Shaky writing

It's been a minute.

I recently received a kind email from a reader who asked me how things are going. This was a pleasant reminder that others actually read my writing, and a less pleasant reminder that it has been a while since I've posted on this blog.

This hiatus hasn't been due to a lack of inspiration; in fact, there's been a lot on my mind recently about grad school, my research, and what it means to "study culture" empirically. I have wanted to write about all of these things. So what gives?

I think, since starting my PhD, my relationship to writing has changed a bit. In the past, I assigned very little stakes to the writing that I put out (in fact, this wasn't really something that I thought about.) But now I feel much more ownership of my words and ideas and, with that ownership, a greater pressure to only share the good ones.

Perhaps I am placing too much value on this blog, but I would like to use this platform to discuss ideas that I find meaningful. To an extent, I think this does warrant a deeper, more critical level of engagement with what I am writing.

On the other hand, when I've started drafting posts, I've found myself paralyzed by indecision or talking myself into knots. I am compelled to endlessly explicate, constantly contextualize; I find myself exhausted, paragraphs deep, and no closer to making my point. I need to make my peace with the fact that discourse is ambiguous, messy, and interpretive. I can't expect to fit an entire discourse into a single turn, so I need to just put my thoughts out there and start talking.

I've recently begun reading The Archaeology of Knowledge. At the end of the introduction, Foucault talks about writing with uncertainty:

What, do you imagine that I would take so much trouble and so much pleasure in writing, do you think that I would keep so persistently to my task, if I were not preparing – with a rather shaky hand – a labyrinth into which I can venture, in which I can move my discourse, opening up underground passages, forcing it to go far from itself, finding overhangs that reduce and deform its itinerary, in which I can lose myself and appear at last to eyes that I will never have to meet again.

And so too shall I proceed, hands shaky, into the labyrinth.