Issue No. 2: The Takeaway or Please, Take This Essay Away
In which The Crip shares 2¢ takeaways from John Hockenberry’s 7,000-word essay about the loss of a high-status career identity that was purchased and published by a pretty damn high-status periodical.
THE TAKEAWAY! Hockenberry says none of this is justification for offensive behavior toward women but it sure seems like he does:
“Being a misguided romantic, or being born at the wrong time, or taking the wrong cues from the sexual revolution of the Sixties, or having a disability that leaves one impotent at the age of nineteen—none of this is a justification for offensive behavior toward women. But is a life sentence of unemployment without possibility of furlough, the suffering of my children, and financial ruin an appropriate consequence? Does my being expunged from the profession in which I have worked for decades constitute a step on the road to true gender equality?”
THE TAKEAWAY! Hockenberry thinks “unemployment” is the same thing as “not getting the same high-status work I once had and still want.”
Did You Know?
You may be working three jobs but those aren’t real jobs if they’re not prestigious. Take note of this, low-wage workers. #CripTips
THE TAKEAWAY! Harpers gave its highly prized literary space to sloppy writing about how being disabled and having sex problems is relevant context for sexual harassment in the workplace.
Did You Know?
Blaming your workplace sexual harassment on your disability-related impotence makes me impotent with rage. #CripTips
THE TAKEAWAY!Hockenberry thinks Chopin, Byron, and the 70s have a lot to answer for. But they’re not angling for a comeback and its requisite paychecks. He is. So its on him to do the answering, not them. Also: Lumping yourself in with Chopin and Byron is pre-tay, pre-tay revealing all on its own.
Did You Know?
Somehow Hockenberry’s journalingessay got accepted — and paid for — by a national publication but dazzling literary craft like what you’re reading right now remains mysteriously unembraced by the cognoscenti. Keep your day jobs, kids. Which, despite what Hockenberry says, may be unglamorous but wage-paying Wal-Mart greeter jobs. #CripTips
THE TAKEAWAY!“Chutzpah” has a new contender for World Champion. Seriously, Hockenberry is comparing himself with Chopin? More like Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, whose respective plights have involved not being invited to dinner parties and sadly rattling around his mansion alone. But, really, complaining in print that one — only ONE! — of his accusers has reached out to see how he’s doing? That is some weapons-grade chutzpah, right there.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
In my sputtering haste at this feckless misreading of a novel I’m pretty f#&king fond of, I didn’t comment on the truly Humbertian reaction from Hockenberry that Harpers published: Hockenberry now identifies himself with the character of..Lolita.
I could support this in one possible respect only: Lolita is a fictional character and if John Hockenberry could achieve fictional status, I, for one, would be all for it.
The reason I cannot support his alarming embrace of even the fictional Lolita is that Lolita is a 12 year-old child who is kidnapped and raped over the course of 2 years by a middle-aged man. Hockenberry is a middle-aged man, not a 12 year-old child, and he is not the victim of anyone. He’s living with the consequences of credible sexual harassment accusations made against him. The horror and suffering visited upon Lolita are not the consequences of her actions. His distorted perception on this is — yikes x 1000 –Humbertian. The only Nabokovian quality in Hockenberry’s narrative lies in its excellent representation of what Nabokov calls “poshlost.” This is not a compliment.
How does John Hockenberry or any reader think that Lolita is a love story after this gut-wrenching confession-within-a-confession near the novel’s end? It’s a bad sign when Humbert Humbert is besting you on the moral clarity front:
“What I heard was but the melody of children at play nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and divinely enigmatic — one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord.”
The Final Takeaway: Whether it’s reading AND comprehending, not harassing colleagues, or taking a job, any job: