Lured by an intriguing post on Posthegemony, I rashly offered to join in to the just-launched Symposium on Mario Tronti’s The Strategy of the Refusal hosted over on Long Sunday…
A perusal of the participant list will quickly reveal I have strayed well clear of my usual subject matter and support network. I’ve dabbled with Antonio Negri, but never read Tronti before this. So why am I participating? I’m compelled by the notion of a weblog-based symposium, and keen to see how this process plays out. And rather than simply cheerlead and observe, thought it only sporting to take a few swings as a participant, however inept. And Bartleby may be tangential to the subject at hand, but he’s undeniably there. Melville’s story has always fascinated me for a number of reasons.
I have no doubt I am out of my depth, but pushing myself out of my comfort zone is a good way to learn. I’ve already read a lot of stuff I would not have read otherwise, and the prospect of impending humiliation does focus the mind. At least I’m hoping it does.
I doubt I will tread too heavily on the theory path, but I hereby vow not to revert to knee-jerk meta-blog discourse commentary either. That would be too easy. In any event, my contribution to the party is set for Saturday. Hopefully I won’t drink too much and break the furniture.
Well, I for one am certainly looking forward to it… I’m sure it’ll be dandy.
I really like the way you put this and I totally relate. It’s nice to know someone else feels this way and approaches the symposium this way. A large portion of my education, the good parts, has been conducted in forums like this. It’s been a long labor of learning via picking myself up off the floor and/or pulling my foot from my mouth again and again.
Nate – I read your blog, so I know there’s considerable modesty embedded in your comment.
Thanks to both of you (and the others) for the open door and the welcome. I may still be unsure of how best to contribute, but seeing the diversity of approaches and the good vibe with the symposium so far, I couldn’t hope for a better environment to make a fool of myself. It’s already been a good learning experience.
Aww shucks Brian, you’re too kind. I was being a little aww shucks, but only a little. I also meant it quite seriously. I’ve just recently started grad school, last August. I was out of undergrad for five years or so, and by far the biggest intellectual outlet for me was via email lists (that’s how I got to know Jon and Angela, pre- my awareness of blogs). One of the things that was hard for me to learn but really valuable was that it’s okay to be wrong. That was not my experience in university (and now that I’m back and school is not). Sometimes that same dynamic occurs outside the university and it sucks, but less so. And most of what I know that I’m really interested in I learned by misreading and mis-speaking about, then figuring out those errors (mostly via input from friends, occasionally via reading other stuff). I think it’s probably like learning to play a sport, not that I’d know – if one’s embarassed to miss one’s less likely to learn to shoot (that’s my experience with sports).