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Susan J. Brison

The Aftermath of Violence

af·ter·math, n. 1. Something that results or follows from an event, esp. one of a disastrous or unfortunate nature … 2. a new growth of grass following one or more mowings … 1

Surviving Sexual Violence

Susan J. Brison:
Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self.
Princeton – Woodstock: Princeton University Press, 2002.
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1 On July 4, 1990, at 10:30 in the morning, I went for a walk along a country road in a village outside Grenoble, France. It was a gorgeous day, and I didn't envy my husband, Tom, who had to stay inside and work on a manuscript with a French colleague of his. I sang to myself as I set out, stopping to pet a goat and pick a few wild strawberries along the way. About an hour and a half later, I was lying face down in a muddy creek bed at the bottom of a dark ravine, struggling to stay alive. I had been grabbed from behind, pulled into the bushes, beaten, and sexually assaulted. Feeling absolutely helpless and entirely at my assailant's mercy, I talked to him, calling him ›sir.‹ I tried to appeal to his humanity, and, when that failed, I addressed myself to his self interest. He called me a whore and told me to shut up. Although I had said I'd do whatever he wanted, as the sexual assault began I instinctively fought back which so enraged my attacker that he strangled me until I lost consciousness. When I awoke, I was being dragged by my feet down into the ravine. I had often, while dreaming, thought I was awake, but now I was awake and convinced I was having a nightmare. But it was no dream. After ordering me, in a gruff, Gestapo like voice, to get on my hands and knees, my assailant strangled me again. I wish I could convey the horror of losing consciousness while my animal instincts desperately fought the effects of strangulation. This time I was sure I was dying. But I revived, just in time to see him lunging toward me with a rock. He smashed it into my forehead, knocking me out, and eventually, after another strangulation attempt, he left me for dead.
2 A few months later, I sat down at my computer to write about the assault for the first time and all I could come up with was a list of paradoxes. Things had stopped making sense. I thought it was quite possible that I was brain-damaged as a result of the head injuries I had sustained. Or perhaps the heightened lucidity I had experienced during the assault remained, giving me a clearer, though profoundly disorienting, picture of the world. I turned to philosophy for meaning and consolation and could find neither. Had my reasoning broken down? Or was it the breakdown of reason? I couldn't explain what had happened to me. I was attacked for no reason. I had ventured outside the human community, landed beyond the moral universe, beyond the realm of predictable events and comprehensible actions, and I didn't know how to get back.
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3 As a philosopher, I was used to taking something apparently obvious and familiar – the nature of time, say, or the relation between words and things – and making it into something quite puzzling and strange. But now, when I was confronted with the utterly strange and paradoxical, philosophy was of no use in making me feel at home in the world.
4 After I was rescued and taken to the Grenoble hospital, I was told repeatedly how »lucky« I was to be alive, and for a short while I even believed this myself. At that time I did not yet know how trauma not only haunts the conscious and unconscious mind, but also remains in the body, in each of the senses, in the heart that races and the skin that crawls whenever something resurrects the buried terror. I didn't know that the worst – the unimaginably painful aftermath of violence – was yet to come.
5 When I started telling people about the attack, I said, simply, that I was the victim of an attempted murder. People typically asked, in horror, »What was the motivation? Were you mugged?« and when I replied »No, it started as a sexual assault,« most inquirers were satisfied with that as an explanation of why some man wanted to murder me. I would have thought that a murder attempt plus a sexual assault would require more, not less, of an explanation than a murder attempt by itself. (After all, there are two criminal acts to explain here.)
