. . . . . . . Supervalent Thought

Time Out

For the last 24 hours I’ve been unscheduled. I had taken a gig in Amsterdam scheduled right after the term so I could interrupt my habits of working, working out, professing, sleeping a little & waking up, opening the window so that the cat could smell the world and then sitting down at the desk with my habitual combo of detox tea and coffee, because who am I if not balanced, before I extend myself to become unbalanced. The great thing about writing is that it is flat even when it’s other things too.

I never take vacations, and days off are rare failures to be very off at all, as I narrate here yearly if I manage actually to try–it just occurs to me now that my drive to keep my infinitives unsplit (so that your verbs will be strong, I tell my students) has something to do with my drive to hold myself together too, as an action figure of a cool figuration otherwise than to be/not to be but feeling out attachment heuristically. With all this work, I am a slow reviser: I have been ahead of many curves, but now some curves are ahead of me and it doesn’t matter, I hope, because a curve’s curve requires lots of leaning one way by many people before it becomes a thing that’s banking as a stability and not just a longing for solidity at the end of some road, like a home.

But here I am, a week after hosting many lectures and teaching full time, and writing two new things, but no, it was actually three, which, if you’re a writer, means that you’re distributed across many intense presencings and foci poured out of your cored eyes in an attempt to follow through on the page the words better than you ever were; plus doing two art performances in ten weeks of a sort I’m not used to and that expose me to the question, why bother with the body and the voice  so clumsy, just because to say no would have been to have been, after all, a coward.

Monday a talk and Tuesday a long seminar of improvised attempts to be adequate, sometimes hating my voice, but just remembering that the first principle is to be game and the second one to be warm and the third  to model being undefeated in the face of the rationality of defeat whose pressure is never neutralized but only diluted and played around with, which means refuted, and the fourth to mobilize ideas and metabolize what I hear clearly and firmly but in a circulation mode that allows an exchange of fluid in the middle of the water crisis now and always coming. But there it is, conversation. I brought a bottle with me so I wouldn’t buy water when I’m on the road. It’s a private contact with earning my right to live.

So yesterday I did the seminar and had a lunch where we talked about the question of whether small optimistic gestures were nothing or not nothing, and whether the presumption that gesture equals small is a mistake, and of course soon we were talking about symbolic reparations by States along with the “sorry” that passes among us figuratively and as sound countless times a week.  It would be interesting to count one’s verbal and non-verbal apologies for a week: I’ll let you know what I learn.

I had gone to bed at 2:30 and awoken at 6:30 to have a good workout before the seminar but suddenly felt the need not to rush.  I use the word “cushion” so often in my theoretical life and here I was in a fluffy coffin not wanting to rush out and earn the right to my existence. So I stayed in bed and did email and read the news.  I washed my hair and put something that smells delicious on it. I had breakfast and went to the seminar.  I returned and did marking.  I had Skype calls with colleagues sealing up the term.  It was time for me to work out.  I got back in bed and slept.  I awoke and did some texting with friends and stayed in bed.  It was dark.  I thought, what if I just stayed in bed.  I thought I might not be able to live with myself: one’s infrastructures are one’s obligation to show up to life a certain way.  I decided to have a light workout.  I rarely decide to have a light workout: I just fail to have the energy for an intense one, on days at the end of a series of shorted out sleeps.  But I had walked a lot yesterday on the way home, miles and miles, and so I knew I had earned my body’s right for one more day.  I could afford a light sweat, a mild out of breathness, I could decide to move at my pace and live at a force that didn’t require pushing.

I went down to the gym and did all of that not much of anything, and then I came back up and checked my statistics, which looked like the statistics of a person who had pushed herself after all, but that wasn’t the subjective feeling, the subjective feeling was that a stick had moved through the world and shifted from horizontal to right angles to vertical and back again, to a hotel desk until the ball dropped after midnight.

I slept like a person allowed to sleep and have read this morning in the room as though I am allowed to read.  Then for the first time in a long time I am blogging as though I am a person who’ swallowed to –the computer autocorrected “allowed” to swallowed because I neglected to add a proper space–say a thing to preserve some thought for the research I am doing on recessive action, which is sometimes about withheld or leeched tone, but sometimes an experience or performance of distributed attention neither self-integrated nor dissociated but outside of anything you would call a drama or even, because I have had now almost a whole day of it, outside of the rise and fall of anything much in the vicinity of an event or a distinction with the density of something that has an opposite. This is aleatory suspension, an experience of an absorptive liveness that might be motivated by love or rage or mere elongated interest but doesn’t have edges, like all the genres I’m trying to invent and recluster, the genres of the middle, the during, the from within, the tapping foot, the slow opening that can only happen when you’re exchanging with something, for good and for ill, and taking in the fact that whether or not you want to have done, you are already signed in but not up, for all.

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[…] “Time Out” from the Supervalent Thought blog by Lauren Berlant  […]

Pingback by Opposing the “Naturalization of Misery:” A Discussion on Mental Health in Academia | Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English

[…] “Time Out” from the Supervalent Thought blog by Lauren Berlant  […]

Pingback by Opposing “The Naturalization of Misery:” Mental Health in Academia | Introduction to Doctoral Studies in English

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