I’m passionate. I’m inspired. I’m perplexed & troubled.
As I am FINALLY beginning to be able to focus on my classes following my traverse through all that red tape comprising the first 2 months of the academic year, I am happy to note that I finally had a class session today that really troubled me. It left me thinking… and who better to share this with than you? In the interest of the aims and goals of this blog, I submit the wall I am up against.
Aaaaaaaaaand We’re Walking (this is me giving you some context)…
Of course, we were discussing Foucault. We specifically discussed his 1976 Lecture (Chapter 1 of Foucault’s Society Must Be Defended) & “Morality and Practice of the Self” (Chapter 3 of Foucault’s History of Sexuality Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure). These passages were used in order to discuss the genealogical philosophical approach (three-word definition: Similar to ethnography) & introduce the class to some basic applied ethics. Discussion began by focusing on Foucault’s 1976 Lecture. I was fairly confident with what was being discussed (the proliferation of power, institutional/systematic relations to power, totalitarian theory being critiqued through instances of subjective resistance), we took a short break, and then we shifted to the ‘self-formation of the ethical subject.’
And.. .. We’re.. ..
We shifted to the second reading of the day (Morality and Practice of the Self), which was there in order to expose and engage us with applied ethics. We were aiming to use this brief reading in order to discuss the perpetuation of the apparatus and mechanisms of power as seen through the ethical subject. What particularly interested me in my initial read of the chapter was how the ethical subject’s morality is informed through this apparatus of power. This connection made sense to me following the discussion of the 1976 Lecture, but then I got to thinking about a recent short paper I composed that discussed revolutionary writing and the efficacy of evoking subjective emotional and corporeal affect while attempting to engage the reader in theoretical sociopolitical critique. Put it all together and what do you get?
So, I ended up raising a couple of questions regarding a very salient disconnect I’ve noticed between the rhetoric (what I am referring to here is whatever radical theoretical discourse and/or sociopolitical critique produced) & the formation and maintenance of livelihood (which specifically in this instance includes, but is most certainly not limited to the praxis of moral ethics) among radical scholars and activists. Are you still with me? My questions were in reference to a paramount issue among radical intellectual sociopolitical dissenters: The contention between the scholarship & the personal convictions/actions of the intellectuals that form it. The personal is political, indeed. Those of you who have been following this blog, know that this contention is one of the major catalysts in the generation of this blog.
Here’s a Chisel to Eventually Break this Wall.. .. Over Time..
I am at the threshold of attempting to think through critical rhetorical approaches of a number revolutionary and radical writers/activists, while juxtaposing said approaches to their demographical and ethnographical information which will be gathered through genealogical research. I want to do this in order to give myself a breadth of information concerning said contention in hopes of identifying trends that transcend historical/cultural/economic contexts. Such identifications would allow me to discuss the aforementioned contention more fully and in a more informed way. I know, I know, intellects and activists of the past have proposed seemingly clear articulations of what is really going on within that disconnect, wrapped it up in a bow, and put it into neat anthologies to be bought and sold to the minds and hearts of the budding and aspiring. But I am suggesting it’s not that easy and neat to package. Every day, in every way this contention is getting messier while becoming more codified than the day that preceded it. As an aspiring writer of radical sociopolitical critique/theory, I am compelled to actively engage this troubling issue. Of course I do not plan or want to come up with a universal proposition of cause or totalitarian resolve to this dissonance. I want to be able to take the time this project may take in order to thoroughly contextualize this disconnect (while trying to avoid abstraction) and articulate any significant trends and juxtaposed ironies I find in hope of exposing the messiness of the disconnect and its implications.
**This project is in service to a broader issue that I want to explore, but I am compelled to start here.
In Case You’re Wanting to Help…
I would like constructive advice or pointers to current or previous discourse on the disconnect mentioned in this blogpost. Pretty much anything relevant to this issue is welcomed. Feel free to propose names of radicals you’d like to learn more about, or any points of contextualization you find might be interesting to explore in relation to the issue raised here. Reblogging this post, tweeting it, sharing it on facebook (or other forms of social media), emailing it to a trusted scholar you know, bringing it up at work, or in class are ALL VERY helpful. I mean, I have to start somewhere. Even replying with a message of encouragement goes a significantly long way. As I said, this is in its outset, so anything constructive and relevant will be much appreciated.
This attempt WILL NOT be futile.
Until Next Time Comrades,