[Humanist] 24.118 why all the old stuff

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jun 16 10:29:36 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 118.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 11:58:41 -0700
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.113 why all the old stuff
        In-Reply-To: <20100615053913.8B7D45AA4D at woodward.joyent.us>


Willard:
In my posting yesterday, I see a sentence that was quite wrongly put.
Here it is, followed by my inversion and correction.  [slightly feverish
with sore throat yesterday]:

*"It is, the B-52, according to those critics with a certain
political bias, not a historical anachronism, but a present potential for a
history that may or may not be likely to come.*

It should have read:

*It is, the B-52, according to those critics with a certain
political bias, an historical anachronism, instead of a present potential
for a history that may or may not be likely to come."*
*
*
*
*
*Jascha Kessler
*
On Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:39 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 113.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>  [1]   From:    Richard Lewis <richard.lewis at gold.ac.uk>
>  (36)
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.111 why all the old stuff?
>
>  [2]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
> (159)
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.111 why all the old stuff?
>
>
>
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 17:34:08 +0100
>        From: Richard Lewis <richard.lewis at gold.ac.uk>
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.111 why all the old stuff?
>        In-Reply-To: <20100614060139.E8F2257B40 at woodward.joyent.us>
>
> At Mon, 14 Jun 2010 06:01:39 +0000 (GMT),
> Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> >
> >         Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 07:01:06 +0100
> >         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> >         Subject: why all this old stuff?
> >
> > [...] that research in humanities computing has become
> > industrialised (and cash-cow'd), and so is research no longer; two,
> > that back when literary computing got started, it took a wrong turn
> > that has led us to industrialisation. [...]
>
> I'm beginning to get the impression that many in the digital
> humanities actually see their role as being technicians and providers
> of a service. It may stem from fear of being accused of attempting to
> replace existing modes of scholarship; in order to avoid such
> accusations, digital humanists work on tools which explicitly aim to
> *support* existing scholarly practices. From my own point of view, I
> see this quite often in technology for music research. Many of the
> applications of such technologies are aimed at commercial clients. But
> even when they're not, they're generally advocated to musicologists as
> tools to support the kinds of things that musicologists will surely
> find interesting anyway.
> --
> -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
> Richard Lewis
> ISMS, Computing
> Goldsmiths, University of London
> Tel: +44 (0)20 7078 5134
> Skype: richardjlewis
> JID: ironchicken at jabber.earth.li
> http://www.richardlewis.me.uk/
>
>
> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 11:28:15 -0700
>        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.111 why all the old stuff?
>        In-Reply-To: <20100614060139.E8F2257B40 at woodward.joyent.us>
>
>
> Dear Willard, Listers, and Fellow Lurkers,
>
> I would indeed like to comment on the quotation Willard proffers from
> Lloyd.
>  It is important and clear;  nevertheless, my first reaction is to see it
> as
> precisely upside-down.  While strategists in the great war rooms of the
> world ought surely, given today's great costs of preparation for conflict,
> inevitable and sure as is the sunrise on a whirling globe, and should one
> hopes always keep the history of war foremost in mind, there is a tendency
> today, often politically motivated, to insist that the last war(s) are not
> relevant.  Assuredly they are and must be if only for the sake of negation
> and elimination of automatic repetition ... which is or can be farcical.
> 1) Let me quote a letter I sent to the Los Angeles Times but 4 or 5 days
> ago, on this head coincidentally enough.  It scouts those who politically
> mock the planners.
>
> "Letters to the Editor
>
> THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
>
> Los Angeles
>
> Dear Letters Editor:
>
> What does it mean when the Times quotes some guy named Wheeler from some
> undefined “watchdog group”? [June 10, “B-2 Makeover news] What qualifies
> that group to disagree with the Pentagon, calling the B-2 Stealth Bomber
> the
> “ultimate hangar queen” and declaring it “not useful” for the current Iraq
> and Afghanistan warring against “low-tech enemies”?  Such criticism is both
> myopically purblind and willfully pusillanimous.  It fails to “think the
> unthinkable,” as the RAND strategist Herman Kahn put it decades ago.  As
> long as we have nuclear bombs to deliver, the B-2 is our messenger of
> choice.  And when push comes to shove, as seems ever more likely, America
> will have to use them, since intercontinental missiles may not be our
> weapon
> of choice, especially after an electronic cyber attack blindfolds us.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> ..."
>
> 2) What came immediately to mind was Socrates, who when earnestly asked to
> describe how his "Dæmon advised him as to what to do (in making a
> decision)"
> he replied, "My Dæmon never tells me what I must do.  It always and only
> tells me what NOT to do." [my emphasis].
>
> In other words, as Lloyd suggests, the past is no guide to the future.  Its
> template(s) cannot be superimposed on the present, which is fleeting, and
> the future, which is unknown but yet determined by action in the present.
>  Still, history is meant to, I think? to offer what was done, and
> [Heraclitus here] can not be done again. As my letter to the LAT suggests,
> to maintain the skin of a B-52 at 60 millions a pop, does mean it is a
> waste
> of money and time, because the present war in Afghanistan is guerrilla-like
> in action.  It is, the B-52, according to those critics with a certain
> political bias, not a historical anachronism, but a present potential for a
> history that may or may not be likely to come.  Socrates' Dæmon, I venture,
> would not advise us to scrap the past/present of the B-52; but it would
> advise us not to scrap it, because without history we would utterly lost to
> recognize most of the currents, trends, facts, realities of the present,
> which may or may not, but often enough actually DO repeat.
>
> The anomaly here is what I have written about in several published essays
> for several decades, but cannot seem to get across to Letters editors of
> any
> papers.  Viz., we are illuded because of the global mediazation [sic] of
> information and knowledge, which is always per se and present globally.
> {Not
> to mention our delusions stemming from the neologism "globalization,"
> dealing with currency flows and technology of production, etc.}  What we
> fail to recognize is history itself as it is present in cultures and
> societies and nations large and small who exist in the West's past, and
> potently, as with Islam and the Saudis.  Our 14th century of the past is
> also present and dangerously so.  Iran and Egypt used to be our 17-th and
> perhaps 19th centuries, but have regressed to the times when the Koran was
> being written down, which was long after the Prophet and his wars were
> quite
> past.  If what we see is the armies of the first Caliph at war in Iraq
> today, Shia and Sunni, we are seeing the past, and its entire template.
>
> As for Willard's questioning, the Humanities I think are past records in
> libraries.  Digital powers representing or replicating or making them
> present before us as we sit at our screens and think and wonder do not
> necessarily make their past representation, verbally or pictorially or
> monumentally, ACTUALLY accessible.  Example, that strangely accurate
> dramatic rendition of such a madness, or illuded behavior, as played out in
> the film, Wicker Man.  If that was its title?  I saw it on TV last year.
>  That strange anachronism or attempting to relive the past, itself a lost
> ritual society as understood from records of Druidism, is an example of
> what
> I am getting it.  Mummery is not the past.  Ditto for present warfare, as
> Lloyd writes.  But...if as in Wahhabism, the past templates are present,
> well, Houston, we have a problem [i.e., up here in orbital abstraction, so
> to speak].
>
> If I am getting at something of concern for this list...?
>
> Jascha Kessler

-- 
Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648
www.jfkessler.com
www.xlibris.com





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