Judith Butler on Hard Intellectual Work

by aculturecrisis


So, I thought I wouldn’t post anything for a while, but in the midst of researching for a paper, I found this gem. It’s taken from Gary A. Olson and Lynn Worsham’s essay “Changing the Subject: Judith Butler’s Politics of Radical Resignification.” I have my own thoughts about this, but I will leave it to you to form your own. Just know, these are important words. You have to let them sink in in order to feel their full weight.

‘[Judith Butler] reminds us in the interview below that rigorous intellectual work is necessarily extremely hard labor. Becoming a critical intellectual in- volves “working hard on difficult texts,” and it entails “undergoing something painful and difficult: an estrangement from what is most familiar.” It is precisely because intellectual work is so demanding, so painful, that “not everybody wants to undergo it.” Perhaps the very pain of intellectual work is one cause of the upsurge of anti-intellectualism that the academy is currently experiencing. Butler wonders whether there is “guilt” about being an intellectual because we simply don’t know “what effects, if any, the intellectual (especially the intellectual in the humanities) can have on the larger social world.”‘