"There is tenderness only in the coarsest demand: that no-one shall go hungry any more" – Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (1974: 156)
I’ve recently been reading Antonio Negri’s Diary of an Escape. There is so much to say about the text and the desperate moment out of which it emerged (I will hopefully return to this in a later post). For the time being I want to flag up an entry (November 22, 1983) near the end of the book on teaching. Teaching matters a great deal to me and I worry about its instrumentalization and anaesthetization. Here are a few key passages:
“Teaching is good. Memories come flooding back – the enthusiasm of my lessons in Padova, the seminars at the Institute, and then those meetings, either abroad or at other universities, where I was able to give bodily form to my thinking, speaking it aloud far more than writing it out. That profound emotion which, in discussions in class, pushes you into finding ways to be clear – almost an excavation you do into yourself, for others, driven by their need for understanding” (237).
“I have an incredible need to reconnect with the corporeality of communication, to re-adjust the measures of the relationship with the real. In communicating you form concepts which criticism often does not register […] The years spent in prison have been a kind of intrusion, a raid into the void. Now I experience this void of communication as detritus and passivity” (237-238).
“Teaching will force me to break the inertia and to locate myself in a living milieu. I have to have the courage to take the plunge and swim. For me, if I am to succeed in operating practically, at the political level and in life, restarting teaching is a precondition. How pleasurable is the tiredness you get from teaching!” (238)
“Teaching demands great generosity – like a stripping bare of one’s own scientific knowledge in order to show it, and the only slowly to re-cover it with its clothing. This moment of nakedness is fundamental. It is fundamental because in teaching only a pure subjectivity can accept open dialogue and the free development of discussion. When, in 1968 and after, the professors refused this naked condition of liberty, they were not defending the substance of teaching – they were reneguing on it” (238).
Source: Antonio Negri, Diary of an Escape, trans. by Ed Emery (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010).