Disciplining the Self

Yep, that did it.  I'm sick.  I'm trying to figure out whether this is simply a case of noticing the apparent coincidences (every so often I get sick after reading a set of applications, but then I read lots of applications, so maybe there isn't a link) or, in fact, a clear case of cause and effect: I read applications, I get sick.  But I am.  Fever last night of 101.3.  Aches, sore throat, cough, inability to focus.  Not entirely clear now how I am going to write this paper I've been asked to give.  Perhaps my body is trying to tell me something about what kind of paper I should plan to give.  I want it to be clever and philosophical, but it's more likely to end up a kind of show-and-tell.  I suppose there's nothing particularly wrong with show-and-tell, but it isn't terribly Foucauldian.  And this is a rather Foucauldian crowd.  At least I'm assuming it is, I could be entirely wrong.

Do I have a self that I want to talk about?  Does anybody?  How would I know?  And why are we so obsessed with defining/inventing/disciplining our Selves anyway?  Isn't a self something that you simply have, like a body or a mind?  It can't be that simple, but for the life of me I can't figure out why not.  You'd think I'd know after spending so much time blogging about my interior, my ambitions and fears, my efforts at disciplining my responses to the difficulties of life.  Haven't I been engaged all this time in the very kind of exercise that I have been asked to describe?  "The inscription of self."  Here I am, inscribed in my blog for all the world to see.  And yet, much like Augustine in his Confessions, not myself as a particular, unique individual, but rather myself as an exemplar of the kinds of struggles everyone goes through in learning how to live.  See, I do have a grand purpose in keeping this blog, even if I don't talk about it explicitly all the time.  So why I am having such difficulty thinking of something to say on this very topic historically?  

Ah, if I could answer that question, I could start writing, couldn't I?  But now I'm sick and can't think straight and don't have the energy to try.  I could try forcing myself to write something (other than this post).  After all, I'm sick already, how much worse could it get?  No.  I'm not going to do that.  I've beat myself up enough about my academic work.  I'm going to do what I can today, just noodling around.  And then noodle some more tomorrow.  And maybe a bit more the day after that.  And maybe by the end of the weekend I'll have an idea of something that I want to say.  And that will be fine.  Because right now I need another cup of tea.  And maybe a nap.  What I definitely do not need is more discipline.  At least, not discipline of the "force yourself to do something the hard way" kind. 

I'm sure there's an important lesson in this.


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