Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Academia: Part V

I’ve been coming back to it slowly, as after an accident. It still feels tentative, uncertain, like it could stop again at any moment, but I don’t think it will. After almost three years of paralysis, writing is starting to feel like what I do again.

Several months after Phil left, I began keeping a journal. At first, the entries were sparse – a paragraph or two every couple of weeks – but eventually I found a rhythm, writing a page or more at a sitting, two to three times a week. I kept this up for over a year, until James and I made our pact to start blogs exactly three months ago. The rest is in the archives.

I far prefer blogging to journal writing, which had started to feel like I was talking to myself. Here, there is at least the intimation of a reader—or better, an audience, since a reader remains a mute possibility, whereas an audience has the temerity to respond. I am, I have realized, intensely dialogical in my thinking and feeling: I need others to converse with, to empathize with, to argue and reach consensus with. Although I am learning the merits of solitude, I still require the fuel of relationship, with mentors and colleagues and lovers and friends and the ones in between. There hardly seems any point otherwise.

When I write here, I imagine Arit reading, and Oblivia, and Atomic and D. Ada tells me go deeper; Maz tells me to be let myself be funny. (I’ll be funny again soon, Maz, I promise!) Lately, people I don’t know have been writing to tell me things, and I can’t help but wonder who they are and how they got here and what their stories are.

But the one who is always with me here is James, though I don’t always understand why or what we are to each other. I suppose that I love him anyway, because we’ve been telling each other stories for a long time now, and neither of us has stopped listening yet.

But what does this have to do with academia? Nothing, and everything, and maybe this:

Theory is not something that comes from on high: it is the (re)making sense of our own stories so that they make sense to ourselves and others.1

Or this:

And thus the circus, the transvestite, the clown, the acrobat and the stripper are returned to the centre of the world, so that representation is ultimately a game of the stage, the bedroom and the streets, all at the same time, but also funny. . . If this is a literate, intellectual happiness, it is a happiness, a laughter, which is possible only because one is literate, intellectual.2

So here’s to laughing our asses off. And to Ioan.

1. Davies, Ioan. Cultural Studies and Beyond: Fragments of Empire. (New York: Routledge, 1995), 4.

2. Ibid., 179.


Caron said...

I am one of your audience, a fellow academic (Communication at USC). Just fell upon your blog a few weeks ago, for which I am quite thankful. Your personal and professional "journies" (cliche but apt) are ones with which I can empathize. I see some of you in me (or is it some of me in you?). Regardless, it's been refreshing to follow you along, you who are certainly more skilled/eloquent than I at encapsulating so many of the feelings, thoughts, and impressions of contemporary urban life. Seems like you have found your rhythm now in this setting. I look forward to peaking in, if I might, to follow its development - especially when some of that humor sneaks back in! Best, C

Vila H. said...

Thanks for writing back, Caron -- you're welcome here anytime. Also, please accept my heartfelt condolences on your country's recent election tragedy. Have you considered applying for a post-doc in Canada? We don't have Republicans up here...

Caron said...

Oy, no kidding! I have -- and so have many of my friends, colleagues, and relatives -- given it SERIOUS thought. Just weighing the Vancouver vs. Toronto choice now... :-)