false coincidences, tumors and imaginary dogs

I do not teach what I want to teach; not often. This is due to a certain positionality, not to my own desire. Perhaps it is my own desire that put me in this position, but that is no matter. I developed a class on memory after several months of deteriorating memory, with no intentional or causal desire therein. I was not obsessed with the memory lapses and losses; I affectionately called them collectively "the tumor", and I went about the world constructing the idea of a little marble-shaped pebble in my brain, pressing down on something and causing things to go awry. Of course, I knew better; this was the way to describe it that attributed absolutely no meaning to it--who can be expected to control a tumor that suddenly springs into the brain, like a lazy cheerleader springing to pert attention with a smiling bob of the head?

Vapid tumor--what can be done? I treated the whole situation more like a sitcom than anything else, and the occasional stroke of anxiety was treated to the same derision, even offered up under the "absentminded professor" stereotype for general amusement. I stayed away from all analytic postures towards my memory question (while I poured over such postures in relation to the memory question). It was someone else who pointed out to me the odd coincidence of me researching and teaching a class on memory after months of having shilled my deadpan brain tumor through its paces. Why yes, how odd, now that you point it out. (Oh, come now, it was better than denying any coincidence at all, herr dr. at my head).

This reminds me of another time where the extremely obvious was pointed out to me in similar fashion. Upon turning in my first dissertation chapter to E. (first written, not first in order), on Stendhal's De l'amour, she said to me across the crackling long-distance line (imagine the slightly gruff yet velvety laugh of hers), something like this: "Do you realize that you've just written your first chapter, a whole chapter on doubt and love, while you were living through a break-up?". Why, no. I hadn't put my finger on that stunningly obvious fact. She had waited to tell me until she had the draft safely in hand, worried that such an observation--were I somehow unaware of it--would paralyze all writing; would turn it to fitful musing. She was right. It would maybe belong in Stendhal's work, but it would contribute nothing to it, or to its scholarship. Thinking back now, it mightn't have been half bad to have read myself into the text in such a precise way that I could no longer read it at all. (I say this as if I didn't do just that, dear readers, and you don't have to be some young Mme Roland to doubt that).

While writing--as I sat in Orleans at a makeshift desk bought for me by a lover who had already decided and announced, before I had arrived even, that he didn't want me to inhabit the desk after all--I hadn't noticed. ("The tumor" was clearly active before the memory problems appeared on the scene. The cheerleader, after all, has several outfits.) I had sat every day in an ugly apartment and written as I could, and spent every evening in the company of a man who had rescinded his offer of hebergement of the heart. It was pleasant enough, for agony. It was agonizing enough, for writing. I hadn't seemed to put the two together until E. spoke it out loud with such suave certainty and gentle concern for my unintentionally ironic position. This is probably a prime example of why I had felt so embarrassed to accept that I had changed my research focus from sexual difference to love--only a certain kind of dolt would write about love. One doltish enough to not recognize herself and yet bad enough to identify with the beloved of every text, and call that identification "reader" and pass it off onto others, trying to make them complicit. (One who still says "dear readers"...and means it.)

So, I am musing here and now insead of writing a paper about ... fill in the blank, sing-songy like if you so choose ...love. This time Derrida and love. Or rather, again Derrida and love. The last time this bit of textual explication was off the shelf and on the computer, it was witnessing the simultaneous ending of a dissertation and another relationship; this relentless question of address paired up with the me who curled up next to a lost artist-in-residence (our residence, a shared workspace where glances were soon not so much exchanged as hurled at each other in anger and despair). Fresh blood traces on the bathroom tiles are in some instances addressed, and you don't want to be reading Derrida when this brute fact makes its way into your awareness. For you'll find yourself a selfish cow if you do, as I did. That was the call to point out the obvious -- the ending of this chapter was finished in the presence of an already dead but unrecognizably so relationship (just as the stillborn Orleans experience).

So, here again, now, this business of love invades my desktop and a new topic has arisen, out of sheer necessity, lurching with only accidental meaning, to the fore: fidelity. And infidelity, of course. Just as all performatives are felicitous or infelicitious, or both; are all fidels also infidels? And the question turns to tin in my ear. I can't play. I know too much already, and the apres-coup has struck too soon, abominably soon. My Fido doesn't want to chase down the ball, doesn't want to fetch. There is no return address, and Fido isn't apologetic. So "the tumor" has become an imaginary dog? and a recalcitrant one at that? Why not? There is no point in bringing Fido into it if you can't say "come". And I can't say "come" at all anymore. And I want a tumor to blame; I want an imaginary dog to perform with my words; I want a sparkling cheerleader's barking chant to do something to block the flow; I want E.'s voice to wake me up once it's over.