“It’s just what they accuse us of.”

I woke up today thinking about pedagogy and love and my teacher Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. We could really use her voice these days. I made myself coffee and turned to Youtube, looking for Eve.

The above video is her 1998 Kessler lecture at CLAGS: the Center for LGBTQ Studies at CUNY. In this talk, she shares an excerpt from A Dialogue on Love. The event opens with a series of speakers who honor Eve’s work. I’ve keyed this to José Muñoz’s introduction — at this point José had been at NYU for just a couple years. Disidentifications was about to be published. He was there as Eve’s student, at her request; he speaks for a number of us who worked with her in the 1990s. José’s work had, I think, a huge impact on Eve; when she moved from Durham to New York their relationship developed into a powerful friendship which never lost its pedagogical shape.

Eve comes on at 52 minutes, and it’s all just so her.  The title of this post is drawn from her off-the-cuff joke about her own work — about how A Dialogue on Love, which is drawn from her therapy and is a first-person narrative, “is just what people accuse us of doing when we do anything that has the first person in it — this isn’t scholarship, it’s really therapy. So I figured, what the hell.”

I am very lucky to have been her student.

a thought (who knows)

The uncertainty that haunts stories about harassment is an effect of harassment itself — it is an effect of the relational and social nature of harassment. Harassment’s intensities can escalate to a point at which the truth feels not only unknowable, but irrelevant. This does not mean that the identity of the agent and the object of harassment is unknowable. This information is knowable for the community of people impacted by harassment. It is knowable to harassment’s victims.  It is not always knowable, however, to the agent of harassment — some people are driven to harass by persecution complexes. Nothing you say will convince them that the victim (or the system) isn’t out to get them.

 

[Orphaned paragraph from an essay on harassment dynamics.]