It’s been a month since my last post. Much of that time has been spent working on the dissertation (though much of that time also cannot be accounted for). I thought I was finished with the last chapter a couple of weeks ago, but I have since been in a crash course of feminist theory. It’s been fun. I mean that.
One of my favorite experiences in life is stumbling upon a good book like a key that opens my mind and my heart. I went to grad school to pursue this passion and I have been fortunate enough to encounter a few texts that made me feel an aliveness and quickening that only the most profound ideas can bring to life. Keiji Nishitani’s Religion and Nothingness and Jean Luc Nancy’s The Creation of the World or Globalization come immediately to mind. Of course there are many novels and poems and films I could include here, but that is too overwhelming a task for today. Yesterday I was gmail chatting with a friend and was reminded that a good deal of the inspiration for grad school came from Anne Michael’s novel Fugitive Pieces and Terrence Malick’s film The Thin Red Line. I went to school in search of ways to think more deeply about those texts. If that ultimately is the measure of my grad school experience, then there can be no regrets.
In finishing this last chapter I finally sat down to read a book that’s been on my shelf; it’s a fitting last textual encounter in my grad school journey. Lisa Guenther’s the gift of the other brings together ideas from a number of great thinkers (Beauvoir, Arendt, Cixous, Derrida, Levinas) and like Nancy’s The Creation of the World the aim is to describe in ethico-philosophical terms the way in which the act of being is always being with others. It’s a seemingly simple assertion, but our civilization was built on the Cartesian assertion of “I think therefore I am” — in many ways big and small the meaning of our world is structured around this isolated ego desperately trying to prove its own existence to itself.
In fact, it takes much more abstraction to posit ourselves as self-created autonomous individuals since every day teaches us over and over the untruth of that claim. Even in death, we’re not wholly alone as this blog post (shared by my husband) so clearly expresses. The dying man’s last words call out, like so many of our’s will, “I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.”