Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

When I Upgrade, I Want to Be…

I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently, mostly on a laptop that I cart around and perch precariously on my knees while I sit in various ergonomically-dubious positions. Today, my son walked up, wanting to sit on my lap. He expressed this by saying: “Could I be a laptop now, please?”

ouch, ouch, ouch…

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5 responses to “When I Upgrade, I Want to Be…

  1. Ryan/Aless September 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Ouch, indeed :-) I guess this is the balance we (esp. scholars) all grapple with. We definitely like to do our thinking, and sometimes that can be a solitary activity, esp. when most social interactions we find are quite, well, co-opted, too pop-culturish (“Let’s go to a bar!” “Let’s go get drunk!” etc.). But we can’t just work (even if revolutionary!) all the time. We do need some social interactions. But where to find the “right crowd”? . . .

  2. N Pepperell September 29, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    Hey Ryan/Aless! Good to see you back around these parts!

    You comment reminds me – I’m already becoming anxious about a conference I’m about to go to, where I’ll be staying with a couple of colleagues. I don’t know that the folks who invited me to stay with them fully understand that I’m something like the world’s worst company, unless someone wants to talk about theory sort of all the time (or finds it particularly entertaining to watch me read… ;-P)… This sort of thing tends to get disguised in my everyday, as I usually have professional reasons to talk to people about the things I enjoy talking about anyway, and people don’t need to know that this is what I do all the time…

    My best crowd has still always been online – both because it’s a self-selecting group, and because it’s easier for other people to tune me out if they get bored… ;-P

  3. Ryan/Aless September 30, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Yes, I have like the same “predicament.” Maybe Rousseau was right to say, “The more I know about natural man, the less like natural man I am . . .” (Although, what is natural man?) Does this mean that we have become such “docile subjects,” that we’ve been seduced by our work so much that it’s pretty much all that we do? And is that bad? I don’t know. Sometimes I feel so disconnected from the world (as I tried to articulate in my post on Becoming-Lone-Wolf), yet it IS hard to find people who’d like to talk theory, philo, and politics with me. That is why, you’re right, the Internet and the online community is wonderful. But I don’t know. Perhaps actual, physical contacts are still different?

  4. N Pepperell September 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I liked that post, and kept meaning to respond – but, in a sense, it seemed to say everything it needed to say, and I found myself with nothing to add. All sorts of contacts involve their different potentials – things are both lost and gained through online interaction. Physical contacts aren’t – to me at least – more “actual” than online contacts. Which doesn’t mean that focussing over-much on any one medium of interaction wouldn’t involve a certain flattening of experience.

    There was a period when I had an in-person community where I could find similar things to what I now tend to find online – but that kind of thing is always very accidental, dependent on a situation very difficult to create intentionally. And there are certainly individual friends with whom I can have intense intellectual exchanges in person (although even those friendships, these days, tend to spill over into supplemental online interactions…).

    So I’m not saying anything absolute about the privileging of a particular form of interaction – other than that I don’t share what is often a reflex assumption (which I’m not at all suggesting that you have) that online interactions are somehow less “real” than other forms of engagement: they are their own “real” thing and, like everything else that’s real, they are ambivalent and close certain things off even as they open other possibilities…

  5. Ryan/Aless September 30, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    No, yes, I do like online interactions. I think you’re right to say that they’re just as “real” as physical interactions. Although, of course, as you say, we ought to try to avoid a “flattening of experience.” Each, I think, has its own attractions. If only our physical interactions could be as satisfying and compatible as ones we could make online (provided you know where online to look) . . .

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