy does not choose to boldly frame the gaze of the prostitute. Amongst her three categories of the feminine, “Parasitism, & Prostitution—or Negation” (Lost 154), it seems most likely that the prostitute would possess the most direct and confrontational gaze. But such is not true of either the cocottes of “Magasins du Louvre” or Love of “The Sacred Prostitute.” Instead, the cocottes are othered by the narrator, and they only manage to meet the gaze of the vacant dolls for sale. Love, the sacred prostitute, engulfs herself in Futurism, only to discover that she has been tricked into becoming an entry in his tome “‘women I have had’” (SP 9). Loy confirms the shady and liminal status of the prostitute in order to meditate on the uncertainty of the heterosexual marriage market. The cocottes and the sacred prostitute both become objects through which Loy can develop an illustration of the uncertainty and instability of the marriage market. Neither the cocottes or Love, particularly Love, are depicted as if they possess a developed subjectivity in their own right. Rather, both are embodied in order to illustrate the instability of the marriage market and, in the case of Love in particular, the instability of romantic love. While the cocottes are avoided, or even negated, by a more developed narrator, Love unsuccessfully attempts to look away from herself and to Futurism for the whole of her satisfaction.

Despite the partial development of Loy’s prostitutes, Loy fails to place blame for the conditions of prostitution on either the prostitutes or the network of men. While in Irigaray’s analysis, it is clear that the “network of men/hom(m)o-sexuality” are at fault for the subjugation of women, as this network creates a system that women cannot access and thereby cannot be faulted for falling victim to, Loy leaves the blame for the creation of prostitution and the market open. Her depiction of Purity and Joy, who proclaim, “What a mess!” and “How very sad!” (SP 31), seems to actually satirize Irigaray’s position. It is not clear in the manuscript if Purity and Joy are responding to the situation of the brothel, and its female inhabitants, in general, or to the fight between Love and Futurism in particular. Either way, Loy uses Purity and Joy to depict the futility of a completely empathetic approach to the situation of women on the market. In Loy’s analysis, she implies that the prostitutes themselves are somehow involved in their own subjugation. The Procuress herself states the following to the “Directors of the World Brothal”: “We haven’t succeeded in balancing accounts yet—You see it is not yet decided whether the demand creates the supply, or the supply the demand” (SP 31). Thus, unlike Irigaray’s analysis, in which the commodity is always coded as female, Loy opens us to the possibility that, in the process of exchange, men also become commodities, subject to their own needs in such transactions.

Loy’s poetic project is hinged upon this notion of “balancing accounts.” The narrator of the manifesto attempts to scorn her audience in order to provoke them into a more developed subjectivity, but, as we have seen, the manifesto’s narrator has not yet reconciled her own subjectivity. In “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” the narrator speaks from within the crowd in order to develop an account of what the subjectivity of virgins would be like if virgins were individuated. The desires of the virgins, however, are at odds with this attempt though, and they cast off the narrator’s portrayal in order to maintain their own marketability. Likewise Gina, in “The Effectual Marriage,” fails to take advantage of the gaze when this opportunity is offered to her by the narrator. The tension in Loy’s poems is thus derived from the pull between the narrator’s subjectivity and that of the women she depicts. Such tension might also account for the way in which Loy’s narrators are often at odds with themselves. Because the subjectivity of Loy’s narrators are unbalanced, these speakers experience further difficulty when attempting to narrate personas whom are not yet fully individuated. The question of supply and demand raised above by the Procuress allows us to question if Loy’s narrators are thrown off-balance because they are positioned relationally to undeveloped personas or if these personas bring the true subjectivity of Loy’s seemingly-developed narrators to light.


Hi Monicas,

every one of yous. Here is my own dreadful block quote inclusion to the tight hat - (formatting be damned, I might add)

To be sure, Emerson uses his lens metaphors to examine differing objective abstractions. They appear in separate essays, one essay of which serves to praise Persian poetry as an exotic source of influence and knowledge, the other of which grapples more profoundly with personal limitations and the impossible but inevitable peculiarity of being. Although these lenses seem superficially in opposition, both essays however become lenses which dialectically converge upon time and space as poiesis. As metaphors, each lens figuratively pushes the reader toward considering the context of personal knowledge as characteristically limited. Nevertheless, there is no greater making than that which as one who is being. This being is unavoidably both obscure and concrete, and this is why it is not meaning which is predominantly made. This being is always a paradox to one who thinks and intuits, and this paradox pushes Emerson toward theorizing poetics as singular (to) knowing. This poiesis then is his lens wherein oppositions coexist.

