cafe mama

a domestic realist blog

domestic realism, a manifesto . a dispatch from the golden age of blogging . may 24 . 2012

domestic realism from my life
We hope for something different; a Golden Age of blogging.

In this Golden Age, there will be no Gertrude Stein, but if there is such a figure, it is Neil Kramer.

Like Gertrude and her satellites, I visit Neil when I should be caring for the children, or sleeping. (At least I'm not leaving my boys with the cat.) We have philosophical discussions about writing and social media in the middle of the night.

This week, he was starting a revolution: reject the niche. Especially, for those like me, the "Mommy blogger."

I am not now nor have I ever considered this blog a "mommy blog." It is the blog of a mother, that I cannot dispute. But it is something else. I called it Domestic Realism, when pressed.

As Neil discovered, Domestic Realism is something. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Jane Smiley all exemplify this style, also known as "women's fiction." In novels of this sort, the "plot focuses on a heroine who embodies one of two types of exemplar: the angel and the practical woman"; "the heroine learns to balance society's demands for self-denial with her own desire for autonomy, a struggle often addressed in terms of religion"; and "she suffers at the hands of abusers of power before establishing a network of surrogate kin." This formal literary structure is perhaps more strict than I prefer but I embrace its mood. Oh! How can you not adore this conflict between the passions for poetry, for the art of pie or jam or a knitted hat, for social justice and the rules of logic in political discourse; and the societal expectations that would have you talking in TXT and serving up cupcakes from the Harris Teeter for the PTA bake sale? How can you fail to see that we, too, are suffering at the hands of the abusers of power, struggling to establish a network of surrogate kin?

Kindred spirits all, break free with me from the bonds of giveaways and blog memes and cheerful facades that hide our truths. Do it with me, like sacraments, like salvation. As Neil writes, "A 'Domestic Realism' movement would be committed to viewing the world of the parent, warts and all, showing the dirty dishes in the sink rather than the Architectural Digest view of things. It would be a distinction based on artistic temperament rather than social status." I deconstruct it further; you need not have children (or have them, young, in the home with you) to be a Domestic Realist.

Domestic Realism is the celebration of what is, mess and anxiety and deliciousness and joy, whether we are barefoot and dancing on cracked linoleum or tear-streaked in stacked-heel boots after a dissertation defense or resolute in running shoes for a re-entry meeting for a suspended child. Domestic Realism is something like radical homemaking, but without the expectation that a household member is staying at home. It is home-based but not home-bound. It is not showing only the pretty moments; is is celebrating the beautiful. It is grounded in reality but enthralled with ordinary magic. It is life without soft focus, but also without flash.

Domestic Realism is an exploration of life, intellectual and emotional, searching and sleeping, aperture wide open to let in the natural light.

ads, which strive, which fail to yield

read my previous post . a message for mortified . may 05 . 2012