Inspiration

Authors


  • *Coming directly from an immensely inspiring relation with my colleague Ann Game, this article takes up themes touched upon in our recent book Passionate Sociology. I dimly recognized but didnt know how to develop these themes until moved by Catherine Clement's marvellous book Syncope. I'd also like to thank: Max, Leo and Anita Sibrits for their tuition; Liz Turnbull, who reminded me of a key passage from Merleau-Ponty at just the right time; Alex Leonard for his understanding of muses; the students and colleagues who pushed these issues in our subject Performing Sociology; and those who attended an early version of this paper at the Anthropology Seminar at Macquarie University. The manuscript of this article was submitted in April 1997 and accepted in November 1997.

Abstract

Au lieu d'écrire, la plupart des sociologues se conferment encore à l'orthodoxie de l'auteur et de l'éloquence en faisant des comptes rendus, en recopiant ou en prenant des notes. En évoquant des expériences d'ecriture bien connues, liées à la mort du sujet connaissant et de l'auteur éloquent, nous voulons montrer que le modèle expressif est seulement persuasif si nous réprimons ce que nos corps écrivants savent de l'inspiration, de la communion, de la méditation, de l'annonciation, du génie, de la prophétie, des anges, des fantômes, de la possession, de l'intuition, de la passion, du ravissement et de l'extase. Ces injonctions transformatives, que les écrivains expérimentent chaque jour, sont les fondements de la créativité et de la socialité. Elles viennent appuyer l'hypothèse de Levinas voulant que la possession ou l'enthousiasme soient dissimulés au coeur de l'écriture et d'autres activity, qu'un délire plus profond que la pensee sous-tende la pensée.

Instead of writing, most sociologists still adhere to an authorial and expressive orthodoxy by writing up, writing out or writing down. By evoking familiar writerly experiences of the death of the knowing subject and the expressive author, I want to show that the expressive model is only persuasive if we repress what our writing bodies know of inspiration, communion, muses, annunciation, genius, prophecy, angels, ghosts, possession, intuition, passion, rapture and ecstasy. These transformative summonses, experienced daily by writers, are the bases of creativity and sociality. They support Levinas' suggestion that enthusiasm or possession are concealed at the heart of writing and other activities, that “a delirium more profound than thought” supports thought.

Ancillary