Here You Go, Internet: Speaking On Luke’s Art

posted in: Art 2

On Saturday at QuiltCon in L.A., I gave my favorite lecture on The Great American Quilt Revival. I rehearsed the talk twice that morning though I’ve given the lecture many times; I’m a Girl Scout at heart and try to always be prepared. Usually, mostly, I am.

At rehearsal, there on my bed, wrapped in my robe, wet hair, stopwatch running on my phone, I realized I was finished with the talk with ten minutes to spare, which surprised me; I usually take about an hour with that one. Maybe I was excited and clipping along faster than usual, I don’t know. But there I was with the luxury of extra time. I thought to myself. I chewed my lip. I looked in the mirror. And I decided to use that leftover time to make a statement. As I say in the clip above, everything I think I know is up for revision, except in a case where someone I care about is getting beat up. Then I do know something, which is that I want to help. The road to hell, yeah, but there are times being neutral is as unhelpful as feeding flames.

Most of the kerfuffle about my friend has taken place online, which is not surprising and also disastrous, because no one is accountable. Not being accountable for character assassination seems wrong, but there’s a lot on the Internet that’s wrong (e.g., 9/11 conspiracy theories, etc.)

I’ve been guilty of online snark, but I can say with sincerity I’m cured of it. Last summer, I said something unkind about someone on this blog. It got back to her and it was awful. That day, I knew that can never be something I do. This little impromptu, impassioned speech is indeed an argument and shows ire toward those I disagree with on the issue at hand. The difference is that instead of writing a blog post or responding to comments online, I took a place onstage. You can see my face. There is no avatar. I’m not hiding behind a computer. I’m speaking to you, and you, and you, ready to take it on the nose.

You can disagree with me — I hope some do, for the sake of moving forward with an important conversation — but it seems that to be taken seriously, you must be informed and be willing to identify yourself as a whole person. Otherwise, your content is as good as my backhanded comment this summer, which is to say that it is no good at all.

I’d like to introduce you to my nose. Enjoy.

*Thank you to Jennifer Moore for taping.



2 Responses

  1. Irene
    | Reply

    Just stumbling on this now, in 2022 — am curious to know if your position on this still stands as stated. A lot has happened in the last six years, specifically surrounding recognition of poor labor practices (in all fields) and their intersection with gender. The seemingly apologist comparison with Jeff Koons — infamously a toxic boss, who also exploits his workforce (and arguably himself purveyor of casual misogyny) — is striking as a framing device. I hear the tone of the Youtube clip as one of righteous indignation: that anyone would even call out the gendered terms of labor practices. Your rant garnered enthusiastic whoops & cheers, which reminds me that many within the overwhelmingly cis-woman community loudly self-identify as anti-feminist.^ In this post you have labeled that act as courageous, in contrast with people who publish online critique. Yet, it’s well documented that women (and others in socially subordinated positions) who critique the status-quo online face extraordinary backlash, including even death threats.* So my question remains: given the events and revelations of the last six years, have your thoughts on this changed?

    ^ cf the 400+ angry comments on your 2018 article asking why quilters don’t discuss feminism. (For the record, the essay itself is no longer avail on the normie internet, but is archived here

    * Stephanie Boon herself was told she should kill herself for critiquing LUKE’s position on the irrelevance of gender & her blog post is also so long gone from the internet that one has to dig into the archive to find it:

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Irene, hello! First off, I have let my PaperGirl blog — once the backbone of my writing practice — languish these past years. It’s something I’m rather ashamed of, I have to admit. Your comment is thoughtful and I appreciate the points you raised and the thoughtfulness with which you raised them. I’ve got some posts cooking up here on PaperGirl and this comment (at least some piece of it) is inspiring one … I know this is a bit of a punt, but it’s what I can do for now. Making a blog entry is harder now because I care more than ever about the writing being “just right” before I hit the Publish button. It’s noble of me but paralyzing: A blog that isn’t kept on a regular basis is no blog at all. The whole video kerfuffle has been _fascinating_ in so many ways, but I hadn’t thought of it in relation to the Luke kerfuffle so long ago. There’s always _some_ kerfuffle, isn’t there? 😉 Anyway! Thank you again. I’ll tap you when something of more substance is posted, if that’s fair? xoxo Mary

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