Home / Events / Jeremy Fernando, "On walking with my teacher - ink, writing, calamari..."

Jeremy Fernando, "On walking with my teacher - ink, writing, calamari..."

Cultural Studies Colloquium
When Feb 26, 2015
from 04:10 PM to 06:00 PM
Where 3201 Hart Hall
Contact Name
Add event to calendar vCal

This talk attempts to open the relationality between walking and thinking — movement and thought — through the all too familiar situation, scenario, of writer’s block. Starting with the scene of a walk with my teacher, Avital Ronell, in the woods of Saas Fee, Switzerland, the dossier of the teacher, the pedagogue, as a guide (agogos) is opened, alongside the question what is it to teach, what is it to be a teacher. Which, if Martin Heidegger is to be believed, involves “learning to let … learn” — opening the space for learning, for thought; inspiring another to learn, as it were. However, once the register of inspiration is opened, there is always already the possibility that it is — along with both the one who is inspiring and the one who is inspired, who perhaps are — infected with the whispers of the daemon. And at that juncture, pedagogy and paedophilia, the pedagogue and the paedophile, are perhaps not quite so distinguishable. Which is not to say that they are exactly the same: far from it. But, it is also suggests that one cannot quite immunise oneself from this potential danger: for, without the possibility of love, without opening oneself to another — to the dissemination, perhaps even insemination, of an idea, notion, thought — there is also no learning.

Which still doesn’t quite respond to the problems of a lack of movement in writing, of the point when the proverbial ink stops flowing. To what happens when there is a block. And perhaps even the irony of writing about writer’s block: for, it can only be written about retrospectively, when it is cleared, when there is clearance, when the path is already crossed. Which suggests that all writing about it is an act of memory: one that is unable to account for the possibility of forgetting — and thus also fictionality — brought with, within, it. Thus, one might well be writing about everything except writer’s block itself.

Perhaps then, one can write, say, nothing about the moment in which one’s writing is blocked — at best, one can only describe it, testify to it, inscribe it in, through, literature. Through another act of writing, of writing again: but, not one that attempts to know, define, be definitive, but an imaginative one; one that perhaps always already erases itself whilst inscribing, through its inscription.

yanyun chen - Squid Love, 2011

And in that spirit, I offer the possibility that a painting — Squid Love by Yanyun Chen — that is hanging in front of me, has long been before my eyes — in the space where I eat, drink, write — is the site through which (perhaps in ways that continue to remain unknown to me, unknowable) this piece, this writing, has been inked.

Jeremy Fernando is the Jean Baudrillard Fellow at the European Graduate School, where he is also a Reader in Contemporary Literature & Thought. He works in the intersections of literature, philosophy, and the media; and has written eleven books — including Reading Blindly, Living with Art, and Writing Death. His work has also been featured in magazines and journals such as Berfrois, CTheory, TimeOut, and VICE, amongst others; and he has been translated into Spanish and Slovenian. Exploring other media has led him to film, music, and art; and his work has been exhibited in Seoul, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is the general editor of both Delere Press and the thematic magazine One Imperative; and a fellow of Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore.

This event is co-sponsored by the Cultural Studies Graduate Group, Davis Humanities Institute (DHI), University Writing Program (UWP), the Program in Critical Theory (CRI), Philosophy, and Science and Technology Studies (STS).

design by mmott visual