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Is Everything Connected?

Last night, I read Chapter 8, “Everything is Not Connected,” in Graham Harman’s reacent book, Bells and Whistles: More Speculative Realism.  I’m a fan of OOO (Object Oriented Ontology) and appreciate Harman’s writing.  This chapter offers useful perspective on Harman’s insistence that objects withdraw–his anti-holism, as it were. I think that “anti” is appropriate with Harman, as he is rather oppositional, though in a very friendly (yet quite assertive) way. He makes sweeping over-generalizations and broad claims concerning interconnectedness, asserting (with no evidence or proof) that our age is one of interconnectedness, claiming that things are interconnected. I believe, though, that we still live in a rational era of hyper-individualism, where most humans (particularly those of us with eurocentric educations) over-rely on their eyesight, touch, and so on and therefore assume that the world is divided into segments with clearly demarcated lines. And what about the social identity categories that divide people into groups based on (at least sometimes) arbitrary characteristics? These status-quo stories of division and hyper-individualism seem much more popular (and unthinkingly assumed) than the radical interconnectivity described by Thich Nhat Hahn, the intra-connectivity asserted by Karen Barad, he metaphysics and ontology of interconnectedness I posit in Teaching Transformation and Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change, or any of the other forms radical interconnectivity might take.

About a week ago Robyn Henderson-Espinoza asked me about the process Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez (GGL) and I used when developing Bridging: How Gloria Anzaldúa’s Life and Work Transformed Our Own, and I thought I’d blog about the process, in case what I say might be useful for others.   I came to Bridging with the invaluable experience of having worked with Gloria Anzaldúa on several projects, including this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation.  Anzaldúa taught me a lot about the editing process, and whatever I’ve learned is indebted to her.

So, here’s what I remember about the multi-year process of compiling Bridging.  Our process was entirely collaborative.   GGL and I consulted at every step of the way, from brainstorming ideas for the call for papers (CFP), to drafting the CFP, to answering queries, making selections, and more.  Even the index was collaborative.   I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this collaboration.  Because GGL works in the social sciences and my training was in the humanities, we brought different perspectives to the collection, the selection process, and more.

Stage One: Forging the Concept & CFP GGL had the original idea that we should collaborate on a project, and we had several phone conversations to decide the book’s focus.   We used Anzaldúa herself as our guide and model.   One of the things that we had both found very striking about Anzaldúa’s work is her insistence on what I call “risking the personal.”  Therefore, we wanted contributions that required the contributors to engage with Anzaldúa’s work on a personal level (specifically, we wanted contributors to discuss how they encountered Anzaldúa’s writings, in addition to theorizing about her work.)

Stage Two: Sending Out the Call After finalizing the CFP (which involved multiple drafts, lots of emails, and many revisions), we both sent out the CFP as widely as possible–to listservs, friends, colleagues, and so on.   We also created flyers to distribute at conferences.   We also approached colleagues and scholars we admired who had some knowledge about GEA and invited them to contribute.  We were intentional in this process.  We knew that we wanted to include as many types of people as possible: academics, nonacademics, artists, well-known poets, people at the beginning of their careers, people from many ethnic/racial/cultural/etc. bacgrounds, genders, nationalities, and so on.   We wanted to create a type of El Mundo Zurdo.

Stage 2.5: Locating a Publisher In most of my projects, finding a publisher has come a bit later in the process than it did with Bridging.   Because the University of Texas, Austin, Benson Library had recently acquired Anzaldúa’s extensive archival collection, it seemed to make sense to approach the UT Press with the idea of our collection.  Fortunately for us, GGL was right there in Austin and was able to have a conversation with Theresa May, the executive editor, who was very eager to take on this project (or at least to seriously consider because publishers always reserve the right not to publish a manuscript if it doesn’t live up to their expectations).  May’s comnitment to the project was really helpful: the promise of likely publication enabled us to approach better-known scholars (who can be extremely busy and receive many requests for contributions) and assure them that they wouldn’t be pasting their time if they participated in our project.

In another post, I’ll discuss my experiences with the process of working with potential contributors and drafting a prospectus.

Current Writing Project

As the summer semester ends and the fall semester approaches, I have SO FREAKIN MUCH TO DO, and yet–I feel called, today, to think about the Encyclopedia article I’ve been commissioned to write on Gloria Anzald̀úa. So, I’m reading some sample entries and will begin working on the outline.

Yes. Outlines: this is the other switch in my thinking, most recently. Inspired by Graham Harman’s amazing productivity and his insistence that a detailed outline helps him to be so productive, I’m giving the detailed outline a try. Let’s see how it goes. Since I have strong faith in an epistemology of writing, where I learn what I think (and create new thoughts) as I write, it will be interesting to see how this outline process affects my thinking and insights.

Summer Reading, Part I

I just finished reading José Esteban Muñoz’s  Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity.  It is, without a doubt, the best theory book I’ve read this summer.  Muñoz gives new life (and hope) to utopian thinking and illustrates a much more inclusionary form of queer theory than Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick, Lee Edelman, etc etc etc.  In terms of fiction, my favorite summer read thus far is probably The Greyfriar, by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith.  Steampunk meets urban fantasy–now there’s a winning combination!  Although the plot is too predictable, the alternate reality had me hooked.

I am so excited. The pieces to my book proposal are really coming together. I’m arguing that we need new forms of theory and theorizing which are accessible and nonoppositional. I’m using women-of-colors theories to make this argument. And, in reverse, I’m arguing that women-of-colors theories and perspectives offer important, previously overlooked, entries into current theories and social issues. I am making this argument in a way which aspires to be accessible and nonoppositional. I’m trying to align my theory with my form

A great time to set new intentions.

Just started Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s  Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (2003)How is it that I didn’t read this book earlier, given her desire to move beyond dualistic thought and her chapter on Buddhist pedagogy?  Perhaps my tardiness is due to exasperation with some of her earlier work, which seemed too removed from activism?



Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
—Walt Whitman

This blog contains my fleeting thoughts, long-held opinions, current explorations, metaphysical speculations, activist concerns, and comments on what I’m reading and/or writing at the moment and in the future.  I hope that this blog will be dialogic in David Bohm’s sense of the word:

I give a meaning to the word “dialogue” that is somewhat different from what is commonly used. The derivations of words often help to suggest a deeper meaning. “Dialogue” comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means “the word,” or in our case we would think of the “meaning of the word.” And dia means “through”—it doesn’t mean “two.” A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of the dialogue is present. The picture or image that this derivation suggests is of a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us. This will make possible a flow of meaning in the whole group, out of which may emerge some new understanding. It’s something new, which may not have been in the starting point at all. It’s something creative. And this shared meaning is the “glue” or “cement” that holds people and societies together.   (“On Dialogue”)

Thanks for checking out my blog!