Q: Love? A:Poop (short opening address to the XXIII Strategies of Critique conference)

May 23, 2009

My name is BoTG, and I’m the co-chair of the Graduate Student Association of Social and Political Thought. I’m here to welcome you to the 23rd edition of our student conference, Strategies of Critique. I’ve done little more than act as a Hegelian Monarch as regards organizing this conference, doting the ‘i’s’ on various cheques, so I won’t talk for very long, letting the people who’ve worked so hard on this to talk to you for a bit. But I want to take a minute or two to open up the question love, the topic of this year’s conference.

I’m not one of this year’s presenters, and I’ll admit that it’s because I don’t know a thing about love. I hardly know where to begin. All I have are a few cliché’s: something about ‘counting the ways,’ and something else about a red, red rose. I used to be hard-core into McLuhan, and one of the things I remember of his work was the assertion that clichés are probes; so I’m going to riff a little on what little I know about love, a couple of cliché’s.

One of the problem’s of love is being asked “why?” – why do you love this, love that, love me? One of the impulses is to give a list: I love this for that, I love that for this, I love you because…let me count the ways! And so ensues a list that could run from 1 to 100 and still not answer the question of why, instead remaining at the level of ways. Of course the materiality of love, its ways, are important. But from 1 to 100, 1000, on and on to infinity, still the question ‘why?’ remains. Why do you love #1? That is, what is the ‘0’ that holds the place that the first item of the list begins to fill?

The other option presented to me is much like the first – provide a list of qualities that are adequate to the description of love. I think that this is again of the materiality of love: my love, it is this rose. See, see its qualities? These are my love. Likewise, for a more advanced couple, one could point to a child: there, there is our love, walking…or pooping, as the example might demand. Love needs its diapers changed.

This still doesn’t answer the question “why?”, however. Why do you love me? How is it you came to love me? Give assurance that it’s me you love and not a contingency. “Do you love me? Why?” That is, “Why me?”

This formulation of the problem probably reveals my implicit answer, but I’ll leave it at that, and defer to the words of the wise that I imagine I will hear over the next few days. We’ve got people from the West coast of Canada, the East coast of the United States, and People from Europe. Lots of love to go around.

And on that note… Let’s give ‘a round’ of applause to all the people who have made the next few days possible…

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