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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » OSC on postmodernism (Page 1)

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Author Topic: OSC on postmodernism
Omega M.
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OSC spends most of his most recent review column attacking postmodernism. I agree with him, but I wonder if anyone's going to rise up to defend postmodernism the way they've done so with academic music.
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King of Men
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Eh. I certainly loathe and despise postmodernism, but it's not only a vice of the Left. The religious right is just as happy to use its battle cry of relativism when it comes to defending creationism; "Radiocarbon dating depends on the interpretation of the scientist" is a favourite.
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MrSquicky
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I think it's cute that OSC thinks that reading and literature are the main forms of cultural transmission.

That being said, I don't know (nor particularly care) much of anything about the state of affairs in literature and post-modernism and such, but, seeing as it's OSC writing about academia, I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of what he said is based more on prejudice than on the acutal state of affairs.

You can only cry wolf so many times before at least some people stop believing you.

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sarcasticmuppet
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I don't mind postmodernism -- at least in a theatre setting. Speaking as a hopeful dramaturge and director, I find it really interesting when countertext and postmodernist ideas are used to rework a play text into something new and original on stage.

I heard on NPR that there's a new play going up in New York called Heddatron -- Robots kidnap this woman and force her to perform Hedda Gabler in her living room. It's extreme, but it also sounds really interesting.

Or there's the BYU musical I ASM-ed this year, where the director was able to have an original concept outside of the text, which made the production really cool. It definetetly wasn't extreme, and everyone loved it. That might not be possible if it weren't for the Postmodernist movement, I don't think.

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Shanna
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I'm not a big fan of post-modernism. Our college has feminist professor of the theory and she's...pushy? focused? obsessed? I'm struggling to find nice words to describe her need to use the theory in any study of literature. I've not taken any of her classes but have had her as a seminar leader for some basic Text and Traditions classes and I find the theory quite restricting especially when discussing it professors who don't welcome criticism.

My main problem with OSC's column isn't his opinion of post-modernism but the idea that its a theory of left and its being used to brainwash somebody's kids. First, while it doubtful that this is true, one could say all supporters of post-modernism are from the left-wing but of course its necessary to point out that not all left-wingers support post-modernism. Second, while college students ARE somebody's "kids," we are not children. OSC affords post-modernism to much power if he thinks that ADULTS, especially in the liberal arts field, can't see a flawed theory for what it is no matter how prettily its wrapped by a "passionate" professor.

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IanO
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When I attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ (freshman year), I had to take an English course. I have always done quite well in English classes, and expected this year to be no different. I was interested in the literature we'd be reading, the styles we'd look at, and the cultural ideas inherent in the stories we'd consider. We'd also try our own hand at writing.

None of that bore any similarity to the actual course.

Sometime (not sure how long) before I began attending, those responsible for the decision, got together and decided that it was not enough for the liberal studies program (of which, English was a part) to impart instruction, method, and wisdom in their respective subjects. The Liberal Studies (with capital letters) program needed to do more: it needed to produce 'good citizens'.

Obviously, a laudable goal- on it's surface. But when it comes down to defining 'good citizen'...well, that's where the problem is.

The English program, then, was restructured so that the focus would be on Environmental Writing. Our textbook was a campus produced collection of essays called 'A Sense of Place', aside from a short book by some writer whose name escapes me, but was about his travels and life in the desert. The collected essays (which included one by then VP, Al Gore, also an environmental author) pretty much presented the standard "Western culture expoitative, Nature Good, Native American good, White man bad" line that one would expect. Only two essays were included to show the "other side", and these were so laughably lame and ignorant that they were truly straw men.

So not only would all the things we read be about environmental politics and our relationship with the environment, but all our writing would be as well (under the euphamism of 'something that is an issue on the Colorado Plateau.')

Now let me explain that while I have never been an evironmentalist, per se, I do love the environment and think that capitalist greed and shortsidedness especially have brought great harm to the planet in which we live. More than that, I think the actions of some of those who came over to the America's amount to some of the worst crimes against humanity- though I hasten to add that most peoples of most times have acted or are acting the same way. Tom Davidson put it nicely when he wrote (unrelated to this discussion) that 'people all compete to for the right to be the persecuter', or word to that effect. The works of Pablo Neruda are dear to my soul, and I think his writing would qualify for this course.

