Log in

No account? Create an account
Missing Part - De File — LiveJournal
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Missing Part
I know plenty of people in academia who eagerly expound their sense of which scholarly approaches are "so yesterday." Whatever those individuals have, I lack. I've been reading Max Weber's Economy and Society again and, although even the critics of his critics are considered hopelessly dated, I find myself thinking that I derive more benefit from spending time with his work than I would from making myself conversant with the oh-so-au-courant scholarship that can't imagine confronting Pierre Bourdieu, much less Weber or Emile Durkheim, as an intellectual with something pertinent to say to us. Maybe it's simply my weakness to identify too readily what might serve the present conjuncture, but I don't see myself overcoming it anytime soon.

Tags: ,
Current Location: 85704

22 comments or Leave a comment
flw From: flw Date: March 11th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Are you saying that Academia is filled with Cool Kids who have their own little club just like everything else?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
In part. But it's not simply a question of wanting to appear cool. As I said in a reply to another comment below, the pressure to appear innovative -- a very real pressure -- distorts scholarship even when coolness is not much of an issue.
ankh156 From: ankh156 Date: March 11th, 2008 07:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Nothing if not rigorous, Our Maxie

Coherent too. Maybe a bit heavy in the invented-technical-laguage department. I did anthropo, and I dig Malinowski for the same kind of reasons. Durkheim, and particulary his followers (no names, no pack-drill Levi-Strauss) I can live without. Marcel Mauss, on the other hand... He published next to nothing, and it's all pure gold.
From: e4q Date: March 11th, 2008 08:05 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: micky M

and that's who i was just about to namecheck.
thank god for small books with no waffle.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: micky M

Small is beautiful, as a small, beautiful book once advised. . .

From: e4q Date: March 11th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: little book of calm...

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: little book of calm...

"Be the king of your own calm kingdom. . ."

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Nothing if not rigorous, Our Maxie

I need to reread The Gift. I last did so when I was too inexperienced to appreciate it relative to other "classic" social-scientific work.

I agree that Durkheim can be diffuse, prolix and tedious. But I very much like the book on anomie. And the one religion isn't bad, either.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 11th, 2008 08:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You know where I stand: there's a spectre haunting english departments, the spectre of historicism. All theoretical antagonism pertains to individuals' comfort zones and realms of INNATE competence; we who function, above all else, logically/deductively can navigate the philosophical/anthropological approaches, whilst those who prefer fact memorization to deduction are much more inclined toward historicism and formalism.

That's the only true REASON why I rip on historicism; I don't dig ALL history, only specific regions, time periods, etc. Moreover, I don't dig facts as much as I dig CONCEPTS/THEORIES.

OTher "arguments" against the approach† all bow down to the above.

† e.g.

* It's so fucking.....British, and by "British," I mean ELITIST/ARISTOCRATIC/IVY LEAGUE; anytime I think of history as a discipline I think of A.J.P. Taylor, boarding schools, new england and old money, and I get squeamish.

.....the above is it, really; anybody as concerned with STATUS as the historicist critics (those I've encountered, anyway) seem to be has got to....I can't even articulate the feeling. It's not hatred, rage or any emotion that would lead one to acting out so much as it's just.....I don't even fully understand it, subjectively--elitism. I do and I don't, I guess.

From: babyiwasshot Date: March 11th, 2008 09:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
oh, here's another argument: nine-tenths of the people invoking foucault, in my estimation, lack there wherewithal to do the revolutionary things he did. To see anglophile, elitist prigs invoking FOUCAULT (a HOMOSEXUAL, SEXUALLY TRANSGRESSIVE FRENCHMAN) blows my freakin' mind. They've all gone half-way, it seems; now that the merits of the ideas are accepted, it's time to accept the merits of the MAN and the THINKING STYLE that enabled him to derive his method.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That is what is missing in most American treatments of Foucault. Part of the problem is that most of his short, engaged work remains unavailable in English. But the nature of the academy here is also to blame.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 11th, 2008 09:55 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Shit, in examining the backgrounds of 99% of the critical "prophets" of our time one can discern patterns of MARGINALIZATION.

Derrida was a poor Algerian jew; Foucault was a homosexual "pervert"; wittgenstein was also homosexual, as is judith butler; Said was a christian who was raised in egypt and palestine........it's mind boggling that conformists can implement these peoples' ideas whilst completely glossing over their BACKGROUNDS.

Original thought, it seems to me, emanates from the margins, and so seeing people use the ideas of the marginalized to marginalize others qua their elitism is the epitome of HYPOCRISY!

Further, how can advocates of monogamous social structures--namely marriage--simultaneously be FEMINISTS? Second-wave feminism (Friedan et. al.) was largely a REACTION to stultifying, bourgeois marriage.

Also, I'd argue that 99% of the (ostensible) members of "the school of resentment" can't even COMPREHEND that resentment if they find themselves in positions of intellectual/discursive power; resentment is the product of marginalization.

