Courage as Virtue: Corrections as Courage


Over the last few weeks, I have been reviewing what I have written and thinking about what I want to write, here and elsewhere, with a growing sense of despair. The writing was burdened with tired affectations, performative interjections and trite insights.

Even though the intent, and perhaps even the idea, was not in the lacking, the writing was, to put it bluntly, lazy; intellectually and creatively. And in re-reading some of the texts I realised I had resolved to expressing simple and earnest ideas through complicated and convoluted phrases, lacking the courage to admit anything less than cleverness in my writing, and attempting to pathetically compensate for this lack by a militant insistence on the integrity of my “intent”. I was, in short, producing ‘literature of desperation’ which Roberto Bolano in The Savage Detective reckons is ‘…of resentment, full of sharp instruments and lynched messiahs’.

And thus when a technical glitch offered to wipe off the entire contents of the blog (I have a backup elsewhere to remind me of my follies), I saw it as an opportunity to make amends. I agreed to allow myself, and others, an openness of ideas and intent, without compromising on one’s positions – political, intellectual and otherwise – to celebrate these spaces of cohabitation with courage. And in these spaces commit to practicing courage as Alan Badiou calls out for:

“…and courage, I would suggest, is the principal virtue in face of the disorientation of our own times….I would retain the status of courage as a virtue—that is, not an innate disposition, but something that constructs itself, and which one constructs, in practice. Courage, then, is the virtue which manifests itself through endurance in the impossible. This is not simply a matter of a momentary encounter with the impossible: that would be heroism, not courage. Heroism has always been represented not as a virtue but as a posture: as the moment when one turns to meet the impossible face to face. The virtue of courage constructs itself through endurance within the impossible; time is its raw material. What takes courage is to operate in terms of a different durée to that imposed by the law of the world. The point we are seeking must be one that can connect to another order of time” [New Left Review; 2008:41].

So I beckon anew as a scribe with old tools, ideas and the myriad experiences of being which I encounter, not as an exhibitionist but with courageous humility and patience which telling the tales of those living on the margins demands, especially if the intent is informed by seeking to blur boundaries and desire cohabitation as physical, political, poetic and philosophical realities.