Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I'm much into the clash between the sometime slog of what passes itself off as academic inquiry and the desire for something otherwise, as my last entry suggests. So perhaps that's why I like assigning Massumi at the end of the semester. His prose and affirmative theories cheer me up:

I have tried to take seriously the idea that writing in the humanities can be affirmative or inventive. Invention requires experimentation. (17)

Prolonging the thought-path of movement, as suggested here, requires that techniques of negative critique be used sparingly. The balance has to shift to affirmative methods: techniques which embrace their own inventiveness and are not afraid to own up to the fact that they add (if so meagerly) to reality. . . . If you don’t enjoy concepts and writing and don’t feel that when you write you are adding something to the world, if only the enjoyment itself, and that by adding that ounce of positive experience to the world you are affirming it, celebrating its potential, tending its growth, in however small a way, however really abstractly—well, just hang it up. (12-13)

The writing tries not only to accept the risk of sprouting deviant, but also to invite it. Take joy in your digressions. Because that is where the unexpected arises. (18)

But he's difficult, too. And his call for enjoyment of writing may seem to be so much wishful thinking and even hypocrisy to my students when I'm simultaneously asking them to revise their final paper proposals, to make them more "professional."

Sigh. Always contradictions. Or maybe it should be: Joy! Always contradictions.

Yes. More like that last one.

For now, though, I'm off to a department meeting.

1 comment:

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