Hello from the American Midwest.
I'm writing this newsletter as I battle some sort of horrendous sickness, which involves a slight fever, chills, all kinds of body aches, and a painful cough that shakes the insides. Two at-home COVID tests have said it is not COVID, but whatever it is, it's evil.
It came on fast and hard. I felt the first scratch in my throat on Thursday, and by Friday, I was sure I was sick. Come Saturday, everyone in my family was sick. As I write this on Sunday, I feel horrid. I'm hoping this is the worst of it and that I'll start to feel better soon. Of course, being sick means everything is difficult. The result will be a short newsletter this week.
If you've been following along on the [S][J][P] site, you'll know I've just started to read Alice Jardine's excellent intellectual biography of Julia Kristeva.
I picked this up on a whim, and I was hooked right away when I started reading it. Jardine's writing style is what I wish more academic writing was like. It's personal, honest. Here are a few sentences that demonstrate this style.
Yes, I decided to take the risk of figuring out who Julia Kristeva is for me today. I decided to take seriously one of the most significant things I have learned from Kristeva: the importance of the intimate. I am following my desire to better understand how she connects her vie intime with the thought processes that she makes public through her constant writing. That is something I want to learn to do better myself (p. 9).
[Kristeva] explains that she swims through life, traveling through herself, living for the most part in a “vertical present tense” close to the logic of the unconscious: “Je me voyage.” For her, what is important is to move along in life and writing, pulled by pure curiosity, just seeing where it all leads [...] My attention really perks up here, for that is the way I have lived as well, with way less illustrious results I am afraid. But the same lack of a plan characterizes my life as well (p. 15-16).
In addition to this, Jardine writes in a remarkably clear way, which does not skimp on the depth of complexity of the subject she is writing about. Here is one passage where Jardin explains her reasons for writing the book:
*The world we are living in needs Kristeva’s strong ethical drive as a cosmopolitan and contestatory intellectual;
*It needs her insistence on thinking not about identity, but about how to achieve and value what she calls universal singularity; *It needs her strong insistence on secularism and a new, renewed form of humanism, a transvaluation of classical religion, with the infinite Chain of Being coming to us through books rather than through God and religion;
*It needs her valuing of the arts and literature as unique forms of thought, as when she emphasized recently in China, agreeing with a colleague, that “the only way to confront totalitarian thought is to learn and to ensure that new generations are taught the plurality of languages, literatures, and mentalities of the world, and how to problematize and analyze them”;
*It needs her ability to embrace, indeed embody, marginalization and vulnerability. It needs her insistence on all the edges of subjectivity: mental illness, delinquency, mysticism, maternity. And it needs her ideas on disability as not a lack to be fixed through charity but rather an opportunity, not a deprivation but rather an irreducible singularity;
*It needs Kristeva’s reflection on “new forms of revolt,” given that revolt seems to be the order of the day on a global scale.
Look at how much is in this and how readable it is!
I suspect I'll be posting lots from this text over the coming weeks.
My writing is stalled out because I'm sick, as I said above. In addition to this, I'm at the end of a semester/academic year, which means I've got lots of time-sensitive stuff to get done.
Even when I'm writing at my best, I'm a slow writer. It takes me a good amount of time to put together enough good sentences to have a solid paragraph. I usually start by writing bad sentences and then, through lots of editing and refining, make them into good (or at least not bad) ones. This process takes time, and time is something in short supply.
Be all that as it may, I'm still plugging away. More words will come.
I'll be presenting something about an idea I'm calling The Discourse of the Algorithm at the next Monthly Members Meeting of the Lacanian Compass this coming Wednesday. Preparing has taken up a good chunk of time, but I'm excited to present what I've come up with.
Last month was the best month for downloads of InForm; there were just over 800!
If I can get another episode out in April, I might be able to have a repeat of those kinds of numbers. But... I don't have any recording sessions on my calendar this month, but I've got a few interview requests out. I'm hoping some of them will pan out.
That's it for this week. I've got to try to do things while it feels like this sickness (whatever it is) is trying to murder me.
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And, as always, make glorious mistakes.