This final element of the portfolio is the least important to me, and perhaps the most important to a reader. It is an attempt to contain all these words in a comprehensible narrative of which I am at the center. But if Picasso’s relentless appetite for play has been my primary inspiration these last few years, a photograph of André Breton’s desk is my mirror. The photograph, which I can appropriately no longer locate, is of a surface strewn with the paraphernalia accumulated in the unbridled pursuit of intellectual stimulation. African sculpture, skulls, religious icons, doodles and so on spill suggestively past the frame of the picture. In fine surrealist fashion they suggest that behind the crisp black-and-white image exists a profuse, inchoate and unconscious universe that the artist can never hope to capture except in fragments. The picture I have posted above may or may not be a young Breton in his studio, but the effect is the same. My desks, offices and hard drives have suffered from a similar imaginative profligacy to that which afflicted the artist’s rooms. I can no longer remember the many thoughtless extravagances, diversions and digressions that over the last few years have distracted me from the work at hand. The task of pulling together all that reading, writing and thinking into a single coherent text that can be evaluated as a coherent project has too often seemed Sisyphean. I have tried here, largely by a process of exclusion, to make it all comprehensible.
Below are a few more efforts to do just that. My intellectual agenda, which also exists as the narrative frame of this web site was the last thing I wrote and may show evidence of fatigue and perhaps even hysteria. It will not be used for job applications. The teaching philosophy was produced in a second year pedagogy course (as were the syllabi in my minor and outside field), the grant proposal was perhaps the most difficult and the most useful thing I have yet written at Duke, and the C.V., which is the rather grim looking skeleton of a professional life.