Posted by Dr. Amrit Chadwallah
Long Sunday cites a 2003 "crisis" of critical theory, which included five urgent questions. Here is one:
3. It has been suggested that the major challenge for the humanities in the coming century will be to determine the fate of literature and to secure some space for the aesthetic in the face of the overwhelming forces of mass culture and commercial entertainment. True?
The "space for the aesthetic" is a Dumpster. Welcome, Theorists! We do have a Temp job available under me, proofing Candidia's Powerpoint presentations on The Triumph of Wealth. Pays $7.10 an hour, better than you make now teaching Theory as an Adjunct. True? Well, buck up! Poverty is a sign of intellectual integrity. There's a theory for you.
How much are you asking for the Frankfurt School knockoffs? or for this half-eaten habitus?
Posted by: Stuart Johnson | May 22, 2007 at 06:26 PM
All you can eat Frankfurt School Special.
Posted by: Tutor | May 22, 2007 at 11:13 PM
All you can read Special Frankfurt School .. when people grab the texts from the Dumpster they tend to think it's equivalent to cast-off Coles Notes, and hence don't spend the time to eventually grasp that the Dumpster is the source of all life.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | May 23, 2007 at 11:56 AM
Poverty is a sign of intellectual integrity.
I am currently in Brighton, UK .. .home to all sorts of playwrights, actors, musicians, gays, lesbians, socialists and general weirdos .. plus most of the ESL schools in the UK, hence lots of furriners.
At an outdoor cafe on the High Street this morning, having a coffee, I read an Op-Ed in the local Brighton rag lamenting the long slow decline of the real, hard left ... Tony Benn still the only one banging on about the poor because he still doesn't understand them ;-) ... and of course midway through the piece came the assertion that today's welfare family is better off than were all sorts of working folks 50 - 75 years ago, and that nothing short of mass desperation in the face of hardship will ever get the left into gear again.
It pointed out that the supposed-to-be-somewaht-left Labour Party came into power a decade ago after many years of Thatcher-major toryism only because people eventually got tired and fed up with copious amounts of sleaze and skullduggery.
And yes, it did make the point that today's Labour party in the UK is not your grandmother's Oldsmobile.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | May 23, 2007 at 12:03 PM
The world seems pretty comfortable to many. Everything moving in the right direction, were it not for it being unsustainable.
Posted by: Tutor | May 23, 2007 at 08:04 PM
People will always are argue about good health and which diets are best for you. Still, some do die of obesity, cancer, and food poisoning. Making a space for art is like making a space for healthy food amidst the junk food, not that people will eat it, but that it is the right thing for them to eat, if they wish to be healthy.
Posted by: Tutor | May 24, 2007 at 08:32 AM
Nah, I think I got it right. The author of the post wrote:
Stanley Fish had it right. The person who wrote the above statement had this naive belief that critical theory 1970-1990 was somehow relevant promise to politics. He admixed that with aesthetics, which you focused on.
There's at least two misunderstandings here: the author of the post trying to defend his reified misappropriation of the work, and the NYT piece which stupidly and ahistorically posited that the correction of this misunderstanding during the conference was somehow a critical fracture with what preceded it.
Then you quoted the bit about aesthetics to hijack it for your own purposes, irrelavant to the original post.
Posted by: klaus | May 24, 2007 at 09:32 PM
Have you ever told her that Miller Boy's favorite snappy lip shot, the one that makes himself smile, is the essence of wit .. "X is an idiot" ?
She probably already knew that ...
If not, that should give her something with which to extend your nascent conversation ... the two of you can start comparing the kinds of idiots you both manage to stumble across.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | May 24, 2007 at 10:59 PM
That's mostly what people do talk about in customer service.
