These notes are scrappy – they are the shards of thought, my rambling wandering through whatever I manage to focus on for a few minutes. The reading is by invitation only and usually by way of an introduction: this is who I am and this is what I am interested in.
But this is a post-traumatic recovery. In the face of ontological uncertainty a redefinition of the terrain I traverse, a reinvention of self and re-narration o possible biographies, re-defining and remapping of imaginary futures.
Barnet, R. (2007) A will to learn: being a student in an Age of Uncertainty, Series, Buckingham: Open University Press
I think the book struggles with the personal dimensions of learning; what it means to be a student and as such draws on Heidegger to explore notions in being and becoming. This is a terrain most often traversed by self-help pop psychologist and while the only connection between this text and that genre the broad area of study, the book none-the-less has a slight therapeutic feel. And with it I think possibly can be accused of slipping into theories of the ‘diminished’ self . But this is a slight and subtextual possibility. Barnet is scathing of this genre (by implication) and dismisses ideas of ‘knowing one-self’ as facile while at the same time arguing in robust, muscular terms about authenticity, voice, courage, confidence, determination – these are words that whatever argument surrounds them, positions the reader and the text in very specific place: self-help.
But this is the beginning and end of any critique. And it is not critique as such – more of a confession of the possibility of being disarmed by this text.
And so my reading, fragmented, ad hoc & sensational – that is based on my sense – I collect phrases, tones and textures that resonate a day after dipping in and out – full reading of some chapters and re-reading of others. Coupled with an inability to concentrate fully – other books whisper while I read & the slight embarrassment at what the text reminds me of.
Becoming is a verb with a consistency of its own; … it is … a creative line of escape that says nothing other than what it is. Deluze and Guattari, quoted in Guttari 2005: 75
Learning always takes place in and through the unconscious, Deluze 2001: 165
Our present age is one of ineradicable ontological uncertainty. In a situation in which there are no stable descriptions of the world, we cannot know with security who we are any more. Barnett, 2007: 58
Passion is the way in which the will declares itself.
I think it’s Barnett’s declarations of becoming oneself anew and for the first time in this place that bothers me & I think it is the extent to which it seems to rely on the idea of the self as singular and central. It almost appeals to the Maslovian idea of self-actualisation: an ultimate and desirable state of being. The achievement of this full authenticity – I suspect may equally involve not ‘self’ as an epiphanous becoming, but also loss and displacement, to drawn n post colonial theories – unhomeliness, luminality and transculturation. That success may involve a claiming of a so far only imagined but wholly desirable self while simultaneously requiring the negation of a self that you know (or fear) to be unwelcome in the academy.