10.0069 the academy and the world

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Wed, 29 May 1996 19:33:02 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 69.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@utoronto.ca> (34)
Subject: hiding won't work

[2] From: Haradda@aol.com (18)
Subject: Re: 10.0063 student contacts? terms?

[3] From: Malvernart@aol.com (5)
Subject: Re: 10.0060 the academy and the world

Date: Tue, 28 May 1996 21:23:29 -0400
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@utoronto.ca>
Subject: hiding won't work

Perhaps no one will be surprised by my strenuous opposition to the idea that
humanists will survive by staying out of the picture. I have no doubt that
an increased public role will prove uncomfortable for many. My original
title, "the academy and the world", was meant to echo the title of Satyajit
Ray's film, "The Home and the World", and so to make that point faintly.
Perhaps there remains too much American idealism in me, but I do not wish to
be rid of this quality. It is one of the aspects of American culture that I
find myself most glad to encounter when I return to my homeland. I don't
mean primarily to be autobiographical, rather to reflect personally on the
ideal that I first encountered as a young sprout in California. As I recall
it is Jeffersonian, but perhaps someone closer to American studies than I am
would care to correct me, or to fill in the picture.

In any case, this is an international forum, or as international as we can
make it speaking almost exclusively a single language mostly from a single
continent. Presuming it makes sense to speak of "the humanities" in such a
forum (give or take a discipline or two), can we really imagine that (a) the
humanities can hide out and still get funded, and (b) that we would want to
live in isolation? The many religious traditions of practice in isolation
clearly show that great thought, if it can be called thought, prospers in
silence, but the humanities I was trained to practice have engagement with
the world at their core. For a long time we have not had to sing for our
supper, because our worldly neighbours would leave bits of food on our
doorstep, and lately we have somehow managed to live as well as the best of
them. Now these neighbours have shed their superstitious ways and no longer
think we bring good luck. If I hear my colleagues in the "pure" sciences
clearly, they are suffering the same fate, or so they believe. Just whose
banquet table are we going to hide beneath so as to catch the crumbs and
scraps? More importantly, is this where we should be?

It seems to me that if all we are worried about is our jobs then we don't
deserve to have them, but that if we know enough to worry about our
intellectual way of life, then we are essential and can prove it.



Willard McCarty, Univ. of Toronto || Willard.McCarty@utoronto.ca

Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 11:06:51 -0400
From: Haradda@aol.com
Subject: Re: 10.0063 student contacts? terms?

I always thought that this was called the Mushroom Treatment. First they
plant you, then they cover your with manure, and after a while they throw you
out....you get the idea.
Maybe we should call this the Machivellian treatment. Because the intention
is to put you on the sideline where you can't do anything but watch. Which
is what happened to Machivelli and what usually happens to people of action.

I am afraid that I have a very idealistic attitude toward humanistic or
scientific knowledge. I belive that if a person really wants to understand
something that they can if they put some time and energy into doing that. I
continually have arguments with people that the general public can understand
anything about politics, history, science. All you have to do is explain it
correctly. I feel that if I read the liturature for six months (That's how
long it takes me to read the last 10 years of the published liturature) I can
understand what is happening in a field. Perhaps I should say that I think
that I can understand what the specialists are saying and doing. I often
find that specialists go out of their way to be esoteric and obscure in
writing about what they are doing or thinking. It appears occasionally they
they are only talking to about 15 people in the entire world.

Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 14:13:17 -0400
From: Malvernart@aol.com
Subject: Re: 10.0060 the academy and the world

I like your vision of the "good old days" and its description of the way the
Professors were perceived by non graduate people.
I do not know if you have ever been to England, but it certainly is still
like this today!
Best of luck in the pursuit of you art.
Don Sergio.