Peter McHugh 1929–2010: The Unique Gesture
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In thinking of my relationship to Peter McHugh as an intimate collaboration, I take some reactions elicited to a most recent unpublished writing of his on intimacy as an occasion for discussing both intimacy and collaboration as a notion in-itself and as applicable to us in particular, treating that space between the general and particular of intimacy as its zone of fundamental ambiguity. I try to being to view a story of the imaginary of community, its elemental stirrings, that Peter might appreciate. In this, I reorient Arendt’s notion of communicating with the dead to the problem of the intimate collaboration and of how each might be a practice that mirrors the other, intimate collaboration being one way of confirming the vow in communicating with the dead to witness, and reciprocally, such communication being a way of practicing intimate collaboration. This leads me to bring to view a range of unstated resonances of the discussion that have applicability to our shared history. First, is intimate collaboration possible in organizations such as the university and how does it coexist among adversarial exchanges, factitious coteries, alliances, and collegial networks? Second, is communicating with the dead another way of speaking of tradition and dissemination in any context as such and what could the manner and method of orienting to this desire say about the quality of life in commemoration per se?