A cold returns.
Its spectacular fog envelops a thicket of ideas—a conference paper in extended labor. The pun, a symptom. Many conference papers feel fog-like, experiments in inhabiting someone else’s unclarity. There is something intimate to this exchange. Inhabit my ideas as they form, float, descend, burst, unfold. It requires generosity to extend in this particular way.
While I admire those who can attend session after session after session, I become impatient, want sessions where I don’t have to think, learn how to filter, to pay attention to one speaker on a panel, to re-assemble panels as inter-linked narratives. (Some panels are about putting faces to names—but one remains, and can be enraptured.)
One mutters: “That is not what I meant at all. / That is not it, at all.”
It is something special to ask others to inhabit one’s fog. To ask others to indulge one’s obsession. We cannot speak of immediate returns. One processes ideas slowly. Or not at all. One carries around conceptual knots. Sometimes these dissolve. Or re-fog.
(How much this metaphor owes to an earlier conversation about Pound. Knots meeting knots.)
It becomes difficult to knot together wisps of this and that, pieces from there and here. Fog makes what has been slowly materializing feel insubstantial. The contents of the pensieve do not reveal clear patterns.
It takes patience to inhabit this fog.
Sometimes it clears, but never for long. Perhaps here I seek to name the geo-affect of “stuckness.” Lauren Berlant writes,
Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question for long enough to do some research and write out the whole knot until the original passion and curiosity that made us want to try to say something about something got so detailed, buried, encrypted, and diluted that the energetic and risk-taking impulse became sealed and delivered in the form of a defense against thinking any more about it. Along the way, something might have happened to the scene the question stood for: or not.
Knots as guides to writing.
Knots as what enable living in fog. We move from knot to knot–some dissolve, others remain stubborn, become drawn to other knots. A theory of knotty attraction.
One writes within the fog about fogginess.
Writing within the fog of a cold about the fogginess of thought. (As I mentioned, one is selfish about such endeavors, hopes that others will be patient, will wait for a point of entanglement.)
In this particular fog–stretched across time: Blyden to Fanon, my book’s trajectory; Jessie Fauset to Fanon, my classes encounter each other. And the nagging thought that I am missing something–elections in Tanzania, in the U.S., that I should be writing something about sanity and fear and civility.
One wishes to see clearly. Sometimes. Other times to inhabit the safety of remaining unseen. Unclarity can be pleasurable.
I do not know where this is heading.
One asks others to be generous.