6 One reason sexual violence is taken for granted by many is because it is so very prevalent. The FBI, notorious for underestimating the frequency of sex crimes, notes that, in the United States, a rape occurs on an average of every six minutes. 2 But this figure covers only the reported cases of rape, and some researchers claim that only about ten percent of all rapes get reported. 3 Every 15 seconds, a woman is beaten. 4 The every-dayness of sexual violence, as evidenced by these mind numbing statistics, leads many to think that male violence against women is natural, a given, something not in need of explanation, and not amenable to change. And yet, through some extraordinary mental gymnastics, while most people take sexual violence for granted, they simultaneously manage to deny that it really exists – or, rather, that it could happen to them. We continue to think that we – and the women we love – are immune to it, provided, that is, that we don't do anything ›foolish.‹ How many of us have swallowed the potentially lethal lie that ›If you don't do anything wrong, if you're just careful enough, you'll be safe?‹ How many of us have believed its damaging, victim blaming corollary: ›If you are attacked, it's because you did something wrong?‹ These are lies, and in telling my story I hope to expose them, as well as to help bridge the gap between those of us who have been victimized and those who have not.
7 Since I was assaulted by a stranger, in a ›safe‹ place, and was so visibly injured when I encountered the police and medical personnel, I was, throughout my hospitalization and my dealings with the police, spared the insult, suffered by so many rape victims, of not being believed or of being said to have asked for the attack. However, it became clear to me as I gave my deposition from my hospital bed that this would still be an issue in my assailant's trial. During my deposition, I recalled being on the verge of giving up my struggle to live when I was galvanized by a sudden, piercing image of Tom's future pain on finding my corpse in that ravine. At this point in my deposition, I paused, glanced over at the police officer who was typing the transcript, and asked whether it was appropriate to include this image of my husband in my recounting of the facts. The gendarme replied that it definitely was and that it was a very good thing I mentioned my husband, since my assailant, who had been apprehended and had confessed to the sexual assault, was claiming I had provoked it. As serious as the occasion was, and as much as it hurt to laugh, I couldn't help it, the suggestion was so ludicrous. Could it have been those baggy Gap jeans I was wearing that morning? Or was it the heavy sweatshirt? My maddeningly seductive jogging shoes? Or was it simply my walking along minding my own business that had provoked his murderous rage?
8 After I completed my deposition, which lasted eight hours, the police officer asked me to read and sign the transcript he'd typed to certify that it was accurate. I was surprised to see that it began with the words, »Comme je suis sportive …« – »Since I am athletic …« – added by the police to explain what possessed me to go for a walk by myself that fine morning. I was too exhausted by this point to protest »no, I'm not an athlete, I'm a philosophy professor,« and I figured the officer knew what he was doing, so I let it stand.
enlarge »Guernica«
by Pablo Picasso
9 As things turned out, my experience with the criminal justice system was better than that of most sexual assault victims. My assailant was – two and a half years later – convicted of rape and attempted murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. I did, however, occasionally get glimpses of the humiliating insensitivity victims routinely endure. Before I could be released from the hospital, for example, I had to undergo a second forensic examination at a different hospital. I was taken in a wheelchair out to a hospital van, driven to another hospital, taken to an office where there were no receptionists and where I was greeted by two male doctors I had never seen before. When they told me to take off my clothes and stand in the middle of the room, I refused. I had to ask for a hospital gown to put on. For about an hour the two of them went over me like a piece of meat, calling out measurements of bruises and other assessments of damage, as if they were performing an autopsy. This was just the first of many incidents in which I felt as if I was experiencing things posthumously. When the inconceivable happens, one starts to doubt even the most mundane, realistic perceptions. Perhaps I'm not really here, I thought, perhaps I did die in that ravine. The line between life and death, once so clear and sustaining, now seemed carelessly drawn and easily erased.
10 For the first several months after my attack, I led a spectral existence, not quite sure whether I had died and the world went on without me, or whether I was alive but in a totally alien world. Tom and I returned to the States, and I continued to convalesce, but I felt as though I'd somehow outlived myself. I sat in our apartment and stared outside for hours, through the blur of a detached vitreous, feeling like Robert Lowell's newly widowed mother, described in one of his poems as mooning in a window »as if she had stayed on a train / one stop past her destination.« 5

