Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm not the percent you think survives

(I need sanctuary in the pages of this book).

The upcoming syllabus of the course on Hannah Arendt's THC has been quasi-leaked, and sports the following authors:
"Plato, C. Wright Mills, Allan Kaprow, Martin Heidegger, Herbet Marcuse, Roland Barthes, Arlie Hochschild, Karl Marx, Leo Strauss, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Aristotle, Tim Ingold, Thucydides, André Gorz, Steven Shapin and Simon Shaffer..."

It will be interesting to see how these thinkers are all woven together--or not. Sometimes the best courses are the frenetic ones, that sort of bounce all over the place. When what is experienced is the buoyancy and flightiness of thinking as an activity:

"It is like seeing two mountain climbers standing before a wild mountain stream that is tossing boulders along its course: one of them light-footedly leaps across it, using the rocks to cross, even though behind and beneath him they hurtle into the depths." (N. Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks)

Finally finished and sent out a nearly final draft of my MA thesis "Please/Forgive: On Natality in Arendt and Nietzsche". As I almost wrote to my readers, "I often wanted to scrap this essay and start from scratch, but since that impulse didn't prevail, here it is!" Well, I may have undersold it, especially since I think it is quite good at moments. But, as I also said, if I had to address the question of forgiveness again I would approach it from a totally different angle. I think there is an effort in the text to try and consolidate a heroic, no doubt melodramatic subject of superhuman 'overcoming.' To the extent that Nietzsche's incisive observation holds that every philosopher constructs his own system out of a moral prejudice, that essay was an autobiographical testament to the desire to get my shit together.

But I've recently been taken by the COST of such a project. In multiple sense of the word, but mostly in this regard: the projection of that kind of superhuman confidence is bullshit--that is, it is the occasion for a sort of hypocritical event, the closure of the gap between the plurality of experienced, felt selves: this leads to a hysterical overdetermination of subjectivity I think, of a reactive posture.

Lauren Berlant recently wrote about the "combover subject" and I love the figure! How would Nietzsche have felt had he started to bald?

Tonight will be an exercise in embracing, that is, restylizing, my combover. J. is going out w/ a boy he's met (i know, i know, old news by now--sorry for being so repetitively boring!) and it is inevitable that we will see one another out. Our mutual friend is gonna be there with a boy I no longer talk to because it got really out of hand so I don't have him to spend the night with, getting drunk at the bar, being distracted and reassured. And the boy I wanted to spend the night with just bailed on me, and made it sound like he isn't really that interested in seeing me again. Whatever. It's lame that boys get so stupid. <= see how I did that! As if I were now "Man" or "Girl" or "Woman" or wolf or bug or moon rock and not one of these stupid boys myself! hahaha...

My former boss--an amazing queer theorist and personal hero--tells me about this woman Catherine Millet who writes this amazingly torrid tell-all (The Sexual Life of Catherine M.) that rivals Sade's 120 Days of Sodom. This same fearless author finds out that her husband has been having an affair and is overcome by jealousy, and her next book, Jealousy is all about dealing with it. This queer-theorist friend of mine says, "Even I still feel jealous... X will say something about one of his dates and it hits a nerve!" and I am so relieved! I'd always felt like a failure for not being able to face my jealousy and dominate it into submission to my desire to be cool with an open-relationship. It was a terrible feeling: letting myself down was also letting J. down, who would then rip into me for being such a failure... People keep saying to me, "Maybe you just can't do it," and I say to myself, "My grandfather went into Catholic elementary school a lefty and graduated Catholic elementary school a righty: I believe in the utter plasticity and discipline-ability of the body." Foucault did, too. The gay Foucault--though, if he had lived longer he would have, I think, been quite pleased with the rise of queer theory--even felt we could begin to exercise these practices on ourselves: askesis baby: practices of pleasure! (Enter Bersani...)

Who knows. I'm confident that I will see someone cute to dance with, and who knows, go home with. (duh!) And I'm also confident that I will be cool with seeing J. out with this boy. That he's going out with someone else doesn't foreclose the possibility that I will see him again. I need to stop feeling like every time I see him will be the last. It over-loads our time together, blocks it up with an affect of inchoate disappointed expectation. Mostly, though, J. WANTS to see other people, and I should be happy for him that he is. (It isn't always easy...--duh...) But that it is easier to default to a position of wounded pride or an offended sense of propriety is no justification for the dominance of that posture in my repertoire of responses. When I was struggling with J.'s relationship with M. not too long ago I had to admit to myself that there was a part of me that was turned on by it, and so I couldn't really be angry or put off: I was pleased by the situation even as I was terrified by the possible implications of it all, and in my better moments I was able to amplify that feeling of pleasure, to take comfort in the pleasure that was somehow of a kind with the pleasure that was felt by J. and M.--that we were somehow doing something hot and caring together, and my role in it was to understand, to encourage, and to be strong enough not to feel threatened. (I failed on that front, which is why we aren't boyfriends... but, whatever...)

Ok, time to get the fuck onto a dance floor. Tomorrow I do my taxes, but will only file them if the government is giving ME money. Otherwise, I'm taking a page out of Henry's book and I'm gonna resist out of probity and principle... and rage.

Which leads me to my final thought of the night:


(Both charts are courtesy of Mother Jones.)

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