"Take joy in your digressions. Because that is where the unexpected arises...If you know where you will end up when you begin, nothing has happened in the meantime. You have to be willing to surprise yourself writing things you didn't think you thought. Letting examples burgeon requires using inattention as a writing tool. You have to let yourself get so caught up in the flow of your writing that it ceases at moments to be recognizable to you as your own. This means you have to be prepared for failure, for with inattention comes risk: of silliness or even outbreaks of stupidity. But perhaps in order to write experimentally, you have to be writing to 'affirm' even your own stupidity. Embracing one's own stupidity is not the prevailing academic posture..." --Brian Massumi
Right now I'm in the middle of three different books: _Giving_ by Bill Clinton, _The Golden Compass_ by Phillip Pullman (highly recommended by my friend Steve Climer--not to mention anything the Catholic League condemns must have some merit!), and _Parables of the Virtual_ by Massumi. Today I spent a lot of the day reading the latter. I went to this book because all-of-a-sudden Massumi recommendations and references were flying (from a colleague at my institution, from the blogosphere, from Works Cited pages of stuff I was reading) and also because I'm working on a project in conjunction with my service-learning courses (trying to focus on the teacher-scholar model my school preaches) that seeks to theorize students' emotional investment in / attachment to the rhetoric of volunteerism. It's a text that's proven helpful already...and I'm just starting to understand its assumptions and its vocabulary.
The above quotation is itself a digression, but it also, well, "belongs" there, as a statement of methodology, as a defense of interdisciplinary "poaching," as an acknowledgment that such co-opting necessarily re-vises and "gets it wrong," and as an implicit claim that the aforementioned "wrong"-ness is what gives the humanities its ability to say something that matters. Err, by means of saying something stupid, silly, inattentive, rooted in non sequitor, derivative. I'd like to re-vise Massumi in the ways he advocates and get wrong his theory of the potential of unqualified, pre-discursive feelings, so as to say something (something stupid?) about how my students "feel" civic duty. Hope that I can.