I’ve been experimenting with ‘how’ to read Difference and Repetition. I think this meta thinking about an approach stems from a couple things: to date I’ve read a fair amount of his work as well as a good deal of secondary sources. I worry less about my ‘comprehension’ of the material, as my interpretations seem in line with those put forward by established scholars. But given that I am, purportedly, in the home stretch of this degree, efficiency has become a reoccurring thing. Not just turning pages quickly, but more importantly, maximizing the amount of comprehension on the first read.
I’m under no illusion that we can understand everything on the first read. Each reading reveals different levels of understanding, new exposure to the text, but also the external forces/influences that we have come into contact with between a first reading and a second. So qualitatively, there is a real difference between engagement. And somewhat ironically, I am saying this while reading D/R itself, though these ideas are not informed by this first reading…
So, one tactic has been to read the text first, slog through, line by line, attempting to synthesize as much as possible as I go. Another tactic has been to read quickly, just to see what he has to say, and then do a close reading. A third tactic has been to read a secondary source first (ie, in relation to the chapter) and then read the text.
This morning, I opted to first read a section of Williams’s guide, then read the corresponding section in D/R. What seems striking, when reading through the actual text, is the way the material radically opens up, almost instantly. I traveled great distances in the first 20 minutes or so (though it’s truly hard to say how much time had passed), linking up to different understandings and conceptions, whether it is figures like Bergson or Spinoza, my reading of them, my reading of D’s reading of them, my reading of later work like the Cinema books, thinking about our discussions in Becoming Poor, the continual returning to the bundle of wills- squiggles- that Mark always draws on the board…. I could go on, but I think it suffices as an example. I traveled great distances and pages were turned; time was flying, I was having fun and covering a lot of ground.
Then I looked down and saw that I was at the bottom of the second page.