poetix

we murder to dissect
New Historicism was just starting to really pick up in my last year as an undergraduate, it all seemed incredibly careerist to me. I used to go to a Friday afternoon Theory Seminar held in All Souls by Dr Robert Smith, a charismatic Derridean who later quit to become an incredibly swanky management consultant. That was where people were talking about Levinas, Blanchot, that sort of thing, but they were very much a (mostly postgrad) subculture.

Later on I taught at De Montfort, where the prevailing lens was Race/Class/Gender with a very CultStuds accent.

Meanwhile, the Medievalists were trying to establish definitive texts from a mass of diverging fragments using gene sequencing software, with the stated aim of recovering the author's true and original intention.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
Meanwhile, the Medievalists were trying to establish definitive texts from a mass of diverging fragments using gene sequencing software, with the stated aim of recovering the author's true and original intention.
Now that's real work!
 

craner

Beast of Burden
I remember reading a pithy Steve Beard piece about his fellow English grads who hoovered up deconstruction and took it with them to the City where they made shit loads of money.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
Obviously the implication was that deconstruction and postmodernism gave them intellectual licence to ditch their morality and ethics.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Paglia's anti-pomo commination "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders" makes an argument that deconstruction etc are the academic equivalent of dodgy financial practices - derivatives of derivatives with no underlying substance.

More here on this: https://rmangum2001.wordpress.com/category/economics/contra-keynes/

Has deconstruction hit Wall Street? Richard Rand of the University of Alabama, co-translator of Derrida’s Glas, thinks so. In the spring of 1989, when Michael Milken was slapped with a ninety-eight-count indictment on charges of racketeering and securities fraud, Rand- an English professor- sent a letter to the Wall Street Journal defending the misunderstood junk-bond king as a “deconstructive financier.” Rand stated that the two things he had studied with rapt attention over the course of twenty years were Jacques Derrida’s texts and the Journal’s financial pages. To Rand’s mind there was quite a continuity between the two, and particularly between Derrida’s theoretical maneuvers and Milken’s leveraged buyouts. Milken had apparently made a deconstructive move when he turned the junk bond from “a ‘marginal’ (and despised) ‘supplement’ to the overall investment machine” into “a central and dynamic feature.” With his leveraged buyouts he had accomplished a “reversal” and “rewriting”- two more terms from the Derrida lexicon- of the merger-and-acquisition strategies already in place in postwar America.

Elie Ayache seems to have take all of this entirely literally: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137286543
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
a simplifying model can be put forward which actually has explanatory power
I understand it basically as

every social group has a power structure of some kind, even if it's informal and egalitarian

a complex society has many structures

they facilitate or reinforce existing power relations, or why would they continue to exist?

like any relationship, they can change due to internal or external factors

if you want to try to actively change a relationship, you have to know what it actually is

Marx dissected economic relations. Gramsci extended it to culture.

The Frankfurt School guys built on that to try and develop tools to reveal what cultural hegemony (or whatever you wanna call it) obscures

unsurprisingly it turns out that's really hard to do in a complex human society, and it's easy to get lost in abstruse jargon

also the amount of study required draws people into academia, incentivizing careerism and leading to further obscurantism

at the same time, those still structures undoubtedly exist and have tangible effects on peoples' lives
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
it reminds me Plato - a true elitist - obsessing over indoctrinating people from birth to accept their role in society (and its power relations)

he spends like half of the The Republic talking about it in very great detail
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
look no further than the life and career of Paul de Man
I think this gets the causality back-to-front. de Man was a wrong 'un from the start (some decades before any of the poststructuralist crew had published a word), but also a brilliant opportunist who found deconstruction a congenial use of his very particular sort of mind.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I think this gets the causality back-to-front
I'm familiar with his life

I'm referring more to the fact that a man with no morality or ethics of any kind flourished so readily in that intellectual setting

I never knew he was Gayatri Spivak's dissertation adviser tho, that's fucking wild
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
I keep coming back to Paglia's line about Foucault appealing to "game-playing minds with unresolved malice towards society", which I've probably quoted on here before.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
I disappear to code for an hour and all the action happens.

Hey, poetix, how about that notorious Latour piece, "Why Has Critique Run Out Of Steam"? I always loved his talk of the French battlefield generals stomping around
 

craner

Beast of Burden
Paglia's anti-pomo commination "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders" makes an argument that deconstruction etc are the academic equivalent of dodgy financial practices - derivatives of derivatives with no underlying substance.
This is actually one of my favorite essays by anyone about anything.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Much talk of "structure" is handwaving around wicked complex cybernetic feedback loops, but when we refer to structures we are perhaps trying to say that out of all that wicked complexity some comparatively fixed and stable and independently describable modules have emerged. We're saying that a simplifying model can be put forward which actually has explanatory power.
unsurprisingly it turns out that's really hard to do in a complex human society, and it's easy to get lost in abstruse jargon

also the amount of study required draws people into academia, incentivizing careerism and leading to further obscurantism

at the same time, those still structures undoubtedly exist and have tangible effects on peoples' lives
Bit late to party, but I must ask @poetix : Since you argue that effective and simplifying models can be identified/discovered/created (as opposed to... conceptual chaos?), would you also argue that there is always a more effective model awaiting realization?

I'm inclined to use the term "vector" to describe this, but maybe I'm basterdizing it. That is, a vector "pointing" towards conceptual/cognitive clarity, or higher-order clarity. (quality: conceptual clarity | quantity: one model "more" clear than the previous one)

Not sure if the vector description helps my point, but do you think A) there is always a better model, and B) we should always strive for the better model?
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
It often seems to happen that there are two superposed models each of which captures and explains some important properties of the system under consideration, but no synthesis or overarching meta-model seems to be available. The classic structure/agency dichotomy is actually a good example of this. You can take a strategic, agent-centred view of a situation - here are the agents, their interests, their strategies, and the resulting stand-offs and equilibria - or you can take a structural view in which agents simply fill out roles prescribed by structural positions, and both will to some degree enable you to navigate what’s going on, but attempts at synthesis tend to come up short simply because they’re fundamentally incompatible language games - there’s no overarching protocol for translating between frames of reference. So you can aim at a better version of either type of model, but the real of the situation - to be all Lacanian about it - is to be found in that impasse.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
I just I don't think anyone knows what a structure is other than in the fuck the system sense.
Haven’t read most of this thread yet, but, heard of Bourdieu‘s habitus? More structures than many quotes might allow....

habitus is composed of:

“systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to attain them”.
Edit edit booze.
 
Last edited:

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
as soon as i hear someone say the word 'structural' i know for a fact they're blagging and i ignore everything they say from that point on.
This would have worked much better as

"When I hear the word 'structural', I reach for my Ignore button."

But never mind.
 
Top