I not We, Me not US

As I'm finishing my Levinas chapter, I'm feeling how hard it is to apply his ethics to academic writing--at least my academic writing. I am so used to using the plural, collective pronouns: we and us, that it feels disorienting to use I and me. But I do believe it turns me into a more naked, and thus, more ethical voice. It prevents me from climbing the mountain.

Of course, to those unfamiliar with Levinas, it leaves me exposed. This is Levinas' point--to always write as exposed, to invite the response, to risk the worst. But for someone accustomed to writing with confidence, as the authority, it is odd--in a very affective way--to offer rather than expound, to posit rather than claim, to say rather than tell.


Casey said...

My dissertation almost exploded when I was trying to figure out an appropriate form for myself in speaking about Hawthorne's literary form -- not coincidentally, it stemmed from what is essentially the same problem you're facing:

How do you authoritatively tell someone to listen?

I found it helpful to end almost every paragraph with, "...or whatever."


Insignificant Wrangler said...

It days like this, and comments like that, which make me wish we could throw a football.

Casey said...

Here here... wait: a mini-football, right?