Intellectual Alternative

Catharine R. Stimpson is for me one of the unrivalled masters of peroration. The endings of her essays are designed to carry your thought forward in an amiable meditation on what has been presented. Take for example the lines just preceding the conclusion to "Tillie Olsen: Witness as Servant (1977)" from Where the Meanings Are: Feminism and Cultural Spaces. It is so easy to lift and retain in memory. It is meant to.

[T]he artist must continually invent extraordinary classrooms and curricula. He or she must in life, become an intellectual alternative.
One reads here the shadow of Gramsci's organic intellectual. And something more — intellectual with Stimpson is an adjective as well as a noun. The life of the mind is celebrated as is difference. This sets the stage for the approaching the act of witnessing as a way of seeing a way out.
The act of witnessing, when it returns to the shadows of the past and becomes elegiac, sees possibilities of wretchedness that, somehow, the witness evaded; the final losses that the ego did not, after all, have to endure. The act of witnessing, when it records the dreams that animated the past and were a source of its dignity, sees possible alternatives to wretchedness. In both cases, the witness is, in effect saying, "I wish my work to so alter circumstances that if I were to be born again, I would not have to fear death, and the death of my dream, as I once did."
This is a life lived well beyond survivour guilt.

And so for day 690