From What we write and why by Michael Benton, Alan Clinton, Davin Heckman, Subhash Jaireth, Marc Ouellette, and Matthew Wolf-Meyer
<4> There are three words that can be invoked to illuminate the urge that compels me to write. The first word is respons(e)/ibility. It seems that I, like many others who write, situate myself within Socratic tradition according to which our place is also in the Agora and the bazaar, the places from and in which we can participate in the “great” symposium of humanity. By doing this we become the constituents and the constitutors of the public sphere, one of the important features of which — that which sustains it as public sphere, to borrow Habermas’s words — is democratic and social communication. One of the essential conditions to maintain such communication is to feel responsible to respond, hence the word respons(e)/ibility. I feel responsible to respond to utterances, speaking(s), writing(s) and acting(s) by other participants. The need of a meaningful communication asks from me, to paraphrase one of Bakhtin’s central themes, not only to listen and read but also to speak and write. By adding my voice to the cacophony of voices I try to unsettle the power/knowledge relations that operate within [dominate] the public sphere.
<7> The second word is translation, understood both as “rendering” and “movement.” Each time I write, I find myself translating (rendering, moving to and fro) some one else’s ideas, concepts, thoughts, and images (the already written, read and seen) into my ideas and images. To a large extent this is because I am confronted with the given-ness of verbal and non-verbal languages. I continually move between langue and parole, between the oral and the written, and vice versa. I continually traverse the routes from the visible (the seen and the shown) to the verbal and vice versa. As if, to use de Certeau’s image, I walk and talk at the same time, as if talking/writing would always take me to other places. But writing as translation also tells me that each event of translation is associated with a certain degree of refraction. Like rays of light, ideas, images and thoughts bend, get refracted, change their trajectory. It is, as if, however careful one may not be when one pours water from one jar to another some of it is always spilt.
<12> The third word is reflexive. Metaphorically it means to be able to carry a mirror that would make the bearer aware of the world behind him/her, the cultural and cognitive topography of one’s location, which on the one hand helps one to say what she/he want to say but simultaneously limits what can be said. It also means that one is always interrogating his/her own project. This interrogation of what one has written and is in the process of writing doesn’t have to be outside the writing. The writing, the text, has to make the reader conscious of this reflexive, the sideways, glance by foregrounding it. Preference, then, should be for writing that reflects the anxiety, the tension and the unsettledness of writing.
Tags: blog research, writing
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