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August 21, 2005

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Patrick J. Mullins

That's interesting about Clawson. I just looked up 'the Trip to Bountiful,' which is where I thought 'Softly and Tenderly' was sung over the opening credits, but it said nothing. Your link then finds her as the one who sang it. Then Geraldine Page does that amazing rendition of 'Blessed Assurance' later on. I like Loretta Lynn doing 'Everybody Wants to go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die.' But we all know Heaven is pure hell, which is just devastating, because we have to keep doing the death project, and that just never gets any less tedious.

Jodi

Hi Patrick, I've been reading your book and thinking about how to do a post about it. Of course, I'm particularly charmed by the Alabama references. I was once in a parade (goober parade? peanut parade?) in Dothan. I love "Blessed Assurance," by the way.

Patrick J. Mullins

Yes, Peanut Festival Parade. My sister was the Peanut Festival Queen in 1955, having just won 'Miss Enterprise' (these are still very important to her identity as she pushes 70.) I also saw George Wallace in that parade when I had to sell 'Co'Colas' for the MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) when I was in junior high. Isn't that a hoot?

Jodi

Hoot it is--I can just picture it. I was in the parade as an Azalea Trail Maid (from Mobile). We wore the whole antebellum get up.

Wow on Wallace, noticed your point how he lost an early election because he wasn't enough of a racist. Well, he fixed that, didn't he.

Alain

Jodi

This is a beautiful post. It really ties in well with what we were discussing regarding zion. I think jouissance may add something to the discussion to the degree that it signifies our desire for this longing, a longing for longing if you will. The will would rather will nothingness than not will at all.

John Reeve

Hmmm... I wonder what The Department of Homeland Security might have to say about this. Would they remind us that home is a point where there is no fear of public space?

Would their comments be as revealing as the finale to The Rocky Horror Picture Show?... "I'm gooo----innng Hooooooommmmee!"

I think not; the radically non-sustainable other-world-ness of deviant sexuality is a deviation only sustained in the imagination of Brad and Janet, a deviation born on a Saturday{your Sunday?} night lost to meatloaf, and a deviation only sustainable on the external "moon-drenched shores of [an] androgynous planet, […] sweet Transexual, land of night.”

This loss leaves its survivors crii--ii--I-eye-ying, deprived of the excessive sexuality of rock-and-roll. But their tale remains as the investigators casebook, and they can hitch a ride back to Denton (I used to live in Denton, or rather outside, in Corinth).

But since we cannot know what the DHS (hmmm, in Texas, that acronym used to refer to the dept. of human service…. perhaps it still does) there is no investigator to sum up the paranoid killing of the Doctor with Vogon poetry: “And crawling on the planet's face/ Some insects called the human race/ Lost in time, and lost in space/ And meaning.”

I worry that those people not securely at home now will be removed (or are the non-secure the ones removing?) to preserve the myth of a non-cosmopolitan, demotic, and imaginary Homeland.

This is perverse and I hysterically call for a politics that does precisely the opposite: one that removes the myth to save the people!

Jodi

So, you want to sacrifice Brad and Janet's jouissance? Zizek argues (in a comment on Jacques-Alain Miller) that democracy is incompatible with enjoyment, that the abstract rules and procedures fit for democratic subjects demand the renunciation of enjoyment. Yet, this is impossible--enjoyment inheres in the demand, for one, and returns in another place, for another (icky sentence, this one). Anyway, why not embrace Brad and Janet's fantasy? Why must this be the danger?

To be clear, I'm actually not trying to be overly polemical here. What I'm wondering about is the combination of the two sides of longing and (I'll call it for) the everyday. I don't think we can eliminate either side and the challenge is finding non-murderous ways to live with them.

Jodi

Alain, thanks for your kind words. I was thinking about our exchange from the other post as I wrote it. My hope was to try to find a way to capture the longing that infuses the everyday or the mundane. To my mind, this is what underlies Zizek's use of the Lillith example. My version is less polemical, less edgy, likely less political. But I understand the logic to be the same. It's how I make his point comprehensible to myself and why I don't see it as anti-semitic.

