Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by Teger, May 14, 2012.
we should do a deconstruction circle jerk!! (I'm so bored at work)
what do you do for work?
SF is a safe space for us to speak our truths.
I don't know if anyone has pointed a finger at Hemingway to put him down, or to lessen the quality of his work. The man was certainly a misogynist, and that certainly hurts his qualities as a good person, but it's unclear to me whether anyone said his writing was therefore worth less as a result. Joseph Conrad's writing pretty much treats all black people in Heart of Darkness like soulless animals, but I'd never say the man couldn't write better than most native English-speakers could ever hope to do.
As for the "worth" of literary theory—or any humanities subject that doesn't deal with "concrete" work, for that matter—there's obviously no response to that accusation. One thing that lit theory can do, however—which capacity doesn't, by any means, determine the totality of its putative utility—is train a very particular brand of hyper-critical awareness. Sometimes this can be damning, sometimes it can be extremely rewarding. I think that it's kind of besides the point though to call out theory for its ostensive lack of worth or function. As far as the claim that it—or, more specifically, postmodern thought—is wankery, I'd like to hear more why you think that. I'm not necessarily the best person to critique any such claims (seriously, it's not like I've been doing this a long time meow), but I wonder why you denigrate that particular movement whereas you profess such a respect (or at least I seem to recall you professing such respect) for the (even) older white, Western guys.
And hey, I never denied that I had a racist upbringing (everyone is racist; racism is a structure that harms everyone [although, of course, to widely varying extents])! Yet I do not appreciate how you assume, automatically, that I have a "masculine" gaze. Though I do identify, in terms of biological sex, as a male, it shouldn't necessarily be clear to you how I identify in terms of gender expression or gender identity. Perhaps my mannerisms and my appearance lead you to assume that I am a totally heteronormative male, but it's not fair to me when you make that assumption.
And as for "forcing" anyone to read anything, I believe I only made a hearty suggestion ("if you want this... then check this out"). Hardly a forceful gesture, no? :tounge:
Also: I actually forgot that this was a forum about clothing for a good 20 minutes.
over the summer i help direct my university's undergraduate orientation program. my day involves lots of terrible meals at the cafeteria and sitting around on my laptop waiting for trouble to arise.
thewho: it's not your job, or any academics job, to judge hemingway as either a 'good' or 'bad' person.
here's my issue with postmodernism (and this is in the context of history);
postmodernism did a lot of good things. it's good that we question our sources, it's good that we don't take tautologies... as tautologies and instead question them.
but i think there's basically two 'big' problems with it:
postmodernism relies on an extremely rigorous and difficult vocabulary, that, i believe, is used to exclude the non-'educated' from the conversation. it smacks of academic elitism, and, as to me the fundamental purpose of any academic writing is to educate and inform, it fails in that regard.
also i think (as the sokal joke shows) that the endless jargon and terminology obscures meaning and acts an excuse for uninformed thought.
my other big problem is with the idea of subjective truth. i don't believe in great objective truths, but i also believe that there is a gradation of how 'subjective' an understanding can be and how important it is. i understand why it's important to document the trials of the other and all that, but napoleon was simply more important than a peasant living in the hillsides of langeudoc. that doesn't mean the latter isn't worth studying, but it does mean that when writing the history of the peasant you need to bear in mind his greater historical importance.
i guess you could say i believe in the idea of 'large truths' within history.
have you read a lot of real postmodern literary criticism? it's nonsense. deconstructing texts and talking about signs and symbols are great to a point, and that point was passed a long time ago.
also, I believe good academic theory is divorced from politics, and postmodernism has always had a tendency to align with popular liberal political ideas. i mean foucault wasn't writing simply to document, 'madness in civilization' had a greater, politically motivated purpose.
i think madness is a great microcosm about everything thats good and bad about postmodernism. foucault was right that we need to question our assumptions, but that doesn't excuse his shoddy research and nonexistant bibliography.
I dunno teg it just seems like you're attacking a caricature here.
This aligns with my observation that the kids who were drawn to postmodernism were the ones who were the most full of shit. It's really easy to sound smart and say nothing with postmodernist jargon.
i can cite specific works if you like. i guess what im saying is that i think postmodernism is a useful tool to be used with other tools, but you shouldn't throw everything else out the window. also i really, REALLY strongly feel that any historial work needs to be founded on good, rigorous primary source research. lots of citations and lots of bibliography entries.
Uh, Teger, you can't divorce anything from the realm of politics as far as I know...
huh? lots of academic works don't advocate for political change, and lots of works that are about politics don't try to extend their thesis/conclusions to speak to modern society. not every work needs to end with a 40 page rant about israeli-palestinian relationships
That's not exactly what I meant. You said that "good academic theory is divorced from politics." I don't think that's even possible; everything is always already political. In other words, politics is implicated in everything: the way you see, the way you speak, the way you go to the bathroom, the attention you pay to your hygiene, the narratives that you may or may not choose to focus on in your own written works, the way that you interpret "hard data," etc.
Can you recommend a pretentious account of 20th century Western literary theory?
Well as someone trained as a historian in that rigorous tradition, I still find Foucault's work to be extraordinarily rich and insightful, and indeed absolutely foundational for any understanding of modernity, even with the lacunae and mistakes. No-one ever said you have to use only Foucault, least of all Foucault himself, who was actually quite modest about the empirical limits of his project.
And one of my absolute favourite works of history is Braudel's The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, which of course he wrote in a prison camp, entirely from memory without access to any primary sources at all. It's not all about citations, it's about ideas. And the range and penetration of people like Braudel and Foucault were quite simply beyond most others in the late C20th.
Separate names with a comma.