Apparently a new edition of her book The Second Sex is out (rather substance-free review from Salon here). I found the book in a friend’s house a few weeks ago, and devoured a few hundred pages of it before my visit ended. It’s dazzlingly intelligent and endlessly fascinating; I read it as perhaps it is best read, i.e. not straight through but picking the chapters that most interested me. I hear that one of the main arguments (which I did not really pick up on) is that “man inclineth to transcendence, woman to immanence;” and perhaps “woman has been condemned to immanence,” i.e. not allowed to engage with “childhood” so much as focused on raising a specific child, not philosophizing about Love so much as in a specific relationship. This struck me as intriguing; and perhaps can be used to explain one thing I never understood, which is that the most broadly (read: transcendently) feminine women I have known have not had children; not having actual children (and probably the full experience of womanhood) they keep something abstract about them.
As usual with these things, taking them as overly prescriptive, as people are always inclined (“So she’s saying I can’t care about Truth because I’m a woman?”) is not helpful, but thinking of how immanence and transcendence work in your own life is. What I desire more than anything now is to move from transcendence to immanence, from potential to actual. And how hard it has been – I have been balking at the threshold for ages now.