Anne Fleming

Butler Says

Went to see Judith Butler the other night. She speaks in slow and deliberate way, very steady, very hypnotizing. If you pay close attention, it is not hard to follow and what she says was interesting and wide-ranging, but if you do not pay close attention, it is not hard to doze off and just hear the rhythm of her voice and the word “vulnerability” repeat itself. Also “bodies” (pronounced as if spelled “botties”). Also “precarity.”

Anyway, I remembered listening to a presentation at an MA thesis defence a few years ago and having a flash when the presenter said, “as Butler says” of the hundreds of people across North America giving presentations or writing essays at that very moment in which they used the line “as Butler says.” That inspired me afterwards to google “as Butler says” with the idea I’d cobble together a poem from the results. Turns out, of course, there are a lot of other Butlers who say things, too, so the results were mixed, and I wasn’t all that happy with it as a poem. Here’s a sample:

With thousands of feet of vertical rock and ice, it was, as Butler says, “a good place to get lost in.”
The point, as Butler says, is not to claim that there are no physical differences
Foucault, as Butler says, argues that power multiplies and distributes
Secondly, as Butler says, ‘probability is the guide of life’.
As Butler says, “We need a fresh revelation of the character of the God we worship, a revelation of his majesty and his grace.”

On the way to see Butler speak, I decided I’d try again. This time I would google “Judith Butler says” and I would choose the first verb I came to after that phrase and put it in the present tense so it would be like Simon says. Then, for the bits where it doesn’t say “Butler says” I googled “Judith Butler” “doesn’t say” and used the first verbs I came to there. Here we go:

Butler Says

Butler says observe.
Butler says hail.
Butler says matter.
Butler says reject.
Butler says protest.
Butler says fulfill.
Butler says be.

Butler says determine.
Butler says impersonate.
Butler says find.
Butler says see.
Butler says do.
Butler says opt.

Butler says formulate.
Butler says deny.
Butler says become.

Butler says constitute.
Butler says talk.

Butler says change.
Butler says have.
Butler says propose.
Butler says subvert.
Butler says disrupt.
Butler says give.
Butler says frame.
Butler says accord.
Butler says structure.


More Posts