Newly [Née]med Part 1: The Pun Is Dead, Long Live the Pun!

Hello friends,

I have retired the name “inter ruralia.” I loved it so, and still do! But I mean…it’s a 10 minute walk to a brewery, a cidery, a French bakery, a cake shop, a taco shop, a pizza place, a dumpling place, and an “URBAN HOMESTEADING STORE.” “Inter ruralia,” while honestly one of my all-time fave wordplays, now lacks verisimilitude.

And while I originally started this to write about all the weird shit that happened once I left NYC and moved to west Georgia and worked at a vet of all things, my reasons for writing now are different. Now, I’m trying to write into a future free from white supremacist capitalist gender normative heterocentric GODDAMN BULLSHIT, and I want it to sound like it.

The concept that captures and ties together all that bullshit is intersectionality theory, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw. And since my subject matter tends to be words themselves, and because it’s not so much that I can’t resist a pun as that I can’t even think of titles that don’t include them, here we are: interlexionality.com, née interruralia.com. 

Not much will change, though probably lots of links won’t work right until I fix them all, and there may be more crossword puzzles coming. The great news is that I now construct puzzles for actual money, for a published paper; the wrinkle is that I can’t make them as ferocious as I’d like, so that itch needs scratching.

Anyway, that’s the big announcement! Here’re the complications, if you’re interested:  I feel a tension between the gravity of what “intersectionality” references and the levity of wordplay in general, of which “interlexionality” is an instance. Last summer when I was in an essay writing course guest-artisted by Roxane Gay, I got to have a 15-minute consult with her about my draft. Those 15 minutes and the points she made within them still reverberate for me. The essay was about the extrajudicial killing of a Black man in Asheville earlier in the summer, and my own flailing attempts to move towards accountability and away from complicity in white supremacy. This included beats about the extent to which racism is intrinsic to our society and about the well-meaning-white-person’s attraction to listicles on how to not be racist. Both of these parts employed the word “cookie” in slightly different metaphorical ways, and Roxane pointed out that the metaphors did not work because they were inappropriately aligned to the gravity of the subject matter.  I think of this a lot now, and I am not certain whether “interlexionality” would pass that Roxane test. Here is my commitment: I am going to keep digging into words and how they represent/reproduce the inequalities and oppressions referenced by intersectionality theory and by which our lives are all tainted, whether we come out ahead or behind in material conditions. I’m going to propose new usage and new words and new analyses that better fit a future in which we are all free because we are all free. I’m inevitably going to bring my own whiteness, relative wealth, education, heterosexuality, cisgenderhood, and more into that. When I do, I really want to be told, if/when you have the emotional energy to spare.

 

Love,

Sarah

ps: the featured image is from a series called “Merbie Interviews the Season” which I still think is hilarious.

 

 


2 thoughts on “Newly [Née]med Part 1: The Pun Is Dead, Long Live the Pun!

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