Before I started this blog, I used to have a blog called ‘theorybitch’, mainly written for friends, in which I was pretty up-front about personal goings-on, queer drama. Back then, blogs were new, Blogger was a ’self-publishing revolution’, and pseudonymity hadn’t quite cracked itself open as utterly mythical. This blog, I intended, was not about creating an intimacy with the readers, my friends; it was about finding connections with other theory nerds, other people on the same wave-length politically — I would develop a written persona divorced from the ongoing conditions of my private life.
But blogging slips towards an inchoate, weirdly intense intimacy even when you don’t intend it to. Reading back over the archives of this machine, I’m surprised at how much I let slip through, but also how that intimate voice is impossible to separate from the more ‘intellectual’, rhetorical, theoretical writing. I’m still very proud of that weird essay I wrote for the Spivak blogweave. Not because I think it made important contributions, but because it was a performance, an ironic, baroque response to the banal, distanciated academic tone of some of what passed for “debate” in that dialogue, where the so-called theoretical discussion of Spivak’s work was so separated from the political conditions of life, writing, gender, bodies. And of course, in the intervening months, that small constellation of dialogue has crumbled into the ether; I don’t even read Long Sunday anymore. (Maybe that’s a good thing: dissolution is always preferable to hauntology.)
Tongue-tied: that’s a good way to describe my state in relation to blogging these last months. If the writing of this blog became, at certain points, an even more intimate practice than I’d ever intended it to be, over the last year I’ve been consciously toning it down, removing myself, posting less. The flow of thesis writing has largely stopped, too. While I’ve been uber-anxious about having thesis block, I haven’t worried so much about the blog. But it seems like the two are connected, and that having a personal, intimate voice in which to think theory out loud facilitates its degradation/development into ‘proper writing’.
I’ve been reading less, too. Perhaps that’s part of the trouble. Writing can’t happen without reading. But at a certain point I realised I didn’t know who else to read. Writing and reading for a PhD is all about repetition; it’s about demonstrating one’s citational acumen, one’s expositional skills. When I had just returned to study, I really enjoyed the process of stringing together citations in the weave of the text: this obscure Foucault article, this obscure commentary, this even more obscure response to the obscure commentary. Shoehorning a 200 word footnote on “Towards A Gay Communism” into my Honours thesis just because I could. Treating it like a game. At some point last year, I realised I didn’t have any new books to want to insert, couldn’t bring myself to love that weaving process anymore. I didn’t ever want to quote Foucault again. Maybe I just read way too much bad writing and stopped rereading the good stuff. Or maybe I stopped reading for the joy of it and started reading as a task, a list of tick-boxes; maybe two and a half years of the same content over and over eventually grinds you down.
I haven’t posted much about my daily life for the last year, either. There are various reasons for this. Without going into detail, it seems impossible to read or write without the effects of sociality, intersubjectivity, the mediations of daily life and relationships intruding and/or inspiring, setting you off on one trajectory, closing off others. Since trying to filter out that dimension of the process only resulted in my inability to write, this post is an attempt to trace the symptomatology of that blockage.
I am writing thesis again, not as much as I’d like, and the plan of actually publishing something I’ve written has been subtended, of late. But in the spaces where I’m not a thesis machine, I’m living. Eating, dancing, swimming, talking, dressing up, dressing down. I’m revelling in the aleatory, discovering all kinds of new and half-forgotten pleasures, the beautiful randomness of the world and its unexpected gifts.
In short: I’m back. (Again.) Maybe back to posting personal stuff again, given time.