Monday, September 21, 2009

Again elsewhere
The right to curiosity is more important than the right to speech. It's a better more solid foundation to the law, even though it covers the same relation.
But the argument Fish is making, or merely reporting, is more complex than its adherents know. It's not curiosity they're bothered by but specifically "unbounded" curiosity. They would say that curiosity needs to be framed and that they are arguing in defense of a frame. Examining their fears (religious arguments are all based on a concern for community) you can understand their logic. And you can take it even further: isn't all curiosity framed? History re-contextualizes our assumptions, "framing" them better than we could or did. Our grandchildren will see frames where we saw freedom.

And what about that sort of enquiry that engages framing in its processes? Learning the violin is enquiry framed by the cultural knowledge of the instrument. Learning to write "well" requires a form of curiosity about language, about the frame itself. The narcissism of Ayn Rand is evidenced in her lack of interest in the frame and consequently she's a lousy writer. The same arguments, morally simplistic or not, made by a better writer would have made a better book.
Fish is hazy/lazy in his presentation because he's aware of the problem, like the priests, but also doesn't know how to phrase it in a way that would satisfy [his own?] secularism. So I'll do that for him. Is curiosity best represented by the desire to invent new musical instruments, therefore new individual things, marking their maker at least in his own imagination as similarly distinct, or by learning to play any instrument well? Is curiosity best represented by the inventor or the musician? The inventor is the one theologians worry about. The danger of individualism is that it produces a herd of independent minds, each preoccupied with "self-expression," but inarticulate. And if expression is connected to machine knowledge then that articulateness is asocial; the primary relation is between a person and a mechanism, not between one person and another. The problematics are all there in the present and in American history. Observer or inventor? What's the model for secularism in the 21st century?
How do we recognize difference? How do we recognize individuality? If everyone's an individual how can we even compare. Slackers vs Players. Slackers as inarticulate individualists, players as articulate performers, playful conformists. Who the fuck do you think I take more seriously? Individualists are all alike.
So fucking obvious.

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