Stanley Cavell builds a powerful argument for considering Emerson’s essays as uniquely an “American” philosophical inquiry. His observation, however, in “Thinking of Emerson,” that the “prose” of both Emerson and Thoreau “is a battle [...] not to become poetry—a battle specifically to remain in conversation with itself, answerable to itself. (So they do write dialogues, not monologues, after all.),” seems at once astute and evasive (17). Poetry has the capability to surround words by a palpable and meaningful silence which the detailed determination of philosophy necessarily lacks; and, furthermore, while philosophy seeks to deal with that which is present as based upon past as example, Emerson’s poiesis deals specifically with what is present as preemptive. As the more recent writer who most nearly epitomizes Emerson’s example, Charles Olson opens “The Present is Prologue” essay with this same strict equation; albeit updated, the staccato emphasis upon personal readerly responsibility is identical:

My shift is that I take it the present is prologue, not the past. The instant, therefore. Is its own interpretation, as a dream is, and any action—a poem, for example. Down with causation (except, see below). And yrself: you, as the only reader and mover of the instant. You, the cause. No drag allowed, on either. Get on with it. (205)

Although Emerson is verbose and insistent, his prose always builds solidly upon poetic techniques. It becomes thus a philosophical marriage, and thus again and always poiesis. Emerson’s texts act upon the reader to also become sentiently a maker. As Byrd emphasizes, “The ultimate goal [...] is, as Walt Whitman realized, for everyone to be a poet—that is to say, for everyone to language a world that provides orientation for the community” (29). This realization on Whitman’s part is synergistic to every word Emerson wrote. Emerson knew and confronted bureaucratic stagnation and the attendant monopolization of intellectual currency, and his example stands as a challenge to transcend and transform such debilitating systems. Only poetry roams freely within this paradox of being, but it is a being which resist passivity. It is one in the same with active engagement. Only poetry converges with being as a place where logic can never intrude. Logic is left to circle outside while piling up words. It is a totalitarian and intellectual wreckage which stuffs more and more words into an ever-present vast silence. Logic has built the globally corporate world which we have today, and it is thus unlikely that any human logic will clean up the mess it has made.

Poiesis as such matters little to whether the poem as a discrete unit exists either as original or in translation. Such misconception springs from a desire to capture the ineffable and then place that like a bird into a categorical cage. Poems today are so to speak made and often even written to sing for the supper of securing a faculty position. To capture the ineffable is always a denial of the present, but because current pedagogical method is based upon this denial, the current extension of a state made executive capitalist educational institution also denies Emerson by marketing him as a person of quaint sound bites. The truth is that his words seek both spiritual and material upheaval, an anarchic revision of the self who is reader into one who thus initiates positive action:

Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe that it has none. We wake and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. But the Genius which, according to the old belief, stands at the door by which we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree. All things swim and glitter. Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. (Experience 198)

This final sentence urges the reader to resist that which would deaden the perceptions and so result in base subsistence as just one amongst a multitude of zombies. The university system as a compartmentalized extension of capital training pod seriously inhibits and threatens human as a mammal of perception and sentience. One has to wonder whether people are willing or capable of understanding Emerson at all. If he were taken at his word, it is difficult to believe current educational practice as formulaic curriculum periodization could continue per se, and this presents huge difficulties in writing about Emerson within this pervasive and suffocating institutional milieu. All that remains is directly to defy our contextualizing taboos; the alternative is to capitulate to despair and the human logic machine which continues to feed it.


!Queen of Self Irony!

! ! ! Outstanding Stamina ! ! !

"Esteemed Poetry Critic"


! ! ! HELEN VENDLER ! ! !

3 lectures in 2 days
(limited engagement)

1: March 1 - Wed - 3 PM in 104 Highsmith Union
on Yeats's "Easter 1916" and Seamus Heaney's "Casualty"

2: March 1 - Wed - 7:30 PM Alumni Hall of the Highsmith Union
on "The Problem of the American Poet"

3: March 2 - Thurs - 12:15 PM Humanities Lecture Hall
on “The Yeatsian Sequence: Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen”



In progress, please provide feedback!

We (Negation)

In the “Feminist Manifesto,” Loy proposes that the possibilities for women’s lives are reduced to, and ordered by, three roles: “As conditions are at present constituted—you have the choice between Parasitism, & Prostitution—or Negation” (Lost 154). As Loy’s configuration of &/or suggests here, negation is a unique position within this list of limited possibilities, one which I will argue corresponds to Loy’s depiction of virginity. In this section, we shall begin to see that Loy’s depictions of the (lack of) subjectivity of virgins, as expressed in particular by her poems “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” and “Magasins du Louvre,” the third section of “Three Moments in Paris,” and the subjectivity of married women, which will be further discussed in the subsequent section, “She (Parasitism),” are similar but also distinct. Luce Irigaray’s description of virgins as exchange value in This Sex Which is Not One will prove useful in demonstrating the characteristics of Loy’s understanding of “virginity,” a key term of women’s subjection according to the “Feminist Manifesto.”

Unlike the situation of the speaker of the “Feminist Manifesto,” we shall see that the speaker of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” experiences far less difficulty as she attempts to mark the boundary between herself and the virgins whom she examines. I argue that this ease comes from the particular characteristics of the subjectivity of these virgins whom Loy addresses in addition to the fact that Loy’s narrator is speaking from within the crowd of virgins, using the pronoun “we,” rather than attempting to delineate boundaries between herself and an other as she does in the “Feminist Manifesto” and in works such as “The Effectual Marriage” and “The Sacred Prostitute,” which will be discussed in subsequent sections. If the speaker of Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” points outwards without looking inwards, then the virgins of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” and “Magasins du Louvre” have very little vision whatsoever. Both poems can, and have, been read as meditations on vision and consciousness, thus marking Loy’s treatment of the gaze as an important element both in these works and in her poetic project as a whole. The vacancy of the women portrayed in these poems reveals Loy’s awareness of the way in which the gaze both negates the value of women and, further, forces women to participate in their own subjection.

