from Saturday, April5th of the year2008.
I adore Stanley Fish. This week, he has a particularly lovely blog entry on French theoretical thought in the 60’s and why, basically, it freaked people out and enjoyed an ironic boost in the 80’s during the so-called culture wars. I have always been madly suspicious of people who hate on post-structuralist theory because it means that (a) they weren’t paying attention and (b) they might be secretly those idiot people who think that more students study The Color Purple than Shakespeare or whatever those arguments were. Fish writes,
It doesn’t take anything away from us. We can still do all the things we have always done; we can still say that some things are true and others false, and believe it; we can still use words like better and worse and offer justifications for doing so. All we lose (if we have been persuaded by the deconstructive critique, that is) is a certain rationalist faith that there will someday be a final word, a last description that takes the accurate measure of everything. All that will have happened is that one account of what we know and how we know it “” one epistemology “” has been replaced by another, which means only that in the unlikely event you are asked “What’s your epistemology?” you’ll give a different answer than you would have given before. The world, and you, will go on pretty much in the same old way.
What I love about this is “It doesn’t take anything away from us.” This is the sort of reassuring phrase you’d want to hear from a parent if you were about to move, or had had some kind of death in the family ““Â it happens. I find it strangely reassuring; perhaps Dinesh D’Souza just needs a hug?
Here’s some June Tabor for you:
[audio:05 He Fades Away.mp3]
June Tabor He Fades Away from Against the Streams
In other news, Stanley Fish’s essay Speaking in Code from There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech is one of my favorite things in the world. It was one of the first things I read that helped me synthesize a bunch of different thoughts about race in the 80’s (which is when I was a kid, and looking back at that time, it was very interesting to analyze my gut reaction to all these racially coded terms like affirmative action, among others, as a young adult). Thanks, Stanley Fish!