Posted by: klaus | May 24, 2007 at 11:36 PM
JJ, I felt a stabbing pain in my arm. When I lifted my sleeve a tiny yet plump yellow and black bird with transparent wings flew out. I think my armpit is a machine that is manufacturing them. There is a lump I felt in the shower that must contain more. Now I've noticed many of these tiny birds droning lethargically in the public gardens, and suspect other people are similarly afflicted. I am afraid to go outside. There is an ozone warning. The keeper of the gardens appears unafraid. She works among the tiny birds, seeding, planting, cultivating and watering the flowers. She is determined to create a space for the aesthetic, despite spring and summer floods, and winter cold, that conspire to undo her work, covering the garden in silt and frost, time and time again. The retired couple walks their dog through the garden. They had two dogs, now there's one. I am not sure what happened to the other dog. They were brother and sister. Now there's only the sister. Her name is Sheila. They walk Sheila through the garden, amid transparent-winged yellow and black birds that came from my armpit. There is an ozone warning. I can't go outside. These birds are affecting my breathing. Their vibrating wings sound like ozone. People call me "Miller Boy." I could try to make it to the river, but even that would not be safe - when you bathe in it you receive a chemical tan. Some kids were swimming in it yesterday, and I heard one say that when he got home, he was going to take a three-hour shower, then a bath, then another shower. Because of the river. It's not safe. The river floods the public gardens and undoes the work of the garden keeper. If I had a boat I could get away, but I don't know how to make a boat. I can make yellow and black birds with transparent wings, but I don't *know* how to make them, it just happens. There's not room for a boat in my armpit. Perhaps one will fall from the sky. In a world where birds come from your armpit, nothing is impossible. Rich people deserve to be hated. The sky is blue. They want to own the public gardens. They steal the flowers and cut off their heads in a pagan ritual from a mystery cult. The heads of the flowers. Then they give some back as a gift. The garden keeper keeps planting flowers. The river floods the garden and undoes the work of the garden keeper.
Posted by: klaus | May 25, 2007 at 11:58 AM
.. and so it goes and thus has it ever been, no ?
Some (very few, but some) rich people give very much of their unearned or undeserved wealth to museums and schools and other activities they know are important because they have remained people first and foremost even after becoming rich people. The vast bulk of other rich people have very weird priorities, in my opinion.
I, on the other hand, try to live as if I am rich whilst I am almost poor ... not quite poor, but almost ... nothing to spare other than on the necessities. For me travel once a year to places like Brighton and (London) the Tate and les musees de Picasso (Paris), and the other places I am going etc. are necessities and I do without or scrimp, sometimes for a long time, so that I can do that, so that I will not go insane. I too get scared and don't want to go outside, and I see everything being scarred and twisted and torn asunder .. it dominates my field of vision almost everywhere I go. The rest of your story I am afraid I don't really understand very much. Yes, life in all of it's (growing imperfections goes on, and I have already been too deeply scarred to not cringe at almost all of what I see. But it's either cringe and go on, seeking something that I sense approaches truth and beauty, or give up, which means death. I am not ready yet ... but not scared.
I could not do what I do without good friends scattered in almost all the places I go to, who host me .. I almost have a networked circuit ... and a great partner. I couldn't do it without all of them, and I suppose they like me bringing a different energy their way once in a while .. either that or they are awfully fucking polite, given that I have visited pretty regularly over more than several years now.
I do wish I understood you better, but I don't ... it's that idiot thing again, I suppose.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | May 25, 2007 at 01:42 PM
I don't know, JJ. Yesterday I felt a sharp pain in my arm, and I pulled up my sleeve and a big bumblebee flew out. At that same moment the wind gusted and a big Maple tree decided to release about 5,000 helicopter seeds. The bee zig-zagged away through the swirling helicopters. It was like Ouch! Then it was like ahhhhh! I don't know how it became a bird or where the dog named Sheila came from. There ain't no garden here either. I don't know why the tree decided to let go all at once either. I never seen that before. There's no such thing as earned wealth, though. I'm pretty sure that just because you can put two words together it don't make it real. "Earned wealth" is sort of like "tall short people" - it don't refer to nothing.