Before proceeding, I would like to briefly state why I have decided, in the case of this particular poem, to once again follow the text of The Lost Lunar Baedeker rather than that of The Last Lunar Baedeker. The manuscript of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” like many of Loy’s early works, including “Giovanni Franchi,” “To You,” and “Babies in the Hospital,” is hand-written in a thick black ink on a thin, lined paper which measures about 6x10. That stanza breaks were important to Loy is demonstrated by the fact that the first two of the three pages of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” neglect to fill the entirety of the page. Loy clearly wished to make her stanza breaks clear. Further, the first six lines were originally written as a single stanza, but Loy wedges the word “space” after the first two lines and then again after the first four. While both the Lost and the Last edition share similar stanza breaks, the Lost edition is the more accurate one; near the end of the poem, the stanza breaks between these two editions do differ in fairly prominent ways.

Further, there are clear typographical errors in the Last edition including “doors” in the second line of the poem which should read “door’s.” This oversight is corrected by Conover in the Lost edition; he admits his error in the endnotes (Lost 181). Also significant is Conover’s decision to standardize Loy’s use of quotation marks in both the Last and the Lost editions. There are two instances of direct speech cited in this poem, first in the second stanza (lines 3-4) and again in stanza six (lines 21-28). According to the manuscript, the third and fourth lines feature single quotation marks, while double quotation marks are used elsewhere in the poem (lines 21-28). In my reading of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” this difference between the manuscript and the printed poems shall emerge as prominent feature of this work. Unfortunately, the quotation mark errors were not fully corrected in the 1996 Lost edition of Loy’s work. In the Lost edition, Conover corrects the quotation marks in the third and fourth line, by using single quotes, but he then chooses to use single quotation marks in stanza six as well, despite Loy’s obvious use of double quotation marks in the manuscript. A restoration of Loy’s original use of quotation marks would allow Loy scholars to more accurately formulate arguments about both Loy’s poems and also her poetics.

Virginity, as depicted in Mina Loy’s poems, represents a universal category, and thus, a universal threat to women. In the “Feminist Manifesto,” Loy refers to “the man made bogey of virtue,” which is constructed through virginity, as “the principal instrument of her [woman’s] subjection.” Loy therefore calls for “the first self-enforced law for the female sex” to be “the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty—” (Lost 154-155, my emphasis). That Loy calls for this destruction as the first, or fundamental, law suggests the power of cultural myths related to “virtue.” The force with which she attacks virginity is, however, not as shocking as her solution: “the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity.” Most interesting to me in this formation is Loy’s decision to underline every word except “surgical,” the very word which gives this image its force. This decision underscores Loy’s understanding that it is not the biological fact of the hymen that is problematic, but, rather, the way in which culture assigns value to virginity. This argument is supported by modernist scholar Helen Jaskoski’s statement that “Loy recognizes that biology is the fundamental sign in the social/psychological construction of virginity” (358). Thus, as Jaskoski further elaborates, the unconditional destruction of the hymen is an attempt to level the playing field for all women: “Her argument implies an economic model: one may—must—destroy the commodity value of certain women by reducing their peculiar difference to nothing. If no woman retains a hymen, none can be valued or devalued for having or not having one” (Jaskoski 358). As we shall see, however, it is this same economic model, which reduces all virgins to relative commodities, that serves to exploit virgins’ potential for subjectivity. It is precisely because virginity is inescapable for women, and because Loy wishes to demonstrate the universal exploitation of the category of virginity, that the narrator of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” decides to align herself with the virgins in this poem.

“Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” is a difficult poem in that it features several noticeable narratorial shifts, at least one of which remains impossible to attribute to a definite or a particular speaker. Further, although this poem has been read as a polemic against “the marriage market’s valuation of female virginity,” (Gilmore 284, note 16), the way in which Loy distributes the blame for the bleak situation of these virgins, who have been categorized as drastically, and, as we shall see, incorrectly, as “gazing and mute” (Frost 176), suggests that culture is not the sole responsible party for their subjection (see Arnold 110). An examination of the unusual relationship between the narrator and these virgins proves useful for demonstrating the tensions and contradictions both within this poem and between these two parties. While it might be assumed that Loy would side with the seemingly-victimized virgins, as in the readings that Gilmore, Twitchell-Waas (123), and other scholars who gloss this poem offer, the attitude of the narrator towards these virgins proves to be much more complicated and rich. This relationship has been described by prominent Loy scholar Elizabeth Arnold as one of “pity” (109). That the narrator’s position towards these virgins is difficult to determine is implicitly expressed by Arnold’s statement of the way in which Loy’s narrator positions herself in relation to the virgins of this poem:
In ‘Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,’ Loy presents the unfortunate women who cannot afford dowries (‘dots’ is French for ‘dowries,’ punning here with the American slang for money, ‘dough’) as ‘Virgins without dots’ who ‘Stare beyond probability’ (ll. 5-6). In this way she expresses pity for these silly, helpless women while exposing the social conventions that have victimized them. (Arnold 109)
According to Arnold’s formulation, Loy’s narrator demonstrates a dualistic relationship to these virgins, as she both “pities” the virgins, but also finds them “silly.”

