Saturday, July 09, 2005

Towards a New Subjectivity of New Subjectivies

I sometimes am taken with the notion that a lot of academic discourse--I'm talking about prose style and rhetorical strategies--is merely the analogue of marketing/proselytizing departments of other aspects of our society. 'New and exciting' academic work that 'crosses boundaries' often seems to follow the same formula : the emphasis in all cases is on vague terminology of novelty and 'sanctioned transgression,' where "central to our conception is a need to rethink and reimagine [insert object of rethinking and reimagining here]." Everything is so wound up on discovering and claiming new technologies/identities/hybridities/etc., or calling for a new politics of such-and-such, that no time is ever spent developing these new things to see if they work. I'm speaking in generalities, obviously, and as such am largely as open to the same criticisms I'm levelling myself. (But then again this is a blog entry, not a paper.) Certainly there are examples of really worthy academic work that fits the trappings I've outlined here. But I have read this kind of language in mission statements posted in the break rooms when I've worked at chain retail stores in the past; just this morning I saw a TV program on some untraditional Christian movements trying to think of a "new Christianity to answer for twenty-first century demands." And I'm just incredibly suspicious at how closely academia resembles corporate-commercial America as well as purple-state religious America. And all the while, how often (and how well) does any of this rad razzle-dazzle ever do anything?

I will never be as productive or as insightful as those whose intellectual labors I want to use as models for my own work. But I also hope that people might notice that I'm striving in those directions.

In two hours I will finally be seeing films by Christopher Maclaine ...

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