Sunday, February 20, 2011
loving to make an academic issue
“The” current issue for me is literary psychological inquiry.
That isn’t the same as saying: “I’m currently interested in literary psychological inquiry.“ Yes, I’m interested in that (have been “forever”), but these days I’m seeing the interest especially in a large-scale context of philosophical interest that my literary-psychlological interests (call it, for short, LP interests) didn’t imply years ago. I’m now moving into a focus on LP inquiry that’s part of the larger-scale interest (or—choose your favorite cliché of mine—the larger-scale venturing, journeying, seafaring, vining, or pathmaking), which includes my LP interests as issue.
An issue commonly may be a problem (seeking resolution) as well as an interest (wanting fulfillment or enjoyment). “The” issue isn’t simply how LP interests elusively relate to a givenness (e.g., how did it all autobiographically gain philosophical appeal?; what exactly now is existentially gained by philosophically inspirational efficacy?)—in any case, a sense of dilemma as well as desired mystery. The issue is to clarify a troubled desire, like aching to see the view from atop a peak which no one knows the way to (as far as I know) “What peak?” must be resolved first, in order to know what one’s asking of possible others.
“Have you heard of anyone who’s been there?”
“To the place where....”
“I don’t make sense of your interest, sorry.”
What is the sense of “literary psychological inquiry” (promise in the nebulous phrase) as literary psychological inquiry (promise in the nebulous domain of inquiry)? Presumably the nebulous kind of inquiry dissolves into a landscape of kindred interests and inquiries (so ‘the’ in “‘The’ current issue...” is definitely indefinite).
Naming an issue is a proximal step into godknows what. But whatever, it shouldn’t be idiosyncratic (for a reader’s sake). Inevitably, though, it’s a venture which must be individualized (because any person expresses a nebulously particular background). One hopes (can’t expect) to be useful for someone (if not exemplary, i.e., useful for many).
An odyssey might not be useful for others, though amply worthwhile for the sojourner, as in a personal education (gaining sophistication that others might already presume) or a therapeutic project. Sharing that might offer some good example for others, even when far from exemplary (e.g., a narrative of error and tribulation that steers others away from a path). That would be a rather negative value (like learning about dangers). Positive value—generative value, good potential, good promise of fruitfulness—may best belong to the venture itself (i.e., not to its instancing a given concept of positive value, generativity, etc) because explorations are at best no reiteration. They may be at best instancing a new kind of fruitfulness, not by design (you can’t will originality), but by the high individuality of the pathmaking itself, which is shown by milestones of a domain, whether poetry (Rilkean) or science (Hawkian)—or conceptual design (which becomes identified with its designer: Aristotelian, Jungian, Derridean, etc).
High individuality as such may be the greatest mystery (short of “Where Are They?,” re: any real gods). But what can be the “as such” of primordially-diverse differences (individualities) of the “Same” species? What are we, such differencing: paradoxically the same in differentiating, ironically our identity-in-difference, eerily seeming to be a different person today than yesterday, numinously channeling archetypes manifoldly, gems, spheres, gardens, topologies?
That’s not mere rhetoric: The boundaries of a journey that gets somewhere must exist, yet the boundaries of the landscape might be transformed by the journeying (not like ruining a land, but by enriching its nature—which was Heidegger’s venture late in life, in terms sometimes of a “topology of Being” that was at heart a conceptual poiesis—an improvisation on peaks—of his era).
It’s good to acknowledge boundaries—yet also interesting to make that thematic (which may eventually dissolve them in emergences of new ones—transforming as manifold emerging born perpendicularly, so to speak, as 3-space is transformed by time). Beyond extending given boundaries in lifelong learning—beyond transgressing given boundaries which can be critically important—transcending boundaries can be nontrivially creative, if not truly original.
Transposing a notion of kindredness, from what we (persons) may have to what domains have, can be very fruitful, for those who are interested. I associate this kind of interest with what’s especially conceptual, and I defensively stand (in a world of idle curiosities) for the potential merit of persisting in a conceptual venture.