Despite the seeming fractures between the virgins and the narrator, Arnold also argues that the way in which the narrator of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” aligns herself with the virgins of this poem suggests a merging of the narrator’s subjectivity with that of the virgins. Arnold remarks upon the intimacy of the second-person plural pronoun that Loy’s narrator chooses in order to address the situation of these virgins, “In the poem’s opening lines, Loy is not afraid to include herself among these unfortunate members of her gender, the ‘we’ is not specified by quotation marks and comes to signify all women” (109). But while Arnold argues that, at first, the narrator does not hesitate to merge her subjectivity with that of the virgins, Arnold also notices that the narrator later enacts a distancing between herself and these virgins, “But later in the poem, she [the narrator] reveals a superior perspective just as she did in ‘Lion’s Jaws’; the speaker of the poem seems more acutely self-aware than the other virgins of the group” (Arnold 109, my emphasis). While I agree that this distancing becomes more radical as the poem progresses, I also argue that such distancing actually occurs throughout the entirety of the poem. Of further importance, although Arnold assumes that the narrator is one of these virgins, I argue that such is not Loy’s intent. Arnold seems to be basing her conclusions about the merged identity of the virgins and the narrator around the pronoun “we,” despite the fact that Arnold herself notes that this “we” is “not specified” and thereby “comes to signify all women.” In light of an understanding of the universality of Loy’s use of “we” in this particular work, there is no reason to cast the narrator as a virgin, or as a figure who is undifferentiated from the crowd of virgins whom she narrates. As a revision to Arnold’s statement of the relationship between the virgins and the narrator, I would like to propose that, despite the use of “we” in this poem, Loy’s narrator never wished to be labeled as a virgin, so much as she desired to voice the plight of these virgins.

The decision to use “we” in this poem is meant to structure an empathetic alignment in which Loy demonstrates her awareness of the universal constraints which virginity forces upon women. Near the conclusion of the poem, Loy writes, “Somebody who was never / a virgin / Has bolted the door / Put curtains at our windows / See the men pass / They are going somewhere” (Lost 22; lines 43-48). The spacing in the concluding line of this stanza, and Loy’s decision to indent the line “a virgin,” draws our attention to the distance between this unnamed “somebody,” the passing men, and the virgins. Presumably, this “somebody” is male, as only a man could be “somebody who was never a virgin.” While “they” are going somewhere, the women of this poem are static, rendered within houses. Through this binaristic emphasis on the split between the “they” and these virgins, Loy thus draws our attention to the way in which the men of the poem, the unnamed and amorphous crowd, are able to wander at will, while women are locked indoors, forced to stay inside. This image of domestic enslavement marks a similarity between the situation of virgins and that of married women, as shall be examined in relation to “The Effectual Marriage” in the subsequent section. In both instances, Loy depicts women’s confinement to houses. Given these observations, the choice of a universal “we” to represent the situation of the virgins seems to be a perfectly natural gesture. But, as in the manifesto, the narrator of this poem soon finds the proximity of her object of study suffocatingly close. The virgins’ romantic yearnings often irritate the narrator, who interjects her commentary on the foolishness of the virgins’ giggling throughout the poem, “Wasting our giggles / for we have no dots” (Lost 22; 27-28). Loy’s narrator is able to see the hopeless situation of the virgins in a manner that the virgins themselves are unable to master. This recasting of the “we” as a strategic alignment of both empathy and also pity allows us to see that this poem is actually enacted on the techniques of distancing and differentiation which, according to Arnold’s reading, occur only as the poem continues towards its conclusion.

The tone of this poem, however, suggests the possibility of a steady demarcation between the voice and subjectivity of the narrator and that of the virgins. The poem begins with a stark statement of fact, “Houses hold virgins / The door’s on the chain” (Lost 21; 1-2). As “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” progresses, however, the tone shifts and introduces the wistful reveries of the narrator speaking from within the crowd of virgins, “See the men pass / Their hats are not ours / We take a walk / They are going somewhere / And they may look everywhere” (Lost 21; 7-11). It is significant that the lines quoted above, which begin at the seventh line of the poem, are the first instance in which the pronoun “we,” in which any pronoun whatsoever, is introduced. The abrupt shift between the narrator’s stark reporting of the situation of these virgins in the first six lines and her decision in line seven to narrate from within the situation of the virgins constitutes a noticeable tonal difference, one which, I argue, reveals an attempt by the narrator to speak for the virgins, and to give voice to what they themselves will not express. The virgins’ own yearning for romantic love and marriage is enacted throughout the poem and is demonstrated in particular by the introduction of direct speech from the virgins themselves:
Virgins may whisper
‘Transparent nightdresses made all of lace’
Virgins may squeak
‘My dear I should faint’
Flutter . . . . . flutter . . . . . flutter . . . . .
. . . . . ‘And then the man—’
Wasting our giggles
For we have no dots (Lost 21-22; 21-28)

While there is an earlier introduction of direct speech introduced into the poem, “‘Plumb streets with hearts’ / ‘Bore curtains with eyes’” (Lost 21; 3-4), that instance, according to the manuscript is sectioned off by single rather than double quotes, so that the speaker of these lines is someone other than either the virgins or the narrator.

