[-empyre-] Art, Funding and Politics

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Thu Dec 1 12:45:10 EST 2011

..on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 09:31:52PM +0200, NeMe wrote:
> One positive feature of an online discussion is its immense potential
> to reach a large number of people and not just network friends and
> colleagues. Unfortunately, we feel that this thread has not succeeded,
> to the extent we had hoped for, in engaging a satisfying
> representation of these voices despite the very significant
> contributions.  We also feel that, as moderators, we failed in
> engaging voices belonging to academics and cultural workers from non
> western institutions who do not have English as their first language.
> We did invite several academics from non-western universities who
> enthusiastically agreed to post but then retracted due to their
> unfamiliarity with overtly academic precis style posts. We were aware
> of this criterion when writing our posts however it does appear,
> sadly, that there is still a lot of work to be done towards the
> breaking of the dominant boundaries and notions of intellectual
> authority established by western cultural and academic hegemony,
> especially online.

One can even say the "academic precis" style can appear actively
counter-conversational. So endemic, it seems some academics don't even recognise
it as a rhetorical form, rather the sole approach to critically engaging
problems of a cultural, aesthetic, social or political nature.

Academic discourse, even on would-be casual mailing list, assumes habits that
many may find very bizarre - even antisocial - such as the pressing need for
discrete references to traditions and texts relative to the argument at hand.
The reader may even be familiar with these references but find the need for
placing them in the text to be contrived or self-conscious/insecure.  At this
point the initially proposed question can feel like a mere container, a prop for
the performance of a sort of a rarefying and selfish prose. 

Analogy, for instance, is a widely accepted vehicle for carrying forward a
proposition and/or critically re-positioning it. Among academics however this is
something often seen to be naiive, even lazy, evidencing both lack of experience
and critical rigour.

This is the sort of thing that'll keep many lurking on a list like Empyre,
regardless of whether they're at the periphery of a "western cultural and
academic hegemony". Even the fact I felt the need to put that in quotes derives
from an academic habit built around the strategic performance of Evidence.

When you're already swimming within the language it looks quite different of
course, feeling quite natural, fluid, opening.

I enjoy reading and occassionally writing my way through problems in this way
myself but also find it slow to get back into during intensive periods of
computer programming, teaching or travel. When the case I've just carried Empyre
topics offline, inspiring several great and productive debates!


Julian Oliver

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