When I woke up this morning, I was largely ignorant of the work of American philosopher Judith Butler. I didn’t exactly lose a lot of sleep over this, but I wasn’t proud of it either, if only because I’m of a mind that one should never be proud of not knowing something. This morning, though, I was lucky enough to stumble on the infographic/educational cartoon that is Judith Butler Explained With Cats. Now, a half hour and most of a pot of french press later, I feel reasonably conversant regarding Dr. Butler’s work (I’m probably not). On a related note, I feel like way more things should be explained in the format of “Socratic dialogues with pictures of kittens,” because that is a pretty good way to get me to read them.
This most Internet-friendly breakdown of a modern philosophy comes to us from Hannah McCann‘s blog BinaryThis, which earlier this week posted the also excellent philosophical FAQ Foucault Explained With Hipsters, which originated as a handout for a gender studies course McCann taught. I’m blown away. If there had been handouts like this in my undergrad classes, there’s a chance I would have done some of the readings. OK, there’s probably not, but my excuses for not doing so would have been way worse, because what, I can’t read two pages of speech balloons?
Whether you agree with the theories put forth in Gender Trouble or not is your business. But you should at least know enough about them to understand why you do or don’t agree with them, right? That seems pretty reasonable to me, anyway. And as someone with not enough hours in the day to learn all of the things I want to, anything that makes it easier for me understand a new thing earns a big thumbs up in my book. Personally, I’m really hoping McCann tries her hand at a primer on Derrida soon, because I’ve never really gotten Derrida, and I think cat pictures could help to amend that situation.
If you’ve got five minutes and the yen to understand a philosopher you don’t — or if you’re already a fan of Butler’s work, but also an appreciator of pictures of cats, and who among us isn’t — this is very much worth your time this morning. Click the images to embiggen, naturally.
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