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.

1 comment:

Not Cliff Geertz said...