[Humanist] 25.753 the media intellectual

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Feb 25 09:18:52 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 753.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    D.Allington <d.allington at open.ac.uk>                      (22)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 25.749 the media intellectual?

  [2]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>                       (110)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.749 the media intellectual?

  [3]   From:    Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>                                 (2)
        Subject: The Ziz

        Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 09:55:26 +0000
        From: D.Allington <d.allington at open.ac.uk>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 25.749 the media intellectual?
        In-Reply-To: <20120224085712.E017F27399C at woodward.joyent.us>

Interesting question. I'm not sure that Zizek in himself represents any particular change - to me at least, he seems a fairly typical representative of a long line of celebrity intellectuals (e.g. Barthes and Rousseau) - but there are huge issues around how to conduct real scholarship via online media (as opposed to online surrogates for print media). Does scholarship require peer review, for example? The success of celebrity intellectuals suggests that it does not. But then again, perhaps 'scholarship' is not the best word for what celebrity intellectuals engage in. So what is it that we who are not celebrities engage in when we turn aside from usual scholarly channels of communication and (say) post to a blog? I for one find that to be immensely difficult because, when I engage in it, I'm never sure in who (or what) I am writing as.

best wishes


Dr Daniel Allington
Lecturer in English Language Studies and Applied Linguistics
Centre for Language and Communication
The Open University
+44 (0) 1908 332 914

        Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 08:48:02 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: the media intellectual

Somewhere someone has called Slavoj Žizek a "media intellectual", or one
whose important work is mostly performed in public, via the various
media (also "the world’s hippest philosopher", in today's Telegraph --
which, I hasten to add, I don't read). This leads me to wonder whether
it is possible to detect a shift in what might reasonably be called
scholarship, in one or more fields of the humanities, from print not
merely to digital but all the way to online forms....

The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

        Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 11:44:16 -0800
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.749 the media intellectual?
        In-Reply-To: <20120224085712.E017F27399C at woodward.joyent.us>

A curious, albeit interesting question Willard McC. asks. Perhaps it might
taken up by referring first to that specious creature who appeared, in
Europe say after WW I: the "Public Intellectual."  Notorious for glib and
sophistical skills in France especially, and culturally speaking concurrent
with the end of first class poetry, except for a small few interesting
figures, like Char during WW II and shortly after.  Such figures belonged
mainly to the world of Journalism, the self-selected and self-created
"Fourth Estate," the other three having had their anointment, sacral, from
ancient times.[Vide the "tauf tauf" in FINNEGANS WAKE, and the raucous bird
cry of "quark quark."] The 18th Century saw that development in England and
France.  But, before the current banking of increasingly large servers,
journalism meant writing for the shredder, and papers were useful after
three days, for wrapping fish, as Franklin put it.

The notion of a media intellectual may perhaps assuage those "inties"
[intellectuals] who would hope to outlast the shredder, if Ther [to quote
Pooh] Cloud has durability and can survive the nuclear age cloud looming.
But it might be remarked, briefly, that it is commonly held by some —
including myself — that the Last Intellectual, public or not, died over a
quarter of a century ago. ["The Last Intellectual" was a sardonic and
delightful short story by Saul Bellow in his last collection [HIM WITH HIS
FOOT IN HIS MOUTH], a portrait of Harold Rosenberg, both Bellow's and my
friend.  That term being defunct, the question asked is well put as looking
for perspective on The Scholar, whose cachet originated with the
ancientmost scribes, east and west.  What function[s] in a digital era does
"scholarship" fulfill?  In pedagogy, in politics, in humanistic research,
which itself encompasses the study of all recorded studies?

I think obviously the convenience that digitization affords for pursuing
lines of study into the past and present productions of the scholar is
remarkable.  A genie of the amanuensis genre of Homo sapiens.  At this
point what comes to my mind is an essay I read decades ago in which a fine
scholar of English literature reviewed as he prepared for retirement from
teaching and study in the cloistered university/college realm what books he
would take to his cabin on a little isle off the coast of Australia, say
[he was thinking to hope to outlast the then oncoming MAD].  He ended up
less than a few books: Shakespeare, the Bible, perhaps the current OED, and
with luck the then 11th Brittanica Encyclopedia.  A Thoreauvian conclusion.
 In any case, the main distinction sought for is clarity: the difference
between the scholar and the journalist, the permanent and the 24/7
labilities of news and opinions.

Still, Willard's question is not about Ends, but the maelstrom of current
Means in which we are paddling as we are whirled around in the vortex of
these days.

Jascha Kessler

Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648

        Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 10:59:49 -0600 (CST)
        From: Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>
        Subject: The Ziz
        In-Reply-To: <20120224085712.E017F27399C at woodward.joyent.us>


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