Posted by: klaus | May 25, 2007 at 06:41 PM
Critical theory turned against art as The Speech of the Fathers, author as authority. Undermining that authority was a good game for two generations of scholars. Then comes the question of what is left? If the Canon is demolished, what seeps in in its stead? Popular culture. In a way, the rationale for doing the liberal arts was undermined. I read the article as a belated recognition that critical theory is parasitic on the canon, and when the canon has been poisoned, the parasite too dies. (This theme too is very old. I recall reading J. Hillis Miller riffing the theme of the parasite in Critical Theory circa 1979.)So, instead of killing the host, the article suggests, it is time to revive it. I agree, and only wish this had dawned on folks 25 years ago.
Posted by: Tutor | May 25, 2007 at 07:06 PM
Funny. I was just asking my neighbor if he had ever experienced the stretching of time, like when a week seemed like a year, in a good way. No, he said, never that, only the opposite. A pigeon flew by and dropped some historical material on my head. The world spun blithely on...
Posted by: a.mole | June 05, 2007 at 07:29 PM
Benjamin was a heir, as was Karl Kraus. The role of flaneur often depended on the remittance from the parent or trust fund. Having a guaranteed income can free the mind from sordid care, and allow Theory or Satire greater room for expression. Dick Minim finds this to be so.
Posted by: Tutor | June 05, 2007 at 08:34 PM
"Earned firewood". That would be when the guy that comes up with the sharpened blade and the club to swing it into the fallen tree makes his move. And gets caught up in the opening out into that new world we all come from.
Not that wealth can't be earned, if wealth means money then yes of course, but that it's a threshold thing, and over-reliance on the thrill of it gets bizarre.
You make firewood because it's vital essential and you remember the winter behind you coming again.
Cutting down whole swaths of forest doesn't make you a better provider. Perhaps this is what's meant by "there's no such thing as earned wealth".
Posted by: roy belmont | June 06, 2007 at 05:20 AM
Sounds like poaching, punishable by death. Well earned retribution.
Posted by: Tutor | June 06, 2007 at 08:10 AM
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!
Posted by: JJ Commoner | June 21, 2007 at 12:05 PM
Theory, beautiful, theory. I once dreamed of creating a theory of literature, it was my obsession. Now look at me, a character in a two bit Bondage Bordello.
Posted by: Tutor | June 21, 2007 at 07:25 PM
Au lieu de penser, reflechir et agir, on marmotte comme un diamant fou ... plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
Increasingly one needs to be well and truly programmed, to accept bounded insanity ... staying sane is too hard, too horrific, really. Where do I sign up for relief ?
Posted by: JJ Commoner | June 21, 2007 at 10:56 PM
Civility means keeping the truth from children.
Posted by: Tutor | June 22, 2007 at 08:32 AM
Posted by: Tutor | June 22, 2007 at 09:54 PM
... some value ;-) That intangibility is precious, doncha know.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | June 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Maybe it would be better to see the Dumpster Dweller's madness as a gift by the mad-person to the passersby for which they in reciprocity toss him or her a dime. Perhaps the mad are expiating our sins.
Posted by: Tutor | June 23, 2007 at 08:18 AM
I'm not going to argue with you, klaus. It IS a low standard, but we live in a completely fucked-up pretty much artificial world ... and yes, the "market" that the bookies-in-charge run has already taken that into account. Prety much all work that has been done before, like Satir's, has been sucked into Candidia's back pocket.
It ain't gonna change any time soon.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | June 27, 2007 at 12:01 AM
.. and of course you and I both know that my alter-ego who blathers on about knowledge "friendships" is an idiot.
Posted by: JJ Commoner | June 27, 2007 at 12:02 AM
Those with a business model prosper, those without cage drinks in a cafe, or wait for the welfare check. Those at the control are not much concerned about solidarity, equality, human rights. They have other forms of social control that work predictably: propaganda, prisons, mediated news, intellectual property regimes, favor trading among insiders, legal system skewed by political appointments. Against such stuff blogging and hanging out and talking seem a pretty weak force. "There is no alternative," sneers Candidia, "kiss my boots." And we sigh and say, "We know, we know, Mistress. We are living proof." I try to live that way, but my suit becomes a costume, and pretty soon I am aping subservience, and the cycle of retribution starts all over again.
Posted by: Tutor | June 27, 2007 at 07:55 AM