Flw's analysis (above) utterly NAILS the essence academia (society in general, really): academics begin their lives as marginalized nerds, geeks, etc, so they transfer themselves to a social structure in which precisely the things that once relegated them to positions of "oppression" will ELEVATE them to a position in which they can oppress those who once oppressed them.

In the end, we see that human society, as a whole, is PRECISELY as Nietzsche describes it: "A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength--life itself is will to power."

Oh, lastly:

An Argument Against Formalism

To reveal the formal "secrets" of HOW certain genres, forms etc. work is to create FORMULAS for literary production that the culture industry can appropriate in order to make more money, which will, in turn, DESTROY those forms/genres with needless repetition. Moreover, if the secrets of how texts do the things that they do are "cracked," then literary studies becomes pedantic and professors of literature become SOPHISTS (teaching RHETORICAL TECHNIQUES to students like the pre-socratics).

The last assertion notwithstanding, I'd still advocate making formalist critique an integral aspect of CREATIVE WRITING programs.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It is striking how many of the most interesting -- and politically insightful -- scholars have come from places on the margins of power and comfort. I'm obviously not, in the sense that the ones you mention were, but also know that my own minor sense of being excluded, which peaked in high school, continues to inform everything I do.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 11th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
my own minor sense of being excluded, which peaked in high school, continues to inform everything I do.

Hey, I'm along there with you. Exclusion comes in all shapes and sizes :)
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: March 11th, 2008 01:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I met one of these types at a social function. A "scholar" of Jewish thought, if you can imagine, telling me he'd never read Maimonides cause all that old stuff was just not relevant to modern life. The guy is lazy in all other areas of his life too.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The sad thing, though, is that many who are not lazy end up doing the same thing, because the pressure to innovate -- or at least to appear innovative -- takes precedence over doing the work that will be most helpful. It's also easier to read neglected older works or, even better, ones that can be presented as "rediscoveries" than to read and discuss the classics as something other than examples of their own datedness.
jakemacalister From: jakemacalister Date: March 11th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I got nailed in a shuttle van to a conference in 2005. When I told the guy, that I studied something new, queer theory. Not to perform a gay on gay crime, but his lipsy, stereotypical gay scholar said, "Queer theory?!?! that is SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOld." He was doing fat studies, I didn't tell him that I presented on a fat studies topic the year before, before there was even a fat studies co-op at this particular conference.

I agree with others above what can you learn from how they do their theory and think. I think we are addicted to quoting and using their words in some orgiastic plagiarism instead of putting forth our own thinking. In other words, theory old or not, I think how we write it will make or break us. Even if if our theory we use is over ten years oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I can picture that scene so well. . .

Yes, it comes down to writing, I think. It's easier to quote others than to compose something original, at least in the academy. But the best work from there always combines the two approaches.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 11th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
pssh. FAt studies? Event that's passé. It's all about hitler studies these days; pick up a volume by J.A.K. Gladney and get with "the new."
From: veggieducksalad Date: March 12th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

erudition is the new thing

or so they tell me. I do think "theory" can be trendy or orthodoxy laden (Montreal doesn't fluoridate their water, but there does appear to be some Deleuze and Guattari that's in the pipes) but I wouldn't want to give up on the project. The reason to read the old stuff that everybody reads is because it's good and it was at least important at one time. it's also extremely valuable for shaking loose whatever cobwebs (cliche, I know) that accumulate from being enmeshed in current theoretical debates. That's why I love mid 20th century American sociology: classist, sexist and homophobic, but not hung up on our debates and useful for thinking about some of the same issues we confront now in the study of mass culture. That said, even that work seems to have been receuperated and re-anthologized at this point. Existentialism must be next. But then, I do want to write a book on alienation someday.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 12th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: erudition is the new thing

But it wasn't all "classist, sexist and homophobic" either, at least not explicitly so. C. Wright Mills has his drawbacks, but also does things that few today are doing that might actually be construed as preferable to the highly specialized social-science discourse today. And Weber, despite his blindspots, still has a lot to contribute to our understanding of modern societies.

Yes, it would seem that Existentialism should be next. I'm still surprised that it didn't get recuperated more forcefully during the height of the interest in performativity. Perhaps the animus contra Sartre in all that work informed by Foucault was too strong to overcome.

I'm in a Habermas phase again myself. His writing is wildly inconsistent and sometimes plain dreadful, at least from the standpoint of style, but I continue to believe that his much-maligned theory of communicative action provides a more workable model for how to improve social and political life in the so-called "real world" than all the French-inflected work that makes me feel sexy.
From: babyiwasshot Date: March 13th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: erudition is the new thing


I've been wanting to scope this volume out, but doingso would put me even FURTHER behind in reading......**sigh** I'm realizing, more-and-more, that I really don't really did FICTION.....or maybe just sprawling, victorian fiction.
22 comments or Leave a comment