inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #201 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 21 May 12 18:47
    

I wrote:

'If you were a careful reader -- which, manifestly, you are not -- you'd
have understood me to be asking why you voluntarily read all those reviews
of ON BULLSHIT, which you say you read, and why you listened to a full hour
of an interview with Frankfurt, when *reading the book itself takes less
than an hour*?'

To clarify this, since there is obviously a huge risk I will be misread
here, I am saying Mark claims to have read a bunch of reviews of ON
BULLSHIT. As I say later in the above-quoted, too-complicated sentence,
Mark makes clear that he hasn't read the book, although he invested in a lot
of time reading about it.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #202 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Mon 21 May 12 19:02
    
(menmonic): Oh, for corn's sake, shallow up. All of this strutting and
harrumphing is manifestly unbecoming, especially for a man who can
field-strip Kant in the dark and blow through 67 pages in an hour while
Slow Children like myself are plodding along, lips getting number by
the minute. That was my point, old dear, and it really does seem a
simple one: I can't read 67 pages in an hour. It would take a workday.
As I believe I said, and am saying again, Careful Reader. No one's
personally attacking you; if I were, you'd know it. I regret that
you've decided to take this into the back alley, and am too bored to
mix it up. Read my book or don't, consign me to the Outer Darkness of
the insufferable or don't, I'll die of ennui before I care. 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #203 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 21 May 12 19:12
    

"No one's
 personally attacking you; if I were, you'd know it."

Given the quality of your writing, I'm not sure that's true.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #204 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 21 May 12 19:22
    

By the way, I don't think reading Frankfurt ON BULLSHIT is as demanding as
reading 67 pages of Kant. Any clerk should find Frankfurt accessible --
think of him as a sort of Clerk Kant, which is super, and unweakened by the
cryptic.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #205 of 259: Rob Myers (robmyers) Tue 22 May 12 04:30
    
"Clerk Kant"

:-D
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #206 of 259: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 22 May 12 05:12
    
>  You do realize that I was arguing *contra* Jonl and his
fellow moderator, *for* the proposition that Ideas Can Change the
World?

FYI this is a misinterpretation of my comments. I never said that
ideas couldn't change, or haven't changed, the world. I argued that
individuals can't "change minds," which is a different argument.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #207 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 05:45
    

Perhaps Mark can identify the posting in which I purportedly demanded that
he read Harry Frankfurt's ON BULLSHIT. I can't find one in which anyone
demanded that Dery read anything.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #208 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 07:59
    

jonl, I agree that Mark has misread your comments in the passage
you quote in #206 where he's interpreting you.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #209 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 22 May 12 08:57
    
While all the "Bullshit" is getting sorted out :)....

Mark, can you speak about some of your concerns and observations about
current pop culture...both on the ground and in cyberspace (if there
is a difference anymore)?
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #210 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 22 May 12 08:57
    
By that I mean anything new on the horizon since the essays in your
book.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #211 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Tue 22 May 12 09:50
    
(jonl): I suppose I leapt to the (not unreasonable?) assumption that
it's only through changing minds that one changes the world. I can't
imagine how change would happen, elsewise---at least, any change
involving human agency.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #212 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 10:17
    

Fortunately, that's the only important instance in this topic in which you
mischaracterized something someone else said.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #213 of 259: . (wickett) Tue 22 May 12 10:18
    

I would be interested to read about your take on human change and changing
humans.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #214 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Tue 22 May 12 10:59
    
(tcn): Not *too* broad a question! <g>

_Bad Thoughts_ brings us very nearly up to the moment (in its
inimitably idiosyncratic, hip-hop-illiterate, Truth-oblivious,
bullshit-mongering way). Of course, pop culture moves at such
mind-blurring speed, and has become so dizzily complex in the fractal
branchings of its sub-sub-subcultures, and so atomized into a jillion
little demographic niches, that anyone attempting to think seriously
about it resigns himself to the futility of accomplishing much beyond
the critical equivalent of Doc Edgerton's split-second snapshot of the 
bullet passing through the apple---a strobe photo, critically
speaking, of a historical instant. 

He writes with the dislocating and, be it said, dispiriting feeling
that what he's writing will be part of the fossil record before the ink
is dry. At the same, he knows that fossils---analyses of a given
historical phenomenon that have themselves become part of intellectual
history---have their uses, too. The history of ideas is about being
immersed in the here and now, I think, while carrying on a never-ending
argument with the dead. That's why Adorno's (widely reviled) thoughts
on jazz, or Benjamin's comments on fascist aesthetics, or Guy Debord's
analysis of the Spectacle, or Baudrillard's theorization of
hyperreality still matter. 

Where were we? Right, "anything new on the horizon since" _Bad
Thoughts_? 

