Judith Butler (non)thoughts
As I sit and reflect on Judith Butler's opening lecture tonight, I find myself getting caught up in some tangential questions about the experience of seeing her speak. What does it mean to rally around a public intellectual with the fervor many in the audience(s) showed tonight? How did she convey authority through body language and actual language, and how did she try to connect with the audience on a less intellectual level occasionally (the Biblical joke in particular, coming early on, seemed to catch everyone off guard a bit). It has been/is/will be really interesting to see how people talk about and think about the person Judith Butler and the ideas of Judith Butler, and then transfer that into the experience of actually interacting with Judith Butler. I must admit that I ended up musing on these issues more than on the content of her lecture -- and while I was frustrated with myself for this partial inability to "rise to the occasion" and focus on the material, I think it has to do with the fact that I really have a hard time processing a lecture, especially one of that density, with no ability to take notes or even doodle while I listen.
Never more than tonight have I realized how important that writing/doodling aspect is to my ability to think -- if we had our class in the kind of darkness we experienced in Goodhart tonight I would retain very little, and I think I retained very little tonight -- and I found myself feeling panicky about it, and then pondering stupid things like the way she kicked up her leg behind her as she spoke instead of what she was saying. I might let someone else take my seat next week and watch from the more relaxed environment of Thomas, where presumably I could have a pen and notebook in hand. I guess this is another testament to how everyone has different learning styles and certain environments privilege certain kinds of learning over others. It kind of boggles my mind that something as simple as doodling makes such a difference in my brain's processing abilities, though. It's pretty crazy. Here are a couple of my doodles (from my class notes), just for the sake of sharing...While they may lack coherent academic content, I've definitely developed a new appreciation for their power! Maybe you can find some significance in them, I don't know...
One part of her talk I did manage to retain was her response to the question about forming our politics based on experiences that are not our own -- I loved the way she turned around the question, and made a bigger statement about rearranging the frame that creates the differences in the first place instead of even saying our politics should be based on the experiences of either "us" OR "them"....Also, the story about the unlikely activist alliances in Turkey seems like it will tie in well with our final activism-based unit. I kind of have to throw up my hands about that larger trajectory of her lecture, though -- I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts and hopefully reconstructing it to some extent (and of course, eventually reading it in some form).