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Rough Theory

July 20, 2011

Sometimes endings are only evident in retrospect.   I started the Rough Theory blog originally as a way of communicating with a research team during a period when I was often working off campus.  I never expected the blog to gain a more general readership – just as I never expected that my doctoral research would mutate from a fairly concrete empirical study of local community conflicts, into a detailed theoretical exploration of the opening volume of Marx’s Capital.

The Rough Theory blog proved robust through these and many other changes, and I think that, if I had been able to continue posting there regularly, it would have been a perfectly fine platform for the writing I want to do now.  For the past couple of years, however, Rough Theory has been more dormant than active, as professional and personal circumstances have left me very little time to post publicly.   While my intellectual interests and the “voice” in which I present these interests publicly has continued to develop, this development has occurred largely in more formal kinds of writing and speaking – and, as a result, there has been a growing disjoint between how I think of and talk about my work now, and the body of experimental material previously developed on Rough Theory.

This isn’t to say that I disagree with the material posted to Rough Theory – for the most part, I would still be happy to endorse what I’ve written there.  It’s more that I now have a different relationship to the material – and this altered relationship affects the way I would like to talk and think about my project.   For a long period, a busy schedule simply made it impossible to blog.  More recently, however, when fragments of time have presented themselves, and I’ve considered posting new content, I’ve found myself feeling as though I should be filling in background – updating the work to express, in some compressed and telegraphed way, what’s been happening offline.  Yet writing that sort of background update isn’t particularly appealing – it’s unclear anyone would particularly be interested it, and also unclear that I would teach myself much new by writing it…

So the old blog has stalled, occasionally sputtered out a bit of content, but become gradually less and less useful as a space where I move my own thoughts forward, by working experimentally with new material.

In spite of promising to do so, I had delayed for a very long time before posting my submitted thesis to Rough Theory.  This wasn’t due to any particular anxiety about the quality of the thesis:  I had exposed much rougher and more problematic drafts of the thesis on the site before.

I think perhaps I had some tacit sense that posting the thesis would be – should be – the end of the old site.  Rough Theory began as a thesis workshop.  With the thesis complete, in a real sense the old site is “complete” as well.   I think I will let that part of my draftwork end there, with that culmination.

I’ll then see whether, by starting over here, I can begin to develop some new aspects of my work under a new guiding metaphor – no longer rough theory, but… uncomfortable science…

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2 Comments
  1. Greetings, I just wanted to say I’m looking forward to new posts. The excerpts and drafts of your thesis, as well as the associated discussions, have been very helpful in the work on my own thesis.

    Best wishes from a regular reader in Eastern Europe.

  2. It’s always a pleasure to see what you’re thinking about. Play on!

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