Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tagging: Bringing Michael Chabon and Giorgio Agamben Together

Oh, what fun! Not to mention a great reason to take a break from dissertation-writing. It seems I've been tagged, and apparently the rules are as follows:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

As you can see from the above picture of one corner of my desk, which I took just minutes after realizing I'd been tagged, there are two books that seem to be equally closest to me: Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union; and Giorgio Agamben's Remnants of Auschwitz. And if you think they are an unlikely pair, note the strangely close proximity, in my stack of books above, of Amy Tan and Linda Hutcheon.

Anyway, I'm going to cheat and give you both. First, here's Chabon:

Zimbalist struggled for the next hour to understand that move, and for the strength to resist confiding to a ten-year-old whose universe was bounded by the study house, the shul, and the door to his mother's kitchen, the sorrow and dark rapture of Zimbalist's love for the dying widow, how some secret thirst of his own was quenched every time he dribbled cool water through her peeling lips. They played through the remainder of their hour without further conversation. But when it was time for the boy to go, he turned in the doorway of the shop on Ringelblum Avenue and took hold of Zimbalist's sleeve.

And now, Agamben:

For the one who knows, it is felt as an impossibility of speaking; for the one who speaks it is experienced as an equally bitter impossibility to know. [new paragraph] In 1928, Ludwig Binswanger published a study bearing the significant title The Vital Function and Internal History of Life. Introducing into psychiatric terminology a phenomenological vocabulary that is still imprecise, Binswanger deelops the idea of a fundamental heterogeneity between the plane of the physical and psychical vital functions that take place in an organism and in personal consciousness, in which the lived experiences of an individual are organized into an inner unitary history.

I couldn't resist rendering the first sentence in bold. This is why I love Agamben, and this is also why I actually have a good idea for my dissertation.


Anonymous said...

Actually the arrangement I found most interesting was that right in between your KFC coupons and valentine heart chocolates is a Kara single.

Monica said...

Kara? What is that?

I am so embarassed that I have KFC coupons on my desk. Really. Should've thought to move those before snapping the picture. It's bad enough to admit that I eat there, let alone that I need coupons to eat there. Ah, the life of a grad student...

Anonymous said...

the stack of CD's you have there...

Hey now, KFC is some good eatin'. I'm not suggesting anything here, but I have plenty of money yet nonetheless use coupons for everything.... Wait a minute, that's because I have a wife... Who's particularly thrifty.

Sorry for pickin on you.