10.26.2008

Stockholm Syndrome: A Research Update

It's almost November: my favorite month (for the weather, of course.) This coming week is the first of the many school holidays kids get in France. The UC decided it would be a good idea to do as the natives, so our students are scattering across Europe for a week while we broke-ass TAs stay right where we are.

So, a research update is due. The thing is, if I were ever apprehended by a gang of bank-robbing cultist psychopaths, chances are they'd barely have to use the old sleep-dep / malnutrition torture routine before I'd sign up to help out. My whole bright-eyed eager-to-please personality defect would translate into the strongest case of Stockholm Syndrome anyone's ever seen.

I bring this up because of how I feel about the Bibliothèque Nationale. When I came here, I couldn't have been more terrified about the prospect of getting access to the research library and dealing with the people there. Now that I've settled into a routine, showing up a couple of times a week and plugging away deep in its missile-silo-esque subterranean heart for three or four hours before my brain gives out, I love it. I can't get enough of that place. The happiest I am in Paris is walking to and from the BNF, across the Pont Sully, down through the Jardin des Sculptures en plein air, past the Gare d'Austerlitz, and along the Quai F. Mauriac. To get in to the BNF from the west, you have to climb up these enormous steps that surround it like an Aztec pyramid. Even without the blood sacrifices, it feels sort of...sacred. The Stockholm Syndrome manifests in how grateful I feel that no one has yet come up to me while I'm reading, screamed "you HACK!", zapped me with a taser, and tossed me out on my ear. Again, that's "yet."

Other stuff: Gorz died in 2007. He and his wife committed suicide together so that they would never be separated - she was dying of cancer. Per his request, his personal papers were shipped to an institute in northern France that organizes and archives the effects of writers to make them available to scholars. It having been over a year, however, said institute hasn't even started sorting through them because they're underfunded and understaffed. This is a point of contention not just for me, but for a wonderful French scholar I interviewed the other week who had known Gorz well and considered herself one of his "disciples." She's been commissioned by a French publisher to write "the" book on Gorz in French, but she's stuck being unable to get at the papers.

This isn't such a huge deal for me. I wouldn't be financially able to leave Paris and go up north for weeks anyway, nor would I be able to get away from the program for that long. I can write grants to return some time next year, albeit for 3 or 4 weeks MAXIMUM (I am never, ever being away from B for this long again.) And, frankly, I can write my shit without looking at his drafts, I'd just want to look at them for historian street cred. I guess we'll see how it goes.

So, yeah. Did some interviews. I've read a lot of books and I'm reading more. In November I'll finish reading all of his books except for the 600-page philosophical treatise, which is going to be an ongoing thing. Also, I'm going to start writing while I'm still reading. I am a one-man rock n' roll party machine.

P.S. Internet co-blogger extraordinaire Count Fosco is back in effect, much to my unholy delight.

3 comments:

Cabiria said...

I am familiar with that brand of Stockholm Syndrome. I'm still waiting for my letter from the H-Bomb instructing me to desist associating myself with their fine institution. And I feel so lucky that it hasn't come yet! The Stockholm people-pleasing personality is only fit for academia anyway.

kungfuramone said...

I'm glad to get some solidarity on the neuroses!

And yeah...it seems like most of the grads I've known have been friendly and basically pro-helpful. I think the crotchety/insane thing must kick in with tenure.

Elizabeth said...

I think you are wise to be shifting your mind into a reading/writing/researching trio. As always, I'll follow suit!

I am so glad to hear that the research moments are satisfying as is the walk to and from those moments.