Short version: plenty. I have an epic catalog of cultural dynamics,
social phenomena, and emergent ideas I'd love to get my hooks into.
I've touched on a few of them here: this notion of the Posthuman Turn
and its relation to the use of the term "posthuman" in '90s rhapsodies
of posthuman potential and post-Darwinian evolution, as well as its
relation to animal studies and philosophical (Peter Singer) and
scientific (cognitive ethology) challenges to human exceptionalism. As
I said, I'm fascinated by the poker-faced nuttiness of Object-Oriented
Ontology and its fringier enthusiasts. (As always, no endorsement
implied. Fascination never is, in my book.) 

This topic has concentrated my mind on the importance of at least
giving some of the recent hip-hop apologias (I use the term
advisedly...) in popcrit and academic scholarship a glance, not to
mention giving some of the playlists posted here a spin. 

I've been wanting, for some time, to write a big, shaggy essay on the
historical circumstances and gender politics and buried ideologies in
Strunk & White and all those "10 Things Every Writer Should Know" lists
floating around the Web, especially since most readers see them as
value-neutral, uncoupled from history and culture and ratified by this
unexamined thing called Common Sense. 

I'm interested, too, in the notion of the post-hip hipster, a whole
generation of young writers who seem to be taking David Foster
Wallace's neurotic, self-effacing shtick to almost self-parodic lengths
(especially the men, which speaks volumes about a changing masculinity
in America). It's a concept I'm going to have to approach on a
tightwire strung across a dizzying generational divide, since the
concept is so counterintuitive to a late boomer like me I approach it
at a considerable disadvantage.

Let's see, what else is rattling around in the Cornell Box in my head?
I've wanted for some time to dig into the construction of masculinity
in metal, specifically Norwegian black metal; the Pit Bull as totem of
machismo; the faddishness of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology
and what they say about our age; What Makes David Brooks so
Brain-Clenchingly Irritating; homophobia, homophilia, and homoeroticism
in the BBC's new, updated _Sherlock Holmes_; Minecraft and its deeper
meanings; Die Antwoord (what is *that*, and why is Xeni Jardin so
obsessed with it?); and the historical roots and ideological subtext(s)
of anglophilia. 

Oh, and I've heard this _On Bullshit_ thing is a real firecracker. If
only it weren't so interminably *long*.  
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #215 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Tue 22 May 12 11:06
    
(wickett): I'd be happy to take a crack at that, but might be able to
be more useful if the question were a little less broad. Can you give
me some sense of what you mean when you say "human change"? Are we
talking societal change? Or are you referring to the
transhumanist/Extropian notions I just mentioned---wresting control of
the species' evolution from Darwinian forces and, like the Mechs and
Shapers in Sterling's _Schismatrix_, cyborging and/or genetically
engineering our own evolutionary destiny? Or are you referring, as
McLuhan and Ballard and Sherry Turkle have, about the changes wrought
by the mass media and social media on our psychology, whether
individual or social? 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #216 of 259: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 22 May 12 11:07
    
> it's only through changing minds that one changes the world.

Anthropocentrism on your part, I think. Many forces, including mind,
are involved in "changing the world."

But it was also not to my point. I didn't argue that minds don't
change. I questioned the role of intention. 

I don't doubt that some humans inspire change in others, but I see
that as different from creating or forcing some kind of change. In
fact, I find that an intention to change another's mind creates
resistance to, not acceptance of change.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #217 of 259: (fom) Tue 22 May 12 11:16
    
About Strunk & White, have you read this?

<http://chronicle.com/article/50-Years-of-Stupid-Grammar/25497>

Also, I'm curious what you have to say about those "Ten Things Every 
Writer Should Know" things.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #218 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 22 May 12 15:21
    
<214> LOL, thanks for that...I've recently discovered Minecraft, as
have a few million others...think it's very much worth checking out.

Still have my original high school copy of Struck and White. I treat
it like Latin - very useful in it's day and helpful as a construct for
thinking, but that scaffolding has collapsed and I'm learning to text.

I'll read more of Doc Edgerton; sounds like my cup of tea.

I've gotten into the habit of deleting every e-mail and link that
begins with "10 things". Be sure not to use it, so I'll catch your
post:)
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #219 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 22 May 12 15:23
    
<215> geez, answer both sides of that one!
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #220 of 259: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Tue 22 May 12 16:17
    
Tick, tick, tick...this just in...via H+Magazine:

http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/05/22/whatever-happened-to-virtual-reality/

RU Sirius posted today, an excerpt of an interview of Jaron Lanier he
did back in 2002 (archival, I know) about whatever happened to Virtual
Reality?

