Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Misappropriation

Literature:

“After the war French writers rejected the idea of narrative because Hitler and Stalin were storytellers, and it seemed naïve to believe in stories. So instead they turned more and more to theory, to the absurd. The French declined even to tell stories about their own history, including the war in Algeria, which like all history can’t really be digested until it is turned into great literature."


"Social Sciences":

Of course, [Julia Kristeva] is hardly the first French thinker to wield more influence over students and scholars in the United States than in France: this was also true of Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. In fact, it was the fate of Ms. Kristeva and this three unlikely subversives to be accused of planting the seeds of political correctness in American colleges long before the concept was re-exported back to France to be mocked as a typically American aberration.


It's funny how that works. A group appropriates something borne of another culture, intended for that culture, and only properly understood by people of that culture, takes it for its own thinking the only translation or adjustment necessary is the elementary one of language. Of course it's not just the taker's fault; often it's just as much the giver's. For instance, regarding beautiful letters, it's probably more Roland Barthes's fault that American universities have utterly ruined the study of literature than it's the fault of -- I dunno -- say, Susan Sontag. And certainly, regarding "social sciences" (identity politics division), Foucault ran with and totally exploited the fame and acclaim America showered on him -- and who could blame him? -- but it was the angsty, middle-class remnants of the New Left who were all too eager to buy what they thought he was selling.

Marxism was borne of the thwarted revolutions of 1848 -- thwarted revolutions of, at that time, the most developed countries on earth. Marxism was intended for and could only be properly understood by industrial Germany (and England, to give Engels credit where due). Naturally, it was applied to the European country most unlike those: Russia. In that application was a massive mutation.

Christianity was borne of a colonized, tribal people, humiliated by their conquerors and suffering from occupation and the corruption of their own elites. It was invented by a Jewish man, intended for and properly understood by other Jews. Naturally, it was applied to "the uncircumcised", the goyim. In that application was a massive mutation.

Lenin & Trotsky, Russians; St. Paul the Hellenized and Romanized Jew; American Academics -- they've all made the same basic error of taking systems of thought that are not parochial so much as culturally particular, systems they themselves do not and can not fully understand, and applied them to something they don't fit.

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