Monday, November 25, 2013

PILLOW TALK: Twelve Year Ache

You act like you were just born tonight
Face down in a memory but feeling all right
So who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don't say nothing when you're feeling this way.           
--Rosalind Cash

Karen E. Fields

Each time I have attempted to the read Karen E. Fields's, "Individuality and the Intellectuals: An Imaginary Conversation Between Emile Durkeim and W.E.B DuBois," I get this God-awful headache. The first time it happened, it was back in 2001, when the essay first appeared. Back then, I remember putting the essay down and by the time I picked it again, it was published in Theory and Society, so pick it up again only to have the headache to return, but I was able to get a little further along the second time around before it became unbearable. 

Emile Durkeim

Having only known Durkeim through secondary literature and secondary knowledge, meaning: I never actually read anything by the man, so I decided that I would tackle his Elementary Forms first, which didn't give me a headache at all and was a joy to read, (despite the efforts of that damned kangaroo). 

cover of Field's translation of Durkeim's Elementary Forms 

Now, armed with firsthand knowledge, I was confident that that knowledge would be just what I would need to plow through Fields, but my head still ached, despite that knowledge or perhaps in spite of it; so, I put the essay down again, and I have been picking it up and putting it down for about twelve years now. It was around this time last year that I picked it up to read again; it was on the occasion of its publication for what would be now the third time, and I got a headache, it seemed, just by picking it, so I put it down and left it there until today. Today, I have one of those long and dreadful days ahead of me, filled to the brim with all of the mundane and banal experiences that we have to come to associate with the waiting rooms across my America, and I am taking Fields's essay along for ride, with the hope that the numbness of the day's experience might just be the cure-all to that annoying symptom whose lack of specificity haunts me.

Karen E. Fields, Individuality and the Intellectuals: An Imaginary Conversation Between Emile Durkeim and W.E.B. DuBois

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