Lars

I like this post very much. It's always interesting when those of us interested in theory and philosophy have to test what we read and think against our everyday lives. And then to test our everyday life against what we read and think!

What I would love is that all of us were made to write a kind of autobiography or at least an essay on the way the ideas we meet and feel close to accord with what we have already felt albeit in a confused manner in our everyday lives. And of course then to show how those same ideas feed back into our lives and change us!

Jodi

Lars,
Thanks so much. I particularly appreciate your kind words because I've been moved by your posts on Appelfeld and Tzili. And part of what has moved me has been the setting of the fields and forests. To me, as you describe them, they seem neither home nor foreign, like those terms are from a plane or way of thinking that doesn't touch or do justice to the experience of fields and forests. The simple language of nature and culture, of civilized and wild is also inadequate. So, I've been pondering your posts, intrigued by the ways they resist getting sucked into easy categories.

At any rate, your idea is wonderful. I like the language of 'ideas we meet' because this is so different from, 'then I studied with Habermas and in the course of working through the theory of communicative action had to confront the limits of his notion of language which of course led me to Lacan.' There is no meeting or encounter in such a presentation. You've gotten quite a head start, I think, in reading and writing as meeting--isn't Spurious in some way journal of meetings, even a kind of experimental travelogue? I hope I can undertake something like you've suggested. I hope others do as well--it would be fascinating.

Oh, one last thing on this, another reason your idea is so compelling to me is that I've been skimming a bit the academic blogs, the daily lives of assistant professors and graduate students. And, while these are fascinating, I've also started to think of the differences between those blogs and the blogs I tend to associate with, what I think of as the theory blogs, and I've started to wonder about why thinking and living are presented in such disparate ways (generally) and what about the challenges of doing the two together, which is another way that I think about your suggestion.

Lars

Thanks Jodi,

academic blogs are very disappointing. There was a volume collecting chapter long autobiographies of philosophers I came across in the library a while back and found it very disappointing.

Derrida says he feels close to Lacan in that both tried to risk language as they wrote as philosophers, as theorists - the way they wrote was always at stake, risked, according to what was never merely for either a topic of research.

But that same risk is ever present in literary authors like Cixous, Duras and others. That's why, I think, when I finished all my outstanding research projects back in May, I turned to literature, trying to attend to a kind of telling that we meet as readers.

*Tzili* is interesting insofar as Appelfeld says he is trying with that novella to create an art that answers to a missing naivete. A naivete, no doubt linked to the silence he experienced in the fields and the forests. A silence I think he draws on in his writing.

I think the task I've suggested, a kind of autobiography, is already ongoing at *I Cite* and other blogs. A task which happens despite everything else that may be said, as though it is possible to separate a saying, a telling, from the content of what is said. Or perhaps it would be possible to couch this in terms of a separation between latent and manifest content.

What would it mean to called, told, such that the very place where you are is altered? And when that place is a blog, who are you, writing? Who have you been elected to be? I suppose the task I envisage would be to redouble the autobiography that already reveals itself - to find words to mark it as such. But then I guess it doesn't have an 'as such'!


Alain

Lars

That is really very insightful. I have been away from academia for more than 10 years and blogging has afforded me the opportunity to rediscover the authors and issues that first attracted me to philosophy. And this exploration is immensely personal, even though I do not usually discuss it in that way. Why do I care about Derrida or Arendt, or politics and social justice? And why do I want to discuss these things with complete strangers? It is clearly something more than idle curiosity, but what? I think you have got me thinking about this in a whole new way. Thank you.

Lars

Thanks Alain,

Complete strangers? No - no strangers among bloggers, whom you can know as you would never know someone in the meat world. And by this I refer not to the depths of intimacy and familiarity, but by effects of words and pictures left to stand for themselves, the writer present to you only as a wave that is falling back into the sea, that is to say, in a movement of withdrawal.

