by EILEEN JOY
As promised, I offer here the paper I delivered [with a few modifications, primarily due to a comment from Fabienne Michelet] at the SEMA conference as part of BABEL's two panels on "Eros and Phenomenology" [about which Jeffrey said there was much eros and not much phenomenology, which I've been thinking about a lot, especially because, on many days, I don't even know if I can define phenomenology, at least, not in the way that helps me to understand whether I can do it, or am doing it, or not--I suspect not]. Indeed, one of the most interesting questions asked afterwards, by Jeffrey, was what each panelist [I, Anna Klosowska, Nicola M., and Jessica Rosenfeld, on the first panel] meant by phenomenology and the answers were varied and interesting [and maybe also confusing and contradictory?]. It would be interesting to see if we want to take a stab at that here one more time.
For me, phenomenology has always been the thing I have most wanted least to do with, and I have never been one of those [unlike Nicola] who love to read Heidegger and Husserl and to think about structures of consciousness, or about the thought of thought, or even, the appearance of the real-ness of the world in relation to certain structures of thought or modes of apprehension/sensing? I want to be like Samuel Johnson who kicked the table to prove it was there and not have to discuss abstract philosophy at all. And I don't know, either, about Heidegger's Being with a capital "B" [in which actual beings/persons are subsumed under or covered over by the emphasis on Dasein which becomes a kind of mystification]. But then it seems to me that, somehow, phenomenology is also [or becomes] about what I would call enworlded subjectivities, about being-in-the-world, bodies in relation to other bodies, and even about worlds-within-worlds [and maybe even, too, it is about elucidating something Yeats wrote, which Nicola reminded me of this past weekend, "there is another world, but it is in this one"]. So, for me, trying to think about phenomenology, at least in relation to what I am trying to do with Malory's "Tale of Balyn and Balan," might have something to do with tracing the outlines and momentary emergences of this "another world" that is "in this one." But I really don't know [yet].
In any case, I share with you here my SEMA ruminations. This is my third pass through this story of Malory's, and I would appreciate any helpful comments as I am developing this into a longer chapter for BABEL's next volume of essays, Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism:
Eros and Event in Malory's "Tale of Balyn and Balan"