Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ideology, and the rules of the intelligentsia

While I tend to agree with Michel Foucault with regard to the question of Human Nature—put indelicately, that is that we cannot arrive at a totalized, reliable sense of any innate psychological "Nature" in people that remains unexposed and invulnerable to the social, political, economic, ideological forces of the contemporaneous environment—and therefore the existence of anything but an abstract, temporal notion of "Justice," I have always appreciated Chomsky's democratic attitude toward the problem of social analysis:

"The social sciences generally, and above all the analysis of contemporary affairs, are quite accessible to anyone who wants to take an interest in these matters. The alleged complexity, depth, and obscurity of these questions is part of the illusion propagated by the system of ideological control, which aims to make the issues seem remote from the general population and to persuade them of their incapacity to organize their own affairs or to understand the social world in which they live without the tutelage of intermediaries... In the analysis of social and political issues it is sufficient to face the facts and to be willing to follow a rational line of argument. Only Cartesian common sense, which is quite evenly distributed, is needed... beyond that no special esoteric knowledge is require to explore these 'depths,' which are nonexistent." -from "Politics," Noam Chomsky's interview with Mitsou Ronat, incorporated in the book version of the Chomsky-Foucault Debate.

Click here for an online version of the title debate, sans supplementary arguments and interviews:

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: "Human Nature: Justice vs. Power"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the mail

Just out this past January, the first volume of The H.D. Book: The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan, UC Press, 2011, 696 pgs.

Publisher's description:
"This magisterial work, long awaited and long the subject of passionate speculation, is an unprecedented exploration of modern poetry and poetics by one of America’s most acclaimed and influential postwar poets. What began in 1959 as a simple homage to the modernist poet H.D. developed into an expansive and unique quest to arrive at a poetics that would fuel Duncan’s great work in the 1970s. A meditation on both the roots of modernism and its manifestation in the work of H.D., Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, Edith Sitwell, and many others, Duncan’s wide-ranging book is especially notable for its illumination of the role women played in creation of literary modernism. Until now, The H.D. Book existed only in mostly out-of-print little magazines in which its chapters first appeared. Now, for the first time published in its entirety, as its author intended, this monumental work—at once an encyclopedia of modernism, a reinterpretation of its key players and texts, and a record of Duncan’s quest toward a new poetics—is at last complete and available to a wide audience."

I recently found a .pdf of the Frontier Press 1984 version, for free, which does not include the new introduction and appendices.