C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Ideas - Online Reading Group

I'll be missing in action for the latter months of 2008. When I return, I'd like to set up an online reading group. I envisage that this would be set up on another blog, and would possibly be a group blog. The idea would be for a group of us (and a small group is fine) to work through some meaty texts. Debate and discussion of the text would be encouraged (though not idiotic trolling unrelated to the text), individuals from different backgrounds would be welcome to contribute.

Does anybody have any interest in this sort of idea? If the answer is yes, do you have any proposals as to what it might look like?

Some areas of interest to me are philosophy, politics, history, psychoanalysis, and literature. It seems more worthwhile to me to attempt to work through difficult texts rather than straightforward ones. Having said that, novices are welcome. The aim of all this would be to create a shared online resource, and raise the level of discourse on the blogosphere up a notch or two.

Now whilst I have grand plans of returning late this year to launch into a reading group that looks at Marx's Grundrisse or Lacan's Seminar VII, for instance, I'd like to trial this idea with something much smaller, to see how it works. If it inspires a few dedicated readers in Melbourne, the discussion could also relocate off-line to somewhere suitably scholarly, like a bar. There's also a possibility that discussions could be filmed or audio-taped.

The format I have in mind is that each chapter/passage/few pages would be scheduled in advanced. One reader (probably me in the first instance) could then provide a brief bit of background and response to said chapter/few pages. Everyone else could then respond as they see fit.

Anyway, here are some suggestions for the trial run:

Politics - Maybe a short paper by Marx, or Lenin, or maybe Trotsky's paper on fascism. There are many online resources in this area, which is helpful, as it means people can access the texts for free. Hardt and Negri are also good for a laugh.

Philosophy - Badious and Zizek keep churning out interesting papers on a regular basis, though something a little less contemporary could be an option if people are interested. Some of this stuff is also available online.

Psychoanalysis - Since this area links up with the above two in many ways, as well as a plethora of other areas (sexual politics, anthropology, etc), I think it could be quite interesting if people arrive with an open mind. Some suggestions - Freud's Mourning and Melancholia, for instance, or Lacan's paper on the Mirror Stage.

Literature - I'm less inclined to delve into fiction as the blogosphere (and real world) have lots of reading groups that discuss the latest bestsellers. However, maybe as a trial, we could look at one of Nam Le's recently-published short stories, for instance.

Anyways, I'm very open to suggestions, and I encourage one and all to comment here or email me. A reading group of one is just going to be me taking notes (which I do already), and it's going to be a little sad to broadcast that over the blogosphere. So find something you like, and spare me blushes of embarrassment.

Until then, I'm off to Sydney in a couple of days to spread subversion for a short while. I might check out that bookshop belonging to that Gould chap. I hope to hear from you all in the near-future.