November 13, 2008
I’ve recently been working on an article, based on the idea behind the post below on ‘The historical shiver’. I’m in the final drafting stage and am getting ready to submit it to a Journal (my first time).
Then, on Friday, someone pointed me in the direction of Carolyn Steedman’s Dust. It’s a wonderful book, which I unreservedly recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it. But there it is. A beautiful, playful, engaging encapsulation of everything I was trying to say. She even follows the same trails – Freud, Derrida, Michelet. But of course it is far more than that, she weaves together so many strands – from a social history of dust, to a meditation on the meanings attached to rag rug. And all with a lightness of touch I can’t imagine ever matching.
So where to go from here? Part of me is encouraged that I managed to arrive at (some) similar points on my own, part appalled by the gulf between my writing and Steedman’s. Of course I can revise my article, making it more of a reflection on her study. But my point – the point I thought was mine alone now seems so sad, so pointless. Essentially, my article has turned to dust.