Saturday, April 07, 2007

Opening up the world

Jason B. Jones (who attended UWM for awhile when I was doing the PhD thang there and who blogs at The Salt Box--and since he links to things with his name on them, I'm assuming I'm not revealing anything here that I'm not supposed to) has a cool interview with Steven Johnson at Pop Matters.

It's interesting to learn (maybe you already knew?) that Johnson went to grad school to study theory (Foucault was among his favorites when he was 20), and that Franco Moretti opened up a new way of seeing for him:

Moretti has this essay on literary evolution, I think it’s called “On Literary Evolution” in Signs Taken for Wonders, and I remember having this amazing experience of reading it and seeing him walking down Broadway in Morningside Heights, and saying, “But Franco, I think you’re talking about science here in kind of a straight way; you’re saying, “science has these ideas about the world that may be true, so let’s see if we can apply some of those ideas to the study of literature, and you don’t seem to be deconstructing science at all” and he said, “Right.” “Interesting approach,” I thought. It just opened up this whole world—“oh, I could just borrow some of these ideas and not actually be battling those folks, I could actually ask them for help.” That was the beginning of a whole avenue that took a long time to explore.

Ah ha! I thought. So now I get the connection among many of the things Collin blogs about: Moretti, Johnson, and Latour, too. We've been reading Latour in my grad seminar, and Latour, as you may know, is also a great one for saying, hey, how about we try to understand how things like science work instead of trying to show how they are mystifications. It might make one suspicious at first, if one has been raised up to be suspicious. If one has been trained to always look for the meanness behind everything. But what if the world isn't always about meanness? What if we don't begin from that starting place? If there's meanness, it's sure to show up. It just doesn't have to be inevitable.

It's freeing, that is. It allows for a more curious, a more expansive relationship to the world, to knowledge. It's working for me, these days.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Donna! (And, no, you didn't reveal anything untoward . . . )

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