Re: humanising post humanism (was Re: In defence of humans)

On Tue, 23 Jan 1996, Bryan Palmer wrote:

> They must of, mostly they have been avoided, while respondends have picked
> over the more marginal and peripheral of my comments. Also, when in doubt,
> use the obscurant pomo language, to problematize understanding.

I think this last bit gets to the root of the misunderstanding (which is
now almost becoming ritualistic). Speaking as one of the "pomo" people,
what you see as the marginal and peripheral can also be seen from "our"
perspective as the very heart of the issue, especially when it is a
battle over concepts (which is where "we" do much of our cultural work).
As Nancy Fraser has argued in her wonderful UNRULY PRACTICES a lot of
contemporary political theory and ACTION is a matter of arguing over what
is important and what marginal. Bryan, I think you keep on ignoring that
this is the heart of the pomo argument. We are not neglectful of the
important issues, obscuring it behind jargon--we are arguing that the
important issues are different than the ones you think are important.
(And as Richard
Rorty would argue, there is no neutral vocabulary to decide which is more
important; there are only the two or more competing vocabularies).

On the other hand, I think I can understand your frustration. The sort
of cultural work that poststructuralists do (subverting concepts,
performing revaluations) isn't the only kind of work to be done (as "we"
sometimes suggest--but mind you, it is still work, very hard work at
times). And this sort of work, I imagine, often seems irrelevant, even
unhelpful to the sort of work that you want to do.

I would agree that it can be unhelpful (if expediency, pragmatic
efficiency, even a feeling of basic agency) is what you are after (I
don't understand these terms pejoratively), but I would strongly disagree
that "our" interjections and underminings are irrelevant or marginal.
Their job, in
my mind, is to subltly alter (not, to be sure, determine) the course of
the sort of work you want to do. I guess what I am trying to move toward
is some sort of dialectical understanding. Any dialectic does not leave
the initial sides intact. But you know what, THAT'S OKAY. My
Foucauldianism can use some growth (Foucault would approve); social
policy can use some redirection, even if preceeded by the disorienation
that an encounter with a Foucauldian might bring.

dialectically yours,


Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


Partial thread listing: