A review by vonnemiste
The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson


"The mother of an adult child sees her work completed and undone at the same time. If this holds true, I may have to withstand not only rage, but also my undoing. Can one prepare for one's undoing? How has my mother withstood mine? Why do I continue to undo her, when what I want to express above all else is that I love her very much?

What is good is always being destroyed: one of Winnicott's main axioms."

- Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts , pg. 140

"Let's face it. We're undone by each other. And if we're not, we're missing something. If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact. It may be that one wants to, or does, but it may also be that despite one's best efforts, one is undone, in the face of the other, by the touch, by the scent, by the feel, by the prospect of the touch, by the memory of the feel."

- Judith Butler, Undoing Gender

This is simply one of the most astonishing books I've ever read. It's about motherhood and kinship and family, but its also about sex and romance and queerness and gender and life and death and birth and dying. It's simultaneously a memoir of Nelson's romance with her partner the artist Harry Dodge, who is genderfluid, and their life together, as well as an account of Nelson's pregnancy, as well as a meditation on heady anthropological and theoretical questions about gender performance, sexuality, identity, family, and the self. I've never been so moved by a theoretical text, nor have I ever been so challenged and put through intellectual hoops by a memoir. I'll be thinking about and processing this wondrous book for a long time.