owner-nettime-l on Mon, 1 Sep 1997 22:40:15 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Re: 'emailing elizabeth grosz' An Interview with Maria Kunda

I cannot lay claim to any particular competence in continental
philosophy.  However, Professor Grosz is one of my valued colleagues
-- her appointment is partly in philosophy and partly in Comp Lit
and Critical Theory -- and I think that it is utterly inappropriate
that substantive issues about the originality of her work be
addressed in this forum in such a flippant and casual way.  If the 
claim is that the key themes in her work are genuinely derivative, 
then let us see some texts cited from Grosz and from Kristeva, etc 
and compared.  Does Grosz purport to be doing more than trying to 
elucidate ideas found in these authors?  These are genuine issues 
about scholarship and there are institutional norms for settling such 
matters. These do not include 'interviews' on a-phil that are utterly 
devoid of references.

But it is clear that this is not even the real issue.  The complaint 
is really about style.  Grosz' work is disliked:

> Because they are didactic. They simplify and label.  Grosz's _Sexual
> Subversions_ is a good introduction to a field of dense literature, and its
> her book that I am by far the most familiar with, and which has helped me
> greatly, but it is representative. It deals with the 'content' of
> intellectual works which rely very heavily on form for their 
> import. ...  
> the
> different kind of writing, and the different voices that these women use,
> which is very evident even in translation - all that is obscured, and
> somehow sanitised.  
 > Grosz is one layer writing, a report on sources, its honest but I find it
> bereft, not really writing.

It would appear that Professor Grosz' real fault is trying to write
work that makes an honest attempt to say what is meant.  If one layer
writing is *clear* writing that attempts to set out the arguments and
assess their soundness, please give me more of it.  As I said at the
outset, my engagement with continental philosophy has been fairly
minimal so far and one thing that puts me off is that I frequently
feel that authors writing in this tradition are being deliberately
obscure.  This is not to say that there is no place for form in 
philosophical writing -- witness Plato's dialogues.  But Plato's 
intentions are frequently pretty clear: he wants you to think 
some things through on your own with a bit of guidance from Socrates.

Instead Grosz is castigated for not writing.  And what is writing?

> When you commit yourself to paper, virtual or otherwise.

Surely sincerity is not in itself a sufficient condition for 
scholarly writing.  I also have to intend that my audience form 
certain beliefs about what I think as a result of recognising my 
intention that they form those beliefs.  If I want them to come to 
share those beliefs, then surely I must provide them with the means 
of sharing the evidence that I myself have for those beliefs.  If 
Grosz' books have a kind of popularity with people who don't read 
much writing in the continental tradition, perhaps it is because she 
discharges these obligations better than other writers do.
Dirk Baltzly                                         Tel. 03-9905-3209
Philosophy Dept                                      Fax  03-9905-3206
Monash Uni                             dirk.baltzly@arts.monash.edu.au
Melbourne, Victoria 3168
     And all creatures, both animals and birds, were tame and
     gentle towards men, and friendliness glowed between them.
     Empedocles, DK B130 (tr. Freeman)

[well i would say that's an extremely local debate, or what is it? /p]

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