March 18th, 2006


beginning but not of the end

so I've finally overcome my fear of drowning and have opened Levinas to re-read him--not in the sense of opening Totality and Infinity on page one and reading till I get to the last page of Otherwise than Being, because to do that would not only take another year but also would introduce all sorts of tangents into an already tangentially-driven manuscript that needs to finish and not proliferate further, but rather I have picked up one of his books, looked up a phrase, and skimmed around to see what I remember and what particular quotes seem most appealing.

I'm not sure exactly what it is I am afraid of in instances like this. that I will suddenly realize that I am completely wrong in my interpretations and will have to throw out the whole dissertation seems a large part of the fear. that I won't find what I thought I saw written there is another. in essence I seem to be afraid that whatever was there before won't be there anymore, as though the text could metamorphose into something so different from what I thought I had seen before that the whole pretext for my project would be completely demolished.

I guess that's a pretty hefty fear. I can't think of anything in experience that has prefigured this. I have picked up books that I thought were going to be one thing and turned out to be completely aggravating or annoying or even triggering, but I have yet to see a single text that I had already decided I liked turn into something I could no longer handle. no longer understand, yes. maybe that's the real fear. it doesn't seem like it though; it's been a while since theoretical texts were opaque to my poor hounded psyche. I really think that I'm going to open up Levinas to see that my reading of him is impossibly superficial and completely off topic and missing the entire point.

I suppose, though, given the "experimental" nature of my dissertation prose, I could stop in the middle and say no wait. forget all you just read.

actually I'd kind of like to write a theoretical text like that, one in which I seriously had to take back everything I'd said in the first 150 pages, just to see its effects on the reader. I could predict its effects upon me.
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