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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...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lowered Expectations

Lowering expectations is right.
Conversely, we often pad our arguments with citations to things we haven’t read well or at all. Not only because that’s what's expected but also because doing so allows us to cover our arguments with a supposed mastery of a literature that is virtually impossible for any one person to master. Whoever says that he or she hasn’t done as much either is lying or hasn’t published.
Well, no. I would never cite something I haven't read. If I haven't read it "well" then I will cite it for a peripheral point, not for something central to my argument, as Zizek did. This is an extremely weaselly article and I recommend that you read it and kick some ass in the comment thread. Someone is wrong on the internet!

I do, in fact, master my field. That's the point of being a scholar. I would suggest that this person, so much in awe of Zizek, does not even know enough to know whether Zizek is full of shit or not. After all, if you don't master the same body of philosophy and theology and psychoanalysis that (you assume) Zizek masters, then how do you know he does? He could be totally full of shit and you wouldn't have any clue, right? I guess the argument that all scholars are incompetent is convenient if you yourself don't really know enough not to fake it yourself.

4 comments:

clarissasblog.com said...

I used to do this. And while I was doing it I kept getting article rejections. Then I realized that this was an idiotic way to work and started gaining the "impossible" mastery of my field. And then managed to get published.

The process of mastering the field and learning to find one's way around what was said and when and by whom and in response to what is incredible fun. And people who miss out on that fun because it's too hard or time-consuming are not really scholars.

Jonathan said...

Yes, and I as a reviewer of articles notice when someone is citing things not read or understood.

Yay! Your book is out. And you have that "impossible mastery" for all to see.

clarissasblog.com said...

You are in the Acknowledgments, so I want to send you a copy. Please send me your address. There would be no book without your mentorship and wonderful suggestions. I will be forever grateful!

profacero said...

Notice how many of the comments support the piece, though. That kind of shyster attitude I do dislike.