So I was not predisposed to dislike the course in any way, though I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn't be reading anything more interesting.

But my disappointment soon turned to irritation and disgust- at the teacher, mindlessly spouting the party line, the students parrotting it back, the self-congratulation, at the numerous screeds, I mean essays, that we were forced to read. The one-sidedness, the logical holes, the forced political correctness, was so very annoying. On an essay that basically announced that Glen Canyon Dam should be destroyed period, no mention is made about the 30,000 people (including a large number of Native Americans who work in Page, AZ and at the power plant there) and how they would be able to survive. It shouldn't have been built and thus, it shouldn't be there now. The first point is possibley debateable (though of course it wasn't debated- it was only assumed the reader would know why no one who was in-the-know would ever build a dam), but the second is definetely in need of discussion. Again, that never happened, except for my few attempts.

I spoke to the teacher about it and he said this was the curricula and that is how (and with what) he was told to teach the class. I complained about the fact that I could get a fantastically high mark on the ACT English portion, and still get a 'C' on a paper because I was not showing my connection to a tree vividly enough. It was utterly ridiculous.

If I had signed up for Environmental Writing, then it'd be fine. That's what I would have personally chosen. But this was an English class!

At one point, I, having had my fill, decided to begin choosing less politically correct topics for essays. At one point, I decided to write about the existence of canabalism among one tribe of Native Americans. There had been a (then) recent Nova series on the probability that it had been practiced, as well as some Discover and Nature magazines as well. It was actually quite interesting.

As you can guess (and I made sure to state at the outset) some might be offended at such a topic. "That it should be suggested that the ancestors of some now living might have done this grossly offensive," was an argument I anticipated and (I think) handled nicely. After all, all of us have ancestors who probably did things not unlike it (or even worse). Do we not teach about Slavery in front of white people, even those whose great-great grandfathers may have own slaves? Do avoid teaching about the Holocaust if a German person (or someone of recent German descent) is in the room? Of course not. History is history. People did horrible things. Sometimes people who are (distantly) related to us. Deal with it.

I hated that class. I hated the political correctness being shoved down our throats, even when I tended to agree with it. It was ridiculous.

It is ridiculous. So I don't doubt that there are some schools and teachers who do the same, even when actually considering literature.

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clod
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I think I only ever read one pomo deconstruction and it was about the Terminator movies. After ducking and dodging (with an inquirial squint and a sigh) my way through the citations and ucky yucky sentence structure, I stumbled upon this doozy.

"B... B... B... Born to be Bad".

Now, if somebody's gonna quote Mr. Thoroughgood, they might take the time to get the lyrics right - assuming they actually watched the movie.

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blonsky214
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quote:
This was already in process, of course – as modernism became enshrined in our university English departments, the denigration of authors prior to the modernists was quite severe. The attitude was, “We’ll study them, of course, but we all know that the good stuff is what we’re getting now.”
This is a profoundly silly remark. The fact is, the very same people responsible for "enshrining" modernism in the academy - namely, the New Critics - were obsessed with 17th-century poetry, esp. Marvell and Donne (as many of the Modernists themselves were obsessed with the 18th-century -- read Woolf's Orlando if you don't believe me). Cleanth Brooks, the guy largely responsible (for better or worse) for introducing TS Eliot into the canon, wrote pages and pages on all of these poets.

