22 February, 2009

Barack and Blanchot

I have recently been in a kind of contemplative collecting mood where I unconsciously amass bundles of words and ideas from the corners of my life. It isn't the most productive mood, and last night I even described it as apathetic, but I think it is actually almost the opposite of apathy. I feel like I am pulling together thoughts, pictures, words, and sounds and storing them away for a later date. It is almost like a plant storing the nutrients required to produce a flower. It is only the promise of something worthwhile at the end that is preventing me from being completely discouraged with myself at the moment. To paraphrase Maurice Blanchot in The Writing of the Disaster, passion and patience are in some senses singular: two halves of the same coin. As my patience fails to wear thin, my passion grows exponentially, and I hope that some type of productivity grows alongside my passion (with time for me to write my final papers).

Here are a couple of things which have caught my interest and attention in the past few days.

The Writing of the Disaster by Maurice Blanchot is a book compiled of paragraphs of insight. The book is disjointed in its presentation, but I think this constant rearranging and patch-working of ideas tends to open space for the reader to engage the material. There are logical pauses and spaces for contemplation, and often these pauses are followed by a striking and profound thought which forces you to pause again. The design of this book is very intelligent. Here is one of my favorite quotations from the first fifty pages:

If the dilemma is to go mad or to die, then the answer will not lack and madness will be mortal.

Earlier in the book there are a pair of ideas that fall on opposing pages. They are particularly interesting because they are working within this theme of transference through language which is so central to the book, and they discuss the capacity and incapacity of language to act as an extension of experience between people. I personally find this fascinating, and I think these quotes are really remarkable.

Reading is anguish, and this is because any text, however important, or amusing, or interesting it may be (and the more engaging it seems to be), is empty - at bottom it doesn't exist; you have to cross an abyss, and if you do not jump, you do not comprehend.

To want to write: what an absurdity. Writing is the decay of the will, just as it is the loss of power, and the fall of the regular fall of the beat, the disaster again.

You can see that there is a real cadence to this language. It is very percussive and musical, and it resonates through my head as I read (and reread) the passages.

On a different note entirely, I found this article about the use of hip-hop music by the Democratic Party during Obama's campaign. Appropriation and exploitation are terms that should be contemplated when dealing with any political movement, but I find this article poorly written and poorly organized in its critique of the campaign's utilization of music when attempting to attract young voters. What I do find interesting is Obama's take on the whole genre:

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