Reading through the recently arrived copy of Theory's Empire, I stumble across John Searle's essay on "Literary Theory and Its Discontents." "My oh my!" I said to myself, "What ever does this strange title mean!" I understood the first term. Everyone knows what "literary theory" is and can define it, in its totality, in a sentence or two. But "its discontents" had me baffled. I'd never heard or read this particular infelicity before, so I thought I'd Google Scholar it and see what turned up.
(One-fourth of a second later...)
"MY OH SHEEP-FUCKING MY!" I said.
"The pastor told me all about modern society and its malcontents, but I didn't realize that we lived in a world of 6,090 discontents." But nothing and no one, it appears, is content with much of anything these days. Not globalization, postmodernity, sexuality, virtuality, assimilation, identity, cloning, technophilia, popular education, oligotrophication, philosophy of science, stabilization, Italy, narrative, aging, the mind, hysteria, standardization, the modern university, separation, culture, postcolonialism, paternalism, feminism, femininity, privatization, centralization, symmetry, modernization, ethnocracy, the good life, residential disinvestment, liberalism, treatment, economic growth, creativity, innovation, psychotherapy, economic nationalism, psychosocial changes, collaboration, the new historicism, electoral reform, work, family law, feminist discourse, diversity, whiteness, content, representation, realism, democratization, rationality, tourism, cultural integration, Islamic feminism, the intelligent body, the idea of community, Anglo-America, alcohol education, peace, curriculum, new urbanism, "new urbanism," expansion, biotechnology, development, "non-racialism," chartalism, multilateralism, savagism, progress, compressed modernity, secularism, ecofeminism, New Labour, geography, investigation, the Australian legend, bioprospecting, difference, public memory, cultural studies, the good life, medical authority, wish fulfilment, French civilization, physicalism, etc., etc., etc.