Friday, November 10th, 2006

R.I.P. Ellen Willis

One of the pioneering feminist rock and cultural critics, Ellen Willis has passed. Another heroine I won’t meet in this lifetime.

Inspirational words:

“My education was dominated by modernist thinkers and artists who taught me that the supreme imperative was courage to face the awful truth, to scorn the soft-minded optimism of religious and secular romantics as well as the corrupt optimism of governments, advertisers, and mechanistic or manipulative revolutionaries,” Ms. Willis wrote in an essay collected in Beginning to See the Light (Knopf, 1981).

She continued:” Yet the modernists’ once-subversive refusal to be gulled or lulled has long since degenerated into a ritual despair at least as corrupt, soft-minded, and cowardly–not to say smug–as the false cheer it replaced. The terms of the dialectic have reversed: now the subversive task is to affirm an authentic post-modernist optimism that gives full weight to existent horror and possible (or probable) apocalyptic disaster, yet insists–credibly–that we can, well, overcome. The catch is that you have to be an optimist (an American?) in the first place not to dismiss such a project as insane.”

posted by @ 9:54 am | 1 Comment

One Response to “R.I.P. Ellen Willis”

  1. tt says:

    i think of the many thoughts willis passed along, i like this observation more than any – the times obit writer did too.

    “My deepest impulses are optimistic, an attitude that seems to me as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect.”

    i mean, what choice is there, right?

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