QA 49. A motley cruise? (JWTC 2014: Archives of the non-racial)

A motley crew is a cliché for a roughly organized assembly of characters. Typical examples of motley crews are pirates, Western posses, rag-tag mercenary bands, and freedom fighters… characters of conflicting personality, varied backgrounds and, usually to the benefit of the group, a wide array of methods for overcoming adversity. Traditionally, a motley crew [that]… comes into conflict with an organized, uniform group of characters, will prevail. (Wikipedia)

This weekend I’m hooking up with the good folks of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism (JWTC). They who definitely dare to go: a two-week mobile workshop on the theme Archives of the Non-Racial, using South African histories to “assess the possibilities and limits of the ‘nonracial’ in terms of the politics of the modern world and its core values: democracy, freedom, dignity, equality, the human, universality, justice”. There will be fifty-odd participants from everywhere, including academics, journalists and public intellectuals working across the humanities, social sciences, arts and medical sciences. We’ll travel by bus from Johannesburg to Swaziland, Durban, King Williams Town, Knysna and Cape Town, on a blazing trail of talks and tours and cultural events. The talks are open to the public: if we’re coming to your town, do check out the programme. You can (of course) follow us on social media.  I’ll be blogging here and posting on Facebook too.

In preparation, I’ve been thinking about what I think about race and identity and the politics thereof. Here are a couple of strands of that. Read more

(QA 48 revisited.) conception, in other words

Heidegger says you must be born again. No, that was Jesus. Even Heidegger, then. As philosophy will be born again from a thinking mother.

socrates1Philosophy’s first birth was attended by the son of a midwife. He himself practiced husbandry. A ranchero. Pedagod who knew which theoria should be brought to bear and which aborted. A miscarriage, God’s truth! Next time, we start with the troth: a pledge and a patience, a willingness to bear the whole world in our belly. Not a titan of strength this time, not forced to bear the heavens upon our back.

The old way will continue to complete itself. Our time is early, so early – not even dawn but the chill that rises from the dead of night. Our time is the wee hours. I wrap myself in a shawl and blanket, crone, chronicler, kairomone.

Philosophy before philosophy begins again, philosophy before its time, before it’s due, its due, before the dust has settled. While it is still unconceivable. That’s how early we are. Midwives to ova.

What is the task of our time? Emancipation, metanoia. To turn. In this field of philosophy, to refrain. To recover what was neglected. To think what it was unable to think, what has remained unthought. To think before philosophy, return to thought.

Which is what I mean by philosophical practice. With others, to understand the meaning of our struggles and desire, to attend to what is unbalanced, what has been obstructed or occluded. As if to tend the earth, to soften with water, loosen soil, break dry clods to dust in our hands. To open the way, vul’indlela. Philosophical practice as cultivation.