Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch


I spent the second half of last semester reading a lot of Alain Badiou. I started with his Ethics: An Essay On the Understanding of Evil and the collection called Theoretical Writings, then moved on to the collection called Infinite Thought in preparation for a review I was asked to write. At some point in April, though, I lost track of Ethics. I looked everywhere and simply couldn't find it. Today, though, as I was paging through Kim's family photo albums looking for the pictures she had asked me to scan, I suddenly found it again. Apparently I had it out the night we spent looking at those albums together, when I found that photo of her as a thirteen-year-old, the one I later presented here to my subsequent regret.

The last time I remembered having Ethics in hand was the Friday night when Kim met me at the Greek place on Park near Speedway for gyros, we then headed over to Congress for al fresco beer-drinking, walked to the MOCA gallery for a boring Tucson Poetry Festival reading at which Kim kept sticking her fingers into the pocket of my long-sleeve olive shirt, and finally rushed home, before picking up Skylar from Kid's Night Out, to break our rather lengthy dry spell. Have I mentioned that there's a huge leak in our sprinkler system now? It's funny how our environment seems to mirror our human condition back to us. I think John Ruskin had something to say about that. Anyway, I was reading Ethics while waiting for Kim at the restaurant. More precisely, I was reading around in the way that I often do. I feel guilty that I'm not going from point A to point B via the route kindly laid out by the author, but I learn enough to assuage my conscience.

It makes perfect sense that I would find Ethics where and when I did, because my mind is overflowing with heated debates on ethical questions right now, ones which overlap with my usual preoccupation with archiving. I decided to page through the book to see how it would look now that I've spent so much time thinking about the pieces in Infinite Thought. Unfortunately, I was too tired to read the fine print. But I did ponder the peculiar resonance to some of Badiou's subheadings: "Man: Living animal or immortal singularity;" "Return to the same;" "Ethics as the servant of necessity;" "Life, truths, and the Good;" "Return to the event, fidelity, and truth;" "Betrayal." I love it when the theory I'm immersed in suddenly turns into something as practical as a Chilton car-repair manual. No doubt I'm doing that theory injustice in the process, but can take solace in the fact that it's a highly productive injustice. And that beats the sterility of precision any day.
Tags: autobiography, theory

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