SLettrineO I’ve written what are probably the obligatory first few posts, and they’re sitting in draft format looking bald and unsubtle and somewhat unpostable. I mean, they probably are bald and unsubtle, but still! I keep looking at them and thinking “so which of you are my very first post on my brand new blog?” And each of them keep replying “I’m a bit too theoretical, aren’t I? And besides, I look a bit clunky all on my own!” and occassionally “You sound very sure about me… are you sure you’re that sure about me?” And it’s true, really. I can’t think any of the work I’m doing outside of the context of… well, the rest of the work I’m doing. Which is going to make finishing the thesis hell, I’m sure! But at the moment it feels a bit like if I talk about any one bit of what I’m working on, it just appears to be… well, isolated. Lacking nuance. Or something.

I was going to give a sketch of what my big, thesis-size project is, but I’m realising that the reason I want to do that is I want the work I’ve done to look balanced – not too much about Levinasian ethics, not too much about Foucauldian biopower, not too much about the kinds of suffering you find in amongst Western and often white privilege, not too much about the normalisation of bodies… not too theoretical, not too practical.

It’s an interesting little paradox. I start a blog so I can be, apparently, wildly parenthetical, writing about the bits and pieces that so often get left out around the edges, and then want to offer up everything I’ve ever thought out of a misplaced defensiveness. Yet the way that I think and write is totally about parentheses. So maybe a few thoughts about my blog name…

First the name comes from a tendency in my writing – I use emdashes, parentheses, commas, semicolons, even footnotes a lot. My sentences tend to be long – not Foucault long, thank god, but long enough. I never want to leave out the bits that aren’t quite key to the rest of my work, but seem important. Given the work I’m doing, that’s probably not entirely surprising: any good poststructuralist is looking for the apparently absent bits that hem in what is present. Oftentimes I think about the modern obsession with sameness, unity, completeness and so on as produced by a kind of carving away what seems not important; and yet of course I know that it’s exactly that ‘unimportant’ stuff that’s key. And so those parts of texts which are marginalised through footnoting or brackets – those are the parts where the argument really seems to happen, really seems to take hold.

Oddly, this makes me think of studying Husserl in undergrad. I hated him then (and I’m not really sure how I feel about him now) precisely because he wanted to bracket off the world. Maybe it’s the Nietzschean in me (I almost wrote Nietzsche, but having Nietzsche in me seems a bit obscene!) but I had issues with precisely that move. I found it hard to go along with anything Husserl tried to argue because over and over again, I just kept thinking “But no, wait, this is ridiculous. You can’t just pretend the world doesn’t exist, as if thought were all that truly existed! It’s just craziness! And bad, patriarchal, white, able-bodied Cartesian craziness.” I guess this is where it started. All too often the bits that were bracketed out were the realm of those othered, sent away so philosophy could be Philosophy, so theory could be Theory. Othered in very different ways, excluded and included in very different ways, but nonetheless…

Yet theses, argument, even language can only really operate through what it disavows. So I guess that this blog isn’t just for me to write bits and pieces from my thesis, or to write my crazy nerdy analyses of Joss Whedon’s amazing work that I can’t let myself procrastinate with while chapters await… I hope, anyway, that this blog will let me write the bits that don’t fit elsewhere, the bits that are permanently in brackets; but most of all, I hope that this blog will give me the chance to ponder and consider and mull over and most of all hear about the parentheses already in my work, the ones I can’t see because of the argument I’m making (arguments that are – cross fingers – at least a little bit significant; enough that they’re worth making).

Well… anyway, she says, speaking into the silence… that’s what I’d like…

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