This item was originally posted on CEMP's Interactive Media Portal on 30 January, 2007.
Storm the bastille! (Um, as long as it is someone else’s bastille, if you don’t mind).
Every so often the intertubes throws up something remarkable that blows my mind. In My Language is a video posted to YouTube by silentmiaow, who is autistic, about her ‘native language’. She describes it as being “about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.” It’s one of the most beautiful, profound, mind-expanding things I’ve seen for a long sore time.
Those of you who are up on your media studies will be aware that we live a purgatorial post-structuralist hegemony. While Derrida might have been breaking molds in 1968, now it is the law that there, um, is no law. Imagine my joyful cackling ironic mirth, therefore, when I read that a History department has banned students from citing Wikipedia. Vive la revolution!
Posted by David on 30 January, 2007 at 08:48:36
I’d love to know what this means:purgatorial post-structuralist hegemony
Posted by Joe on 30 January, 2007 at 08:52:41
according to post-structuralists, it means whatever you want it to mean since knowledge and meaning are inherently unstable and contested. nothing, ironically enough, illustrates this better than wikipedia…
Posted by David on 30 January, 2007 at 09:56:02
why ‘purgatorial’? why ‘hegemony’?
Posted by Joe on 30 January, 2007 at 10:53:25
I call it purgatory because, while it has obviously been politically expedient to challenge arbitrary power structures (such as patriarchy) over the last 40 years, I simply don’t agree with the basic post-structuralist premise that people can never share the same meanings.
I call it a hegemony because it is everywhere. It’s no longer a radical challenge to authority, but has become ‘authority’ itself.
Posted by Anonymous on 30 January, 2007 at 10:57:54
especially in humanities departments in universities
Posted by Anonymous on 30 January, 2007 at 10:58:13
like, for instance, history
Posted by Mike on 30 January, 2007 at 14:01:42
hmm, ask 100 people in the street if they feel we live in a purgatorial post-structuralist hegemony. I don’t think it’s ‘everywhere’. And Joe you are doing that (postmodern) thing of abstract criticism of ‘hegemony’, rather than specific criticism of actual ideas. What exactly is it you don’t like? Is it the warning not to rely on wikipedia?
Posted by Joe on 30 January, 2007 at 15:31:07
If you asked 100 people on the street whether they could rely on wikipedia, even if they had heard of it, they probably wouldn’t really care one way or the other. I’m merely pointing out the irony of people who would argue that knowledge is constructed and contested (History as a subject the prime example) then complaining that their students use Wikipedia. The purgatorial hegemony bit is my view and I stand by it, even in the face of overwhelming force :)
Posted by ???? on 15 February, 2007 at 12:28:54
But why purgatorial? Are we being temporarily punished for some sin/s or in a position of waiting for entry to a more heavenly hegemony? Interesting..
The Wikipedia-ban thing has happened to me, more subtly â€“ tutors have smirked as Iâ€™ve cited it, as if Iâ€™m not capable of reading a book (yes sir, I can google (no more boogying))... This stuff is more about cultural capital, and notions of academic/theoretical worth and expertise. If you ask 100 people in the street what that isâ€¦.. Life is complicated. Some people like using theory to enunciate this and some people donâ€™t, or donâ€™t have access or allegiance to it.
Which of us are in purgatory?
Posted by Mike on 15 February, 2007 at 12:36:14
Actually we are in the Inferno:
We put ourselves there. But that’s OK because it’s by far the most interesting place in the Divine Comedy :-)
Informed use of wikipedia or any other text is fine. But for some, it’s just the quick fix to education. Many tutors aren’t keen of the quick fix