So far this stupid little jaunt away from the center of the universe hasn’t taught me anything about how to live a life post-transition and it sure doesn’t seem likely that I’m going to get to Oakland or San Francisco, or drive up to Portland, to Seattle or Olympia, and find somebody there who will sit me down and explain what I need to do to exist like a three-dimensional person who cares about her body and her mind and her life and her friends and her lovers and is able to exist in a relationship with another person.
I think about this idea a lot, and I empathize with Maria. I think we’ve probably even discussed it in class before, but why is it that we feel moving to a different place, getting away, meeting new people, etc. will make us (feel) any different? I guess, at least what I’m thinking right now, is that it’s a mechanism for deflecting the thought that the issue lies within us — and not within the place we’re in or the people around us.
James expresses something similar after meeting Maria. He’s sad and stagnant and confused in his life, and for a moment in Wal-Mart, Maria represents the possibility of reaching something more within himself. But James’s optimism tanks when he and Maria head to his apartment. Chapter 15 opens with James’s inner dialogue as he realizes “this girl isn’t going to give him the adventure in personal growth, or at least the cool story, that he was sort of hoping for.”
When I wrote my first essay on Giovanni’s Room, I explored the idea of whether or not the self can be sought externally. To this day, I believe James Baldwin argued that we cannot seek the solution to our questions of identity anywhere else but internally. This is to say that we, like David, will be the same person whether we are in the United States or in a shitty apartment in Paris.
It seems to me, at least at this point, that Binnie is conveying this same notion. In New York, Maria couldn’t get a grip on her dormant emotions or passivity, and she hasn’t yet been able to do so in Nevada either.
As I side note, I do agree with James’s blog post to a certain extent, and I think the questions he’s raised about whether manic pixie dream girls exist through their images presented to us or to other characters is pretty interesting. To me, Maria was somewhat of an atypical manic pixie dream girl to James (the character) because she gave to him a face or an embodiment of an identity that had long evaded him. But the more time Maria and James spend together, the more the novelty wears off.
So I guess I’d like to pose these questions:
How much of ourselves can we ‘find’ in being somewhere else?
Where do Maria and James go from here? I guess this question also relates to James’s question of why James/what is his role. How much can they do for each other? Will they be good for each other? (I don’t mean romantically)
Do you think the bleakness of Star City is meant to juxtapose the grandiose of New York? If so, do you think this has any larger significance?