Similarly, "postmodernists"/"multiculturalists" have invested a lot of their energy on looking for authors from previous centuries who weren't white males (but who were certainly dead!). Whether you think any of these projects are good or bad is a matter of opinion, but to say that modernism denigrated literature from previous centuries is, well, pretty dumb. (They rejected a lot of other literature from their own time period that was really good, and for that we should smack them upside the head.)

quote:
And I say this with deep regret, because I used to be a multiculturalist – back when it meant opening the canon and adding to the existing literary culture.
Postmodernists still want to open up the canon, Mr. Card - that's why that jackass Harold Bloom is always whining about postmodernism in the same breath as he lambastes those who dare to read (let alone teach) Harry Potter novels. Popular literature is taught all over the place now. I agree it's annoying that they still make the distinction between "popular" literature and "real" books--that is the Modernists' fault--but in fact, if Card's novels are taught in English Depts. these days (and I guarantee some of them are), he (and we) probably have some version of postmodernism to thank for that. When postmodernists take it on the chin these days, it's usually from people on the opposite side--those who think we should STOP stop "opening the canon."

Whether you like Deconstruction or not (I generally don't, though a few critics like J Hillis Miller have almost turned me), postmodernism has done more than just about anyone to rehabilitate authors who didn't used to be in the canon. They might be doing it for reasons that you wouldn't approve of, but they're still doing it.

The point that their critical writing is awful and well-nigh-unreadable is certainly fair (hard to argue with, actually). But to say that postmodernists only want us to study elitist novels is simply an uninformed remark. (Postmodern *writing* classes, vs. postmodern literature classes, might be a different matter. But this seems like apples & oranges, at least in the academy as it stands now--again, for better or worse.)

quote:
That’s what is happening when somebody shuts you down by saying, “That’s the male point of view,” or “Of course that’s how white people think,” as if that proved that your ideas don’t actually have to be answered, they can simply be ignored. Your thoughts are irrelevant solely because of your race or your gender.
Postmodernists do believe that our ideologies are informed by our circumstances, but that does not even come close to meaning that all white people think alike. If someone "shuts you down" by saying this, then you're talking to someone who doesn't really understand what (s)he is talking about.

I agree that this is part of the danger Card correctly labels of discussing this stuff so opaquely: 18-year-old undergraduates go home and recite things like "That's the white point of view," revealing that they have missed the point by a long way, thus revealing that their teachers haven't expressed themselves clearly, or that the profs too have missed the point. (But - and here I come clean - after 4 years as an undergrad English major and 3 yrs as a grad student, I was never taught anything remotely like the belief that there is one unified "white point of view." So my guess is that this is a mere straw man. Which is not exactly without precedent in these columns.)

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clod
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I tried to stuff a straw man into a canon once. And, mine enemy was showered with sour cabbage.

'Course it wasn't my fault. I'd fallen in love with my canon.

She went "BLOOM!", and mightily so. Now, how, cow, could I not fall in love with that?!

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KidB
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I think the very first thing that needs to be grasped here is that Postmoderism is in no way the originator of empty jargon, snobbery, dogmatism and academic elitism in literary studies. These things were around many decades before the big pomo onslaught of the Reagan years. Before the 80's there was psycho-analytic theory (Freudian, Jungian, Lacanian, etc.), Marxist lit theroy, Modernism (totally different from Pomo), and a host of other "critical theories". So pernicious have all of these competing voice been that, even by the 1960's, people were able write parodies of them. Ever hear of the Pooh Perplex? The author parodies no less than 12 equally absurd types of lit crit jargon - two decades before the Po-Mo era.

So, please, let's stop acting like this is a recent phenomenon. There have always been elitist jargonistas. Literature faculties have always been dominated by the Left wing. I mean, news flash, grass is green! We are not in some special era of decline. There was good and bad then, and there is good and bad now.

The second thing we need to keep in mind is that the rampant misapplication of some original thinker's ideas does not automatically mean the originator had a bad or unworthy idea. Does the Soviet Union make Karl Marx a lousy thinker? People have used Plato to justify oligarchy - do we reject Plato? Academic institution - since the beginning of time, folks - have been places that can either foster original thought, or completely demolish it. Both tendencies usually exist simultaneously. That is the nature of the institution; it will institutionalize you if you don't watch it! The hip, academic mode du jour is just a veneer, it's really all about internal politics and career advancement. Don't blame pomo for a problem as old as time. Would a department run by Sophists really be any different? Jargon and all?

