Friday, May 11, 2007

Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer visited “The Lights”, Andover, yesterday evening to speak to a 150+ audience: mostly women and mostly devotees. GG is a living embodiment of the Myers-Briggs classification scheme at its most successful: a classic NF (ENFJ?) - like Clare Short (and like our local Clare). I will try to avoid the standard NT response, which is to skewer the NF person for their lack of logical consistency and multiple category errors seasoned with lashings of moral outrage.

GG opinions where I squirmed.
  • Critique of ‘Vernon God Little” on the basis that the hero was a misogynist. Yes, he was a 15 year old boy - they often are. As a novelist, you are allowed to write about misogynistic characters, even if their attitudes are hateful. No Germaine, this is not lit.crit.

  • Criticism of the war in Iraq on the grounds that it is (a) horrible and (b) a war. The case for pacifism has never been satisfactorily made and was not made here. It’s just lazy - the assumption that the case against the war is incontrovertible and that there was, and is, no case for the UK Government having made the decision to launch the war. Lazy and self-indulgent moralising.

  • Corporations are ethically bad, discriminate against women and oppress men too. Oh, please!

GG was more interesting about her forthcoming book on Anne Hathaway, wife of Shakespeare. Her reinterpretation of Anne makes her a strong-minded business woman who married a younger guy with no prospects for love, and who provided a model of competent and assured womanhood for the subsequent plays. GG also thinks Ms Hathaway funded the First Folio. Sounded promising.

My impression is that Ms. Greer is best thought of as a force of nature, whose opinions are erratic but often have something of value if you’re prepared to do the work. She would probably condemn bloodless intellectuals, content to analyse, but who don’t get around to actually caring about anything. I’m prepared to concede it takes all sorts.

Note: I am not sure GG believes in the theory of evolution. If she does, she has not factored it into her feminist thinking which seems all over the place. (Gender equality as an objective is so wrong; there is a case for a feminine ideal of domesticity; male power structures need to be challenged by a new generation of feminist social theorists). Maybe you can get something coherent out of all this.