Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Books Required

I am working vaguely on Part IV of AZI and I'm feeling confused and interested. I feel that I need to be reading a lot more stuff.

I feel like I felt when I was working on 'Society's Implicit War'. I feel unprepared, undereducated to be doing what I'm doing, to be writing about what I'm trying to write about. It is so hard to think about politics and war and violence. I feel that I simply need to read so much more.

Today I finished reading Conquest Of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy Of Conflict. A book from 1958 that I found very exciting and compelling. I feel it made significant contributions to the terms I am thinking in, to the analytical tools that I am working with these days.

I feel that I need far more tools, need to widen my scope, need to increase the number of terms that I have to think about things with. I want to read Hannah Arendt's essay On Violence. I suspect that will be the next thing I will read.

I also feel compelled to begin reading other people. For some reason Alain Badiou grabbed my attention today. Mr. Badiou seems to be a big name. I learned about him from Zizek. I hope to get a hold of Being And Event or some other work of his. He just seems daunting. As do many philosophers.

So then, I have to ask myself, how did I finish Society's Implicit War? How is it that I was very uncomfortable and felt the limits of my learning, yet managed to produce so much writing anyways?

I was able to finish SIW because I accepted Foucault's terminology as a given, pulled out some of its implications, and wasn't afraid to let my abstraction go wild. It doesn't matter if what I wrote is wrong, or is too abstract, the exercise is to ground myself in certain terminology and feel it out. To genuinely learn what someone means and to try and think like them. In SIW I was trying to learn to think like Foucault thought in Discipline & Punish. But I was also trying to tie it to other things.

Basically, I'm saying 'Don't worry Riley, let you abstraction carry you away, ground yourself in some terminology and pull their implications'.

I will, of course, continue to expand my vocabulary, continue to expand my conceptual apparatus.

But the important thing I need to recognize right now is this: I shouldn't let my fears about the inadequacy of my conceptual apparatus prevent me from exploring ideas with the tools I currently have at hand. Don't stop learning.


  1. Don't start with Being and Event unless you really like set theory and ontology. Like, really. "Ethics" is fun though.

  2. Oh word. Probably good advice. I'm sure I'll have to glance at him at some point. But yeah, maybe I'll put it off. I'm not at all familiar with set theory, and only loosely read in ontological stuff. Holla.