Ballard admired Burroughs, but when he met him, they were too different for a friendship to begin. But of course a friendship had begun even as Ballard read Burroughs - one not dependent upon meeting in the meat world. A friendship that, marvellously, in reading a blog, might be returned by the blogger (the comments box). Or that is implicit in blogging itself, in being addressed by another as they withdraw from you, leaving their trace, a kind of call, a saying, in what is written.

Friendship for the unknown - this is very beautiful. That is the 'to read' blogging allows. And to write? Friendship with unknown readers - this is the community Bataille writes of in *On Nietzsche*. Friendship set back into the luck of the internet - into the luck of this strange new medium wherein one blog calls out to another. Into the 'there is' of blogging. 'Reading and writing as meeting', as Jodi puts it.

Alain

Lars

Thanks again. That is a wonderful way of putting it. The "Es Gibt" of blogging. That is very cool.

Jodi

Lars and Alain,

Re: 'The place that you are is altered'--Zizek would describe this in terms of traversing the fantasy insofar as enjoyment is the place of the subject and the fantasy organizes or structures our relation to enjoyment. This may be way too dramatic, too overblown, too unable to account for other kinds of alteration. It may be that the alterations are subtle, like the effects of the elements on my poor garden gnomes.

At any rate, 'as such'--I wonder if this is actually possible, that is, if the efforts are deliberate, then what will slip past and through? It's almost as if 'as such' involves a control or transparency that would attempt to deny or maybe bridge manifest and latent content or enunciating and enuciated. Or, this could just be my giant cop out: the idea of really trying to present or reflect directly on the 'meetings' actually starts to frighten me, because I know I will fail. It can be much easier to post a photo with some lines around it that may or may not be cryptic that may or not be ironic.

I am totally inconsistent right now, as I muddle through thinking about the exchange thus far. Maybe the challenge or the bravery lies in taking the risk, knowing one will fail. It could also be that literature is an ideal for this kind of risk taking (back to Derrida, Cixous) and then I wonder about the sites/texts of overlap between theory/philosophy and literature (I've been reading Ranciere's short voyages to the land of the people, this should surely count as literature, if anyone is counting).

Jodi

One last thing on strangers and friends in blogging. I've been struck by the fact that I care what happens among blogs and bloggers, that exchanges affect me, that, as with 'meaty' interactions, I can want to avoid them, get sick of them, and yet continue because of something that I experience as an obligation of even commitment.
And, when exchanges run amok, or when there are sites that seem to me to be based on scoring points, on a kind of debate (on theory, say)that something is lost or missing from what I value. Yet, insofar as these are a kind of stretching or even transgression, they can have in them a kick or appeal, a feel like an indulgence that I regret the next morning.

Lars

I think on sites where no one has to score points - where it isn't a matter of debate or discussion, where commenters allow themselves to be part of the unfolding of that writing - there is already the play of a latent content, a Saying, a Telling.

What is it David Lynch said about finishing his new film? 'Making a film is a beautiful mystery. You go deep into the wood, and you don't want to come out of that wood, but the time is coming very soon when I will have to.' Well, there is a kind of blogging where you never need to come out of the woods.

I think literature and philosophy, theory and the unconscious are all present in such writing. Cixous is certainly exemplary here, but she has access to publishers, the chance of publication and so on, which the rest of us will not have had. Until now, that is.

Jodi

Interesting: you suggest ways that debate and discussion constrain thought, hinder the hard work of unfolding. It's perhaps an ethos of thinking deeply counter to traditions that value combat, the pro and con of argumentation, the disputative model of thinking. What is appealing in your suggestions is how Saying and Writing, while non-disputative, are not caught off from others, not apart from dialogue. So there is a being-with that is entailed, but this being-with has a different character. And, it would be interesting to me think more about what this kind of being with is like.

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