Finally, I've got to object to this characterization - I hear it so much and I'm getting sick of it - of college literature departments being "taken over" by the pomo bots. Having studied in no less than four English departments on both coasts, in very liberal areas, and at some of the most liberal schools in those areas, you'd think I'd see a lot of it. I don't. Does it exist? Yes. Dominate? No. Actually, most students and teachers of literature just want to study the literature directly. There are theory hobbyists, but little effort is needed to avoid them. I completed a Master's without having to read Derrida or Foucault once (I tried 'em out, along with some others on the side. Didn't care for it. Though I like the structuralists, Barthes, Marcuse, etc.).

If people are turning away from books these days, I'd blame television long before Derrida.

[ February 17, 2006, 02:05 AM: Message edited by: KidB ]

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blonsky214
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Wasn't Barthes run over by a milk truck?

Anyway, I have been required to read Derrida, but never have I been forced, or urged, or even mildly encouraged to *endorse* Derrida. We read him as one option of many that could be used to analyze a text. Some bought it, some didn't. Both sides are leading perfectly healthy and happy lives, I assure you.

Perhaps my professors were just angels and saints among men. Seems unlikely, somehow. The notion of a Deconstructionist orthodoxy in the academy is highly anachronistic, despite the book Card cites from 9 years ago.

One other thing -- some of the strongest critiques I've seen of PoMo come *from* the radical left, who see it as an elitist distraction from more serious social injustices.

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MrSquicky
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Dear God, clod, if you did what I think you did there, that was bloody brilliant.
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clod
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really? Would you write me a check to prove it?
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MrSquicky
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You literature types are all the same. I offer love undying, and all you're interested in is money.
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clod
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so long as the money ain't funny, honey.

*unnecessary rhymes*

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tms
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to:
sarcasticmuppet

i need to know so much more about the enfoced hedda play.

the last version i saw was adapted by blancehette's husband and it ROCKED. the postmodern notion works for me, it was originally a very modern play.

hey

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sarcasticmuppet
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I don't know that much about it -- I heard there was a story on it on NPR.
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Scott R
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quote:
seeing as it's OSC writing about academia, I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of what he said is based more on prejudice than on the acutal state of affairs.

Squicky, in a nutshell, you've said here:

1) "I can't debate this topic. I don't know enough about it, and I don't care enough about it."

2) "But I DO know that Orson Scott Card is such a jerk, HE probably can't find his way to thinking through this argument clearly. Thought you'd all like to know, that even though I'M not an expert on postmodernism or deconstructive literary critiscism, OSC's not either because he's stupid-blind when it comes to talking about academia."

This kind of personal attack isn't welcome on Hatrack.

quote:

You can only cry wolf so many times before at least some people stop believing you.

Blonsky and KidB have provided reasoned arguments against the opinions in OSC's essay. You've provided nothing more than your standard snideness directed at our host.

Knock it off.

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King of Men
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OSC has said ridiculous things so many times on things where I do know something, that I think it reasonable to dismiss him when he says something on a subject I'm not fully informed on. If (without comparison otherwise) Jack Chick began pontificating on the state of the economy, I do not think I would immediately begin deep, scholarly research to refute him. There is a limit to how much nonsense one is required to put up with from one man.
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Ramdac99
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C'mon Scott give him a break, he was stating an interpretive opinion. He has just as much right to express it as you do. at least HE's thinking for himself.
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Ramdac99
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and where is it written the we can only comment on things to which we are an expert?
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Dagonee
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quote:
That being said, I don't know (nor particularly care) much of anything about the state of affairs in literature and post-modernism and such, but, seeing as it's OSC writing about academia, I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of what he said is based more on prejudice than on the acutal state of affairs.

You can only cry wolf so many times before at least some people stop believing you.

quote:
OSC has said ridiculous things so many times on things where I do know something, that I think it reasonable to dismiss him when he says something on a subject I'm not fully informed on. If (without comparison otherwise) Jack Chick began pontificating on the state of the economy, I do not think I would immediately begin deep, scholarly research to refute him. There is a limit to how much nonsense one is required to put up with from one man.
Just to be clear, neither of you have any information about the content of the article itself. You have an opinioon about the reliability of the author - essentially an attack on his authority - which you have stated but for which you have provided no evidence.