The Politics of Forgetting

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11 My sense of unreality was fed by the massive denial of those around me – a reaction I learned is an almost universal response to rape. Where the facts would appear to be incontrovertible, denial takes the shape of attempts to explain the assault in ways that leave the observers' world view unscathed. Even those who are able to acknowledge the existence of violence try to protect themselves from the realization that the world in which it occurs is their world and so they find it hard to identify with the victim. They cannot allow themselves to imagine the victim's shattered life, or else their illusions about their own safety and control over their lives might begin to crumble. The most well-meaning individuals, caught up in the myth of their own immunity, can inadvertently add to the victim's suffering by suggesting that the attack was avoidable or somehow her fault. One victims' assistance coordinator, whom I had phoned for legal advice, stressed that she herself had never been a victim and said that I would benefit from the experience by learning not to be so trusting of people and to take basic safety precautions like not going out alone late at night. She didn't pause long enough during her lecture for me to point out that I was attacked suddenly, from behind, in broad daylight.
12 When I resumed teaching at Dartmouth in the fall of 1991, the first student who came to see me in my office during freshman orientation week told me that she had been raped. The following spring, four Dartmouth students reported sexual assaults to the local police. In the aftermath of these recent reports, the women students on my campus were told to use their heads, lock their doors, not go out after dark without a male escort. They were advised: just don't do anything stupid.
13 Although colleges are eager to »protect« women by hindering their freedom of movement or providing them with male escorts, they continue to be reluctant to teach women to protect themselves. After months of lobbying the administration at my college, we were able to convince them to offer a women's self-defense and rape prevention course. It was offered in the winter of 1992 as a Physical Education course, and nearly 100 students and employees signed up for it. Shortly after the course began, I was informed that the women students were not going to be allowed to get P.E. credit for it, since the administration had determined that it discriminated against men. I was told that granting credit for the course was in violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex-discrimination in education programs receiving federal funding – even though granting credit to men for being on the football team was not, even though Title IX law makes an explicit exception for P.E. classes involving substantial bodily contact, and even though every term the college offers several martial arts courses, for credit, that are open to men, geared to men's physiques and needs, and taken predominantly by men. I was told by an administrator that, even if Title IX permitted it, offering a women's self-defense course for credit violated »the College's non-discrimination clause – a clause which, I hope, all reasonable men and women support as good policy.« The implication that I was not a »reasonable woman« didn't sit well with me as a philosopher, so I wrote a letter to the appropriate administrative committee criticizing my college's position that single sex sports, male-only fraternities, female-only sororities, and pregnancy leave policies are not discriminatory, in any invidious sense, while a women's self defense class is.
14 The administration finally agreed to grant P.E. credit for the course, but shortly after that battle was over, I read in the New York Times that »a rape prevention ride service offered to women in the city of Madison and on the University of Wisconsin campus may lose its university financing because it discriminates against men.« 6 The Dean of Students at Wisconsin said that this group – the Women's Transit Authority – which has been providing free nighttime rides to women students for nineteen years, must change its policy to allow male drivers and passengers. These are, in my view, examples of the application of what Catharine MacKinnon refers to as »the stupid theory of equality.« 7 To argue that rape prevention policies for women discriminate against men is like arguing that money spent making university buildings more accessible to disabled persons discriminates against those able bodied persons who do not benefit from these improvements.
15 Sexual violence victimizes not only those women who are directly attacked, but all women. The fear of rape has long functioned to keep women in their place. Whether or not one agrees with the claims of those, such as Susan Brownmiller, who argue that rape is a means by which all men keep all women subordinate, 8 the fact that all women's lives are restricted by sexual violence is indisputable. The authors of The Female Fear, Margaret Gordon and Stephanie Riger, cite studies substantiating what every woman already knows – that the fear of rape prevents women from enjoying what men consider to be their birthright. Fifty percent of women never use public transportation after dark because of fear of rape. Women are eight times more likely than men to avoid walking in their own neighborhoods after dark, for the same reason. 9 In the seminar on Violence against Women which I taught for the first time in the spring of 1992, the men in the class were stunned by the extent to which the women in the class took precautions against assault every day – locking doors and windows, checking the back seat of the car, not walking alone at night, looking in closets on returning home. And this is at a ›safe,‹ rural New England campus.

