Commentary Commentary

Levi Bryant has a post up that I saw too quickly (hey, I’m at a conference) about “commentary” at SPEP. I’d have to look more closely at what he wrote before I say anything on it, but I had a great dinner tonight with a couple of grad students at BC—one working on Badiou, the other on Kristeva (I’ve written on both, of course). I was talking a bit about Kristeva and I finally just said, you know, you’re on to something, but that’s you, not Kristeva. I’ve had that problem with other figures, too: people do interesting work on these figures and then suggest I’m not getting them if they don’t see their revolutionary potential. And I think, I’ve read them. You do great work on that topic, but why do you need to say it’s some sort of thing immanent to them? At some point, to simplify, you’re not doing commentary and if someone says, I don’t agree that X figure can be read that way, don’t take it as an insult—think of it as your original contribution. To take an example I’ve used here, I’ve talked about Derrida as someone who perhaps isn’t anathema to realism as some would think. But at a certain point, do I need to read it through him? In other words, we often read arguments from authority in our circles, which is a disservice to the philosophical, essayistic work of these philosophers.

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