Beginnings are always difficult

6 November 2005 |

The intensity of my last trip to Sheffield reflects the current state of my thinking. The conceptualisation of the problem is changing very rapidly and with it, both the context and the methodologies. What I thought was seduction might not be; what I was certain came from the appearance from an object might be incorrect; what I thought was going to veer towards social scientific methodologies might be an altogether philosophical problem; the amount of work I thought I would cover might only be a matter of definition.

The territory I am treading is unknown to me. The research question is asking me to go into phenomenology. What this means is that what I thought was objective and universal may be impossible. Instead, the problem is requiring an approach that looks into the relational aspects of this phenomena I shouldn’t call seduction just yet.

I am the sort of person who likes order and planning, needs to know what they are doing and where is that going to taken them. I have no idea where I am going and, if I am honest, I don’t like it. However, I think this feeling is more productive than that of control. I am thinking things I didn’t think I could think, making connections between concepts and ideas that may produce something more interesting than what carrying out an activity might. I am also exploring areas of knowledge that I either didn’t know about (Consumption Studies) or I resented due to previous patchy experience (Phenomenology).

Learning that phenomenology is not reduced to Bachelard (how erratic my knowledge is!) but that Heidegger, Levinas and Derrida are also phenomenologists gave me immense intellectual pleasure. Discovering the varied philosopher’s approaches and finding out that some of them are rigorous and systematic thinkers (they come from Kant) resolved many of my differences with them. Phenomenology also represents the link that will be able to relate my subject to something I could not satisfactorily bring into the equation before: Lacan’s concept of the Object Petit a. I had the intuition that Lacan was important to my study but often felt that my inclination was getting in the way of logic, not really making sense.

Going from one place to the other and learning how to deal with that unknown, that wilderness, is part of producing new knowledge. I am excited by the challenge that the Merleau-Ponty volume on my red desk represents. GU library seems to have a lot of resources that will help me make sense of it and thankfully, it belongs to the SCONUL network, which reconciles me with this sometimes difficult distance from Sheffield.

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