Monday, April 03, 2006

my manifesto

want to understand why our schools suck it so bad ? Here is a clip from Mikhail Epstein's Towards the Techno-Humanities: A Manifesto, over at Art Margins. You should really read the whole thing. It is a great way of understanding why those Cocktale Party slugs at Yale and other American "art schools" don't have a clue what is going on. Epstein argues pretty well for an inventive and progressive role for the humanities:

The main insights of literary theory, as we study its innovative ideas and peak achievements, are found not in scholarly monographs or articles, but in literary manifestos.* The latter are products of theoretical imagination rather than empirical study and scholarly scrutiny. Manifestos of Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Naturalism, Futurism, Surrealism, etc. are not based on the discipline of research, the "careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge," as defined by the Webster Dictionary. Manifestos are neither factual nor fictional--they are formative.*

They aim to produce new literary facts rather than register and analyze the facts, past and present. Under which existing academic categories can this constructive activity of theory be placed? Does it belong to the realm of scholarship or literary fiction? Obviously, none of them. Its proper place is precisely in the yet unmarked domain of theoretical inventions, techno- or trans-humanities?

The humanities should embrace both modes of conceptual activity recognized by the sciences: discovery of some existing principles and facts and invention of those tools and ideas that can transform a given area of study. "Inventorship," as a mode of creativity, should become as indispensable a companion to scholarship in the humanities as technology is to science. (*My Emphasis -Ashes)
See, it's not just about if you can get into Barbara Gladstone's party and snort coke off of ... oh well, you know.

Photo is courtesy of The Gallery of Russian Thinkers that I got to from InteLnet. Daniil Andreev (1906-1959)

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