I’ve been meaning to write an updated intellectual biography for a while, and this one is inspired by a recent question about which questions I was trying to answer at which points in my life. What follows is a look at what I was studying or trying to figure out, and where it led– also an effort at developing continuity, a story of my development.
What makes a person lovable? What draws one body to another? Alcibiades to Socrates in the Symposium, Alcibiades first person account in the first and second Alcibiades dialogues. Learning/ concluding that love is in the eye of the beholder. Learning about longing, and closely attending to a person’s speech about themselves to hear all of what they are saying, a sort of hermeneutic of restoration.
If we become too abstracted, too far from the body and world, we do not gain a higher transcendent consciousness but we lose consciousness altogether. Kierkegaard’s Johannes Climacus, as JC reads Hegel, he ascends the ladder (recalling the Platonic ladder in the Symposium, from love of a particular body to love of the good), but gets dizzy and consciousness is lost. We are tied to the world, we are situated, we are in and of the world. We are matter, but we are also particularities of movement, of how to, our own stories. Inspired also by Wittgenstein here, knowing from context, the abstract questions less relevant than answers from what we do, how we behave. Again, a close reading of what people do and say, and grounding us in our bodies and our activities, not an abstract discourse behind it all.
Then, pursuing these questions in grad school, finding truth in experience, in subjectivity. I wrote a paper about class clowns early in grad school, with the idea that there is some phenomenon that gets named clown, but what is that? I ask about clowning, the activity of being/ doing clown, as this is what matters, not an abstract definition of a static kind of person, but what happens actively that results in this name? I asked participants about experiences of clowning, and learned about their relations with the world. This was embodied, what do their bodies do with the world, what are the contours of the world and space to them? How did they embody their bodies and what are their relationships to space, and how does it get called clowning?
Interest in gender emerging from there, how does one get called a gender? [To be continued]