Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Analytic Patriarchy

Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame!
Live! fear no heavier chastisement from me,
Thou noteless blot on a remembered name!
But be thyself, and know thyself to be!
And ever at thy season be thou free
To spill the venom when thy fangs o'erflow:
Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee;
Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow,
And like a beaten hound tremble thou shalt-as now.
-- Adonais, Percy Bysshe Shelley

The minute I put pen to paper, or finger to blogspot, I am always answering the academic masses, the chattering classes of the analytic elite, who have crowned themselves the guardians of European enlightenment. 

Let me just make it clear here that this form of thinking, this kind of conceptual self-congratulation is the enemy. Or, rather, it is one of them. One of many.

I am not here to appease those who put external evidence over intuitive knowledge. I write only for those who see intuition and imaginative thinking as superior to the the science of facts.

Facts do not speak for themselves. Take it from me, I am a journalist.

So, let me get down in the dirt for yet another tedious tussle over methodology. When I use terms such as 'masculinity,' I do so fully aware that such a term has little sense and no reference. The Fregean idea of language is the biggest bastardization of western thinking there is, and it has no place here. If you want to nit-pick about what this or that term means, go read the Tractatus and shut the fuck up. Really.

Language itself is not some Newtonian clockwork system of rules. There's a reason why English is the dominant language. Because it is a system-less language. It functions on the imaginative powers of the speaker, the ability to fuse concepts and create new forms of communicative dialogue. It's a conceptual fucking free for all, and no rule is sacred. The genius of a great writer or communicator, is the willingness to break the rules of dialogue.

Don't believe me? Re-read Hamlet. Or listen to Biggie Smalls. You choose, but my point is that language is not a science. Just in the same sense that theatre is not a science. The impact on another, the transference of meaning, the ability to rouse the heart of another, is not something that can, or should be, reduced to a set of manageable principles. 

You cannot strip back the essence of a language, and the desire to do so, the lustful desire to pick apart linguistic concepts as and when they are used, is somewhat perverse.

In fact, I would go as far as saying it is perverted. The science-fundamentalists who adopt science and 'evidence' based thinking for their own needs are just control freaks, those whose own minds drive them to a perpetual anxious insanity.

Sun Tzu said don't seek ways of avoiding attack, seek ways of dealing with the various forms of attack when they come. What I am trying to say is that we should not be trying to dampen the fires of the mind, or try to use the power of science as a way of creating the illusion of control.

Science itself is not good. Nothing, in and of itself, is good. The trouble is that even the most analytically minded have created their own sacred cows, and they are the golden calves of logic and evidence. But these are not sufficient. In fact, I would argue that they are perpetuating an archaic, almost Old Testament kind of cultural mentality.

It's the mentality that says peace is achieved through dominion. That the unknown must always become known, that chaos must be regulated, that what is unexplained must be explained – and all of this for no other reason than it makes us feel better about our anxieties.

Those who use logic and science to feel powerful, are just as bad as religious fundamentalists who use sacred doctrines to elevate themselves and their race to a status of superiority over others. The quest for knowledge should be done in the spirit of humility and gratitude, the open heart of someone always beginning his or her quest. It is the paradox of the poet, the ability to have no sacred cows but also to see all possibilities, all hypotheses no matter how insane, as sacred.

The unknown is not to be feared, or dominated. The unknown is to be nurtured. Our curiosity is not invasive, but therapeutic. Science and philosophy are not means of dissolving illusions or myths, but ways of forming functional relationships with the unknown and the un-knowable.

In this way, even the most rigorous of knowledge-seeking becomes a form of worship.

1 comment:

  1. 'Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so' ;)