Saturday, September 19, 2009

In Love with the Idea

"What does it mean to fall in love with a writer? What does it mean, for that matter — or maybe we should ask, what else could it mean — to cathect in a similar way a theoretical moment not one's own? … The moralistic hygiene by which any reader of today is unchallengeably entitled to condescend to the thought of any moment in the past (maybe especially the recent past) is globally available to anyone who masters the application of two or three discrediting questions. How provisional, by contrast, how difficult to reconstruct and how exorbitantly specialized of use, are the tools that in any given case would allow one to ask: What was it possible to think or do at a certain moment of the past that it no longer is? And how far are those possibilities to be found, unfolded, allowed to move and draw air and seek new voices and uses, in the very different disciplinary ecology of even a few decades distance?"

— Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Adam Frank, "Shame in the Cybernetic Fold: Reading Silvan Tomkins," in Sedgwick, Touching Feeling, 117-118