Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en and abject horror

I think this might be the first Hallowe'en ever that I have neither dressed up nor carved a pumpkin (above is last year's) nor bought candy to hand out to cute little costumed-up people (rarely do the dressing up anymore but generally do the pumpkin and candy). No, it will be houselights off here as I'm heading to Vancouver for the weekend. Luckily, living on our little island -- a naturally gated community! -- I'm not likely to get egged or tp-ed for this callous disregard for tradition.

And I'm not completely ignoring the holiday: this afternoon, I'm participating in a colloquium on Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror. Doesn't that sound Hallowe'en-y? After all, a psychoanalytic consideration of the abject . . . dense, often opaque, if poetic, prose . . . there's much of the horrifying there and I'm finding it surprisingly compelling . . . something of the witchiness given that a number of us are enough under the book's spell to give up our Friday afternoon! Considering the time of term, I'm pleased that I made it through the three chapters we're supposed to read (as one of my colleagues said the other day, Chapter Two's a bitch!). Last month, sitting around a table with others equally committed to a productive discussion (so free from posturing and obvious hierarchy-marking that I'm reminded what I love about this little institution I teach at and what I'm worried we'll lose with our recent status change), I felt something I haven't felt since grad school -- the riskiness and exhiliration of trying out new ideas, thinking out loud in front of others, and watching the ideas combine with other thinkers' ideas to coalesce into something new. I try to create this situation for my students, and I think I manage to sometimes, but I need the added challenge of working with peers who already have a theoretical framework in place, who can make me hustle to keep up instead of the other way 'round. In this situation, I can almost feel the synapses.
Do you ever get a chance to talk with others about what you're reading? And do you ever set challenges for yourself in your reading?

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