Monthly Archives: May 2008

All that’s old is new

I’m having way more fun than I should be searching the Library of Congress digital archives for anything that remotely relates to my project.  For example, the 1893 World’s Fair.

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The Lost Generation

Interesting piece on the perception of WWI in the US.  Part of my project will necessarily be framed by WWI and the effect that it had on the nation as a whole.  One thing I find interesting about the piece is the way Lengel basis our collective memory on film.  I think that there has been a wider portrayal of the war in other venues.  The dissatisfaction of the 20s would seem to at least point to that.  This isn’t to say that Lengel isn’t on to something here.  Is it any wonder that so many ex patriots went to Europe?  Rememberence (Veterans) day in England at least is a much more tangible event than it is here and there’s certainly still a collective memory of the Great War.  The issue here is how the teens gets turned into a blank spot of American history.  Everything happened “over there,” but the fact is that the effects of the war were already home roosting.  On a smaller scale it is not unlike Vietnam or this very moment.

Book sale

Columbia University Press is having a sale. 20-80% off a bunch of titles. It ends May 31st.

The death of the critic?

Jonathan Gottschall on why us literary scholars need to be more like scientists.  I’m interested in thoughts on this.  One of us is doing a horrible misreading.

Is an adoption of scientific positivism honestly what we should be going for?  Given the kinds of debates that revolve around science in this nation you’d think it be easier to see the sorts of problems that revolve around the increasing volatile debate on everything from global warming to evolution.  Science does not automatically equate into the betterment of mankind without the sorts of interpretations that we actually do for a living taking place as a middleman.  A positive point of view isn’t fixing the environment and it isn’t doing enough to slow us down from continuing to screw it up.  I figure that I’m on the same side of the debate as Gottschall in regards to science too.  What I’m pointing at has more to do with how naive it is to assume that doing statistics and psychology automatically makes us mighty.  Not that we shouldn’t use them.  We just shouldn’t act like it’s the end all be all.

Gottschall declares that the profession is willfully blind to the inadequacies of theory.  It feels as though he is blind to the inadequacies of science and the profession.  Not to mention history, which is itself lacking in the scientific department but makes up a big portion of what we do.  Studying this stuff alone requires that we take into account those inadequacies.  Hell, I thought that’s what post-structuralism was about.  Rather than making broad unsupportable claims we account for the multiplicity of possible readings.  In short, we declare the inability or our theories to account for life the universe and everything.

Besides, I don’t see the problem.  There’s bad criticism out there and there’s criticism that’s doing the same sorts of things that Gottschall is talking about.  Not limited to a number of projects I’ve seen happening at our very own U of O.

Wait.  I just wasted fifteen minutes on this.  There’s the problem.

Free books

Where did I have you at? Free or books

SSRC books has made Structures of Participation in digital Culture available online as a free pdf. Now I haven’t read any of this nor do I make any claims about how good it is. I will say that it looks interesting, it’s free and it is now on my laptop for my instant perusal.

Via Boing Boing

Ethics and climate change

I can has blog?

Why a blog?  I don’t necessarily have a good reason, but that’s luckily never stopped me in the past.  Primarily this is for my own records.  In the course of my everyday studies and research over the last couple of years I’ve stumbled across countless snippets of information that is either worth simply noting or useful to my research, everyday life, well being, or hope for a better tomorrow.  I lose something like 95% of said snippets the next day.  So the blog is really an attempt at retaining some of that and keeping my own personal log of the remainder of my PhD.

Besides, this way I get to share the crap I find important.  This is at least partially an exercise in narcissism too.  I’ll make not apologies for it.  Obviously I’ll just quietly hope that people read it and (gosh darn it) think I’m cool without actually saying as much.  Aren’t I sly?

Zizek on Tibet

Slavoj Zizek talks about Tibet and, perhaps more importantly, our perception of Tibet.

Test drive

Just checking the oil and kicking the tires.