Kate and I have been marking student papers these past three weeks. This is my first time through the process and I can tell that things (or mostly *I*) need to change by the next time ’round. Near the end, I was taking napping or “cool down” breaks in between papers, because a lot of it was affecting me, probably to unreasonable degrees. Kate, like me, failed to get one night’s proper rest last week. Today, I slept until 3p.m. and woke up to a series of flippant emails from (insensitive?) students.
I’m frustrated and I want to complain about it. I’m leading conferences again on Monday and, thereby, missing Jonathan Goldberg and Michael Moon discuss Eve Sedgwick in NYC. (I even looked to flying down right after the final conference to catch the lecture, but there just isn’t enough time.) Over gchat, another friend advised me to try something different on Monday:
“Maybe just care less, be less delicate with them without actually being harsh or abusive or whatever”
I was already going to give them a sort of stern talk about essay writing and critical thinking (MAYBE EVEN EMAIL ETIQUETTE?), and I just don’t want my own personal frustrations (it’s been a silly week all round hasn’t it?) to seep in. It’s not my job (or role) to ask any of them to care about the political implications of how and what they write, or why they are English students. Maybe if just a handful of them end up caring about some any thing in the course, then it shouldn’t matter if so many others very blatantly do not. How does one stop their (inescapable, unreturned) emotional investment from souring into resentment? Sedgwick’s frank wisdom reminds me:
Libidinal indifference, as I think most of us could testify who have ever desired somebody who just didn’t desire us, is a force in its own right. It changes lives. And it doesn’t only operate in the exceptional case of the would-be love object who is, shall we say, the “wrong” gender for the lover: the plain fact is that most people in the world, whatever their gender or sexuality, don’t form or maintain libidinal cathexes toward most other people in the world, whatever theirs.
If Sedgwick has guided me through so much this past year, then why will I be here rather than over there on Monday?
Grumpily, while eating cheese,