A Few Treats

As you may have surmised, I’ve been busy. Very busy. Working flat-out on this dictionary. It’s nearly done now, and then I’ll have more time to write long windy inconsequential N&Cs again.

But one good thing about this dictionary caper is that I find a lot of stark staring nonsense while googling for just that purpose. We’re going to have a Nonsense File in a few months, when my colleague has a spare moment to program one. For now I’ll just present you with some links here.

This one for example is a really good (good in a special sense) bit of Lacanian literary criticism. I don’t see how you can fail to enjoy it. I’ll just give you a taste, shall I?

For Lacan, the gaze is always an act of desired appropriation…Seeing becomes desire — part of the scopic drive in which the eye functions as a phallus. The person who does the looking is the person with power, but there is power also in the ability to provoke a gaze. For Bishop, occupying a position of spectator in the phallic mode would not explain her recognition of the inability to grasp, understand or resolve the death portrayed in “First Death in Nova Scotia.” Larysa Mykyta’s discussion of the position of the feminine in Lacan’s analysis of the gaze finds woman in her position as other to be destructive to the illusion of reciprocity and one-ness that the process of seeing usually supports: “The female object does not look, nor does it have its own point of view; rather it is erected as an image of the phallus sustaining male desires”. If we accept this argument then Bishop’s gaze questions the possibility of successfully imagining, at least visually, the phallic drive to apprehend and conquer.

Got that? Splendid. Next there’s this, which will tell you what to think of Eurocentrism. Will you be surprised if I tell you the answer is, not much? No.

…the “Eurocentrism” of social science has been under attack, severe attack. The attack is of course fundamentally justified, and there is no question that, if social science is to make any progress in the twenty-first century, it must overcome the Eurocentric heritage which has distorted its analyses and its capacity to deal with the problems of the contemporary world. If, however, we are to do this, we must take a careful look at what constitutes Eurocentrism, for, as we shall see, it is a hydra-headed monster and has many avatars. It will not be easy to slaughter the dragon swiftly. Indeed, if we are not careful, in the guise of trying to fight it, we may in fact criticize Eurocentrism using Eurocentric premises and thereby reinforce its hold on the community of scholars.

Oh no, not that. That would be terrible. Then there’s this, which will tell you the same thing, and also tell you how to disapprove of science. Ambition is a good thing. All that in a few hundred words; it’s very impressive.

Eurocentrism in science is based on the assumption that because modern science arose and developed in Europe understanding the history of science…does not require us to take into account the philosophical and natural knowledge ideas that are to be found in cultures outside Europe. For example the views of Schrodinger were influenced by Hindu philosophy (as he himself notes), and both Bohr and Heisenberg considered that Taoist, Buddhist and Zen ideas had an affinity to the philosophical implications of the quantum theory (as they have been recorded to affirm), but these reflections are treated as aberrations on their part…This orientation, coupled with the easy facility with which ancient Greek philosophical ideas are connected to modern science, lends credibility to the charge that the philosophical interpretations of contemporary science are also Eurocentric in orientation.

And that must not be allowed so everyone had better cut it out right now or else.

Happy April Fool’s Day; enjoy some foolery.

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