World-Traveling: Shirking off the Arrogant Perception

Lugones asks us, in Playfulness, “World”-Traveling, and Loving Perception, to open our eyes to arrogant perception as the barrier complicating issues in trying to love and understand women (and men) across cultural and racial divisions. She offer’s “world-traveling” as a solution to breaking down these barriers, as long as one might travel with playfulness and are open to exploration of what makes one at ease in the worlds that they visit. She asserts that to failing to love (or lovingly perceive) another is to fail to identify with them. This failure, therefore, can be overcome by “world-travelling”, the epitome of putting oneself in another’s shoes. Finally, she believes that seeing oneself as a world-traveler means understanding a pluralist self, that there is no one underlying “I”. (Incidentally, Lugones’ essay reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s statement in the passage of 1 Corinthians 9:19-22: “To win as many as possible… I have become all things to all people”. Was his premise the precursor to Lugones’ concept of world-traveling?)

Lugones, in the reflection of her relationship with her mother, assumes that the ‘servitude’ of a mother is abuse from the hands of those who receive the service. If we were to counter that assumption and argue that this is not servitude by active love by demonstration, and therefore not abusive, Lugones would lack the basis of her argument for why she was unable to ‘truly’ or “wholly’ love her mother as self-identified.

This leads to the second assumption Lugones makes in her argument – that to fail to love another is indication of the failure to identify with them. One might counter this assertion with the saying that you might identify with someone yet be unable to love that person. While, personally, I lean towards Lugones rationale I believe this is an assumption that could be argued from different perspective.

Third (as noted below, and now added in-line ☺) Lugones assumes that one must be playful to be able to successfully participate in world-traveling and thereby viewing others with loving perception versus arrogant perception. While it would be infinitely more difficult, I do not believe that a serious and somber is excluded from the ability to be a successful world-traveler with a loving perception.

I found it interesting that Maggie (in class) grappled with the requirement of playfulness for successful world-traveling. Inherent in this struggle I believe there is room for critique. The concept of playfulness is core to Lugones concept of world-traveling. She might have thought of a broader perspective of readers who would be struggling to understand her concept and might have fleshed out this idea a bit better. It was not until towards the end of her section on playfulness that I felt that I personally grasped what she was getting at. I was saddened that Maggie might leave the class feeling like she herself would be excluded from being a ‘world-traveler’ by her self-perceived inability or lack of desire to enjoy play. (OH! That would be an assumption… I’ll go back and add that!)

Other than that concern, I really enjoyed Lugones concept of world-traveling and was able to relate her ideas back to actual experiences in my own life. I understand and have seen the effect of arrogant perceptions in my life, and her essay made me reconsider how I relate to a certain woman a work, with whom (in reading this essay) I perceive arrogantly. While she hasn’t been back in the office since the reading, I am actively awaiting her return so I make correct my erring perception and attempt in one small way to make a difference. Lugones essay is the second of our readings which has caused me in some way to act – Anzaldua’s Mestiza’s consciousness being the other.

Lugones, M. (1987). Playfulness, “World”-Traveling, and Loving Perception.Hypatia, 2(2), 3.


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