A dear friend of mine kindly asked to hear my opinion on these matters with exasperation. For all of my rants, I am usually more apt to imbed my own views inside quotes of other theorist’s thoughts, rarely devolving my own views too explicitly. One reason for this is the fact that I am not yet considered an academic. Being a grad student in an MA program is that liminal space where our views are licensed to us, and not trusted by academia.
But my voice is not necessarily appreciated in my own personal circles either. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been told that my diction (that’s word choice for all of you lovely non literary folk) is too pompous, that I think I’m better than everyone because of my vocabulary. Well, I say, not even. I don’t think I’m pompous. I love all of you people in this world, even the jerks et al. But I am required to adopt this academic discourse if I am to ever leave my liminal space and become a “real” scholar (whatever that is). What it comes down to is this: I’m tired of hearing both that I’m pompous, and that I must be appropriated into the university.
I resist both of these things—as my praxis (sigh, that’s the practice of my own personal philosophy).
Yet, I need to do them to dismantle them. That is the (t)ruth. This brings us back to Foucault, to McComiskey, and to Derrida.
I read a massive amount of theory. I have to as part of my education. And all this theory has infiltrated my discourse; I speak like them. Just goes to show you, kids, looking up words in the dictionary does do wonders! Yay! I believe that we are better humans if we accept difference, if we see each other as all others (Derrida: tout autre est tout autre). And as I was thinking of this, a statement made this morning by the great @NihildeNada lit up my Twitter screen: “Fear of the void is the root of all evil”. Huhm. What the heck does my aporia do with that?
Considering that one of my closest friends (you reading this?) is adamantly resentful of several choices I have to make in my life: leaving to pursue a PhD and researching the Internet for my thesis, meaning that I am always on my phone (nevermind how happy this makes me most of the time; that’s another post altogether), this leaves me to assert: we are too apt to fall victim to our fears.
She fears my leaving because she loves me. She wants my attention, thus gets frustrated by my seemingly lack of attention (I love multi-tasking!). Okay. I understand this. But it is hard to consider her feelings when she acts upon her fears. Those of us that study psychology know that humans usually react in unhealthy ways when they feel threatened. So I realized that my friend wants to dispel aporia; she fears the void—my absence, essentially. That is why she says hurtful things. That is why she tells me that I may not get into a PhD program. Doesn’t she know I am here? Loving her like only a friend can love? I am here. Do not fear. But I need to be other places too.
I need to learn how to do the very thing I am writing about—teaching students to maneuver through differing identities to compose themselves, all while adopting to dominant academic discourse. So I study this. I adopt techniques. I maneuver myself through as many identities as possible. There is a cost to this. I often lose myself in the process, weeks at a time sometimes. I also emerge from the abyss (as I call these moments) a reframed person. Good ol’ existentialism. And I have to do this so that I know what it is like.
For someone who wants to steal literacy from the whiteness of the Civil Rights Movement (this argument comes from specific legal articles on Brown v. Board—happy to send those to anyone interested!), I MUST know what oppression feels like. I have to hear the voices of oppression; I have to listen to them. To listen to the silence, I must attune to the wind.
Where are you? Are you unwell? Who is preventing your voice from being heard? How may I help? These are the questions I ask when I seek solace in the places I go for escape.
So, my friend, you are right to be angry with me. I know your fear. We are all afraid of that which we do not know. But I happen to think (today, and usually) that the only way to stop fearing the void is to go into it. I go in, with my discourse blazing. I would like it if you came with me.