Friday, September 18, 2009

A belated fourth birthday

I'm feeling a little like a deadbeat dad these days, given my neglect of D&R. I've been having a blast over on my book blog, The Late Age of Print, but unfortunately that's taken up a bit too much of my attention. Case in point: Monday, September 14th was the fourth anniversary of the launch of this blog. I've been pretty good about marking the occasion in the past, but this year I'm ringing in the new year belatedly. As any deadbeat dad worthy of the name would say, "Hey, at least I remembered." Sigh.

Anyway, it's nice to have an occasion in which to reflect a little here. I've missed D&R, honestly. Late Age is wonderful in that it gives me ample opportunity to explore issues relating to books, publishing, and reading. Nevertheless, I miss the eclecticism that has come to characterize D&R over the last four years. I wouldn't say that anything has been fair game for me to address here, but as the tag cloud appearing below and at right shows, this little blog of mine does indeed have quite a range. Sometimes I just prefer broadcasting over narrowcasting.

I've been puzzling over something of substance that would be interesting for me to share on this, the belated fourth birthday of D&R. Mostly I have half-formed thoughts about monism and dualism, inspired in part by my reading of Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination, which I reviewed here this past summer.

Much of my philosophical training in graduate school was spent reading, studying, and discussing the work of Gilles Deleuze. In this I learned to abhor the negative ontology characteristic of dialectical philosophies and to celebrate monism, whose principles of singularity, affirmation, and holism at the time resonated strongly with me. They still do.

Yet, as I myself grow older, and as I grow older with this blog (whose name I cherry-picked from Deleuze's masterwork, Difference and Repetition), I find myself becoming less patient with monism. I am beginning to see its cracks. Mostly I am concerned with its penchant for disengagement, for its tendency toward monologue, for its unwillingness to let itself be shaken to the core by some other. I see in monism a profound insularity or desire to turn inward (what Deleuze would call "involution"), whereas in dualism I increasingly perceive a desire to experience the world outside of oneself. Could it be that monism is a kind of philosophical agoraphobia?

Again, as I said, these are only half-formed thoughts--significantly a result of my not having given D&R its due this year. Hopefully I'll be able to get back on course in the coming weeks or months. For now, thanks to everyone for your contributions here over the last year. Your comments and questions challenge me, your readership inspires me.

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