Monthly Archives: June 2003

Digital Genres: An anthropological note

At the Digital Genres conference:
On an anthropological note, one of the interesting things about being in the U.S. is the fact that the academics I meet are completely different from what intellectual people in the rest of the world assume. Just about everybody I’ve talked to here is oppposed to the Bush administration, war on Iraq etc… and feels completely frustrated and powerless about it. Following Laura Trippi’s presentation, a long discussion on how to form a resistance against the current administration (in words). In case you weren’t aware, there is some disagreement over whether the U.S. administration is heavily inspired by Leo Strauss or not. Under that assumption that it is, it was suggested that the basic danger is that Leo Strauss was a neo-Platonist thinker (meaning: “the truth is out there”, I guess).
And this is the other interesting thing – a lot of people here seem to assume that being a poststructuralist (too broad a category!) is “progressive”, “political”, or at least makes the world a better place to be in. For my part, I really can’t ignore that at least philosophical & literary deconstruction was an apolitical reaction to the politicized 1970′s – it really was a shift from politics to culture and aesthetics, though this has somehow been lost in time. I completely agree that if we can make the world a better place by, for example, reconfiguring our notion of truth to be more localized and context-dependent, there is no reason to hesitate. But why is everybody so sure that it works? Isn’t this heaven-sent for anybody who wants to deny that some crime of humanity ever happened? What if it is just used by incompetent leaders as a reason not to take AIDS seriously? If we in a classical critical fashion assume for a moment that we should be wary of ways of thinking that have been used in problematic ways, how can we possibly not take this as a warning that poststructuralism isn’t everything it’s been cracked up to be? So why is most everybody here so damn sure that poststructuralism can save the world?