Although the restless desires of the “we”/the narrator and the virgins forms the dominant tone of this work, this tone is often tempered by the narrator’s interjections of the reality of the virgins’ situation. The difference between these two instances of direct speech in the poem illustrates a differentiation between the awareness of the virgins and that of the narrator. “‘Plumb streets with hearts’ / ‘Bore curtains with eyes’” echoes the sentiments of the lines, “Somebody who was never / a virgin / Has bolted the door / Put curtains at our windows” (Lost 22; 43-46). Both of these statements, the first voiced by an unidentifiable source, the second by the narrator, reveal an awareness of the enslavement of the virgins. That the “streets with hearts,” the rows of virgins emphasizing romantic love, are responsible for the entanglement of the virgins’ eyes with curtains suggests a condemnation of the virgins’ romantic yearnings. This instance of direct speech has been attributed by Mary E. Galvin to “other outside observers” (69); Galvin also marks the detached narrator of the first six lines as an exterior force as well, at least until in her analysis, the tonal shift of the seventh line, at which time the narrator’s voice becomes inextricably co-mingled with the chorus of virgins. But it seems more accurate to argue that the narrator of this poem, despite, or, as we shall see, because of, her decision to use the pronoun “we” remains both within and also outside of this crowd of virgins throughout the poem. While the source of these fragments of direct speech remains impossible to describe, what is crucial is that Loy’s original use of quotation marks reveal that this first instance of direct speech (‘Plumb streets with hearts’ / ‘Bore curtains with eyes’), both reveals a consciousness lacking in the virgins’ own statements, and, further, cannot be attributed to the virgins themselves. When Loy’s narrator allows the virgins themselves to speak, they reveal how “silly” they are, as in Arnold’s formation, and how invested they are in maintaining their status on the marriage market.

When the virgins themselves speak, as designated by double quotation marks in the original manuscript, they speak of “Transparent nightdresses made all of lace,” fainting, and men. The interjection “Wasting our giggles / For we have no dots” illustrates a clear shift in consciousness when compared to the previous lines in this passage, in which the virgins are depicted giggling and gossiping about men, so that this interjection reflects that the perspective of the narrator is distinct from that of the virgins. The virgins’ own comments reflect no awareness of the reality that they are “wasting” their giggles. When given the opportunity to speak, they choose to limit their language to what they are permitted to speak, as illustrated by: “Virgins may whisper” and to “squeak” (my emphasis). In her study of queer poetics and modernist female authors, Galvin notes that, “Loy’s use of the word ‘may’ here implies not only what the virgins might say, but also what they are permitted to say: words that reinforce the mystique of romanticized love” (69, emphasis in the original). Galvin’s reading raises questions about how literally we should interpret Loy’s use of quotation marks; are the virgins actually speaking or is the narrator simply anticipating what the virgins might say? I find this question unimportant to dwell upon, however, as the quotation marks are clearly meant to suggest the presence of direct speech, and, further, in either instance, the intention of these lines is clearly to provide us with access to the interiority of the virgins. What is most crucial here is that the virgins maintain their subjectivity within the boundaries that culture has delineated for them.

While it is compelling to consider the narrator’s entanglement with the virgins, as Arnold does in her reading of the struggle between the subjectivity of the narrator and that of the “other” virgins, and as Galvin does explicitly, I argue that this poem would cease to be animated if the narrator did not maintain a steady distance from the virgins whom she narrates. In Galvin’s analysis, by the seventh stanza (according to the Lost stanza breaks), “The third-person observer voice is completely merged with the collective first-person voice of the virgins” (70). Galvin thus argues that the narrator “is converting them [the virgins] from passionless and harmless victims to powerfully disruptive elements, the bearers of knowledge that is even more taboo than knowledge of traditional heterosexual activity” (70). It is true that the tone of the poem, and the demands of the “we,” becomes more forceful as the poem continues, but the poem offers no evidence that these virgins are unable to bear knowledge themselves, without the narrator speaking with and through them. The virgins are first depicted offering themselves to the social, “A great deal of ourselves / We offer to the mirror” (Lost 21: 14-15), but, later in the poem, with the aid of the narrator’s consciousness, the “we” begins to formulate inquiries and demands: “Yet where are our coins / for buying a purchaser” (Lost 22; 34-35). This passage, which might seem, on the surface, to reflect the furthered consciousness of the virgins, is interpreted by Eric Murphy Selinger in relation to the context of the poem as a whole. He argues that this passage demonstrates that these virgins gain consciousness as the poem continues, but that they are never able to realize or to maintain this consciousness voiced by the poem’s “we.” Rather, these virgins only maintain their interest in marriage and love: Although they are dismayed to find that the enactment of love in bourgeois marriage is a matter of crass financial exchange (‘Nobody shouts / VIRGINS FOR SALE / Yet where are our coins / For buying a purchaser’), the poem never turns from its critique of such marriage to a demystification of Love It—or Him—self, the god they implicitly continue to worship. (Selinger 22-23)
I would argue that Selinger’s reading reflects that the force behind the critiques of marriage and romantic love presented in this poem belong to the narrator rather than these virgins. The virgins themselves never reveal that they are developing, and the poem concludes with an ambiguous gesture of the virgin’s assertion:

Spread it with gold
And you carry it home
Against your shirt front
To a shaded light
With the door locked
Against virgins who
Might scratch (Lost 23; 56-62)

Loy’s distinct uses of may/might in this poem, as in the Love Songs, is important to consider. In these lines, the narrator alludes to the possibility of virgins scratching, but nothing that the virgins themselves have done makes this possibility seem likely. Rather than an image of the virgins’ newly-found subjectivity or empowerment, Galvin reads these lines as a reflection of the fear that the poem’s men experience: “‘The door’s on the chain’ are designed not so much to protect the virgins or preserve their virtue as to protect men from the virgins, whom they fear” (71).

“Magasins du Louvre,” Shops of the Louvre, a poem that is often read in relation to “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” contains Loy’s most direct statement of the way in which virgins lack both vision and consciousness. “Magasins du Louvre” is the third poem in the sequence “Three Moments in Paris,” the first section of which, entitled “One O’Clock at Night,” shall be closely considered in section five of this chapter. “Magasins du Louvre” comes in the context of a poem that exhibits a female speaker’s pleasure in the total abandon of sex with a male Futurist, followed by a poem that narrates the renouncement of sexuality by an older and seemingly-estranged heterosexual couple. Examining the manuscript, however, we find that “Magasins du Louvre” may not have been originally intended as part of this sequence. The first two poems in this sequence appear on standard size typewriter paper, turned horizontally, with Loy writing nearly the length of the page, while “Magasins du Louvre” appears on a faded piece of green stationary, roughly 7x10, torn in half, and folded eight times. This evidence might indicate that “Magasins du Louvre” was written at a different time than the two previous section. The second section is signed “Mina Loy,” but not dated, as is often her practice. It seems possible that Loy may have intended to stop writing after the second poem in this sequence. Although there are few differences or corrections between the Last and the Lost editions of this work, all citations shall refer to the Lost edition.

“Magasins du Louvre” begins and ends with the refrain “All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass,” a line which occurs three times in thirty-six lines. The poem first focuses in on a row of dolls on shelves with blank stares, then the perspective shifts to follow two fashionable cocottes as they amble through the store with “solicitous mouth[s]” (Lost 18; 24). The poem’s force and focus is contained in the moment of self-recognition that these cocottes experience as they look onto a shelf into the blank stares of these dolls for sale. The poem thus concludes with the following lines:

They see the dolls
And for a moment their eyes relax
To a flicker of elements unconditionally primeval
And now averted
Seek each other’s surreptitiously
To know if the other has seen
While mine are inextricably entangled with the pattern of the carpet
As eyes are apt to be
In their shame
Having surprised a gesture that is ultimately intimate

All the virgin eyes in the world are made of glass. (Lost 18; 26-36)

Although the gazes of the dolls are static and blind, these dolls are also described in a manner that is nearly animate. “Huddled on shelves” (Lost 17; 6) grants these dolls the seeming material properties of the virgins in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” who can easily be imagined clustering in a crowd to gossip. Other images in the poem render the dolls desperate and mute: “And composite babies with arms extended / Hang from the ceiling / Beckoning / Smiling / In a profound silence / Which the shop walker left trailing behind him” (Lost 17; 7-12). These “composite babies,” dolls rendered as childlike and helpless, are clearly linked to the cocottes, whom, like the dolls, are also trying to attract the attention of passing buyers. Once their gaze meets that of the virgins/dolls, the cocottes turn to each other, but only “surreptitiously,” in order to acknowledge the insight that their situation is like that of these blank dolls on the shelf. Once implicated by the insight that they are like these dolls, neither wishes to fully acknowledge just how similar her situation is to that of the “composite babies,” dolls reduced to an agglomeration of parts, lacking distinction as a whole. Further, the poem’s refrain alerts us that the situation of the dolls on the shelf for sale can be read in relation to the situation of virgins, who, unlike the cocottes, are unable to realize their situation. This poem thus demonstrates both that virgins are lacking subjectivity, or vision, and also that the situation of these virgins/dolls is embarrassingly close to that of other categories of women. The most important difference between these categories, however, is that the cocottes experience some recognition of their situation, while these virgins are rendered as completely blind.

