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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Postmodernism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0240  Monday, 23 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Lee Gibson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Mar 1998 09:28:18 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0238 Re: Postmodernism

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 Mar 1998 11:40:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 17:15:40 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: Postmodernism

[4]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 16:16:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Anti-Postmodern Cranks

[5]     From:   Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 14:02:39 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lee Gibson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Mar 1998 09:28:18 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 9.0238 Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0238 Re: Postmodernism

To Bill McRae:

This little article, as well as the document it reviews (which was a
simple forward, incidentally, for everyone's information), themselves
represent "diversity of opinion" on a subject many in our profession
take as self-evident truth.  Read the review, read the work, as I have,
and call me in the morning.

Regards,
Lee Gibson
Department of English
Southern Methodist University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Mar 1998 11:40:48 -0500
Subject: 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism

>I see now how wrong I have
>been to presume that the study of literature was to encourage acceptance
>of diversity of opinion.

Yes, I think you were wrong. I teach literature in order to question
ideas and attitudes.  I try to get my students to ground their thinking
on the concept that NOT everything is possible.  Hamlet, for example, is
(in Shakespeare's scripts) probably NOT a Martian invader.  Were I to
encourage my students to accept this as a viable "opinion," I would not
be doing my job.  I teach criticism, not mysticism.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 17:15:40 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Re: Postmodernism

Bill Godshalk is less than fair to Raymond Tallis:

> Raymond Tallis's "Theory and empirical research"
> (TLS 5 March 1998, p. 17) makes an interesting point:
> if there is no empirical truth, then possibly
> Jaques Lacan was lead guitar for the Grateful Dead.  Wow!

Actually, assuming that all copies of one issue of TLS are the same-a
risky leap I'll dare to make-then Tallis should rightly be quoted thus:

"(It would be interesting to see what sort of response there would be to
the-merely empirical-claim that there had never been a psychiatrist
called Lacan, or that he lived in the fourteenth century, or that he was
lead guitarist with the Grateful Dead.)" (Quotation marks mine)

Tallis's "merely" is ironic. He thinks that Theorists (his
capitalization) hold factual truth in low regard, and that by playing
along he can show that there are claims to which even a Theorist would
object: the claims that Lacan didn't exist, or lived in the fourteenth
century, or played lead guitar for the Grateful Dead.

Tallis isn't issuing a warning that without empirical truth anything can
be true, as Godshalk appears to believe. Rather, he's testing the limits
of what a community of like-minded people (his category of `Theorists')
are prepared to contest.

And that, I submit, is a tacit acceptance that `empirical truth' is an
unhelpful notion. What matters is what people are prepared to spend time
and energy trying to persuade each other about. Rhetoric and power, not
truth, is the issue.

Gabriel Egan

PS: I allow the possibility that not all copies of one issue of TLS are
the same in deference to the date 6 March, not 5 March, printed on the
copy I'm looking at.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 16:16:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Anti-Postmodern Cranks

Gosh, does this relay mean I can trash modern physics?  Never could get
the hang of it, so of course it would be so much easier to reject their
theories as worthless garbage.

If the authors have proven anything, it's that there is a moneyed elite
more than willing to publish anything to advance their agenda (anybody
seen The Bell Curve?).

Let the schoolboys whine as much as they like.  The fact remains that
communication is a flawed enterprise, and sincere efforts to understand
how or why it is flawed are worthwhile.

Cheers,
Andy White
Paris-on-the Potomac.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Kevin Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Mar 1998 14:02:39 -0800
Subject: 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0238  Re: Postmodernism

The thing I find most annoying about this thread is how it's
degenerating into a debate on the merits of French philosophy in total.
Surely there is good French philosophy and bad, just as there is good
English poetry and bad.  Anyone who assumes that everything French must
be good will sooner or later find herself reading Jean Baudrillard and
sipping le Piat d'Or.  On the other hand, anyone who just rejects French
theory out of hand will miss out on Jean-Luc Marion.

Cheers,
Sean
 

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