Daily Agenda Terms list 4: (The terms exam will be on the last class day of the quarter. It will include a comprehensive terms test, which will emphasize the new terms.) Discussion: Trickster Characters from our reading In-class writing: Essay 4
Terms for Exam 4: A Comprehensive Test Gender Identity: The sense of “being” male or “being” female. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy. For transgender people, gender identity may differ from physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are not necessarily linked. Heterosexism: The concept that heterosexuality is natural, normal, superior and required. A system of beliefs about the superiority of heterosexuals or heterosexuality evidenced in the exclusion, by omission or design, of gay, lesbian and bisexual persons in assumptions, communication, policies, procedures, events, or activities. Heterosexual: A person who is primarily and/or exclusively attracted to members of a gender or sex that is seen to be “opposite” or other than the one with which they identify or are identified. Homosexual: A person who is primarily and /or exclusively attracted to members of what they identify as their own sex or gender. Because the term possesses connotations of disease and abnormality, some people do not like to identify as homosexual. Still others do not feel that it accurately defines their chosen identity. Lesbian: One who identifies as a woman who is primarily or exclusively attracted to others who identify as women.
• Sex Reassignment (SRS): A surgical procedure that modifies one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics. This process was formerly called a “sex change operation,” a phrase now considered offensive. • Sexual Orientation: A person’s emotional, physical and sexual attraction and the expression of that attraction with other individuals. Some of the better-known labels or categories include “bisexual,” “multisexual,” “pansexual,” “omnisexual,” “lesbian,” “gay” (“homosexual” is a more clinical term), or “heterosexual.” • Trans: Abbreviation for transgender, transsexual, or some other form of trans identity. “Trans” can invoke notions of transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over borders. • Transgender: An umbrella term used to describe people who do not fit into traditional gender categories, including transsexuals, transvestites or cross-dressers, intersexuals or hermaphrodites, and sometimes, even people who identify as butch or femme. Can invoke notions of transcending beyond, existing between or crossing over borders. • Transition: The period when one is changing from living as one sex or gender to a different conception of sex or gender. Transitioning is complicated, multi-step process that may include surgically and/or hormonally altering one’s body.
The Question Does the trickster perform fundamental cultural work? In understanding the trickster better, do we better understand ourselves, and the perhaps subconscious aspects of ourselves that respond to the trickster’s unsettling and transformative behavior? In understanding the trickster better, do we better understand our limitations? Our culture? Our biases? Or boundaries? Or something else?
Are there remnants of this early definitionof the trickster in our modern daycharacters? Which? “Everywhere one looks among premodern peoples, there are tricky mythical beings alike enough to entice any human mind to create a category for them once it had met two or three. They are beings of the beginning, working in some complex relationship with the High God; transformers, helping to bring the present human world into being; performers of heroic acts on behalf of men, yet in their original form. or in some later form, foolish, obscene, laughable, yet indomitable” (Robert D. Pelton, The Trickster in West Africa 15).
Does this definition resonate with usin terms of our modern trickstercharacters? How? According to [Paul] Radin, for example, “Trickster is at one and the same time creator and destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes others and who is always duped himself. . . . He possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being” (xxiii).
Do we see our trickster characters in this more contemporary definition? Who? [The trickster] actually is immoral (or at least amoral) and blasphemous and rebellious, and his interest in entering the societal game is not to provide the safety-valve that makes it tolerable, but to question, manipulate, and disrupt its rules. He is the consummate mover of goalposts, constantly redrawing the boundaries of the possible. In fact, the trickster suggests, says Hyde, “a method by which a stranger or underling can enter the game, change its rules, and win a piece of the action” (204).
Can we revise this idea to apply it to our texts or characters? Not just any rogue or anti-hero can properly be termed a trickster. The true trickster’s trickery calls into question fundamental assumptions about the way the world is organized, and reveals the possibility of transforming them (even if often for ignoble ends). In this regard it is not surprising that innovative uses have been made of the modern incarnation of the trickster in American novels produced by writers of dual ethnic or cultural backgrounds, in whose worlds boundaries have continually to be mediated and assumptions challenged..
Are our Characters modern Tricksters? How do we know? The self-reflexivity associated with the [contemporary trickster] is absent in the ancient “unconscious” trickster, like Wakdjunkaga, whose hands fought each other and who was unaware that his anus was part of his own body. The contemporary trickster, by contrast, is largely self- aware, unlike his/her archaic counterpart. “[T]he pressures of experience produce from that somewhat witless character a more sophisticated trickster.”
A New Age of Tricksters? Are they tricky? Or in Earnest? [A] new age brings a transmutation and a new repertoire of tricks. In fact, we may now have reached the stage of ultimate ambiguity, where the trickster’s self-awareness and self-reflexivity call into question even what is a trick and what is in earnest, or on what side of the boundary truth lies, if indeed there are any more “sides” or any unequivocal truths (Lock).
Homework Post #26: Identify two characters from our reading who share a common trait or traits. How are they alike? How might you use them to create a single thesis that answers the essay 4 prompt? Consider these traits: Deceitful, Self-Serving, Cultural Hero, Shape Shifter, Solitary, Weak (physically, intellectually, socially), Uses Special Tools, Teacher. There can be other traits, so if you identify a common behavior or characteristic in two tricksters, do not hesitate to explore the potential. Reading: Sui Sin Far “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian” Post #27: QHQ Sui Sin Far Studying: Terms from list 4