Acts of Memory

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by Pablo Picasso
16 A few months before my assailant's trial, I went to Grenoble to look over legal documents and discuss the case with my lawyer. I also met with the avocat général, who had possession of the dossier for the case and, with some reluctance, agreed to show it to me. It included depositions, police records, medical reports, psychiatric evaluations, and photos of my bruised, swollen face and battered body, of my assailant's scratched face, which I'd remembered so well, and of his muddied clothes, which I'd never really noticed. There were also photographs of the disturbed underbrush by the roadside, my belt found in the woods, and footprints in the mud at the bottom of the ravine where I had been left for dead. After our discussion of how the case would most likely proceed, as I was about to leave his office, the avocat général stunned me with these parting words of advice: »When the trial is over, you must forget that this ever happened.«
17 I protested that forgetting such a traumatic event is not an easy thing for a victim to do. He then looked at me sternly and said, »But, Madame, you must make an effort.« As if this had been simply an isolated event, of concern only to me. Perhaps he could have forgotten, but given the stories of rape I'd grown up with and the ones I'd heard and read about again and again in adulthood, one might say I remembered the rape even before it happened, as a kind of postmemory, to adapt Marianne Hirsch's term, informing the way I lived in my body and moved about in the world. 10 There would be no forgetting it now.
18 When I wasn't being exhorted to forget the assault, I was often told how to remember it. My own lawyer, meeting with me towards the end of my hospitalization in Grenoble, attempted to turn it into an individual, impersonal as well as apolitical, trauma with this unsolicited advice: »Don't think of your assailant as a human being. Think of him as a wild animal, a beast, a lion.« I thought of him as a Frenchman, like my lawyer, but I said nothing and he continued: »Every morning when you waken, think of the new day as a gift.« (He stopped short of saying »and rejoice and be glad in it,« but it was clear that I was supposed to focus, henceforth, on my good fortune.) »Remember,« he said, »you're not supposed to be alive.«
19 Although I experienced and remembered my assault under a wide variety of descriptions, it was, perhaps because of the cultural context, easiest for me to categorize the assault as a gender-motivated bias crime. Not only did the assault resonate with my postmemory of rape, confirming that, yes, women are all vulnerable to sexual violence, but the immediate aftermath heightened my sense of helplessness as a woman. I was, after climbing out of the ravine, surrounded mainly by men – the farmer driving the tractor, his neighbors, the doctor, the police officer, the ambulance driver and the rescue personnel. They were all kind and helpful. (I recall especially the gentleness – tenderness, almost – of the young man who held the oxygen mask to my face in the ambulance all the way to the hospital.) At the hospital, more men waited to assist me – doctors, the police, the gendarmes, a prosecutor, a judge, more doctors … I was impressed by the concern, the competence, the solicitousness, of (almost all) the men in charge. But they were men – and they were in charge. 11
20 I felt like a pawn – a helpless, passive victim – caught up in a ghastly game in which some men ran around trying to kill women and others went around trying to save them – rescuing them in tractors and ambulances, pushing them in gurneys, giving them oxygen and injections and pills and examinations, taking depositions, doing detective work, making composite portraits, showing mug shots, tracking down assailants, and writing up news reports …

