Wednesday, 01 June 2005

This Draft Will Be The Death of Me Or not. I've taken to saving posts as drafts and then never publishing them, thinking that I'll one day have time to edit them with the attention they deserve. What I've got in the queue right now are: one from the archives about the conspicuous absence of Darwin and evolutionary thought from the polygamy debates in the 1890s (and this isn't a silly "male-male eroticism is absent from the work of anchoresses" article, but a serious and amusing look at the extent to which both sides in the polygamy debate avoided anything that might possibly lead to the mention of Darwin and his magical wonderful theory of evolution) a look at the treatment of new historicism in Theory's Empire in which I come to the conclusion that I'm not the new historicist I thought I was, but am one of the other ones, the ones with the white hats and wits about them an increasingly long commentary on The Orchid Thief that I'll post after I teach it (lest the ideas get too concretized to allow me the intellectual flexibility I need to run a smooth, productive discussion) another installment of A. Cephalous' Refutin' and Rebutin' Walter Benn Michaels Travelin' Extravaganza an utterly random post about the way David Simon's Homicide changed the way literary journalists write about group dynamics Soon as any of 'em done to my satisfaction, you'll see 'em up here bells, whistles and all. Until then, I take my leave of you, dear readers. P.S. I'm also done with John Bruce. As easy and entertaining as it is to kick the boy, people whose opinions I respect have informed me that not only has he been down, he is down, and he'll remain down for the foreseeable future. That being the case, kicking him for comedy ain't becoming. So I'm done.
New Post by Y.T. up at Yonder Valve [Cross-posted here.] In “Fixed Opinions, or The Hinge of History” (later published as Fixed Ideas) Joan Didion represents the Bush Administration’s justification for what future generations will call the Giant Mess O’Potamia as follows: "I made up my mind,” [Bush] had said in April, “that Saddam needs to go.” This was one of many curious, almost petulant statements offered in lieu of actually presenting a case. I’ve made up my mind, I’ve said in speech after speech, I’ve made myself clear. The repeated statements became their own reason: “Given all we have said as a leading world power about the necessity for regime change in Iraq,” James R. Schlesinger, who is now a member of Richard Perle’s Defense Policy Board, told The Washington Post in July, “our credibility would be badly damaged if that regime change did not take place." Ouch. Didion goes on to discuss the “fixed ideas” responsible for those repeated statements, but that’s not where I’m headed: what I want to do is align academic psychoanalytic thinkers with the Bush administration because it’s 1) counter-intuitive, 2) highly inflammatory and 3) in this extremely limited respect, arguably true. For the sake of clarity, I should say that I’m talking about the citation of prominent psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic thinkers as authorities and not, for example, scholars who talk about the influence of Freudian thought on American literature in the ‘50s or ‘60s. The latter scholar points to a historical reality; the former to an unverifiable, unscientific explanation for human behavior. But I’m not interested in writing another anti-psychoanalysis broadside. I want to know why, as Frederick Crews argues, “the academic humanities” are one of the “three arenas in which flawed but once modish ideas, secure from the menace of rigorous testing, can be kept indefinitely in play.” Why would otherwise intelligent people persist in straining their thought through this particular “epistemic sieve”? One answer, as Didion says, may be that “repeated statements become their own reason.” One can easily imagine scholars who have staked reputations to books and articles founded on psychoanalytic principles saying “Given all I have said as a leading figure in this field...” This not only applies to first-order academic psychoanalysts, i.e. those who cite Freud, Lacan, etc. directly; it also applies to second-, third- and fourth-order academic psychoanalysts, i.e those who cite Althusser, Fanon, Butler, etc. Logic would seem to dictate that if Freud’s anathema, then so is Lacan; if Lacan’s anathema, so is Althusser, etc. And if the investment in what’s been said determines what will be said ad infinitum, well, you see where I’m headed: the year 7,349 R.D.E., in which radical academic brains, born in jars and entombed in robotic exoskeletons, discuss the oedipalization issues raised by the latest libro-amniotic sensation. “I.N.T. 9017240-94189 clearly suffers from organic body envy, defined by Freud of the Embodied Era of Eventual and Inevitable Death as...” Now, because this isn’t a broadside, I’m not interested in flogging the Freudians/Lacanians/etc. for their continued allegiance to one of...

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