After the Yale Silliman silliness and the Charles Murray Middlebury madness, a cruder skepticism might recommend writing many humanities/social sciences departments off altogether (hey, it’s Middlebury, after all).
Some departments are so open-minded, it seems, they’re allowing students to chant James Baldwin as though his spells will ward off the evil spirits of white-devilry (there’s still an air of the psycho-drama about all this). Perhaps, just perhaps, a University isn’t the type of place where angry mobs should shout-down invited speakers, hunt them to the after-party, and beat them away into the night.
Mockery and laughter can work wonders in the face of true-belief and rigid ideology (that’s not funny!), but relatively fewer people have the wisdom, moral courage and humility to earn back the trust to educate, not indoctrinate.
Frankly, I’m not holding my breath as long as enough money and influence are at stake, and the stakes, as they say, are still pretty low.
At least now a broader swathe of the American public has gotten a look at the unhealthy radical group-think festering within, the kind which arrives when ideas and bad ideas, unchallenged, are allowed to rule the roost. The consequences such ideas are having upon the pursuit of truth are damning.
Whose good is this serving?
Heterodox Academy might not be a bad start.
As previously posted:
As this blog has been arguing for over a decade, a lot of modern art is pretty good, but beyond the current political/ideological squabbles, there sure are a lot of poseurs making crap.
The creep of vacuous ideas and lack of any apparent talent/technique is common, and it can be hard to tell where celebrity, marketing and branding bullshit ends, and ‘art’ begins:
What is this lady doing?:
Some quotes for you, dear Reader:
‘In the shorter term, postmodernism has caused an impoverishment of much of the academic humanities, both in the quality of the work being done and the civility of the debates. The sciences have been less affected and are relatively healthy. The social sciences are mixed.
I am optimistic, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that pomo was able to entrench itself in the second half of the twentieth century in large part because first-rate intellectuals were mostly dismissive of it and focused on their own projects. But over the last ten years, after pomo’s excesses became blatant, there has been a vigorous counter-attack and pomo is now on the defensive. Another reason for optimism is that, as a species of skepticism, pomo is ultimately empty and becomes boring. Eventually intellectually-alert individuals get tired of the same old lines and move on. It is one thing, as the pomo can do well, to critique other theories and tear them down. But that merely clears the field for the next new and intriguing theory and for the next generation of energetic young intellectuals.
So while the postmodernism has had its generation or two, I think we’re ready for the next new thing – a strong, fresh, and positive approach to the big issues, one that of course takes into account the critical weapons the pomo have used well over the last while’
We’ll see about that…
Roger Scruton’s words struck me when I read them years ago:
“In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they.”
“And since there is no cogent justification for women’s studies that does not dwell upon the subject’s ideological purpose, the entire curriculum in the humanities began to be seen in ideological terms.“
Apart from the rare genius, it seems the arts tend to ferment in groups and schools, made up of individuals with their own ideas, reacting to each other and events; reacting to their own developing talents and finding out through trial and error what works within some semblance of a tradition.
Culture matters, in the sense that the value a civilization chooses to place in one activity over another can dramatically affect outcomes for that particular activity; a framework emphasizing and incentivizing the activity to live on in hearts and minds of individuals.
Perhaps Modern Art just needs to be put into broader contexts, given deeper roots which can nourish the talent already being born.
Some people are looking for ‘epistemologies:’
No, I don’t need a movie explained to me in terms of ‘masculinity’ or feminist doctrine, any more than I need it to tell me to read Leviticus, or be a good Christian. I like good composition.
No, I don’t need a cartoon to reflect ‘solidarity’ around a particular political figure or set of political ideals, you fool!
Good art is usually beyond all that, and makes the viewer question/forget such things.
Why not just put a few algorithms to work in writing those artist statements?
See Also On This Site: Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’
Stanley Fish also says keep politics out of academia: From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux…
Scruton again has deep insight, but will Christian religious idealism have to bump heads with Islamic religious idealism?: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism
Thanks to iri5