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Humanist Archives: Nov. 12, 2018, 7:18 a.m. Humanist 32.178 - releasing the hares

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 178.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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    [1]    From: Jim Rovira 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares (24)

    [2]    From: savoye@eapoe.org
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares (12)

    [3]    From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares (65)

        Date: 2018-11-11 15:21:58+00:00
        From: Jim Rovira 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares

I assumed that the hares were being released in the process of presenting 
a focused argument. What I think that activity does in that case is open 
up the possibilities for that line of inquiry. It is to me a way of 
validating the thesis that you do argue. Of course if all you do is 
release a bunch of hares, I agree that’s not very useful, but I never 
imagined that’s what you were suggesting.

However, I don’t think it’s useful to talk about mature or conservative 
“areas of study.” Those don’t exist, at least not on the humanities side. 
For example, English literature as a field of study has been around a 
little over 100 years, and it is constantly reinventing itself. I would 
even say that digital humanities is one of its reinventions. There really 
isn’t a generality you can make about the study of literature as a whole 
that is valid. Blake studies are very different from Milton studies which 
in turn are different from Shakespeare studies which are again very different 
from the study of any figure in American literature, never mind period, genre, 
or theory focused studies. Any time anyone makes a generality about the study 
of English literature they’re usually revealing their ignorance.

What is really going on is institutional infighting over budgetary allocations 
relying on exaggerated rhetoric to get a few more dollars.

Jim R

        Date: 2018-11-11 14:52:20+00:00
        From: savoye@eapoe.org
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares

Willy-nilly is presumptively negative, and an obvious no. Perhaps the 
phrase "releasing the hares" needs to be more clearly defined for a 
discussion to be meaningful. I see it as raising questions that are 
peripherally related to the topic of the paper, but not pursued to an 
end as not having a clear answer and perhaps not being directly part of 
the theme.

Jeffrey A. Savoye
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

        Date: 2018-11-11 15:48:27+00:00
        From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.177: releasing the hares


Interesting how the releasing hares question harbours another: to hunt or
not to hunt. The question morphs into one of chasing.

You cast the problem as one about the maturity of the discipline:

> Consider, for example, literary studies, mathematics, the creative arts,
> engineering and digital humanities. Would it be the case that the more
> mature (or conservative?) the area of questioning, the more directed to
> successful application, proof or result and the more vulnerable to fraud
> the less releasing hares willy-nilly would be regarded as wise?

Susan Ford casts it as the robustness of the community of practice:

> When you start a hare you don't know whether it's catchable - but others
> on the list might.
> That is the point of the list (and the hare).

Would this discussion benefit from considering the distinction between
"game" and "play"?

It just so happens that a fellow reader of Humanist, Dr. Herbert Wender,
alerted me (in another context) to the reception of Umberto Eco's forward
to the 1973 Italian edition of Homo Ludens. He pointed out a
passage from Léon Hanssen "Games of Late Modernity: Discussing Huizinga's
Legacy" in Halina Mielicka-Pawłowska  (editor) Contemporary Homo

Umberto Eco, another important critic of Huizinga's thesis, elaborated his
view in a forward to the 1973 Italian edition of Homo Ludens, a
very intriguing text that, however, has not received any attention in the
Huizinga literature for a long time. According to Eco, Huizinga was unable
to distinguish between game and play, because the Dutch language has just
one word for both: "een spel spelen," whereas the English say "let's play
a game." A game consists of a matrix of combinations and is constituted by
a certain amount of rules. Basically, it offers the players a number of
options to act, so the eventually one player can win the game. A play, on
the other hand, is the role one plays to express the situation at a
certain stage of the match. Huizinga showed interest only in the
performance, as linguists say, and not in the competence, that is, the
game as regulating system, in which a certain matrix of combinations is
produced. According to Eco, the crux of the matter is the fact that for
Huizinga the element of "play" remained, in the final analysis, an
"aesthetic" category. From his aestheticizing perspective, Huizinga was
unable to admit that the "decay," the wars and the "crisis," were, in
fact, also moments of play in a played culture.

As members of a given community of practice, the sport of hare coursing
may not be the (language) game we wish to play. As adherents to a
discipline, the release may be the play we wish to make in a (Glass Bead)

And thanks to Humanist and its readers, one can allude to both
Wittgenstein and Hesse in one paragraph. And digress down the rabbit hole
and out the looking glass.

Francois Lachance

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