Slippage

“ Some weird performance shit. Candles. Take a shot = solidarity for glass. Yes, a real worm. Symbolic. Monte Alban 100% Agave MexicanTequila. Honey-roasted peanuts. Two types of cheese (pepperjack, cheddar?) candy worms, cracker, lime, salt, apples.” (Class notes, “Derrida & Butler”, 7 December 2006).

We graduated from wine to tequila. Attempts to generate shame (who did the reading?) have risen to new lows. The double bite of ideology iterates us in the ass, interpellating proper academic subjectivities.
I perceive an intersection of horizontal timespace trajectories coalescing in repetitive (synchronic) vertical time. Early debate about electoral strategy is one discursive template: boundaries were drawn between those advocating the old form and those promoting a new one. Do ‘we’ promote and support a straight white man for the next president or do we risk the challenges of ‘selling’ a new (different) body? Does the body matter so much more than the words? Are any/all words ineffective if uttered from an other? Since the midterm elections, silence. The urgency has passed. Advocates for the old form were wrong, the most narrowly conservative candidates did not win anywhere. Promoters of the new form have not pressed the advantage.
Then, a storm: do we understand power? Who has it; who doesn’t? Why? More significantly, how are our respective powers used, to what ends and effects? The old form reasserts itself. Now bodies do not matter, only words. Threats and intimations of accusation ricochet from mouths alternatively iterated by gender(ed) performances, an undercurrent of national cultures is left unspoken, the hierarchy of US-based race and ethnic dis/privilege invoked. But it is all (so we are told) a tangent: bodies do not matter this much, only our facility with rhetoric.
We revisit our norms. It seems we must choose: either we continue the debate or we return to the standard academic form. It seemed the old form won? Compelling personal testimony (via email, “Re: Start reading!” 19 November 2006, emphasis added) delineated the parameters:
”This idea of “the job market” makes me want to pee myself… thinking about how I wasted valuable time in this PPC class telling stories about myself–attempting to convince others I’m witty, or sensitive, or intelligent–not to mention trying to evade my advisor’s Flying Love Pumas and other unspeakable Bakhtinian acts of defilement, instead of directly engaging the readings. My feelings after class are too often akin to the end of “The Graduate”: that was vibrant and exciting, but now what do I do? Or more specifically, will this help me get through my comps? Will this help me publish a paper, or get a job?”
With fear so firmly established, what else could be done except “engage the readings directly?” No counteroffensive was raised, although the challenge of actually doing the reading was issued. It seems to me the issue at question is the amount and degree of participation we are each willing to commit. New forms confront us with unfamiliar, less and/or unpredictable outcomes; old forms maintain parameters within which we navigate in order to control the extent of personal engagement. The shift from professorial riff to peer-guided interaction was stark, evidenced by my impressions upon entering the room after break (quote at top of entry).
Was it my imagination, or was resistance to this new form less than before? Perhaps we are not mutually fluent in its language, but are we beginning to collectively recognize it?
“Stop talking Romanian.”
“We can’t speak Russian.”

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