Thursday, November 08, 2007

Clifford Geertz's "Blurred Genres"

It's a work that I responded to and struggled to understand. While I delighted in the possibilities of interdisciplinarity, or mixing anthropological knowledge with fictional writing, Geertz asks us to reasses what the aim of all these reconfigured genres might be. If it is no longer expertise (for the social scientist), nor moral judgements (for the humanists), then we need to be clear about whatever else it is we aim to do. Because it's interesting that so many academics (deconstructionists or their enemies, or marxists or their enemies) who want to be leaders of new fields (like cultural studies) have some pretty prescriptive ideas about what these new fields or genres need to be doing (Denzin comes to mind). Some pass some very broad judgements about the whole enterprise (Trencher).

It seems to me that each of us attempting interdisciplinarity has to find and combine the influences that work for us as we try to reach our aim. I've been ambivalent about postmodernism at times, but the total rejection of postmodern thought that so many attempt is foolish. Whether you try to reject it point by logical point , like Trencher, or with wholesale hysteria like John M. Ellis, or more ignorantly in the manner of Congressmember Michelle Bachman, that simple rejection can only take thought so far. The problems and condition that postmodernism grew in response to still exist. Our philosophy must take them on in some way and simple rejection avoids this and sends you back to a more embryonic and thoughtless position.

I had to find a path through these ideas. I had to take a more personal and experimental approach to the terrain. What I found is both tentative and artistic.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dr. Biobrain is trying to talk sense about Ron Paul on his site. Paul took in some big bucks, and people are both impressed and curious.

I have a personal perspective on Paul.

I voted for the guy in 1988 when he was the Libertarian candidate for President.

He got much less than one percentage point of the vote in the general. The Libertarian party was arguably stronger then than it is now, and that's what he got. If he were to run a third party challenge next year, as someone in Biobrain's comments suggests he might, he's bound to double his numbers over '88. If anyone wants to argue that a third party can win a presidential election at this point in time, knock yourself out, but know that you are arguing a fantasy based on your dreams with no supporting evidence.

I know why I voted for him in '88. He argued for the legalization of Mary Jane. He argued for reducing the military. He was good on the stump when I saw him in a debate at UT. I was able to vote for a clean candidate not sullied by the compromises of actually governing or passing laws. I thought votes for him would get the other parties to listen to his positions (hah). I didn't know that he agreed with the philosophical positions of the John Birch Society because he brought none of that stuff up in front of college students, and I never thought to look into it. I voted for him because he told me what I wanted to hear, and I didn't belong to a political party yet. He pandered to me when I was ready to buy it.

He's not some lonely pillar of integrity. He ran as a Republican to get elected to the Congress, when it was convenient to do so. He did this after condemning Republicans in '88 as corrupt war-mongering opponents of personal freedom and the constitution. Politics makes hypocrites of us all, I suppose. Hypocrisy isn't a federal offence.

Paul supporters now need to face two facts: that he can't win this republican party's nomination, and that a third party (except for Unity08, of course) can do no better than be a spoiler. Insulting the messenger won't change those facts.