...that, to repeat what I heard for years and years and suspect you’ve been hearing over and over, yourself, something’s meaning is nothing more or less than its function. Et cetera et cetera et cetera. Has she done the thing with the broom with you? No? What does she use now? No. What she did with me--I must have been eight, or twelve, who remembers--was to sit me down in the kitchen and take a straw broom and start furiously sweeping the floor and she asked me which part of the broom was more elemental, more fundamental, in my opinion, the bristles or the handle. The bristles or the handle. And I hemmed and hawed and she swept more and more violently and I got nervous and finally when I said I supposed the bristles, because you could after a fashion sweep without the handle, by just holding on to the bristles, but couldn’t sweep with just the handle, she tackled me and knocked me out of my chair and yelled into my ear something like, ’Aha, that’s because you want to sweep with the broom, isn’t it? It’s because of what you want the broom for, isn’t it?’ Et cetera. And that if what we wanted a broom for was to break windows, then the handle was clearly the fundamental essence of the broom and she illustrated with the kitchen window and a crowd of the domestics gathered; but that if we wanted the broom to sweep with, see for example the broken glass, sweep sweep, the bristles were the thing’s essence. No? What now, then? With pencils? No matter. Meaning as fundamentalness. Fundamentalness as use. Meaning as use. Meaning as fundamentalness.
David Foster Wallace
...if I have a daughter I will tell her she can do anything and I will mean it, because I have no other intention of informing her otherwise. As my mother did with me and my mother's mother before her, I shall simply hide the truth from her. I will tell her that despite what others may whisper, there is no difference between her and any boy. I will tell her to work her hardest and try her best. And that if one day she looks around and finds that, despite her very best efforts, lesser men have superseded her, then she probably could have done better. These words may not be true, nor will they be fair, but I would hope that they ensure she never becomes a victim of her own femininity. I hope she will be empowered to pick herself up, study harder, work longer and exceed her own expectations. I don't want my daughter to break any glass ceilings. I'd rather she never even contemplated their existence. Because glass ceilings, closed doors and boys clubs are notions, they're ideas and they're not tangible. You can't see, touch, or feel them. They can only exercise power over us if we choose to believe in them. So why lay down your own gauntlet? The cliche rings true, if you reach for the moon, you might just land on the stars. Throw a glass ceiling into the works and it can only get in the way. And I suspect that deep down, every woman who ever truly excelled thought exactly this way. I doubt they ever gave much thought to the fact that they are women. I think they just really wanted to rock out. And they did; louder, harder and better than anyone else around them. And at some point down the line, enough people took note.
Amy Mowafi