File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 32

Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2001 09:32:31 -0500
Subject: Re: Post-modern, Post-Marxist etc. comments on philosophy and culture

I am not sure how to respond to all of this.  Here are just a few rough,
random and passing comments.

1. It seems to me that an appreciation of someone like Dante will always
be something of an elitist endeavor.  Great art may have universal
pretensions, but it only speaks to a minority in practice. However, does
this mean Dante should be elevated over rap music, comic books, Barbie
dolls or mauve orchids? Or doesn't it?  Who determines what is
important?  How is this judged?  By what criteria? These still seem like
open issues, whether one is "Marxist" or not.

2. Is the movement in the role of teaching English as a "humanity" to
one based more on social sciences somehow related to the changing role
of the university in society and the shift from liberal arts education
to one that is more vocational and career oriented.  The attempt to make
English practical. It seems ironic that with the exception of economics,
the social sciences themselves in a state of crisis even as they are
embraced by other disciplines. How does an English department legitimize
itself today? 

3. I have been struck by the expanding role that criticism plays in
everyday life.  I don't mean academic critics like Stanley Fish or
Harold Bloom, but the more lumpen critics who expound on movies, music,
restaurants, fashion and television to the point where academia appears
to have been superceded by Entertainment Tonight.  It has gotten to the
point where politics itself appears to be a subcategory of such

What does it say about the growing complexification of our social
stratification that we need such Baedeckers in order for people to
locate their proper ecological niche?  I have heard of children
traumatized about attending school because their clothing lacked the
proper labels.


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