Some grist for your mill:

"I like to think of VR as an alternative way of thinking about a ramp
of technological progress in the future where instead of making bigger
and faster things, you make more intense experiences and more
interesting forms of human connection. And if you think of that ramp,
which is more of a McLuhanesque ramp than an Edward Teller ramp, that
alternative ramp is the one that we can survive with. So in that sense,
all this business about aesthetics and communications is a survival
strategy. I really think it’s the only imaginable future."
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #221 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 17:42
    

It seems strange to criticize THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE as a poor linguistics
text, since E.B. White does not purport to be a linguistics scholar (or, as
they used to be called in the pre-Chomsky dayes, a philologist).

There are some valid criticisms in the disgruntled column that <fom>
provides a link for, but if you read the column carefully you discover that
the author is mainly unhappy with THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE's being slavishly or
unthoughtfully taught and consulted.

The book should really be understood as a lesson in how to think about
writing the way E.B. White does -- as a stylist, not as a student of
linguistics. There are worse places to start as a stylist than THE ELEMENTS
OF STYLE, but my experience has been that most people who write to any great
degree don't consult THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE much at all, except perhaps
for the pleasure of White's little essays embedded in it.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #222 of 259: (fom) Tue 22 May 12 18:15
    
There's nothing in the article suggesting that the author is criticizing 
it as a "linguistics text." 
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #223 of 259: M. Dery (mark-dery) Tue 22 May 12 18:36
    
All: My apologies, but I have to prep for tomorrow's
lecture-cum-launch party, mentioned above. Come Thursday, I'm wheels-up
for a mini-book tour of Southern California. If you're in the L.A. or
San Diego area, please consider dropping by one of the following
events. If you do, please come up and tug on my sleeve afterward. I'll
try to squeeze in a sign-off post Thursday AM, or late Wed; my
apologies for the many questions left unanswered.

• May 29, 2012, 7:30 P.M. PST

WHAT: In-store talk and signing at Skylight Books.
WHERE: 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027. DETAILS HERE. Free
and open to the public.

• June 4, 2012, 5:30 P.M. PST

WHAT: Lecture at University of California San Diego (UCSD), hosted by
the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information
Technology (Calit2), sponsored by the Gallery at Calit2.
WHERE: Atkinson Hall Auditorium, La Jolla, CA 92093, (858) 822-4998.
DIRECTIONS HERE.

DETAILS:

In his multimedia lecture, "Waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse:
American Dreams, American Dread in the Age of Uncertainty," cultural
critic Mark Dery makes sense of the American madhouse, early in the
21st century. Using pop culture as his prism, Dery considers the zombie
craze, our obsession with toy guns and movie violence, our frontier
religiosity, and our homophobic machismo to refract the deeper meanings
of who we are, as a nation, and where we're going.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #224 of 259: (fom) Tue 22 May 12 19:58
    
 >I'll try to squeeze in a sign-off post Thursday AM, or late Wed; my
 apologies for the many questions left unanswered.

You can answer questions later -- the interview can go on as long as you 
and your questioners want. The official timespan is 2 weeks, but that's 
not an actual cutoff point.
  
inkwell.vue.441 : Mark Dery - I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
permalink #225 of 259: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 22 May 12 20:16
    

fom writes:

'There's nothing in the article suggesting that the author is criticizing
 it as a "linguistics text." '

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "nothing." I assume you know that
by "text" I don't mean "textbook" or "source material." I just mean
"text."

From the Pullum column:

'Certainly White was a fine writer, but he was not qualified as a
grammarian. Despite the post-1957 explosion of theoretical linguistics,
Elements settled in as the primary vehicle through which grammar was taught
to college students and presented to the general public, and the subject was
stuck in the doldrums for the rest of the 20th century.'

and 

'I have been told several times, by both students and linguistics-faculty
members, about writing instructors who think every occurrence of "be" is to
be condemned for being "passive." '

and

'So I won't be spending the month of April toasting 50 years of the
overopinionated and underinformed little book that put so many people in
this unhappy state of grammatical angst. I've spent too much of my
scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way. English syntax
is a deep and interesting subject. It is much too important to be reduced
to a bunch of trivial don't-do-this prescriptions by a pair of
idiosyncratic bumblers who can't even tell when they've broken their own
misbegotten rules.'

and

'Geoffrey K. Pullum is head of linguistics and English language at the
University of Edinburgh and co-author (with Rodney Huddleston) of The
Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press,
2002).'

In addition, the counterexamples Pullum adduces in order to assault
THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE are classic linguistics-driven descriptivist
grammarian criticisms. Not that there's anything wrong with that,
but the "pair of idiosyncratic bumblers" weren't purporting to be
descriptivist grammarians, were they?  Plus, those who've actually
read THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (as, you know, a book rather than a reference)
may remember that White himself explains that these "elements" (not rules
of grammar) can be ignored pretty much anytime so long as the writer
knows what he or she is doing.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook