Sunday, November 22, 2009

Workplace (Non-) Violence (Or Destroy, She Said—for Marguerite Duras)

--I love my job. I love the way it makes me and unmakes me. A friend of mine, who has seen me in and out of the context of work, recently admitted to being surprised by my “violence” in everyday life, wondering whether its absence in my teaching be something of a mode or something of a whim. I love being able to say the truth of this, that it is both. The truth is these contradictions exist in my teaching because they exist in my life as a student, and I love my job most when I consider myself student, in the purest sense of the word.

--The very first definition of student listed in the OED (that great reference work of students everywhere) is “One who is engaged in or addicted to study.” I am, perhaps not surprisingly, of the addict variety. I want, I want, I want. An obsolete definition sheds almost as much light: “One who strives after or studies to attain.” Hardly obsolete in my case, at any rate. In the position of the student I am greedy, I am violent. I am the subject if not supposed to know, then desiring of knowledge. I want it all. It. All.

--And so I write. I write because I am watching. I am watching myself being watched. You can’t tell what color my eyes are. Such a lovely position we occupy when we write. The opposite of the mother, the abject. The refusal of the position of the hysteric. The creation of the position of the neurotic. Catch me if you can.

--I love the part of me, here, which is never silent. I know too much of silence. A child of thirteen, I used to lie in bed promising myself I’d speak nothing if I could not speak the truth. I make no such promises today.

--As a younger child I’d pile all my toys in a line, resting them underneath the sheets. A perfect decoy. This much I will replicate.

--I will digress. I will escape the confines of my bed and roam, eyes to the night stars. Try and stop me.