File spoon-archives/postanarchism.archive/postanarchism_2004/postanarchism.0403, message 64

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 07:50:08 -0500
Subject: Re: [postanarchism] - (on anti-academicism)

I am rather confused by this "anti-academicism" that is in the midst of a proliferation these days (see, for example, that extreme of what is known as "Cultural Studies" in the US, which, by action or reaction, abandons textual Marxism, for example, in a transposition to "television studies" - isn't there even a book on "The Philosophy of the Simpsons"). And I side with Jason on the point that, for the most part, it is folks whose thoughts are especially "tainted" by academic discours, whether historically or conceptually or both, who are so quick to denounce this "academicism". But this is not a question of whether or not one may retain the styles and forms of her forebears while, at the same time, critiquing them - nearly all of the "academic" bigwigs of the past fifty or sixty years, from the germans of the Frankfurt school to the french of the so-called Post-structuralist vein, have incorporated the thoughts of those who they were in the process of breaking away from - Freud and Marx, in particular. It is a question of whether or not the brutal "denunciation" of academics actually serves any purpose. Deleuze constantly made statements which tended to imply the uselessness of philosophy, etc., all the while spending his entire life buried in just that task (his declaration, for example, that there is always something more important to be done than philosophizing). I don't remember hearing of Deleuze in the third-world assisting the hungry, the poor or the tired. Also, his remark that his work with Guattari "Anti-Oedipus" was written rather for the "anti-academic", that is, "not-too-educated", than the post-grad, abstraction-junkies of academia - meanwhile, that work is utterly bound up in the thought of some of the most "academic" of thinkers. I do not mean to lambaste only Deleuze, here, however. He should be noted as merely an example among the many. Perhaps it may even be worthwhile to investigate this behavior as a sort of self-denunciation? Why not? 

This debate on "anti-academicism", which, as I see it, and as I hope to have briefly illustrated, is nothing of a debate, and rather of a series of accusations, more similar to the adolescent harangues hurled at a parent, which, whether baseless or not, are merely a sort of societal twitch by which many of us mark our independance. The real debate should be on that of received knowledge, in any of its many forms (whether academic or anti-academic), because that is what we are really sounding out our anger against. It matters not whether we are accusing Foucault or the KKK, we are in a battle against tradition, the form of thought as something pre-established, not only "the intellectuals". 

Thus, I am always taken aback by this style of denunciation. Just because philosophy can't actively change a government does not mean that it isn't allowed to involve itself in this action in other forms. In other words, theory's failure to "bring about the desired changes" is not a reason to thrash it, nor to tout its uselessness. 


"L'amour, c'est quand nous pouvons dire que nous avaons le ciel, et que le ciel n'a rien."     -Badiou

> No big deal and I was not personally offended as it is
> not my paper, so no need to apologize to me, I just
> think it would be nice to hear more in depth critique
> and discussion - its not like I haven't thought the
> same thing about some things that have come across on
> here, but I would not generally type something like
> that in, I guess I just wanted to emphasize the need
> for a little more openness on all sides... the
> question about academicization is a good thing to talk
> about though, if you want to - but like I said I think
> that the Killing King Abacus stuff is based in alot of
> the same ideas, so I don't know, and its not like
> Mueller's paper was especially difficult to understand
> or anything. As for repeating ideas expressed in zines
> in an academic framework, I don't really have a
> problem with that, from my perspective, the more the
> virus spreads the better - it may not add much to the
> activist milieu who reads zines but I think it is
> useful in other spaces perhaps?
> Jason
> ====> "Being at one is god-like and good, but human, too human, the 
>        mania
>     Which insists there is only the One, one country, one 
> truth and
>         one way."
> - Friedrich Hölderlin, 1799


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