13 February 2014

Three excerpts from an interview with Lisa Robertson

I think there is a strong relation between emotion and form, just as there is between emotion and bodies. In fact, they’re not different. It is my body that is angry, and that thinks, and that cuts through certain conventions to find ways of working with language that feel direct, liberatory. What we’re talking about here is bodies, their imperative to act. We can’t free bodies without listening to bodies, including our own.

But I want to say too that it has been crucial to continue to seek out, craft a balance, between solitude and social visibility. Retreat is also an economy. As well as developing social and political critiques, we need to nourish our inner lives. This is also something we can help each other with. The neo-liberal economy has put financial and institutional survival at the foreground of nearly every intellectual’s life. And as women we are conditioned to serve others. We can’t let this exigency obscure the parallel need to be improductive, to locate value otherwise. I am more and more Epicurean as time passes. I’m referring to the school of philosophy as examined living, not the popular myth of gourmandise. We need to form communities that help us live outside the general economy, to cultivate resistant paths of thought. I’m interested in exploring the notion of a feminist solitude. I’m interested in experimenting with time.

I believe that thinking is emancipatory. That is why it is frightening, to individuals and to political regimes and institutions. Thinking is a form of acting, an acting within the space of language. I don’t mean language in any autonomous sense. Language is already historical, it’s never not political and historical. To act within language is always to act among others, and in the temporality of others. We change language itself by thinking and writing. Other people’s thinking and writing has given me the space and the will to work. I hope to contribute to this quorum, however modestly, because this is what it means to live in history and in politics. It is already a world, already a utopia. I want to insist that creative and intellectual activity is real, although it’s situated outside the mainstream of the economy. The neo-liberal political economy is not real. It is violent, and aggressive because it wants to claim the space of reality in order to quantify it. What we are doing, speaking together, reading and publishing and critiquing one another’s texts, eating at tables and arguing, loving each other, giving life to one another, is already embodied utopia. That doesn’t mean it’s simple. It has to be reinhabited at each turn. This ongoing reinhabitation is the necessary amazement. It’s politics, it’s the future, and it’s happening in kitchens and in online spaces and classrooms and gardens right now. It’s a resistance.

Full text here.

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