Outliving Oneself

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by Pablo Picasso
21 For months after my assault, I was afraid of people finding out about it – afraid of their reactions and of their inability to respond. I was afraid that my professional work would be discredited, that I would be viewed as ›biased‹, or, even worse, not properly ›philosophical.‹ Now I am no longer afraid of what might happen if I speak out about sexual violence. I'm much more afraid of what will continue to happen if I and others don't. Sexual violence is a problem of catastrophic proportions – a fact obscured by its mundanity, by its relentless occurrence, by the fact that so many of us have been victims of it. Imagine the moral outrage, the emergency response we would surely mobilize, if all of these everyday assaults occurred at the same time or were restricted to one geographical region? But why should the spatio temporal coordinates of the vast numbers of sexual assaults be considered to be morally relevant? From the victim's point of view, the fact that she is isolated in her rape and her recovery, combined with the ordinariness of the crime that leads to its trivialization, makes the assault and its aftermath even more traumatic.
22 As devastating as sexual violence is, however, I want to stress that it is possible to survive it, and even to flourish after it, although it doesn't seem that way at the time. Whenever I see a survivor struggling with the overwhelming anger and sadness, I'm reminded of a sweet, motherly, woman in my rape survivors' support group who sat silently throughout the group's first meeting. At the end of the hour she finally asked, softly, through tears: »Can anyone tell me if it ever stops hurting?« At the time I had the same question, and wasn't satisfied with any answer. Now I can say, yes, it does stop hurting, at least for longer periods of time. A year after my assault, I was pleased to discover that I could go for fifteen minutes without thinking about it. Two years later, I could go for hours at a stretch without a flashback. That was on a good day. On a bad day, I would still take to my bed with lead in my veins, unable to find one good reason to go on.
23 Our group facilitator, Ann Gaulin, told us that first meeting: »You will never be the same. But you can be better.« I protested that I had lost so much: my security, my self-esteem, my love and my work. I had been happy with the way things were. How could they ever be better now? As a survivor, she knew how I felt, but she also knew that, as she put it, »When your life is shattered, you're forced to pick up the pieces, and you have a chance to stop and examine them. You can say ›I don't want this one anymore‹ or ›I think I'll work on that one.‹« I have had to give up more than I would ever have chosen to. But I have gained important skills and insights, and I no longer feel tainted by my victimization. Granted, those of us who live through sexual assault aren't given ticker tape parades or the keys to our cities, but it's an honor to be a survivor. Although it's not exactly the sort of thing I can put on my résumé, it's the accomplishment of which I'm most proud.
24 Two years after the assault, I could speak about it in a philosophical forum. There I could acknowledge the good things that came from the recovery process – the clarity, the confidence, the determination, the many supporters and survivors who have brought meaning back into my world. This was not to say that the attack and its aftermath were, on balance, a good thing. I would rather not have gone down that road. It has been hard for me, as a philosopher, to learn the lesson that knowledge isn't always desirable, that the truth doesn't always set you free. Sometimes, it fills you with incapacitating terror and, then, uncontrollable rage. But I suppose you should embrace it anyway, for the reason Nietzsche exhorts you to love your enemies: if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.
25 People ask me if I'm recovered now, and I reply that it depends on what that means. If they mean »am I back to where I was before the attack?« I have to say, no, and I never will be. I am not the same person who set off, singing, on that sunny Fourth of July in the French countryside. I left her in a rocky creek bed at the bottom of a ravine. I had to in order to survive. I understand the appropriateness of what a friend described to me as a Jewish custom of giving those who have outlived a brush with death new names. The trauma has changed me forever, and if I insist too often that my friends and family acknowledge it, that's because I'm afraid they don't know who I am.
26 But if recovery means being able to incorporate this awful knowledge into my life and carry on, then, yes, I'm recovered. I don't wake each day with a start, thinking: »this can't have happened to me!« It happened. I have no guarantee that it won't happen again, although my self-defense classes have given me the confidence to move about in the world and to go for longer and longer walks – with my two big dogs. Sometimes I even manage to enjoy myself. And I no longer cringe when I see a woman jogging alone on the country road where I live, though I may still have a slight urge to rush out and protect her, to tell her to come inside where she'll be safe. But I catch myself, like a mother learning to let go, and cheer her on, thinking, may she always be so carefree, so at home in her world. She has every right to be.


enlarge »Guernica«
by Pablo Picasso
In memory of
Susanne and Half Zantop
Trhas Berhe and Selamawit Tsehaye

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it will your heart survive.