It is important to consider why exactly this scene causes the narrator to experience “shame.” According to Kouidis, a central feature of this poem is the narrator’s resultant shame, which, according to her analysis, comes from looking at these dolls: “The narrator’s embarrassed understanding acknowledges her sisterhood with these demirep dolls” (33). But a careful examination of the last few lines in “Magasins du Louvre,” as quoted above, reveals that the narrator’s shame comes from: “Having surprised a gesture that is ultimately intimate” (Lost 18; 35). The narrator does not experience shame because of the dolls themselves, or by an understanding of her situation in relation to that of the dolls; she is embarrassed instead by the intimacy expressed by the cocottes towards these dolls. Like the narrator of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” the narrator of “Magasins du Louvre” is able to differentiate herself from the sheer blindness encapsulated within virginity. Because virgins fail to express subjectivity, this role, separated from “parasitism” and “prostitution” by “or” in the “Feminist Manifesto,” remains unique. Further elaborating on the unique status of virginity/negation, Loy writes of these virgins in “Magasins du Louvre”: “They alone have the effrontery to / Stare through the human soul / Seeing nothing / Between parted fringes” (Lost 17; 16-19). These parted fringes, the eyelids and eyelashes of the dolls, recall the curtains of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots.” Virginia M. Kouidis draws this conclusion as well, arguing, in a statement which we shall return to, that, in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots”: “The eyes of the virgins (the curtained windows of the house), however, ‘look out’: an otherness awaiting someone’s permission to live” (32). In both poems, these virgins are depicted waiting for a purchaser, a masculine figure who can bring them into consciousness and into the social. Unlike the blind virgins though, the cocottes, in “Magasins du Louvre,” according to Kouidis’ analysis, are intended to contrast to the blank stare of the unindividuated dolls: “Mina Loy contrasts the blindness of the dolls to the knowledge of real women who must offer themselves in the sexual marketplace” (33). Likewise, in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” the narrator, although speaking from within the crowd of virgins, is intended to provide a contrast to the virgins’ own investment in their marketability.

Because of the virgins’ lack of vision in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” and in Loy’s formation of virginity as a whole, the narrator herself must remain differentiated in order to be able to portray the situations of these virgins. Left to their own devices, as the instance of the virgin’s direct speech reflects, these virgins choose to giggle. Their decision to giggle reveals their complicity in the marriage market. This complicity is a feature of Luce Irigaray’s analysis of the marriage market in This Sex Which is Not One. My analysis of the relationship between Irigaray’s classification of virginity and that of Mina Loy will stem in particular from chapter eight of Irigaray’s text: “Women on the Market.” In this chapter, Irigaray, like Loy, offers three possible categories available to women: “Mother, virgin, prostitute: these are the social roles imposed upon women” (186, emphasis in the original). Although the presence of the “mother” in Irigaray’s configuration seems to be a clear departure from Loy’s formation, which leaves maternity off the list of restrictive roles for women because, as Loy argues in “Parturition,” which we shall discuss at length in section five, maternity is radical precisely because of the way in which it is able to exceed the social, Irigaray’s conception of motherhood can actually be read in relation to Loy’s depiction of the “parasitism” of heterosexual married women, the category of the feminine which we shall explore in the subsequent section. In relationship to virginity, Irigaray argues that in order for the marriage market to be maintained, women, the objects traded amongst men, must themselves be invested in maintaining the market. Irigaray’s description of the speech of commodities matches the language that the virgins use in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots”: “So commodities speak. To be sure, mostly dialects and patois, language hard for ‘subjects’ to understand. The important thing is that they be preoccupied with their respective value, that their remarks confirm the exchangers’ plans for them” (179, emphasis in the original). Irigaray’s remarks on the difficulty of “subjects” truly understanding the language of commodities could help to illuminate why the direct speech of these virgins, as overheard by Loy’s narrator, is so broken, full of ellipses, trailing off, and filled with the sound of a fluttering heartbeat, symbolizing both the frailty of these virgins and their unfaltering emphasis on romantic love.

As commodities, according to Irigaray, Loy’s virgins exist as “exchange value,” and are thus unable to differentiate amongst themselves, such can only be accomplished by men. Explaining that commodities must be arranged relationally, Irigaray argues that, “In order to have a relative value, a commodity has to be confronted with another commodity that serves as its equivalent. Its value is never found to lie within itself” (176). This emphasis on the way in which virgins are viewed in terms of relative value might help to explain why Loy would choose “we” in order to narrate the situation of these virgins. Loy’s poem, a clear critique on the economics of marriage (see Burke “Becoming” 191-192 and Kouidis 31-32 for further discussion of Loy’s critique of economics in this poem), chooses to situate the exploitation of virgins in relationship to their relative and exchange value. This choice of “we” depicts the lack of individuation that occurs within commodities, thus explaining once again, why Loy’s narrator would be forced to speak from within the crowd, and ultimately, why she would be forced to speak for them: “Commodities among themselves are thus not equal, not alike, nor different. They only become so when they are compared by and for men” (177). Unable to differentiate amongst themselves, the first person plural seems to be the only likely pronoun choice. In an analysis that relates directly to both “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” and to the blank virgins/dolls of “Magasins du Louvre,” Irigaray contrasts the virgin and the married woman thus, “The virginal woman, on the other hand, is pure exchange value. She is nothing but the possibility, the place, the sign of relations among men. In and of herself, she does not exist: she is a simple envelope veiling what is really at stake in the social exchange” (186). What is at stake in the marriage market, according to Irigaray’s analysis, is the maintenance of a cultural network of men.