Essentially, the only way we have to evaluate your opinion of OSC's reliability is based on our evaluation of the reliability of your opinion.

It's hard to imagine anyone having enough information about either of your views to form an opinion about your reliability without already knowing your opinion on OSC as a columnist.

Essentially, your posts convey no new information to anyone with reason to trust your conclusions with no evidence, and no evidence to convince anyone who doesn't already have reason to trust your conclusions.

What were you trying to accomplish by posting, exactly, except insulting our host?

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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
Essentially, the only way we have to evaluate your opinion of OSC's reliability is based on our evaluation of the reliability of your opinion.

this is rhetorical, circular nonsense. I don't think Squicky cared what YOU thought about his opinion of Card. so your point is moot.
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Dagonee
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quote:
this is rhetorical, circular nonsense. I don't think Squicky cared what YOU thought about his opinion of Card. so your point is moot.
How, exactly, is it circular? Which part relies on another part which then relies on it?
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StickyWicket
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ok you got me, it's just rhetorical and nonsense. your argument is contingent on the fact that Squicky and KoM were not trying to convince everyone that Card is.....whatever they said..."Unrelyable" Here's my problem Dagonee: let's say I say something like "the sky is blue", not being a meteorologist, I'm not an expert on the sky. Is my opinion null and void just because you are ridiculously devoted to your Idol....the sky?
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Ramdac99
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No, Sticky I think what he is trying to say is that if you are going to come to this site and voice an opinion, it should be to facilitate discussion and not simply to provoke. but at the same time I have also seen people getting pounced on for voicing unpopular ideas. I think we all need to work on understanding the "why" of our posts a little more.
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Dagonee
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quote:
let's say I say something like "the sky is blue", not being a meteorologist, I'm not an expert on the sky. Is my opinion null and void just because you are ridiculously devoted to your Idol....the sky?
No, but if you tell me that person X can't be trusted on subject Y because you know he's been wrong on subject Z, and give me no other reasons, then how am I supposed to evaluate your statement?

The only criteria I have is what I know about you.

If I know nothing about you, then why would I believe you?

By the way, nice little dig about my "Idol." It seems like a popular way to respond to anyone who defends OSC here. Meaningless and without validity, of course, but popular.

quote:
your argument is contingent on the fact that Squicky and KoM were trying to convince everyone that Card is.....whatever they said..."Unrelyable"
If they weren't trying to convince anyone then they were insulting for absolutely no good reason. Which is no surprise, really, but worth pointing out.
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King of Men
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quote:
No, but if you tell me that person X can't be trusted on subject Y because you know he's been wrong on subject Z, and give me no other reasons, then how am I supposed to evaluate your statement?
By considering my arguments against OSC on the subject of Z. My intended audience was the Hatrack regulars, who have participated in many of the discussions around OSC's columns, and have therefore formed an opinion on who is the better informed. Now, you can certainly say that you disagree, and believe that OSC has brilliantly defended all his columns, none of which present misinformation; or, indeed, that I am full of it, because in thread A I said B, which is plainly wrong. But to claim that you have no basis to form a judgement is a little dis-ingenuous, coming from you. (I grant that a newbie might be a touch confused.)
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StickyWicket
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oh, and a word to the wise........if you like L. Ron Hubbard, you have no credibility.


.....*cough* Scott

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Dagonee
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quote:
But to claim that you have no basis to form a judgement is a little dis-ingenuous, coming from you.
Good thing I didn't say that.

What I said was that anyone with enough knowledge about your relative level of informedness compared to OSC's already knows your opinion.

There are two types of readers of your posts:

1.) Those who don't have the knowledge from previous threads - people who likely know far more about OSC than you - and whom you didn't even try to convince.

2.) Those who have read what you've written about OSC's articles in the past and already know your opinion. People to whom your opinion is not news and have already made their own judgment.

You offered no new information yet insulted our host.

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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
You offered no new information yet insulted our host.

broken record much?

