9.2.11

Not tonight, dear, I've got to read

This is what I wrote in a Facebook-mail to a friend tonight:
I'm quite lucky because people in my course are very interested in cultural theory as well as related things like art, media, sociology, etc. Quite novel to be with a bunch of people who are fun to be with, but who also have no qualms about saying, "Yeah, I think I'm just going to stay home and read this weekend." Theory geeks, heh.
Another description of my course, which I mentioned on the phone last weekend, in trying to explain to my aunt why I was so damn busy:
It's a lot of reading, and it's the kind of reading where there's no shortcuts or Cliff's Notes. You just have to sit there and slog through it.
I mean, there's the Routledge Critical Guides series and Oxford University Press's Very Short Introductions series, just to get you off and running if need be. But if you want to get to get to the heart of what certain theorists were on about (see for example, Derrida or Deleuze), I think you have to get in there and wrestle with the ideas yourself.

That reminds of cultural studies scholar Paul Bowman's recent retort to an opinion piece in the Guardian. Bowman points out (among other salient points) that while the Guardian piece chides Judith Butler and other theorists for being obscurantist in their writing:
Butler’s work is clear. Crystal. Provided only that you have the disciplinary training to read high-level cultural theory. If you don’t have this disciplinary formation, then you can hardly expect to dip into a paragraph here and there of cutting edge theoretical work and expect it to be immediately transparent.
Not that everyone has to start reading cultural theory. I'm just saying that it takes time and high levels of attention/energy if you're going to start, and I'm glad I have a bunch of like-minded folks to slog through it with.

Now if you'll excuse me, after spending most of tomorrow at school, I'm going to spend the rest of the week --- and probably the weekend as well --- staying at home to read. And work and write. But mostly read.

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