Archive for July, 2013

Stomping through Brian Leiter’s page (I am very fond of Leiter’s page and I have a lot of respect for the man, even though I tend to disagree with him on several issues), I found a fun link relating to a video interview featuring Noam Chomsky (http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2013/06/chomsky-slams-the-empty-posturing-of-zizek-and-derrida.html).

Chomsky does his best to diss and hate Derrida, Lacan, Zizek and ‘theory’ that is – in his mind – posturing . Well, well.

Of course, Chomsky has in mind a particular kind of -reductive science – that is acceptable instead as serious theory, whereas people like Zizek and others are not serious, not hard science, do not have a couple of neat principles that one can simply explain to a ‘twelve-year old in five minutes’, so their ‘theory’ is not theory. (I am not sure if a physicist can explain atomic theory in five minutes so a twelve-year old can go and build a nuke, and we better be glad that’s not possible, eh?)

Chomsky, who’s intellectual empire is guarded with deft tactics as we now see in the fun-to-watch Chomsky-Everett debate (http://chronicle.com/article/Researchers-Findings-in-the/131260/), wants ‘theory’ to be serious and simple. I think I have made my gripes  about that kind of seriousness and simplicity obvious on these pages before. So, let me actually pull a bit of Zizek here myself:

A few years ago, an American acquaintance explained something interesting to me about American eating habits. Americans like their food nicely prepped for them – bite ready at best – and they don’t like to see how it is produced. This goes so far that the majority of Americans do not  like to get served a whole fish, which they have to cut at the table. Europeans, on the other hand, seem to have no problem with that. We like to get our fish served whole and do some chop chop at the table, we don’t mind, it seems, seeing what it actually is that we eat and how it is made, nor to engage in some labor to deserve our food. See, this is Chomsky explained. He likes to get things bite-ready and not having to think how the food got in front of him. This explains his stance on ‘theory’, too. All the good folks who did theory the last few centuries so that Chomsky can build his empire, they were lucky, it seems, that they didn’t have a Chomsky in their ear, because then they would have been subjected to the same kind of treatment that ‘theorists’ today are subjected to, and Chomsky would have no bite-sized theory-pieces to not starve on.

When Kant advised us to dare and use our powers of mind (Sapere Aude!), it was not the Zizek’s of his era he spoke to – those who dared, even if sometimes their ‘experiments of mind’ didn’t pay of – but to those who wanted to prevent them from daring. So, I dare Chomsky and his ilk to dare and eat the fish as it comes, and instead of being serious learn not take yourself too serious and laugh a bit – about yourself – every now and then.






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