Feb 20, 2022
Welcome to the Conceptual Labor blog! I’m Ním, the author of the Theory and the book and most of the posts here will be written in my voice. I think that’s an important distinction to make right away, because I took great pains to write the book in a general voice. I’m not pretending that it’s at all neutral, but I felt that the book would be more useful to more people if the models they worked with while reading it didn’t have to include me as an actor at any significant level.
Early drafts were not so clear on that distinction. In an overlong section where I tried to resolve my personal perspective with the ideas that I was presenting, a dear friend of mine who was, at the time, deep in the process of writing his Ph.D. dissertation and carefully attuned to the strictures of academic writing, commented “I love you dude, but who cares?” He was, of course, right. This paragraph is, itself, an example of exactly the type of thing that you will find in this blog that I kept out of the book – reflections on writing the Theory and the book, thoughts from me and my friends, shorter anecdotes for readers who are already on board with the Theory, and, tbh, longer sentences and more commas.
So that’s one category of posts you’ll find here: short, sometimes personal anecdotes for conceptual laborers.
Covering the hits
I want the blog to offer more openings for readers to use the Theory to their own benefit, and to share the Theory to a broader audience. To that end, we have a more evangelistic category – examples of the ideas from the Theory showing up in the outside world.
This category exposes me even more to the problem I mention in the author’s note – the world is full of people more accomplished than I am who say some of the same things I say in the book in their own language. So I want to be totally clear on this – when I point at their good work to say “look, this is like the Theory,” I am trying to say an earnest “thank you”, not a sideways “you’re welcome.” If I am critical of their ideas, it is only because I am taking them seriously.
I also want to be up front about the self-promotional quality of this. I’m not super comfortable with that kind of thing, but I believe in the usefulness of the Theory. I’m hoping that keeping tabs on when ideas that I built it out of were actually useful to someone is an honest form of advertising, and not too propaganda-y. Let me know if I fail at that.
Drawing new maps
Ultimately, the point of this is to further the development of the Theory. After more than a decade of trying to bang these ideas into shape either on my own or in conversation with my (extremely patient) friends, I am really excited at the prospect of other voices joining the conversation. We’ll see what form that takes – guest writers? posting drafts of new work as git repositories? starting a forum? Whatever happens, I hope it happens in connection with a community of people, reflecting what matters to their own conceptual labor. I won’t try to predict what comes next, so either subscribe to this blog or follow the official Conceptual Labor account on twitter