What’s the nature of any notion of kindredness? Is that an essentially “logical” point?—“ontological” point? Does conceptuality reduce to issues of “natural” kinds due to the evolutionary character of minds? Or has our evolutionarity evinced its own nature (without anymore need of metaphysicalist ideology)? Do not realists in mathematics have to take seriously a question like “Where are They?”?
I love conceptual adventuring. I don’t mind being more or less alone in this…. Well, I’m far from wholly alone: There’s Susan Carey’s The Origin of Concepts, 2009 (psychological theory); Denis Mareschal et al., The Making of Human Concepts, 2010 (metaevolutionary theory); various recent philosophical works on conceptuality as such, which is intrinsic to philosophy as such, as well as being recently topical (at issue); and various ventures by the various domains of the humanities to conceptualize the integral/intrinsic character of their own endeavors—altogether an elating mix of character issues.
A mind issues as the child. An era issues from Time.
But I’m not seeking to love, going in, with any pretense of comprehensive conception. Rather, what I’ll do, up the road, is partial, stylized—biased by other relatively-near-term interests of mind—which are my conceptual issues, yet not like finding a story (doing autobiography)—but not exactly being “theoretical,” as conceptualizing a writer’s work as such (allowing for an author to become, in a sense, a genre unto herself or himself, which is done commonly; e.g., “Proustian” or “Derridean”—not to here give favor to being “French,” by the way) is not exactly a theory of art form (let alone being French). Let there be profusion of confusion in a fission that may flower into some synergy of topogenically weaving branches.
And there may be some virtue in long sentences as metonyms of thinking itself (not to veil lack of insight with obtusity—?).
The conceptual interest (as kind of interest), to my mind, becomes indeed philosophical (by now: needless to say). Marrying that to conceptualizing artists’ work may have philosophical merit for generally better understanding the genre(s) that happened to be integral to his/her career, even good for understanding domains as such (a kind of speciation?)—which is different, I would argue, from gaining a theory of their genre (or genres generally or domains as such), since theory commonly pertains to generalizable or universal features of something that is, in principle, translatable into methodic inquiry. Nevertheless, interdomainal understanding may be primordially fruitful—what John Briggs (Prof. of English) figured years ago as a “fire in the crucible” (talk about “love” of things).
Maybe what I want to do can be transposed into theory, methodically understood (i.e., as formal conception prevailing on evidentiary inquiry); but I’m not thinking of that presently by intimating conceptual loves.
Coming downhill, so to speak: My own sense of psychological inquiry doesn’t evidently imply anything like a known artist’s lifework. But thinking analogously about art seems pertinent: Psychological inquiry is intrinsically worthwhile.
That’s not a trivial point, given that many persons aren’t comfortable with psychological inquiry, so pursuit of a psychological path into a philosophically LP venture can isolate the inquirer, to say the least (not to entertain getting oral vegetables thrown at me).
Philosophical interest is suspect to many persons (coincidently, this month a new book on Socrates drinking hemlock appeared—but I’m not worried about my own isolation in my department, though this kind of issue is very real in functionalistic organizations). The conceptual oddball produces anxiety because inquiry can be too self-implicative. One might not be able to make sense of the other (my issues) without thinking about themselves in ways they don’t want to do. (E.g., in some quarters, questioning someone’s intentions is a way of learning, not an indictment.)
So, The Other’s (my) issue has to be dismissed, typically with a courteously vacuous reason like “I just don’t have time for that” or “I’m just not a psychological kind of person” or “It’s too academic.”
Whatever. In some quarters, persons are intrinsically curious and love to make time together for inquirial venturing—which tends to keep us oddballs near a campus (thank you: not known out there as a planetary netweave, green world, distributed mindal arcadia—yea, EarthMind—we can be through text).
-- gary e. davis --- 7:50 PM