This network of men is referenced directly in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots.” In “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” men are invoked in a binary that serves to establish two oppositional ways of existing in the world:

See the men pass
Their hats are not ours
We take a walk
They are going somewhere
And they may look everywhere
Men’s eyes look into things
Our eyes look out (Lost 21; 7-13)

The spacing here is significant. Loy purposefully leaves gaps after pronouns and gender-specific descriptions of vision in order to further draw attention to the differences in freedom and vision enacted by gender. Virginia M. Kouidis has famously glossed this passage thus: “The two sets of eyes introduce Loy’s major theme—the necessity of vision for self-realization” (32). Kouidis elaborates on the action of this passage by noting that the men in these lines “have freedom, choice, purpose, vitality, and, most important, penetrating vision. Their eyes ‘look into’ life, permitting them the attainment of selfhood, of ‘infinity.’ The eyes of the virgins (the curtained windows of the house), however, ‘look out’: an otherness awaiting someone’s permission to live” (32). But drawing upon this passage in relation to “Magasins du Louvre,” Kouidis also claims that, “Woman, in her extreme deprivation, denied the vision of her own physical reality, is emblematic of the blindness, in one form or another, that afflicts most of humanity” (32). These two readings seem to be in conflict, as Kouidis first implies that the men presented in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” demonstrate “penetrating vision” and the “attainment of selfhood,” but she then concludes that women, virgins in particular, are “emblematic of the blindness…that afflicts most of humanity.” Presumably, “most of humanity” would include men as well as women.

There is no evidence in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” however, that the men of the poem are any more individuated than these virgins whom Loy narrates. Thus, Kouidis’ interpretation of these poems might overdetermine the freedom of these men. As Galvin’s reading of the fear expressed by men in the last lines of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” alludes to, this poem enacts a radical fissure between men and women. This fracture is expressed in the poem as well, according to Galvin’s analysis:
As the unmarriageable virgins look out from their cloistered lives onto the vitality of the street teeming with (male-dominated) human activity, they rely on a language based on categorical gender distinctions which is ready to hand, to express their observations. They utilize an us/them framework, which serves to emphasize the vast distance between their own lives and those of the men who, as “So much flesh in the world / Wanders at will.” (69)
As we have seen, the virgins of this poem attempt to express their subjectivity only in relation to men. “Leave off looking to men to find out what you are not—seek within yourself to find out what you are” (Lost 154), Mina Loy writes in the “Feminist Manifesto.” This passage serves as a warning against binaristic self-definition. These virgins thus violate one of the mandates in Loy’s most radical statement on subjectivity. While many of the us/them statements in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” function, as Galvin explains, to elaborate the unfair enactment of sexual difference, many of the virgins’ own statements reveal their desire to be defined in relation to the marriage market, as constructed by men. This relational format of us/them is similar to the one which the speaker of the “Feminist Manifesto,” attempting to differentiate herself from her audience by pointing outwards, falls prey to as well. While the virgins of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” seek to collapse the gap between the us/them, through the initiation of marriage, the speaker of the manifesto seeks to push her audience into a state of shame that will widen the somewhat narrow gap between herself and the other. Further, this formation of us/them is what the speaker of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots,” working from within, or one could even argue, working as the crowd, manages to avoid. Because these virgins await their initiation into subjectivity, and, as Kouidis notes, into sexuality (33), an important component of experience according to the manifesto, Loy’s narrator, already a subject, is able to differentiate herself from these virgins. Thus, the blank and blind virgins do not constitute a threat to her own subjectivity.

The gaze serves to animate the actions of the virgins in “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” as well as “Magasins du Louvre.” “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” in particular is staged upon the narrator’s ability to speak as/for these virgins in order to express a level of consciousness which would be otherwise impossible given the virgins’ lack of subjectivity and their interest in the marriage market. Loy also chooses to narrate from within the crowd of virgins in order to mark the limitations that they themselves embrace in order to maintain their marketability. Far from Frost’s reading of the virgins of “Virgins Plus Curtains Minus Dots” as “gazing and mute” (176), these virgins speak, but they speak as commodities. It is only when Loy’s narrator intercedes and mingles with them that the longing and restless desire of virginity, which we shall examine in chapter two, is revealed. As we shall see in the subsequent section, Loy builds the gaze into her poems in order to attempt to structure how the female personas that she narrates view both others and themselves. This is ultimately a futile gesture in the case of the virgins though, because they are unable, or unwilling, to see regardless. While the virgins are able to be controlled by the narrator because of their utter lack of vision, we shall see in subsequent sections that the gaze often provides Loy’s narrators with an illusion of control, but that the (limited) consciousness of the female personas whom ML’s narrators’ examine actually dictate how the narrator is able to see them. The gaze is thus structured by the objects/personas it examines. This point will be further elaborated on in relation to Gina in “The Effectual Marriage,” as will be discussed at length in the subsequent session. In the “Feminist Manifesto,” we have seen how the gaze of the narrator experiences the most resistance when it feels the most pressure to conform. In relation to these virgins, who fail to have either a gaze or consciousness, there is very little risk for the narrator, and so she is able to speak from within the crowd while maintaining distance from them.