Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: June 21, 2021, 7:28 a.m. Humanist 35.98 - what we write about

				                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 98.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                   		Hosted by DH-Cologne
                       www.dhhumanist.org
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org


    [1]    From: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.95: what we write about (85)

    [2]    From: Dino Buzzetti 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.95: what we write about (21)


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-06-20 11:33:02+00:00
        From: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.95: what we write about

Willard’s comments put me in mind of Theodore Roethke’s poem “The Waking”, which
begins this way:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

It’s “a love poem” at ground zero but like many such, ramifies, like that line –
it’s a refrain -- “I learn by going where I have to go”.

“What do I want to know about?”  Yes, there’s nothing more fundamental than that
beacon when we’re dealing with what Wallace Stevens called “the Scholar’s Art”,
a version of what Ford Madox Ford called “the game that must be lost”.

You start out because you want to know about something you know you don’t know
about.  Then as you go along you begin to know more about that, about what you
don’t know.  Eventually you come to a point where you can honestly say that
you’ve learned something you didn’t know and so you write it up, perhaps even
write it up a lot.

But then may come the most unnerving discovery of alI, the one Leonard Cohen
sang about when he sang “There is a crack in everything – That’s how the light
gets in”. So you come finally to the place where the scholar has to go.  It’s
not a place, it’s an existential condition -- ”the “fate” of an impossible
quest, the exposure of  “the importance of its failure” (John Unsworth).  It
turns out that all along and from the start you were mistaken about what you had
imagined (dreamt) about that “What”.  You didn’t even know “what” you didn’t
know and “what” in fact couldn’t know – call it your premises, the “what” they
both license and prohibit.

So it’s all about “beginning again and again” (Gertrude Stein): “To strive, to
seek, to find, and not to yield”.  I judge that those notorious last three words
were Tennyson’s gloss on “to find”: don’t yield to it.

Best,
JM


From: Humanist 
Date: Sunday, June 20, 2021 at 2:52 AM
To: Mcgann, Jerome (jjm2f) 
Subject: [Humanist] 35.95: what we write about
                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 95.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
                       www.dhhumanist.org
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org




        Date: 2021-06-20 06:36:48+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty 
        Subject: what we write about

In the latest New York Review of Books, Matt Seaton quotes international
journalist Jill Filipovic. This bit of a sentence caught my eye:

"... I've moved away from needing to feel like I'm an expert on
everything I write about, and have instead started by asking, 'what do I
want to know about?'

This, for me, with my very different concerns, is a succinct statement
of what I think is exactly the right mode of engagement on Humanist, or
one of them. I'd think that it also describes the movement in a
scholarly careeer as "I want" is informed and shaped by experience --
and one allows oneself to take risks that point the way as utterly
bullet-proof arguments can never do. Consider, for example, the work of
historian of ancient Greek religion, Walter Burkert, e.g. in Homo Necans,
especially for what might be called his intellectual flight-path, zooming
down to inspect the smallest of details, then zooming up to behold the
whole terrain, then back down again and so on. Thrilling!

Comments?

Yours,
WM


--
Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist
www.mccarty.org.uk


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: 2021-06-20 10:01:53+00:00
        From: Dino Buzzetti 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.95: what we write about

Dear Willard,

You have pointed out what I also think would be the right attitude.
In the overflood of information we are drowning day by day, the point
is not so much whether we get fake or reliable news, as our *passive*
position. If we do not seek *actively* for the information we want to
find, any critical approach is lost.

Yours,              -dino


--
Dino Buzzetti
​F​ormerl​y:​ ​Department of Philosophy​,​ University of Bologna
​C​urrently​: ​Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII​, ​Bologna
​
​http://web.dfc.unibo.it/buzzetti​ ​
*​http://www.fscire.it/index.php/en/who-
*
 *we-are/researchers/dino​-​buzzetti-2/
​*


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