An open thread

I am translating an essay on Benjamin, whose wide-ranging interests and untimely death meant that he left more projects unfinished than most of us will ever even haltingly begin thinking about starting. Thus I am inspired with a question for you all: do you have any projects that you very seriously intended to undertake and then abandoned? Do you still believe that you will eventually be able to return to them, or has the moment passed?

13 thoughts on “An open thread

  1. A comic book series, called Inshallah, that focused on the multifaceted dynamics of tribe, gender, family and nationality in Kuwaiti life during 2004-2005. (May get back to it, someday; if I go back to Kuwait in particular).

    A graphic novel adaptation of Sigmund Brouwer’s Magnus (this one’s dead)

    An Eclipse Phase RPG campaign, entitled Medea Earth (sci-fi/horror). In progress, albeit very, very slowly.

  2. A while ago, Adam, I think you said that you just have a .doc file named something like “ideas” where you just dump random thoughts from time to time. I thought this was a great idea, so naturally I copied it. I just opened the file and the only thing in there is “Reading Minima Moralia with Benjamin.” I’m not even sure what I meant by that. I was expecting to find some things about Michel Henry, who I became obsessed with during the first year of my MA and consequently collected most of his (out-of-print, expensive) books. I’ll have to check my old computer and get back to this thread.

  3. Wow, I just looked up good old Ideas.doc (haven’t maintained it in years) — and there are a lot of totally abandoned projects! The biggest seems to be some kind of study on Jean-Luc Nancy, who seems to be my equivalent to Dave’s obsession with Henry.

  4. This is some embarrassing shit! At the top of my Ideas.doc, I wrote the following note: “These are just ideas; they are subject to change, or be ignored.” Indeed! The note is also in italics.

    These ideas are about 70% convoluted compare and contrast projects of other things I was interested in with Henry! The only good one, which I still want to do, is a critique of Marion from the perspective of Cartesianism in Henry. This likely still sounds contrived, but Henry’s own work on Descartes is radically different than Marion’s. My inspiration here is the postface to the English translation of Negri’s Descartes book, where he rails against conservative interpretations of Descartes.

    Apparently at one point I wanted to make a Hegelian critique of Bosteels’ reading of Badiou, in the service of Badiou. Who are you, author of Ideas.doc?

    Ideas.doc was also the place where I planned which talks to attend at SPEP three years ago.

  5. Some kind of paper on the ramifications for theological of Christianity’s seemingly-inevitable violence (both bodily and symbolic) in encounters with indigenous spiritualities. I might still resurrect that for an MA thesis.

    A horror webseries/alternate reality game. I wrote about half of the main arc, but it seems less and less likely to get picked up.

    A treatment for a proposed Star Trek television series. That shit’s too deep in my bones. It’ll happen.

  6. I have a dozen or more Icons and other paintings that are uncompleted. A batch of screen plays in various stages. 3 or 4 books worth of bad poetry that could be edited into one, slim, mediocre volume. A couple of novels off to a bad start. I have a stack of lumber to process into an entire Orthodox Iconostasis but I haven’t even taken my new router out of the box yet. I built my own house which is still unfinished. My studio is decomposing to a state where it may be more efficient to just roto-till it into the garden (that I don’t have time to care for) than try and repair it. I have one almost completed Requiem and one half-way finished Mass for vocals and guitar (I did perform most of the Requiem once about 15 years ago though). I have almost an entire album of unpublished Hank Williams songs that I completed the lyrics and wrote music for (In the middle of this project I found out that Dylan was pursuing the exact same project). And, I have 160 pounds of clay slowly hardening on my back porch for a sculpture of Mary Magdalene in the style of Donatello I have yet to get started on.

    Realistically, I am giving up on music and the garden. I already bought the clay so I should complete that sculpture of Mary. I’m going to totally abandon the novels and screenplays. That leaves me with finishing the icons (but not the whole iconostasis) and one chapbook of poetry. I think I have that much heart left in me and I can borrow that much time from death. Thanks for facilitating this encounter with mortality and confronting our limitations. Obliged.

  7. I started writing a work of historical fiction integrating my grandmother’s upbringing in Siberia as a prisoner of war with philosophical and theological questions about government, rule, law, and spiritual life and disciplines such as prayer and hymns that were vital to her people (German speaking Mennonites) during that time. and I wanted to write it in German so that the title could have a great alliteration: Das Gesetz und ein Gebet – the Law and a Prayer (doesn’t quite have the same ring or weight to it in the English). It has a few thousand words. I haven’t looked at it in several years.

  8. I currently have a list on the wall of my office that has 12 projects that exist at various stages- some just over the line from conception, others more fully fledged and some, thankfully, nearing completion.I also have a series of file boxes that have on-going projects within them. The realities of intellectual life mean we always have some projects that ‘hit the wall’ at various times and need to be put aside. New projects, ideas, possibilities and interests continuously arise for the intellectual. Conversely (and it seems perversely) the academic tends to have careerist-driven projects which mean a completely different way of thinking, writing and working- let alone thinking. For those who align themselves with the intellectual tradition of scholarship this means a multitude of projects. Somethimes we return to them, othertimes we raid them for new projects, sometimes we subtract elements for side projects and others sit there until something draws us back. But would we rather be in the tradition and legacy of Benjamin with his electicism or in the legacy of those singularly focused individuals who have these singular projects that are, in the end, mostly boring and CV stuffing…?

  9. @Kampen, I will pre-order that book if you offer it. May I ask what years your grandmother was in Siberia? Obliged.

  10. @danielimburgia, that’s certainly an incentive to revisit the project. I do still intend to finish it one day. Will you read it in German? My grandmother was in Siberia from 1944-61.

  11. @Kampen, alas, no, I will need your english translation and I am willing to pay extra. Now I am assuming she was imprisoned because of her German heritage and not so much her religious convictions? Where was she taken from? One of the German communities occupied/destroyed by the Soviets after the war in the Ukraine or maybe Kaliningrad? Did she immigrate or remain in the USSR? Btw, I think an english title is just fine, German can be so pretentious (lol) maybe something like “Love, Law, and Language: Liberation of the Heart in a Frozen Land” (it’s not quite McCabe). Obliged.

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