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Archive for August 2005

Recipe for Excitement and Innovation

with 15 comments

Holbo on The Valve:

The problem with Theory, as a normal feature disciplinary life, is it the nature of Theory never to be normal – always to be excessive and paradigm-shattering. You cannot oblige people to be this, on a regular basis, and expect them to maintain their intellectual honesty, not to mention dignity and equilibrium. Not that I want to restrain geniuses. (I’m sure if they really are, they will break any restraints I tried to install anyway.) I don’t want to oblige ordinary scholars, who might do something modest and solid, to pretend to be geniuses and do something fantastic and shoddy.

As Jodi Dean says in the comments:

what you support is a way of thinking that strives to be normal and paradigm reinforcing (as opposed to excessive and paradigm shattering), a method or way of thinking characterized by honesty, dignity, and equilibrium that produces modest, solid scholarship?
Presumably this way of thinking would trust ‘classical’ forms – conventional logic, standard argument. It would not insist on originality or in overcoming anything at all. It should avoid eclectism in favor of significance.
So, making the familiar strange is not advisable, but making the familiar reassuring and comfortable is? Shock is not a goal of a work, but serious contemplation or perhaps recognition of the rationality of the world?
Are there examples of works that do this that you admire? Presumably Mill.
And, if you reject the putting all the eggs in the theory basket in the passage that you quoted and I had quoted from someone else, would you say that the plain thinking (I’m trying something else instead of ant-theory) approach that you advocate resists the bureaucratic cooptation and assessment going on now in higher education?

Yeah – sounds like the Department of Merit Badge Earning, not literature…

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August 13, 2005 at 1:10 am

Posted in academia