“But, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction—what, has that got to do with a room of one’s own?” So begins a novel, A Room of One’s Own, written by Virginia Woolf and published in 1929. The novel is thought of as a major feminist hallmark of the past century, and its message is valid now as it was then: In order to think, to write, to be ceative, you need the material conditions that enable you to do so. You need a room of your own.
This blog is a virtual room of my own. I needed it, because there are things I want to speak about, that do not have any other room. And I was able to open it, because I have a job that pays the bills and leaves enough space for thought in-between, and because my children are, at times, taken care of by people other than me. Without these conditions, my virtual room would have remained empty.
Very often, I start a post in order to simply make sense of the things I observe. I try to find out whether my own, personal and particular experiences point to a broader, more general thing. Whether I can use my experiences for a cultural critique that would apply to other people, too, or in other words: This blog starts with the personal and takes it to the political.
Writing about the personal is, actually, not something I terribly enjoy, as it makes the writer inevitably vulnerable. This holds true so the more, as the personal here does not refer to lifestyle and well being issues: I will never write about how wonderful my children are, or what a lovely Shabbat-dinner we had that other day. The personal here consists of experiences that hurt, of encounters that left me dazzled. It is about bio-Germans and their ambivalent relation to Jews, it is about philo-Semitism, and where the latter glides into anti-Semitism, it is about the inevitable context of anti-Muslim racism. Writing about these things, putting them into my room, and inviting guests to look at my exhibition, fills me with a sense of relief: Ok, I wrote about this shit, and now, can go out, breath some fresh air, and have a coffee and a cake.
And then I am sitting there, overhear a conversation at the table next to me, have a look at the newspapers, scroll down my newsfeed. And have material for another post.