When is it my turn to decide how OSC feels about things?

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Dagonee
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quote:
broken record much?
Well, let's see, I've had my post misrepresented by the only two people who've directly replied to it, neither of whom have given the slightest indication that they comprehended my actual point. Restating in a different way, in hopes that they might demonstrate that they've understood what I'm saying, even if they disagree, seems like a reasonable thing to do.

Now you have implicitly stated that you understood the point of my posts. Of course, you haven't bothered to address that actual point, which is fine.

I do wonder why you would bother to post "broken record much?" though if you don't care to actually respond to me.

quote:
When is it my turn to decide how OSC feels about things?
When is it your turn to post something that actually addresses what's been said, rather than replying to something you made up. I am, of course, merely assuming that the unstated premise of the quoted sentence is that I am deciding how OSC feels about things. If that's not an unstated premise of this sentence, feel free to clarify.

If you do, I promise I won't call you a broken record unless you decide to simply repost word-for-word.

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King of Men
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Hmm. OK, Dag, you have a point about the information part. I do feel, though, that 'OSC is wrong about X' is not an actual insult.
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Dagonee
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quote:
'OSC is wrong about X' is not an actual insult.
I agree.
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Scott R
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quote:
If (without comparison otherwise) Jack Chick began pontificating on the state of the economy, I do not think I would immediately begin deep, scholarly research to refute him.
Jack Chick doesn't have a degree in economics.

Scott Card has an advanced degree in English Literature. Furthermore, he teaches several literature courses at a university. He has at least got the credentials and experiences to critique both postmodernism and academia.

Your analogy is flawed.

quote:
oh, and a word to the wise........if you like L. Ron Hubbard, you have no credibility.


.....*cough* Scott

I'm very curious as to what you mean.

Once you've explained what you're insinuating, we'll go from there. Fair enough?

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King of Men
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Well, if the truth were told, I don't exactly hold comrade Chick as a great expert on theology, either; a subject on which he plainly does have a lot of experience.
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sarcasticmuppet
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wow, neither do I.
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Occasional
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Post-modernism, as OSC is defining it, comes close to no longer existing. In fact, post-modernism and deconstruction are not the same thing. Even literary professors don't use it without serious looks at other kinds of interpretation. A very small, and even snobberish by literary snobbery standards, group studies deconstruction. I must admit, however, that a good deconstructionist reading can make me appriciate a work more than first thought.

What we do have too much of is ideological studies of literature. They have their purposes, but to base whole classes on one particular movement (and I am not talking graduate studies) is more propaganda than scholarship. Who cares how blacks, women, and other "politically protected" groups perceive and are perceived in literature? All that teaches you is how to read singlemindedly. My favorite literary classes were the ones that taught all kinds of literary study techniques - and then let you decide how to approach a subject. My least enjoyable ones were when the teacher had a specific grudge or viewpoint that MUST be included.

I think OSC has many credentials. He is a reader and a writer as well as teacher. What I don't think he understands is the complete change in literary studies since the post-modernist explosion. Besides those I have mentioned that continue to insist on particular viewpoint readings, there is no single school of thought. If I was to label the current practice of literary thought, I would call it "tooled reader response." Each reader uses favorite literary techniques (maybe one or maybe many for each study) to find some personal meaning for the text. To me that is a good thing because each book read is somewhat as fresh as the first time.

The problems of what books are read and what books are ignored has been and will always be a problem, outside of literary techniques. There is probably nothing that can be done about that other than to decide for yourself not to take the popular literary world's advice. My guess is that not many people at Hatrack are enamored by collegiate reservations about what constitutes quality. After all, this is full of science fiction readers. The only other genre that might be more hated by literature professors is westerns.

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King of Men
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Oh, I dunno - Harlequin romances, maybe?
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Occasional
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I thought of that, but there are plenty of romances that literary professors use. They just wouldn't be the kind that the popular definition would recognize as such. I would consider Harliquin romances more of a sub-group.
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Scott R
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Uncertain Uncertainty

An interesting article on postmodernism. Obviously biased toward capitalism and Republicanism... there are interesting nuggets within, though.

