Having been in school in a liberal arts program (and therefore not posting much in the last four years) I thought I'd post my thoughts.
First off, I've learned a lot of literary theory and been exposed to a lot of new literature by the program here. And I learned how to construct a killer strawman argument from OSC, which made some classes more fun because I was playing a game most of the time.
Take for instance my first class at USC, you know the one with the reading list of: Medea The Aeneid Ovid's Metamorphoses Orlando Furioso A midsummer Night's Dream Much Ado about Nothing Hamlet Paradise Lost Invisible Cities
in which I learned the basics of deconstruction, along with several other versions of literary analysis. But a majority of the class revolved around teaching the texts themselves (this is entire texts, not excerpts, non-annotated, all in fifteen weeks) and the greater part of the remainder of the class was teaching all of us former AP English students how to conceive, cite and defend a proper thesis based paper and to never ever write a five paragraph essay (which is all you're taught to write in AP lit and comp). Deconstruction in the form of close reading was the method of choice for discussing many texts, but it was not agenda based, it was more along the lines of unpack the metaphors and allusions in this Milton passage of your choice and encapsulate the overall concepts as it relates to your thesis, cycle and repeat.
My first introduction to deconstruction, structuralism and bits of post-structuralism came in a class that assigned Agatha Christie and William Gibson alongside Thomas Pynchon and Henry James along with a whole lot of Barthes. In fact for this class, for the main group project I was in, I led a thousand ideas in a hour session to demonstrate the versatility of science fiction in illuminating modern culture and how it is not just about technology, but that the milieau you can create allows you to explore these ideas in a different manner free from the cultural restrictions of writing about them in a standard literary way. I got an A.
A year or two later, I got a proper introduction to deconstruction in a class entitled 'the perils of common sense' and the goal of this class was not to tell us that everything we know was wrong, but to expose the ways we rely on certain 'common sense' assumptions and conclusions (often about culture, but also religion, race, gender, sexuality) without ever realizing the possibility of questioning them. The class ended up being a very 'know thyself' type of excursion, and most of it came out of it understanding better how we ourselves think. Our reading list for this class: Lolita Cement Garden Ender's Game Among the Thugs (about soccer hooliganism in England) On the Origins of the Family Trainspotting Virgin Suicides
And a few others I don't remember as well. To a degree the ideas of the professer were presented, but they were not foisted, since the make up of the class was about 80% liberal-moderate most students grabbed onto his ideas to either adopt them or play with them. We had some amazing discussions in that class, mostly student based and led. Unfortunately the students were very good at questioning the way conservatives think, but not necessarily questioning the way they thought, the teacher sometimes played devil's advocate here, as did I, the true conservatives in the class were often quiet but the libertarian gave us a ton of interesting debates. This professor also focused big on community building, taking us on academic retreats two weekends of the year (one on campus, with us supplying the presentations, for the first I used Battle Royale followed by the card game mafia)
Pretty terrible for one of the 100 most dangerous professors to teach a class on how to analyze the way you and others think on an individual and cultural level and use the class as a forum for creating a tight knit community rather than just a lecture class.
So pretty much every experience I've had in liberal arts fields, with the elite professors that control the departments (because that's who these three were) has had absolutely nothing to do with the world OSC describes. As someone else said, it seems anachronistic, and personally it feels like an example of seeing what you want to see (which he proves with the usual strawman), something we're all guilty of.
Even in the cinema department, deconstruction is hardly an ideology, in fact, some professors expressly prohibit its implication in the forms of feminist, queer, racial, gender exclusive viewpoints in their classes. This would have been in the Hitchcock class, taught by a legendary professor (his wacky commentary is on the Lifeboat DVD) who also happens to be a flamboyant old queen (think James Gardner in Victor/Victoria) whose favorite book is C.S. Lewis' the Four Loves. Think about it, the leading professor of cinema at USC, the man who defines the entire scope and focus of the curricula, expressly prohibited empty discourse in his premiere class because he desired serious analysis, critique and discussion of the films, rather than agendas and intellectual superiority to the material nonsense.
Kids, if y'wanna know something about human nature, y'got to read the greats first: The Greeks, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, etc. Reading modern writers is okay, but mostly, there is nothing new under the sun.
Books I strongly recomend:
The Bible The Bhagavad Gita The Koran
Rumi is one of my favorites.
Eveything else is soup from the soup.
Posts: 379 | Registered: Jan 2006
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Umberto Ecco... Stuff like that.. A philosophy of lack of knowledge of the spiritual.. A moral and ethical background trying to stear clear off spiritual foundations.
I rather listen to music! Nietzsche is about as far as I am willing to 'deconstruct' philosophy. Why worry so much about words? Get to the point!
Just more ways to waste time reading useless stuff. Get to the heart of the matter, time is too preciouss to waste on nonesense. If you read an OSC book and it uplifts your spirit, you don't worry about how or why it was written... You just soak in the good vibe.
Besides Scott, Michael Moorcock and Olaf Stapledon do it for me... How can you 'deconstruct' stuff like that? Bah... Academic Mafia!
Posts: 379 | Registered: Jan 2006
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I think it is very important to realize that Mr. Card's's criticism of postmodern music is not necessarily a critique of postmodernism (if I missed a thread or essay, let me know...).
I think the crux of his arguments centers less on the structure of the music, but rather its pervasiveness: after so many years of atonal and cacophonic music which only appeals to a select few, posmo music still permeates much of academic music theory to the point where such composers are heavily encouraged. It seems to me that Mr Card's criticism is based upon the music academia's obstanence regarding supporting and teaching old and protoypically classical styles of music, and more importantly, their absolute disregard for a lack of audience aside from each other. This, naturally, leads to a stiffling environment for young composers.
To me, it appears that he personally does not like the music, but what he finds most troubling about postmodern music is that the field claims to be "new and revolutionary", but is neither new, nor open-minded to the change they find so vital in promoting their own compositions!
Posts: 484 | Registered: Feb 2006
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