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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How People Really Think

I'm not sure what I mean by this phrase. What is the way that people really think about things, deep down, as opposed to what they claim to think? For example, most people might claim to think that canonical authors are just there, in the canon, for completely contingent and arbitrary reasons, and that in theory everything is equally valuable. Yet try to explain your work on a non-canonical author and there is quite an effort to be made justifying such an enterprise at all! You must prove that your author is worth studying, important in some way, and it's a hard sell.

People claim to value complexity, but they really like simplistic thinking deep down. They are more sentimental than they claim, more apt to substitute proxy values for more substantive ones, more attached to idiosyncratic shibboleths and fetishes, along with collective idées reçcues.

By "people" here I mean academics. The connection between this and SMT is that you have to constantly anticipate the way people really think, because that will determine how they will react to your work.

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