Rainer Maria Rilke 12
28 On January 27, 2001, about six months after I had submitted this manuscript, two of my dear friends and colleagues, Susanne and Half Zantop, were stabbed to death in their home a few miles away from Dartmouth College. They were deeply loved members of this community – a wonderfully close-knit community of friends, scholars, social activists, and neighbors they had done so much, in over twenty-five years here, to create and sustain. Susanne had been my official and unofficial mentor at Dartmouth, standing by me for the last decade. She set the standard with her own stellar example and never wavered in her demanding expectations of me; when, in the wake of my assault, I felt like giving up on my academic career, she simply wouldn't hear of it.
29 A group of us had been planning to celebrate a birthday with Susanne and Half at a brunch and sledding party one Sunday morning. Instead, those of us who hadn't heard about their deaths the night before read about them in the local newspaper. We gathered, stunned, in someone's home, as we did for days to come, holding onto each other and trying to make sense of what had happened. Was it a robbery? A case of a digruntled student who'd gone berserk? Would anything ever make sense again?
30 I went to the New Hampshire Attorney General's press conference that afternoon with two friends. In the crowd of reporters and local residents, the questions buzzed: How could this have happened here? To them? To us? After the press conference, my friends stayed to speak to the reporters, not about the grisly deaths, but about the extraordinary lives of these two remarkable people. I couldn't speak, not without enormous difficulty, and so I stood off by myself. When I overheard some journalists speculating about when the last murders had occurred in Hanover – about ten years ago? 1990? I had just enough words in me to say »It was in June of '91.«
enlarge »Guernica«
by Pablo Picasso
31 On the evening of June 16, 1991, there were, according to Joseph Harris, then chair of the Physics Department at Dartmouth, five black women Ph.D. candidates in physics in North America. The next morning there were three. Two of them, Trhas Berhe and Selamawit Tsehaye, had been ax-murdered in the night on a quiet Hanover street a block away from where I was living at the time. My husband and I had just moved back up that evening from Princeton, where I'd spent the academic year on a disability leave. That morning, I walked to a cafe by myself (just a few blocks from where we lived, but still a challenge) and saw the headline in the local paper. My already keen sense that no place in the world was safe was made only more vivid by this news. But as I walked back out into the bright summer light, it seemed that somehow those murders hadn't shaken the sense of security of most people in the community. Students returning for summer term played frisbee and sunned themselves on the green. Dogs chased balls, families shopped along Main Street, kids ate ice cream cones. Alumni back for reunions paused to look at the ever-enticing real estate photos in sidewalk displays. Sure, there was some gossip (was it a crime of passion? wasn't the murderer the former boyfriend of one the victims?) but no one seemed particularly distraught. Life went on: I just couldn't remember why.
32 Even though I hadn't known the two women (they'd arrived while I was away, and I don't often get to know graduate students in the natural sciences here), I was devastated by their murders – and by the apparent (lack of) reaction in Hanover and elsewhere. (I think the Boston Globe had a paragraph or so about them, in one day's edition, but the murders weren't reported beyond that in the national press, as far as I know.) The day the murders were reported in the local papers, the Dartmouth flag (almost always at half-mast, it seems, to mourn the death of some former trustee or emeritus faculty member or wealthy alumnus) remained at full mast (until a day or so later). A week after the murders, I asked various administrators for funds to bring a women's self-defense and rape-prevention instructor to Dartmouth and the response was, »Why? Nothing ever happens here.« These were just two of many signs that the murders were not going to be viewed as something that had happened »here,« to »us.«
33 The victims, as well as the perpetrator, were black – and Ethiopian – facts which seem to have made it easier for people to reassure themselves that this would never happen again, and, in some sense, never really did happen in our community. I was (perhaps naively) surprised at the lack of media attention to their murders. But now, given the almost daily international attention that's been paid to Susanne and Half's murders, I'm outraged. Susanne and Half would have been among the first to point out – and to condemn – this disparity.
34 Before my own assault, I was able to distance myself from the brutal murders occurring daily around the world, and, sometimes, around the block. But at the memorial service for Trhas and Selamawit, presided over by the woman who had married me and Tom, in the same chapel on campus, I cried and cried. Of course it was in large part a self-regarding reaction, motivated as much by the memories their murders triggered in me as by my horror at what had happened to them. But I found it hard to separate these things. I felt I knew what they had known as they were about to die, and I realized their funeral could have been mine, that my survival could have been theirs, and that nothing explained or justified our different fates. I also wept through Susanne and Half's memorial service, officiated over by the same pastor, in the same place, and again I felt sheepish, guilty almost, at feeling so much grief over my friends' deaths. Was I really just mourning my own loss? my pain at having so nearly suffered the same fate? I couldn't help but think of their final moments together, in the last throes of life, when meaning flowed away like blood, and all that remained was the will to live, the pull towards death, the urge to wake, to sleep, to stay, to go, to know and not to know – their only ease their sharpest pain – they would not die alone.
35 I still can't bring myself to tell my son that Susanne and Half were murdered. I just said that they died. I have no story to tell about how such violence won't happen to us. It could. There's no way to prepare for it, to »be ahead of all parting.« And there's no getting over it. All we can do is hold on fiercely to one another, »As the lost human voices speak through us and blend / Our complex love, our mourning without end.« 13
36 Overnight, it seems, spring has returned to Vermont. The fields are green, trees are in blossom, the pond is teeming, and the bluebirds are back. Life – profligate, irrepressible – flaunts itself everywhere. An overflowing of life, even for the least significant creatures – so much so that it all seems inevitable. Perhaps because it is impossible for us to imagine our own deaths, our existence can feel necessary, bound to continue. But maybe my lawyer was right: I should remember that I'm not supposed to be alive. What if I take that as my starting point? None of us is supposed to be alive. We're all here by chance and only for a little while. The wonder is that we've managed, once again, to winter through and that our hearts, in spite of everything, survive.
polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 5 (2004).
Online: http://them.polylog.org/5/cbs-en.htm
ISSN 1616-2943
© 2004 Author & polylog e.V.


