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Hypatia 18.4 (2003) 1-2

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a Poem by Patricia M. Locke

From the back
scrouched down
on my haunches, in my leather
jacket and jeans, this forty year
old woman was mistaken
for a man.

When I was twenty and my breasts
were celebratory and high and
my hair poured light down to my waist,
I read the Critique of Pure Reason,
in which the only possible reader
is a man.

I wanted to be one, sitting there
aware that men in class saw
me, exhibit A, and thought:
she can't read Kant,
her mind won't work
with a priori categories, or care
if abstract space and time match
a living world. Only I seemed
to notice that the rational is not
all that's real.

Feeling my way, I learned
to allude to "the third Critique."
I wrote of the beautiful
and the sublime, my passion
with the coolness of Kant. [End Page 1]
Adrian Piper tried another tack:

She snapped pictures in a mirror
of her self in time and space.
Blurred naked images showed
Adrian's a posteriori status
was a sham. As she looked,
she disappeared into a haze
of light, caught in the antinomy
of freedom and the body's necessity.

At twenty, Adrian rode the bus,
a washcloth hanging from her mouth,
straight-faced challenge to the purity
of reason.

She turned forty
with forty minutes of funk, a dancer
back to the camera, sneakers
and jeans, dark hair curled to her hips.

With a sure rhythm, she poses
Kantian questions redefined.
Let me join her:
full of soul, in the flesh.

© by Patricia M. Locke

Patricia M. Locke teaches both poetry and philosophy at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. Her interest in aesthetics extends from her philosophy Ph.D. dissertation, Hegel on Architecture (1984) through her nearly complete book, Recollecting Architecture: A Phenomenology of Ambiguity. She writes lyric poetry as well as articles on Hegel, Merleau-Ponty, Racine, and Proust. Readers interested in Adrian Piper's philosophical work on Kant and her art works may refer to for representative images and a bibliography. (



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Archived 2009
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