Saturday, October 23, 2010

Active Days, Active Mind

So I was thinking a little while ago about my job and my thinking and my writing. I was thinking about how once I had learned all of my major tasks and felt more comfortable with them, then perhaps I would have time for my own thoughts. Then perhaps I could let myself daydream about the things I'm writing so as to cover some ground on them. But I haven't really been able to do that very much yet.

My mind is still very active though. I find myself thinking tons of different things. But I just don't know about what. The last two days on my lunch break I have had an idea and felt like OH BOY I need to write about that idea! But then I neglected to write it down and sure enough it just slipped away. To be expected I suppose. I need to write these things down when I really think that.

But I'm still slowly working on this new essay of mine. It will be comparable in length to my 'Society's Implicit War' essays. Those essays were so long that I ended up publishing them serially. I suspect I may end up doing the same thing with these new ones. Almost certainly. I've written about ten pages so far and have another 20 pages of outlines and quotations I've pulled. I think once I've pulled all the quotations that I want I'll be able to write it pretty quickly. But the skimming and quotation pulling is hard work. It takes real focus to just sit down and skim this book page by page and figure out where all these different lines fit into the outline of my discussion.

But when I'm at work I'm not able to think about these things. It is true that on certain breaks I have had moments of breakthrough where I suddenly understand a new connection, or something like that. But usually I have to work hard for that. Or maybe I don't. Maybe it just happens.

But anyways, my reading has been pretty productive the last couple days. I was able to finish Zizek's Violence: Six Sideways Reflections and I feel like I'm still grappling with it. But it is starting to make a bit of sense to me.

After that I quickly moved on to a new book I bought called The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics by Mark Lilla. The essay I'm currently working on 'Art, Zen, and Intellectual Insurrection' revolves around the power that intellectuals or other creative types can have on political change. So the book seemed like a good place for me to take my reading. ALso it has given me a better sense of the lives of certain people who I have yet to read, but will undoubtedly have to read. Heidegger is the person who is standing out in my mind the most right now. The chapter on Heidegger traces his relationships with Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers. He seems like his life was very fascinating. In any case, I need to read Being and Time. Long book that feels really daunting, but I think I can do it. But I think that this brief biographical introduction will help me grapple with his work.

I also just finished reading the chapter on Foucault and I feel very good about it. I guess for the last year or so I have been in the thick of Foucault's thought. I felt dominated by him for a while. To figure out what was going on with his work seemed like an uphill battle, an overwhelming task. But now I don't feel as worried. Not that I have mastered Foucault or anything like that. But that I feel like I have passed the halfway mark in my battle with Foucault. I've read enough of his stuff that the journey with him will now be one in which I can move beyond him and incorporate him into my larger understanding of things.

How I felt with Foucault for quite a while is now how I'm starting to feel with Zizek. Zizek has written so much. It seems so interdisciplinary and so challenging. I'm not sure what I will end up doing with him. But I plan on reading him more. Violence was pretty compelling. We will see.

I'm gonna go to a coffee shop and work on pulling quotations out of Collingwood now. So long.

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