Arranging Grief

I like many aspects of Dana Luciano’s Arranging Grief, but especially the sentence that concludes the introduction that argues to resist “the tendency to consider grief as always exceptional but instead positing its very ordinariness as a ground of political action” (24).  I love this thought, because it implies that alternative temporalities have the tendency to be as abstract as the homogeneous, empty time they supposedly challenge.  By contrast, it suggests that alternative temporalities are not salvation (another form of exception) but rather ordinary, part of the texture of modern life. Moreover, it argues that such ordinariness has an affective dimension–grief. I find this really helpful, especially in conjunction with Luciano’s argument that grief helps make visible not a particular attachment, but attachment as such. In other words, grief is not just about individual bodies/people, but about humans in relation to people, objects, feelings.

I also think that ordinariness is one of the things that makes politics difficult in a neoliberal age (see Berlant’s Cruel Optimism.)  We continually misrecognize the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary, the rule and the exception, in part because we misrecognize what counts as politics and political action.

Ethos of Office

Returning to Max Weber today, the man who made comparative politics in college the fab class that it was (others were also involved).  Kinda confirms the way in which I’m a throwback, loving the thoughts that have already been internalized, questioned, reframed, and internalized again.  But super happy to read this:

“The idea that the bureaucrat is absorbed in subaltern routine and that only the ‘director’ performs the interesting, intellectually demanding tasks is a preconceived notion of the literati and only possible in a country that has no insight into the manner in which its affairs and the work of its officialdom are conducted” (115).

The queer art of bureaucracy/(failure).  To have insight into the matters of officialdom (the ethos of the office), usually means that you are not the director.  For if the country might know how shit gets done–and where intellect functions–, the director might not.  Strangely enough, this helps me understand Anthony Trollope’s novels a whole lot better (I just finished The Prime Minister, and while I’m still taken with Trollope’s plots, I have a better sense for how they’re recycled – repetitions with difference).  I think they tend to exemplify the ethos of office, and definitely show how little is required of a leader/director.