Friday, May 05, 2006


Liminality is the state of existing on a threshold. I used to love liminality. I was all about liminality. Oh, how liminal it all is, I said. I had a liminal relationship. I wrote about textual liminality. I limned, and studied the Arte of Limning.

But I've had it with liminality. Liminality and I are through. Thresholds are a great way of evading things, of escaping confrontation and definition.

Recently, I was placed, through no choice of my own, in a liminal position at work, caught between high and low, sort of affiliated with a department, and sort of not. It was hell. No matter how hard I tried, I could not fit in.

I thought myself lucky at the time, I felt so protean. I fancied I could move seamlessly between both worlds, and get the best of each. Of course this was a lie. I was really trying to cross up. I thought for a second I was let in, but in fact people were only indulging me.


Iris said...

Hmmm. Liminality is such a lovely word. A state of being in between. I like the idea of thresholds, actually - flexible spaces for movement - foreground, background, across and through. While I have had my own frustrations with liminality, I also feel a certain freedom of expression there. If one chooses this flexibility, it means we can move across these thresholds into various parts of ourselves, keeping them as private, or as public, as we choose, rather than being boxed in for someone else's perceptual convenience. I'm all for keeping them guessing!

muse said...

Welcome, Iris!

I agree with you, but only to an extent. When you are forced into a liminal position, and cannot seem to get further than the threshold, it's not very much fun. Because you're sort of "neither, nor,"-- those above you place you behind the threshold, and those below you place you over it. The original posting was about being an in-between (postdoctoral) scholar, and feeling caught between graduates and faculty. Grads saw me as faculty, faculty kind of treated me a bit like a grad student. It wasn't fun.