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The point of calling it “study” is to mark that the incessant and irreversible intellectuality of these activities is already present.Moten maintains that this kind of open-ended approach can be brought to bear everywhere, and can address even those subjects that might seem most traditionally academic.
“Whereas a ‘sound’ was really within the midst of this intense engagement with everything: with all the noise that you’ve ever heard, you struggle somehow to make a difference, so to speak, within that noise.
And that difference isn’t necessarily about you as an individual, it’s much more simply about trying to augment and to differentiate what’s around you.
But, of course, the fact that the incoherence that we call race can somehow be compatible with something like philosophical rigor lets us know something about the limits of philosophy, you know?
”Moten’s poetry, which was a finalist for a National Book Award, in 2014, has a good deal in common with his critical work.
On the page, this can take a complex and even forbidding form.
“Black studies,” he writes in an essay collected in “Stolen Life,” “is a dehiscence at the heart of the institution on its edge; its broken, coded documents sanction walking in another world while passing through this one, graphically disordering the administered scarcity from which black studies flows as wealth.” A reader may need to sit with that sentence for a while, read it over once or twice, perhaps look up the word dehiscence (“a surgical complication in which a wound ruptures along a surgical incision”).
When we discussed his poetry, Moten, citing Amiri Baraka, made a distinction between voice and sound.
“I always thought that ‘the voice’ was meant to indicate a kind of genuine, authentic, absolute individuation, which struck me as (a) undesirable and (b) impossible,” he said.
After a brief, disappointed examination of the bun, Moten, who recently became a professor at N. “You have to put the energy into it to get it into that state.”“Anyway,” Moten said, “mostly I just don’t fucking like it.”Moten had agreed to meet so that I could ask him about his newest books, three dense volumes of critical writing, written in the course of fifteen years, and gathered under the name “consent not to be a single being.” The first volume, “Black and Blur,” has writings on art and music: Charles Mingus, Theodor Adorno, David Hammons, Glenn Gould.
The second, “Stolen Life,” focusses on ideas that Moten describes as, broadly, “sociopolitical.” The third, “The Universal Machine,” deals with something like “philosophy proper,” as he put it to me, and is broken into “three suites of essays” on Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon.