Four Characters in Search of the Meaning of Culture : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Four Characters in Search of the Meaning of Culture By David Damrosch The Chronicle of Higher Education, Decenber 17, 1999 This article represents a book about a series of debates on academic culture between himself and three of his friends, Marsha, a feminist film theorist, Vic, a private scholar of aesthetic inclinations and Dov, an Israeli semiotician.

The group started their discussion after attending a culture conference. Rorty, the speaker at the conference, argued that the cultural studies movement was not at all concerned with the study of culture but promoted its deconstruction, with exaggerated skepticism. It debunkes idealism and individual creativity. Naysayers that take over literary studies as they have in philosophy.

Dov stated that cultural studies must have traditional scholarship but the way its going is business as usual. The deconstruction should offer a serious alternative to mental worshiping for a more religious model.

Marsh retorted, I just don't think anything religious is going on in cultural studies, and if it is I don't want any part of it. I left the church for good when I was 16, all right.

David was bumed by the direction of their conversation. Both Dov and Marsha wanted a better academic culture than we have now. Then they continued to define what culture is to them. They asked, Is it social practices , or a kind of artistic sensitivity and refinement?

Vic broke in, its a vast image repertoire and criticism which now shares with art itself the task of bringing these images to life, sometimes for social, and sometimes for pure pleasure purposes.

Marsha remarked his examples were just too cute.I should be more serious like brushing history against the grain. Dov remarked, culture is not a pliable fabric we can brush or fold. We are in it. We are fish in a turbulent stream. Those swimming against the current are prophets and artists, but most of their products are swept away. When some of the untruthful revolutions fail it freezes the river. Arts best chance at that point is to be an ax that we take to our hearts.

Marsha stated that his view was to self oriented for her tastes. She brought up the bumboat woman in Orlando, frozen deep in the ice of Thames. The King and his court go out skating, they look down at her as some kind of curiosity and than forget her.

They continued for some time talking abstract meanings about the trees in the Garden of Eden. Dov said, we are clinging to the branches of the tree of knowledge, looking down at the garish productions of the tree of life. Vic said, we don't eat from either tree for we are the fruit of one or the other, waiting to be sun rippened and fall off into the jaws of death. With all that talk of fruit, they went out for dinner.

We aren't to swallow everything we hear about culture, but to listen and communicate ideas about this important subject. There are many views and for each one there are seven skeptics ready to ripe you appart for having one. Continue to talk with open minds in peace. Cruel words, and pounding the table only mean a weak arguement. People do make mistakes from lack of knowledge. As long as you stay reaching for the greatest hope, even if all possible objections were not overcome.

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2000

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