Loads of Learned Lumber

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Jillian Weise, _Cyborg Detective_

JUDGING FROM BLURBS on books about the lives and experiences of the disabled, what the ordinarily-abled reader is hoping to find is something brave, inspirational, moving, and so on. Jillian Weise ain't having it. If you're looking for swelling orchestra uplift, keep looking.

Here's what we'll do.We'll rope you
to the podium and ask
What do you have? What is it? 
If you refuse to answer then we call
your doctor. Then we get to say
You're an inspiration.

Weise is a cyborg by virtue of having a sophisticated, programmable prosthetic leg (its cost equal, she notes, to that of a BMW convertible) and a detective by virtue of her capacity to zero in on anything that smacks of presumption, condescension, or just plain bullshit in what is written about disabilities by writers both canonical and long gone (W. C. Williams, Raymond Carver) and still living (no, I'm not going to tell you, buy the book already!).

Smart, funny, enlightening, but if you are ordinarily-abled, it will probably make you cringe a few times, too, and that may be just as worthwhile as our being inspired. E.g., from "Imaginary Interview":

Q. Explain, if you will, how you came to wear a prosthetic, and why this leg differs from others.
A: Of course. The event. Everyone is always interested in the event. It is like a birthday party we all get to attend.

I wonder if Weise knows Mike Ervin? That is a conversation I would like to eavesdrop on.

Also--"Rahab" is one of the best Biblically-inspired contemporary poems I have ever come across.

And--I was kinda-sorta hoping we would get a few more poems about Big Logos (see Weise's The Book of Goodbyes). Maybe he's out of the picture?

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