Saturday, September 24, 2005

miles and miles

"Whence a metamorphosis in literature: we have passed from a pleasure to be recounted and heard, centering on the heroic or marvelous narration of 'trials' of bravery or sainthood, to a literature ordered according to the infinite task of extracting from the depths of oneself, in between the words, a truth which the very form of the confession holds out like a shimmering mirage."
Michel Foucault, _The History of Sexuality_

this semester, i am studying both pedagogy and sonic culture. i am also studying queer theory; hence, the mileage i am getting out of Foucault. i am the operator of a blog that takes its title from a passage by one of the writers of the previous century who best explored the depths of self, the in between of words. i do not think, though, that Woolf undertook this exploration to discover some hidden truth as in a confession. rather, her "in between" of words, the depths of self, seem to me constituted by telling and by hearing, the self then as not an ontological "mirage" of truth, then, but instead as a locus of speaking and listening. the summer-house in _To the Lighthouse_ listens and tells; it listens and tells in-between chapters recounting human action, "trials of bravey and sainthood," and in this section ("Time Passes"), human action becomes the "in-between" of the house's words.

and this seems to me to be the kind of third stage that Foucault never gets to - nor should he, his task being, as it is, to examine a history for practical purposes. but yet the combination of the two distinct states that Foucault recognizes in literature looks to me a lot like the present cultural state -- call it postmodern or not -- that i find myself faced with, both as a student/listener and a teacher/teller. so what if i approach teaching "sonically"? to "make it real by putting it into words." that is, that the writing self is constituted as "recounted and heard," and then that the classroom space somehow captures the dynamic state of in-betweenness that produces writing, especially writing by a speaker who is always already a listener. at the very least, this approach to teaching and learning disrupts the binary that Foucault recognizes and allows for a new way of looking at the cultural situation of the subject of teaching. the capacity to hear all kinds of things; the capacity for all kinds of things to speak; and what it means to find ourselves in the midst, as though in a summer-house between narratives of bravery.


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