Friday

I wonder what happened.  The neighborhood is quiet except for an incessant sound of jackhammers in the distance.  It forms a background noise hard to discern while subconsciously listening to it for hours.  Then attention  finally grabs hold of it.

I will be with V at the end of the afternoon, then a good portion of the weekend.  Life will be perfect once again.

These are the days when many things add something to life.  The judicious choice of books to read, pleasant to be sure, direct the mind as they may not have in the past.  Time with friends seems more immediate and meaningful.  The sun bathing State Street warms even if the temperature is chill.  The borders between possibility and impossibility blur with possibility crowding out impossibility.  The trees lining the street are barren, yet imagination and memory see the day three weeks hence when their buds will open to leaves displaying an early spring lime color that will turn to darker shades as spring wears on.  A perfunctory kiss and an I love you lingers in the mind longer than normal or expected.  Fears arise, yet abate quickly, merely an anxiety that should not cloud happiness when happiness is felt as reality.

Typing a sentence, no matter how simple, seems a sublime act of creation.

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Published in: on April 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Lynn, you ARE a romantic! That’s good. And your posts seem more and more inspired, probably due to V. Yes?

    Since you start your day with the NYT website (as I do) did you notice Stanley Fish had a op-ed piece that seems relevant to us. Here are a few quotes,

    It’s a great story, full of twists and turns, and now it has been told in extraordinary detail in a book to be published next month: “French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States” (University of Minnesota Press). The book’s author is Francois Cusset, who sets himself the tasks of explaining, first, what all the fuss was about, second, why the specter of French theory made strong men tremble, and third, why there was never really anything to worry about.

    Certainly mainstream or centrist intellectuals thought there was a lot to worry about. They agreed with Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, who complained that the ideas coming out of France amounted to a “rejection of the rationalist tradition of the Enlightenment” even to the point of regarding “science as nothing more than a ‘narration’ or a ‘myth’ or a social construction among many others.”

    This is not quite right; what was involved was less the rejection of the rationalist tradition than an interrogation of its key components: an independent, free-standing, knowing subject, the “I” facing an independent, free-standing world. The problem was how to get the “I” and the world together, how to bridge the gap that separated them ever since the older picture of a universe everywhere filled with the meanings God originates and guarantees had ceased to be compelling to many.

    The solution to the problem in the rationalist tradition was to extend man’s reasoning powers in order to produce finer and finer descriptions of the natural world, descriptions whose precision could be enhanced by technological innovations (telescopes, microscopes, atom smashers, computers) that were themselves extensions of man’s rational capacities. The vision was one of a steady progress with the final result to be a complete and accurate — down to the last detail — account of natural processes. Francis Bacon, often thought of as the originator of the project , believed in the early 17th century that it could be done in six generations.
    —–

    To this hope, French theory (and much thought that precedes it) says “forget about it”; not because no methodological cautions could be sufficient to the task, but because the distinctions that define the task — the “I,” the world, and the forms of description or signification that will be used to join them — are not independent of one another in a way that would make the task conceivable, never mind doable.

    Instead (and this is the killer), both the “I” or the knower, and the world that is to be known, are themselves not themselves, but the unstable products of mediation, of the very discursive, linguistic forms that in the rationalist tradition are regarded as merely secondary and instrumental. The “I” or subject, rather than being the free-standing originator and master of its own thoughts and perceptions, is a space traversed and constituted — given a transitory, ever-shifting shape — by ideas, vocabularies, schemes, models, distinctions that precede it, fill it and give it (textual) being.
    ———

    Obviously the rationalist Enlightenment agenda does not survive this deconstructive analysis intact, which doesn’t mean that it must be discarded (the claim to be able to discard it from a position superior to it merely replicates it) or that it doesn’t yield results (I am writing on one of them); only that the progressive program it is thought to underwrite and implement — the program of drawing closer and closer to a truth independent of our discursive practices, a truth that, if we are slow and patient in the Baconian manner, will reveal itself and come out from behind the representational curtain — is not, according to this way of thinking, realizable.
    ——–

    …what was important about French theory in America was its political implications, and one of Cusset’s main contentions — and here I completely agree with him — is that it doesn’t have any. When a deconstructive analysis interrogates an apparent unity — a poem, a manifesto, a sermon, a procedure, an agenda — and discovers, as it always will, that its surface coherence is achieved by the suppression of questions it must not ask if it is to maintain the fiction of its self-identity, the result is not the discovery of an anomaly, of a deviance from a norm that can be banished or corrected; for no structure built by man (which means no structure) could be otherwise.

    More here:

    http://tinyurl.com/42rwkb

  2. Orla,

    Thanks for the excerpt from the opinion piece. I went to NYT and read the whole thing. Nice article and very interesting.

    I am a romantic. Not many know it though. V has inspired me to a different kind of writing even if it is not better.


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