Response 2 – Leanna/Story (2.1)


Jason Helm Response
Following Greg Ulmer’s lead, I will refrain from critiquing this Leanna/Story, opting instead for a post-critique. Post-criticism immunizes itself from critique by engaging the object on its own terms. Typically, this involves imitating the object’s genre or medium.


Stumped. Confused. Defeated. Dead end. A tunnel that stops short, but connects ideas. My students would head out to Stumphouse. To drink, and smoke weed. There was always something scary about it at night. Perhaps a wolf was in the dark, mysterious cave. Perhaps many. The manchildren would dare each other in.

In my years teaching there, I never went, never wanted to. If it was fear, it was fear of seeing my students. Seeing what? Being seen?


Kitsch. Pop. When we were children we would wander in wonder. Our parents would worry. There was danger on the way to grandma’s house. Some lurked in alleys, some in playgrounds. Sometimes IT was under a sewer grate.

But mostly we were safe, and they were worried.

Our teachers have to remind us to wander, even if it worries them. It would be so safe to climb a five paragraph jungle gym above the tanbark of vague generalizations. But they know we must grow, and try, and fail, and learn. Maybe will be at Grandma’s after all.

But are teachers the robust woodsman, ready to swoop in rescue us from harm or do they play the role of the wolf itself, biting at our heals, driving us through that uncanniest danger.


It was in a cave that Shelley found the prophecies of the Cumaean Sybil. Tattered pages foretelling a last man, Vaughn’s Yorick (but neither the Danish jester nor the British parson). Her cave was womb-like, a source of l’ecriture feminine – for a text is a matrix, not a line. Something the medusa could find hysterical.


Into the wild, like Goldilocks or Alexander, finding childhood just right in the barren wastes up north, both here (American) and there (foreign). It’s in the wild that we realize that danger is just the backside of beauty, just a slightly different angle. Leanna paints motherhood starkly across a white canvas: nourishment amid barrenness.