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Scooter
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Speaking from outside the English literature discipline but from within my own--

I am a professor and attend yearly conferences with other professors around the country and postmodernism is alive and well. I am in a social/behavioral sciences field and the comments and viewpoints from the prodominant figures in my field say things just like OSC mentioned in reference to early or modern contributions from white, male, etc. perspectives. In short, I don't think OSC based his conclusions on a couple of isolated incidents or something that is mostly an outdated phenomenon.

As I became aware of critical theory years ago, it has been easy to see the things that OSC talked about, but I suspect that some people who buy into the theory don't necessarily see it as agenda-driven or slanted in any way because for them it is just a "normal" way of thinking, and critics of it just verify the legitimacy of critical theory in the minds of those who promote it.

I realize that some of these observations can be applied to other agendas/perspectives/value systems, etc. However, that fact doesn't discount the afore-mentioned observations per se, unless I am so blind that I can't see what is really going on--but how does anyone prove that about anyone else, especially on an internet message board. [Wink]

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clod
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oh please.
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King of Men
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Scott, what the devil did you find interesting about that article? I mean, quite apart from sweet little ad homs like this one

quote:
Heisenberg's accommodating relationship with Nazism is hardly unique among the great thinkers of postmodernism. Martin Heidegger, the most influential philosopher of the 20th century and the founder of postmodernism, adored Nazism.
The guy also seems to think that you can argue from physics to sociology :

quote:
If Heisenberg and Bohr were wrong that quantum events (e.g., where an electron is) are fundamentally random, then the use of their theory to label traditional literature as politically incorrect may also be wrong:
Never mind, for a moment, whether this grand unification he's dug out of somewhere holds up. Never mind, even, whether the columnist understands what may be a perfectly legitimate scientific result, although frankly, publishing in book form is not a good sign. Even if Bohr and Heisenberg are right, it is completely idiotic to use the Uncertainty Principle on literature, of all things! It just doesn't apply! Yet this guy, given the opportunity to totally blow up the position (strawman or not) that he opposes, fails utterly, and instead clings to the bare hope that the physics his opponents are mis-using is wrong!

quote:
At a famous debate in Copenhagen, Albert Einstein uttered his famous line "God doesn't play dice with the universe" — as Einstein objected to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and to Bohr's vision of the randomness and incomprehensibility of reality.
Well, yeah, and he lost the debate. What is with this guy and appeal to authority, anyway?

quote:
Indeed, "there is no truth, only power," summarizes Heisenberg's theory of physics and its application to moral philosophy.
While I'm not particularly fond of Heisenberg as a man, ye gods, he was at least smart enough not to confuse physics and morality!


As a side matter, I saw the play the column refers to; it was really quite good. There's a line given to Heisenberg that I rather liked; he has been arguing with Bohr about whether or not he should be helping Hitler, and naturally enough, he has been getting the worst of it. In anguish, he cries out "But you must understand - one cannot cease to love one's homeland, merely because it is in the wrong!"

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Tresopax
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quote:
I certainly loathe and despise postmodernism, but it's not only a vice of the Left. The religious right is just as happy to use its battle cry of relativism when it comes to defending creationism; "Radiocarbon dating depends on the interpretation of the scientist" is a favourite.
Indeed. The "fair and balanced" motto of Fox News could be a motto for postmodernism itself. Postmodernism is not an idea invented by liberals or by academics - it is the synthesis of many different yet supposedly equal cultural ideas into one big mess. It is the natural result of the way our world operates today, and it influences all political movements and artistic movements. It's influence on literature is only one major aspect.
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clod
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[ ]
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Scott R
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quote:
Even if Bohr and Heisenberg are right, it is completely idiotic to use the Uncertainty Principle on literature, of all things! It just doesn't apply! Yet this guy, given the opportunity to totally blow up the position (strawman or not) that he opposes, fails utterly, and instead clings to the bare hope that the physics his opponents are mis-using is wrong!

