Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Science and Art are not Oppositional

according to Johnathan Gottschall, in his recent article in the Boston Globe. Why can't scientific rigors be applied to literary theory?


I agree with what he's saying, much more than I disagree. Reminds me of John Brockman's 3rd Culture. An effort to get creative and technical schools to speak to each other.


Brockman also built his theory on the work of C.P. Snow. It's not clear to me Prof. Gottschall's opinion of this trend.

It may sound too demanding to obtain this depth of sophistication in one's critique (isn't a grad program, in any field, rigorous enough?) but I don't see why there can't be schools that emphasize these approaches, in the same way there are schools that have postcolonialist, post-structuralist, etc approaches.

Actually, I have a view as to why, as I mentioned in an email sent today to the Professor, and that is that there is lacking a comprehensive theory-of-technology that could sell administrators on the benefits of adopting the kind of scientific rigor Prof. Gottschall is advocating. Technophiles are still trying to figure this out themselves, duking it out in IP court or having the ongoing Lawrence Lessig v. Lars Ulrich debate (creative commons v. natural rights, or thereabouts) Then, there are the technophobes, who fear technology and the free-thinkin world of literature equally. Maybe a comprehensive approach to technology/science as a boon for literary critique can begin with ideas on how to handle the ideas of those people. But, maybe this is just my ugly 3rd head of populism rearing itself once again.

I'm going to side with Lars Ulrich for today, and mention that I saw this originally mentioned on Ron Silliman's blog
which is linked from my friend, Greg Severance

EDIT: The Professor responds 5/14:

Hi Doug, thanks so much for your response. I'm getting clobbered on the blogs, pretty much, so it's nice to get a largely positive reaction. Your work sounds very interesting.

"A few things that may assist your study - the media theory professor Douglas Kellner of UCLA has mentioned that the world of graduate theory has a bias against certain forms of reason, I think this was in his essay on Rorty, but I can provide you with the link if you are interested."

I think he's right.

Writing in much haste....

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