This break–so dragged on–now ends abruptly. Tomorrow is my first seminar of the year (lead by the prolific Amelia Jones no less) and I haven’t finished my readings. No, I haven’t even come close. No, even the readings I have read have clunked past my bleary eyes only to land in some already forgotten corner. A big black fog of Nos. I proposed this blog as a space to talk about the ideas and stories we read so that they could be of potential use, delight, and, perhaps, even comfort to future eyes who’d glance upon them.
Instead, all I want to do is moan about the rickety start to this term, and how I’ve been a bad feminist. (I wrote this in an email to a friend this morning: “I’ve been a bad feminist,” and she responded with “Don’t be silly.”)
It amounts to being ashamed and frightened that you’ve lost a sense of self-respect because someone you care about does not care about you so much, because he needs to care about himself, and you know that’s absolutely perfectly right (you know this so well, you’re remorseful), except you also feel like you’ve lost something since you had offered parts of yourself which exactly makes arriving at this point so stinging. You know beyond cliches that it’s really for the best (you weren’t content yourself anyway! you weren’t receiving what you needed) and friends tell you to keep your chin up and stop directing your feelings toward bouts of guilt or self-blame, but you can’t entirely do so because of course you made mistakes as well! And your seminar with Amelia Jones is tomorrow, and had this never happened–had you somehow prevented from even entering this (whatever this is or is not anymore)–you would have had all your readings finished, and that–the joy that comes from conversations–would be your first priority tomorrow. Instead, you continue being a bad feminist. In addition, you’ve momentarily forgotten the basic mechanics of critical reading. You never get headaches, but sometimes your throbbing chest begins to echo its syncopated rhythms at the back of your eyes. How many times did you read that first paragraph of the assigned Levinas this morning? For hours you tried to connect the words.
I’ve wondered all day. She would have never been such an awful feminist to start with.
Yet I also trust that she would have hated to see anyone indulge in their misery in such fashion. Self-care!, she might have advocated. In my fantasy, where Sedgwick comes beside me, I imagine her turning her eyes toward me so that my gaze of shame meets and melds with hers of compassion. Some part-object would be repaired. Some parts of my self that broke away last night would meet with other, new parts and I’d learn to integrate them into something a little bit braver, if not really more resilient.
Someone is going to call me tomorrow about an internship in Los Angeles.
Eve Sedgwick’s book is going to arrive soon and I’ll get to review it.
I booked a flight to London for the reading break.
Moving away can become moving toward.