SECOND THOUGHTS : Top of the league type
Frank Moorhouse on the ideas that bore fruit in Grand Days (Picador, £6 .99)
Saturday 17 December 1994
In giving my answer to questions raised about the point of view of the novel, I found that I had to state some rather banal things which have been submerged in the gender theorising of the last few years.
These were that all of us are made up of a male and female genetic mingling and most of us were raised by a male and a female. Freud said that, in fact, the personality is a quarrel between the parents for possession.
The second commonplace is that most heterosexual men and women, throughout their lives, experience long-term intimacy with the opposite sex - men come to know women through intimacy with women.
There is the speculation about the androgynous capability of the imagination. Virginia Woolf was one of the first writers to ponder this. In A Room Of One's Own (1926) she said, "I went on amateurishly to sketch a plan of the soul so that in each of us two powers preside, one male, one female . . .''
I came to realise too, that Grand Days (as was the League of Nations) was about borders, the crossing of borders, the removal of borders, and strife at the borders. Both in nationality and gender there is a transvestite in the book. I see parallels between the contemporary perceptions of gender border and the perceptions of national borders (a lateral leap the value of which I am uncertain).
In gender theorising, there are those who are demarking the boundaries of "male'' and "female'' genetically, culturally and politically, claiming that they are separate and different ways of knowing reality.
The second theoretical movement in gender is intent on downplaying, if not erasing, the distinctions between male and female. They argue that gender is not simply male and female but is a single spectrum of different hues. The position is in alliance with those who celebrate transgendered conditions.
And curiously, so it is with the national borders. In the European Union we have the fading of borders. Yet in the Balkans we have warring to bloodily establish suppressed borders. In Africa we have the strife from borders falsely created - inexact borders.
Looking back on the writing of Grand Days, I found that in researching the forgotten history of the League I was learning about an institution the like of which the world had never seen. But more than that (and only after finishing the book), I came to learn about another forgotten history from my own personal institution, my family - about the mother and the father within me and their quarrel for possession of me (and a possible answer to who won the quarrel in me). I was able to see my own borders.
Grace Dent on TVtv
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Nineteen-year-old student left gifts for parents before taking her own life
- 4 Deliberately urinating before sex can increase risk of urinary tract infections
- 5 Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
David Cameron says anyone criticising Eric Pickles' letter to Muslims 'really has a problem'