Monday, 8 October 2007


Found at Science, Sometimes, via Yet Another Weird SF Fan - both of which are worth a look in their own right:
I have a buddy who is a communications professor. He speaks the Gramsci/Foucalt lit crit hegemony stuff all the time. Mostly, I haven't got the first goddammed idea what he's talking about, though I have given it enough of a try to encounter the Sokhal hoax and stuff like that. But once, he asked me what it would take to 'overthrow' the periodic table. I tried to make the point that, fundamentally, the periodic table is an organization of experimental observation, that has since been backed up with theory. He wondered why we 'privilege' this particular structure.

After trying really hard to understand what the hell he meant, I got the impression that he thinks, honestly, that scientists just make shit up and all agree to discuss it in a certain way. I basically told him that he had the luxury of this because he didn't interact with things that would mercilessly render him dead as a rock if didn't privilege the knowledge that has been gained over time, different ways of knowing be damned.

He thought, and then said, "Yeah, if I write down something that doesn't conform to the narrative of my field, my papers won't explode." I think that we may have understood one another for a few minutes, at least.

And to safety-critical engineers, if we don't get things right, then people really will die, or be blinded, or maimed, as the result.

Perhaps it would be useful for some Lit Crit people to deconstruct this fragment from Kipling:
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

And meanwhile I find myself explaining for the (n+1)th time about autopsy results and brain-scans, arguing that HBS is neither cured by Exorcism, nor Spirit Release Therapy. And trying to counteract anonymous articles in the California Catholic Daily such as No Crossdresser Left Behind.


Anonymous said...

I find myself explaining for the (n+1)th time

Between the normal human response "I already know what I believe so don't bother me with facts" and the recent educational dogma of "there is no objective reality, only what we've constructed", I predict that you will encounter high values of n and low quantities of P (people who get it).
But the P's are high value, so it's worth it. You may even find what Kipling called the Thousandth Man. Meanwhile, as another Book says, "be not weary in well doing, for we know that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

Hildy said...

Good $DEITY, where do you find the time to educate the unwashed masses? Or the energy?

This lefty will keep cheering you on though.

Zoe Brain said...

Where do I get the energy? Well, I no longer have to keep up the boy act. That took a lot, far more than I knew.

It's quite usual that TS people who transition become far more able to deal with life's little embuggerances. Good job, as transition only adds to the difficulties. While it solves one problem, it brings a whole host of others, ones that to an outsider seem insuperable. But compared to the wrong-sexed-body thing, no big deal.

OK, so technically I'm IS rather than TS. But psychologically, I'm standard TS, and that's what counts here. My transition was just a little unusual, that's all.

Thanks so much for the good wishes.

As I've found out many times, often Left and Right just disagree on means, not ends. Just look at my blogroll - you'll find famed enfant terrible and Right Wing Death Beast Tim Blair, and equally famed Marxist academic Norm Geras. I'm honoured to call them both my friends on a personal basis too.

Now to get on with parenting my son, and doing my PhD, and I have a pile of papers to mark, but first a trip to the passport office and some phonecalls to lawyers.

Thanks again, and Hugs too, Zoe

Anonymous said...

Zoe --- re the "No Crossdresser Left Behind" article in California Catholic Daily: have you written to them to correct factual errors and so forth? They do print rebuttals and corrections.

That'd be