Stuart Berg Flexner (ed.) (1987): The Random House Dictionary of the English Language. 2nd ed. New York: Random House, 36. go back
Federal Bureau of Investigation (1989): Uniform Crime Reports for the United States. Washington: FBI, 6. go back
Robin Warshaw notes that »[g]overnment estimates find that anywhere from three to ten rapes are committed for every one rape reported. And while rapes by strangers are still underreported, rapes by acquaintances are virtually nonreported. Yet, based on intake observations made by staff at various rape counseling centers (where victims come for treatment, but do not have to file police reports), 70-80 percent of all rape crimes are acquaintance rapes.«
(Robin Warshaw (1988): I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York: Harper & Row, 12). go back
National Coalition against Domestic Violence: »Fact sheet«. In: Report on Proposed Legislation. S. 15: The Violence against Women Act, 9. On file with the Senate Judiciary Committee. go back
Robert Lowell (1977): Selected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 82. go back
The New York Times (19 April 1992), 36. go back
She characterized a certain theory of equality in this way during the discussion after a Gauss seminar she gave at Princeton University, 9 April 1992. go back
Susan Brownmiller (1975): Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. New York: Simon and Schuster. go back
Margaret T. Gordon / Stephanie Riger (1989): The Female Fear. New York: Free Press – London: Collier Macmillan. go back
Marianne Hirsch (1997): Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, and () »Projected Memory: Holocaust Photographs in Personal and Public Fantasy«. In: Acts of Memory, 3-23. Hirsch uses the term »postmemory« to describe the relationship of children of survivors of cultural or collective trauma to the experiences of their parents, experiences that they ›remember‹ only as the stories and images with which they grew up, but that are so powerful, so monumental, as to constitute memories in their own right.« »Projected Memory,« p. 8. go back
At some point after getting a letter from Tom thanking him for his expert assistance, the chief of police who handled the case replied that he had done nothing particularly praiseworthy, that he was simply acting out of his »honneur d'homme.« go back
Rainer Maria Rilke (1982): »The Sonnets to Orpheus, II, 13«. In: Stephen Mitchell (ed. and trans.): The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. New York: Random House, 245. go back
May Sarton (1974): »All Souls«. In: Collected Poems (1930-1973). New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 185. go back


Susan Brison is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dartmouth College where she has been teaching since 1985. She has held visiting positions at Tufts University, New York University, and Princeton University, and has been a Mellon Fellow at New York University and an NEH-funded member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ). She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Brison is the author of Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self (2002) and Speech, Harm, and Conflicts of Rights (forthcoming).
Prof. Dr. Susan J. Brison
Department of Philosophy
Dartmouth College
Thornton Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
Fax +1 (603) 646-1699
external linkhttp://www.dartmouth.edu/~brison/
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