After reading Mary Daly’s Wickedary in a Women’s Rhetoric(s) seminar last semester, I was struck by a missing entry.
I am a transcendental meditator: for those of you unfamiliar with transcendental meditation (TM), the most recognizable name to connect with TM is the Beatles. When the Beatles went to India to study under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they were studying transcendental meditation techniques. I won’t go into too many details about TM right now, but I have been a meditator for 7 years, and I cannot help but notice when words like “transcend,” “transcendental,” or “transcendence” come up, especially in academic texts.
With that in mind, when I first read the Wickedary, I noticed that Daly uses “transcend” words quite often in her re-definition of words. I’ve listed some examples of Daly’s use of the words transcend, transcendental, and transcendence below:
o “Memory n: the power to Re-member; the power to transcend the categories of tidy time, to connect with the sources of instinctive, ecstatic knowledge” (79).
o ‘Nag-Gnosticism n [nag + gnostic “believing in the reality of transcendental knowledge’ –O.E.D.]: the philosophy of those who Sense with certainty the reality of transcendental knowledge and at the same time never cease to Nag our Selves and Others with recurrent awareness of questions and uncertainties; the philosophy of those who overcome the pseudodichotomy between transcendence and immanence, between otherworldliness and worldliness” (83). “Nag-Gnostic. . .Elemental Feminist Philosopher” (147).
o “Moved by Wonder at the absolutely Natural Workings of Elemental Reality, Creative Crones transcend the mummified state that is legitimized and sustained by dead faith in man’s mysteries” (8).
o “[T]he expression of Original Powers and of the Ecstatic existential experience of women breaking free from patriarchal mindbindings is stigmatized by the label ‘essentialist,’ leaving only the grimness of oppression as that which women have in common. Ultimately this reversal/usage functions to negate Hope for Life that transcends the illusion of inclusion in forever male-identified ‘humankind’” (252).
In Anglo-American Feminist Challenges to the Rhetorical Tradition, Krista Ratcliffe also uses transcend and the related word transcendent to talk about Daly’s work:
o “Daly’s transcendent-and-immanent, always mutable process of be-ing within Be-ing (102). . . Materialist (feminist) critics might argue that, by positing a transcendent Be-ing in which Websters may participate, Daly naively assumes that patriarchal ideology and its power structures can be transcended by autonomous agents” (102-103).
In the O.E.D., transcend has many meanings: “1. To pass over or go beyond (a physical obstacle or limit); 2. A. to exceed. B. Theol. To be above and independent of: esp. said of the Deity in relation to the universe. C. intr. To go beyond, go farther. (Similar definitions are found in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2006), The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Fourth Edition (2000), and WordNet 2.1 (2005)). Transcendence is defined as: “1. surpassing eminence or excellence; 2. Elevation or extension beyond ordinary limits; exaggeration, hyperbole obs. Rare. B. transf. A person or thing that transcends classification. C. According to the Kantian philosophy: That which is altogether beyond the bounds of human cognition and thought” (OED) Transcendental is defined as “Super-rational, superhuman, supernatural,” transcendentalism as “idealism” (OED). In Hindu thought, the idea of transcendence is connected to the god Brahman, the largest member of a triumvirate of gods who is seen as both above and a part of physical and psychological being. Brahman transcends the universe within which humans find themselves, while his brothers Vishnu and Shiva enact the process of life, death, and re-birth. In this case, transcend becomes equated with destroy—in order to become one with Brahman, humans must repeatedly give themselves over to Shiva, to die and destroy their physical manifestations until they need no longer be reincarnated. I would argue that Daly needs to consider these definitions and add a new entry to Word Web One of Her Wickedary.
And my (always changing) Wickedary entry:
Transcend: v. (see also transcendental, transcendent, transcendence). To exceed
the constraints of the foreground; to exaggerate the supernatural Archaic Be-ginnings
from which all Websters weave; to destroy the foreground identity in order to re-
birth, un-cover, and dis-cover the Archaic identities of the Back-ground. Also known