On Thursday I finished the first draft of my dissertation proposal. I was feeling really happy to be drawing connections to Quantum Theory, Queer Theory, and Postcolonialism for the pursuit of Ethics. I felt good, and extremely invigorated about my work. I even sent my proposal to a few people for an initial read before I present it on Wednesday to my Seminar class. I wanted to make certain that the proposal, itself, is readable from a variety of disciplines within the field of Religion. I received good and useful feedback, and my advisor signed off on the first draft, with some very helpful comments. I was grateful and still feeling appropriately well. Then, I had a conversation about my proposal with one of my colleagues. It was tense, and there I heard the questions: ”What are you about? What’s the teleology of your project?” Wow, I thought! I hadn’t thought about the telos of my dissertation. If anything, I was aiming to help make the body visible in discourse, its materiality for sure. I was aiming to privilege the body as primary to moral decision making. What am I about?
I heard this question not only about my work. I heard it about my own self, my body. And so, I’ve been thinking about this question for several days. What. Am. I. About. ?
This is the question that no one asks. Faculty find what I’m doing creative and fascinating and praise me for pushing discourse–for being brilliantly engaged with “cutting edge” stuff. My colleague, who asked the heart-stopping question, tells me I have cultural cache and that I know how to use terms. I think I’m genuinely interested in bodies, my own body, and queerness–my own queerness. I may have cultural cache, but its not just to be cool or be a lazy scholar. I’m honestly interested in what my proposal has to say. So: What. Am. I. About. ?
You want to know what I’m about? I can hear her say “Yes!” with a soft, yet urging and emphatic tone. Well, this is what I’m about…
I’m about being different in the world. I’m about trying to think pedagogically about my work. I’m about asking severe questions that demand particular attention to our bodies. I’m about, in the spirit of Heidegger, taking long walks down country roads. I’m about lazy Sunday mornings where I mull over why I continue to read shit that is difficult and yet tantalizing. I’m about trying to be something and someone in the world, a model perhaps, that compels and engages the other to ask questions of themselves and respond to my questions with their actions and not empty rhetoric. I’m about hiding behind my own rhetoric when I’m unsure of myself or where I’m headed in life and in scholarship. I’m about the truest of love, and at the end of the day I have greater hope than I did the previous day. I’m about fidelity in all things, especially in thinking. I’m about engaging my being, and engaging my being different in the world. I’m about you and your questions. About you and your love. I’m about so much more than my flesh and bones can handle–they rattle and hum with a deep abiding passion for the good things in this world. What am I about? I’m about just trying–really trying to not just do something cool, but be a bridge with otherness in order to have deep and meaningful relationships which compel me to do good and act justly. I’m about so much more than these virtual words on this blog. I’m about recognizing the indigenous past of my mother and grandmother and the ways that their struggle enabled my flourishing. I’m about bodies being in this world in deeply intentional and meaningful ways. I’m about deep relating, about meaningful relating, about listening to my body and responding appropriately. I’m about me. I’m about you. I’m about so much and nothing at all. I’m about that nepantla space where we are dismembered, where we come to know the deeper parts of ourselves, the space and place from where we act.
What are you about, my dear one?