The Art of Belonging – reflection on the NSU summer school

Is it possible to define the sense of belonging that is more than simply the addition of the parts, that does not erase philosophical loneliness but gives it a place and makes you regard it as a strength?

It has been truly a magnificent gift to be able to spend an intensive week with a group of strangers, talking about venturing into the unknown, into the future of (feminist) philosophy, and who, during the final session, dare to share their feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. In life. But mostly in their philosophical being. A loneliness that is both personal and professional. And I wonder how that shared attitude of fundamental openness creates a space of belonging. The art of belonging is delicate and tremendously precious!
Rationally, I would like to understand why this has happened. What has really happened? Between the first shy and insecure introductions and the final embrace as we left on the buses that would bring us to the airport. What made this possible, and why doesn’t this happen normally? I have some initial thoughts to share about this, but I’m looking forward to the coming years of attending the Nordic Summer University (NSU) to explore this even more.

Reading Antigone together at the beach on the Baltic Sea

beyond Academicism

I try to avoid academic conferences. Yet I also long for a platform to share my work, my thoughts, my problems. With people who are willing to think alongside me, and who are also in search of people who are willing to think alongside their own projects.

This normally doesn’t happen at academic conferences. Or even in universities. Not in my experience, not in philosophy. Normally people try to defend their own position or mercilessly critique the position of the other without bothering to truly listen and to appreciate the gesture that forms the core of someone’s desire. This is extremely boring & tiresome. Boring, because I don’t care about the content of someone’s position, or about their narcissism. Tiresome, as any attempt to approach the other or a position that you do not share (yet), is actively opposed and made ridiculous.

Yet it is the fragility of your own position, that makes it possible to look beyond your own world, your own limits. The possibility of sharing is only possible when you accept that you do not know or need to hold on to your position. Not to know is not a weakness. And although I knew this, and have written about it, it is such a special thing to experience in a group of people, most of whom had never met any of the others.

Photo by Ojars Jansons

Questioning Reading

One of the core themes we all had in common was a questioning of the concept of reading. What happens when we read? Do we approach it from our own perspective, and do we simply read what we already know, what resonates with our own position? Or is it possible to read something that is new? What happens if we attempt to read something for the sake of reading, without judgment, without already deciding what we think? Can we open up the subject/Self that we are, and embrace something other without smothering it in our own thoughts and conceptual frameworks? Can we bring about justice through reading? Can we understand reading as more than a reflection of the contemporary frame in which we find ourselves?
To read, to open ourselves to the text, and to see what happens. It seems so simple, but by letting every voice add to the reading, to provide the difference of position as a method of reading, it becomes possible that the text comes alive in a completely new fashion.

Now that I’m back home again, I’m looking forward to continuing our discussions online, but also to work on my own again. To write, to think, to consider. To read, to develop, to always go back to the origin of my desire. The intense grief I have felt since last week after hearing about the death of my PhD-supervisor Anne Dufourmantelle, has definitely not disappeared. But it has transformed partially into a space to reassess, to reconsider, and to connect to that part of my life and desire that is most important; The becoming of a philosophy that dares to present itself as a non-confrontational method.

Thank you for everyone who was there and who allowed for this to happen.

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