I re-read parts of Bourdieu today, but I guess it doesn’t really count as re-reading if you don’t remember reading it in the first place! I wonder about this act of forgetting, because my margin notes suggest that I was paying attention and making notes of things that would become relevant to my project later, and yet I have no idea in what context I first read this book (or selections from this book).
I think it’s helpful to understand the nineteenth-century realist novel both because of its understanding of habitus and its suggestion that time reintroduces uncertainty. For if realism produces sameness by insisting on continuity and regularity – – producing a “world of already realized ends” (53) – – the fact that it is not simply a depiction of a world, but a *narrative* allows some uncertainty about these “already realized ends.” Or, to phrase it differently, even if we know the sequence of events, we do not necessarily know their tempo, pace, rhythm. And, even in a form that encourages consensus, improvisation is central to the novel’s meaning. Ultimately, Bourdieu helps me see the ways in which the novel simultaneously functions as a form and a set of relationships, an object and a practice.
Rod Ferguson continues to bring it when discussing Black Studies and the story “My Man Bovanne”:
“The short story did so by asking us to consider the ways in which the hierarchies that characterized the pedagogical relations in academic settings might have been transferred to the storefronts, community centers, and schools within the neighborhood” (125).
So happy to be reading Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick this morning in Texas. What a writer! What a reader! I especially love the way in which she articulates queer childhood as an attachment to cultural objects that were “sites where the meanings didn’t line up tidily with each other, and we learned to invest those sites with fascination and love” (3). Relatedly, she begins a section that articulates “what’s ‘queer'” through Christmas season: “the time when all the institutions are speaking with one voice” (5). It’s so true, and she expresses it so beautifully, and it is also unbelievably sad.
Because, here’s the deal – – we all know the places where meanings don’t line up and institutions don’t speak with one voice, and yet to be attached to messiness, the difference of meaning, the discordance, that is hard shit. And, to connect this discordance with the loving act of close reading? By doing so, Sedgwick shifts close-reading’s emphasis from objects (the organic whole, form) to processes (attention, care) as she shows that attachment can be political, and attention can be at odds with power (even as it teaches us about power).
Mostly, it helps me think through everyday frustration with institutions, and institutional-situatedness less as frustration, and more as places of knowledge and attachment. And, my (sometimes self-damaging) love for certain institutions not simply as ideological or, even worse!, ignorant, but rather a way of ensuring multiple meanings within a place that wants to speak with a single voice (and so often does).