Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough


Over at Limited, Inc., roger has just written one of those lovely comments from which it’s possible to draw a large amount of energy in an otherwise gruelling period. There are moments in the process of navigating the final stages of the thesis, where everything related to the work can look so familiar and worn that it becomes blurry whether I’m talking to anyone other than myself and uncertain whether the work “communicates” – not whether it communicates some particular content that I’m trying to convey, but more whether it sparks anything in other people, whether it generates anything useful or creative for anyone other than me. It’s a wonderful gift in these periods to receive the work refracted back, fresh and with a playful spin:

go to Rough Theory, who has been writing about the Grundrisse. As always, Marx, in her hands, begins to seem like a Henry James character – if James had only created a character with his own genius, instead of the subpar strivers from the upper class who never quite live up to the authorial voice in which they are caught. RT’s Marx is a man who is hyper-aware of epistemological traps, including the trap of thinking that there are just too many epistemological traps to make broad and monumental generalizations.

That final sentence may be my new favourite characterisation of Marx.

3 responses to “Refractions

  1. roger May 19, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Hey, your posts last week have inspired me! – I love the way you directly get to the point, and then work outwards. I’ve been trying to do figure out what I want to say about Freud’s Totem and Tabu that would allow me to do exactly the same thing.

  2. N Pepperell May 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I find that I generally get directly to the point, in a very indirect way πŸ™‚ That “hunger is hunger” quote, for example, has been knocking around in my brain for the last several weeks, without my being able to put my finger on why… A certain amount of energy gets stolen away from everything else, tunnelling around in the background. At some point, I’m confronted with the result of that background process, and it spills out onto the blog… πŸ˜‰ More dictation than authorship… πŸ˜‰

    But the process only seems to work when there is some sort of outlet – one of the reasons I’ve missed blogging so much…

  3. roger May 20, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Exactly. I don’t know why it is so much more powerful than writing in a notebook. But it is. The only thing I don’t like about blogging is the name, which just reeks of the high cuteness of the late nineties tech boom.

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