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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...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Disagreement

Once you discover that scholars often disagree with one another, you are liberated, as David Kellogg notes in the interview cited in the post below. I used to be angry that my teachers would be wrong. In 10th grade, for example, an English teacher of mine insisting that saying "nice day" when the weather was foul, sarcastically, was an example of "understatement." I argue with her for several minutes in class.

Later, instead of being angry, I came to see that it was great when someone was wrong. That gave me an opportunity to contribute something by being right where others were wrong. It was also a confidence builder, because I saw things others did not. Now, I think it's great, in general, that scholars cannot agree on very much. Although a total lack of agreement about anything might be a sign that field is bullshit, or might be, a high level of disagreement means that the field is intellectually vibrant.

Since disagreement is a good thing, it follows that you should take issue with others' findings with some degree of respect. The disagreement is point of entry into the conversation.

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