I am still clearing out books. One I regret clearing out but must, as it is a photocopy and I never recognize it even when I see it, is Arno Gruen‘s The Insanity of Normality. Realism as Sickness: Toward Understanding Human Destructiveness. Gruen has another important book I have not read, The Betrayal of the Self: The Fear of Autonomy in Men and Women. In the future I will reread the first book and read the other, as Gruen seems quite brilliant to me.
I sometimes dream I am “at home,” and home is always either my flat in the period of my favorite assistant professor job, before Reeducation, or my apartment in the era of my PhD general examination and the examination on my dissertation proposal. I was about to clear out my yellow copy of Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, when a credit card receipt fell out of it, listing my address as that PhD examination address. Now the book and receipt are both staying as important señas de identidad or as an amulet, to carry the person who bought that book home to me.
Some of my ideas for the book I want to write now long predate Doris Sommer’s Foundational Fictions and have little to do with my original field. Still I have been thinking about these ideas for some time and I was fascinated when Sommer’s book started coming out as articles. One of these is “Allegory and Dialectics: A Match Made in Romance” (Boundary 2 18:1 [Spring 1991]: 60-82). On page 77 I put a post-it saying: “Sommer says all the miscegenation anxiety is to reconcile and create the nation. I say it is to express anxiety about race.” That weakly expressed idea is what my book is about and perhaps it should be my starting point.