The other day I wrote a Sticky note with a list of people whose reading eye I want to keep in mind while I’m finishing my thesis. Only a couple of these people will read the thesis, this is certain. But the list includes a bunch of people with fierce intellects and diverse interests. Writing ‘for’ them, addressing them, helps me attend to what they might wish I performed rigorously, the questions and critical eye they might contribute.
This person, for instance, will want me to go for the jugular: what theoretical density can I sustain, how can I push a line of argument further, how can I shock myself out of wishy-washy cult stud gestures? This other person will be attending to what he talks about as “having enough death” — acknowledging the material violences of inequality, the bodies that are regarded as disposable and whose deaths don’t ‘matter’. One person will care that the words are clear and readable and beautiful, because otherwise they won’t bother reading at all. Someone will attend to philosophical complexity and how I define my theoretical frameworks. Someone else will be interested in the rigour of my critique of political economy and what I’m doing with Marx. Someone else again will want my Thai history and politics to be accurate. Someone else will attend most to my treatment of transnationality and gender/sexuality, and the postcolonial. And so on. It’s a long list.
The beautiful thing is, most of these people are friends. The political and theoretical networks I inhabit are full of people who I respect totally. I feel so grateful to have these people around. Even if they don’t actually read anything I write, in the future, imagining how they might read this work forces me to write as if it were a conversation, larger than myself. (And some of you are reading this, anyhow, which means you’re already part of the conversation.)
I am having a really great time with writing at the moment. When it flows, I know exactly how to stitch everything together. This is why people spend three or four years on the same project. One simply knows, finally, how things fit — and one knows exactly what one doesn’t know, also, and why. But I’m only at this point because of conversations that have already taken place, and because of the generosity of those who have engaged with me, here, and in other spaces.
Did I just write a draft of an acknowledgments page? I think so.