I agree. I don't think the author was saying that the postmodernist movement is using the uncertainty principle in literature, but rather, using it to enforce properties of their own philosophy. As in, "Look, even PHYSICS is postmodern..."

In this case, 'interesting' doesn't mean that I agree with the author's stipulations; rather, it means I think them worth pursuing to find out if they are correct or not.

I think his proposal that Bin Laden is a post-modern creature rather than a medieval one is interesting, for example.

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blonsky214
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quote:
As I became aware of critical theory years ago, it has been easy to see the things that OSC talked about, but I suspect that some people who buy into the theory don't necessarily see it as agenda-driven or slanted in any way because for them it is just a "normal" way of thinking, and critics of it just verify the legitimacy of critical theory in the minds of those who promote it. I realize that some of these observations can be applied to other agendas/perspectives/value systems, etc. However, that fact doesn't discount the afore-mentioned observations per se, unless I am so blind that I can't see what is really going on--but how does anyone prove that about anyone else, especially on an internet message board. [Wink]
Oh I see, so you can say PoMo is still alive because you're objective and neutral while everyone else is blinded by ideology, but your perspective is inviolate because this is a message board. Nice work.

Yes, PoMo is alive and well--the point is that academia is also full of people who DON'T buy into it. The error is not in saying that Postmodernists are ideological, b/c EVERYONE has an ideology.

The error is in saying that Postmodernism is completely dominant and rules over everything at all times. I agree w/ previous posts -- PoMo/Deconstruction/whatever are just tools among many others.The fact is, we in English departments want to read and study books, and to use whatever tools help us do this.

The vast, vast majority of time spent in an English classroom is still spent doing all the things he talks about -- teaching literature as art, as part of a cultural and historical legacy and reading texts closely.

My hunch is that OSC's real axe to grind is that he thinks English departments don't take HIS books seriously. The same way that when he talks about "academic music" that audiences don't want to hear what he really means is, "Waaah! I write science fiction and the academy doesn't read it!" (Which, BTW, is also not true.)

But he doesn't want it to look self-aggrandizing. So he turns it into a Tolkienesque moral battle where he's out there fighting against those nasty people in English departments who want to reform the universe, so that everyone worships Marx while they destroy the family by gay-marrying with their PC leftist atheist cousins while watching "American Beauty," reading Derrida, listening to "academic music," and burning Old Glory. And eating the wrong brand of olives.

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Scott R
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quote:
My hunch is that OSC's real axe to grind is that he thinks English departments don't take HIS books seriously. The same way that when he talks about "academic music" that audiences don't want to hear what he really means is, "Waaah! I write science fiction and the academy doesn't read it!" (Which, BTW, is also not true.)
My hunch is that this is a subject that OSC has given a lot of thought and study to. Perhaps it is a matter of weighing witnesses-- and I take his word to be of greater weight than your own, because it matches more closely with my experiences with academia than yours does.

And I've learned never to give much consideration to virtual psychoanalysis. Especially those that ring with defensiveness. (Not that I blame you-- heaven forbid OSC ever take a dislike to technical writers...)

I don't care if academia takes speculative fiction seriously. If serious consideration by critical thinkers at every university means that science fiction stops being understandable by the common, non-Literary man, I'd rather continue to be looked down upon. Can you imagine, 'Portrait of the Alien As a Young Man?' It'd be the death of speculative fiction.

Speculative fiction writers are not competing against academia-- rather, we are competing against Anhesaer-Busch, Miller, and Schlitz. Jim Baen, in the newly launched Baen's Astounding Stories, makes the point quite adequately-- unless speculative fiction can claim the reader's beer money, we're doomed. (To a certain extent, I believe that the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is experiencing this kind of slow death-- more literary stories and a decreasing readership.)

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Pelegius
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Postmodernism is too complicated to have such sweeping generalizations made about it. It is certainly true that some postmodernists are like OSC’s description, but many are not. Trying to generalize them would be like trying to generalize Christians, actualy worse, because postmodernists don’t even agree on something basic like “In the beginning was the word....”

Edited to add, it seems his main complaint is with deconstructionism, not postmodernism per se.

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