I’m still putting some books into their right places after my move a couple of weeks ago. I happened across my copy of Jurgen Habermas’ Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. The sight depressed me. I don’t blame Habermas – the book is fine, big, strong, meaningful and rich. And I know, as with all things in the great cycles, that I’ll come back to it, that it will yield up a new, more alive version of itself someday, in conversation with some bit of weirdness or history. I know that I will use it to find life.
But it still, in that moment of seeing, brought back to me so much anti-life. I wasn’t taken back to the moment of reading or the moment of discussion, which are joys I miss. Instead, the sight carried with it all the deadening structures that a book like this props up, maybe exists to prop up, to the degree that any work done to free it would be contrary to the initial professorial intent, the reclining assessment, the tentative dissection, the threading and unthreading of a thousand minutely distinct glass beads.
I’m not sure what the right place for Habermas is, but I think it may be out of sight. At least for now.