[Humanist] 26.488 something to say

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Nov 15 09:50:09 CET 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 488.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Alexander Hay <alexander.hay at gmail.com>                   (73)
        Subject: Re:  26.482 do we have something to say?

  [2]   From:    Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>                        (97)
        Subject: Re:  26.482 do we have something to say?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 09:29:07 +0000
        From: Alexander Hay <alexander.hay at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.482 do we have something to say?
        In-Reply-To: <20121114075447.A53E8604A at digitalhumanities.org>


Constantly, we are reading and interpreting our surroundings. Understanding
how and why this happens is key to understanding ourselves and the world we
inhabit. Also, the potential for computer mediated text remains under-used.
(I'm unusual in that I make full use of hyperlinks in my work as a web
editor, for example.) We haven't even begun to explore the potential of
this, and far from being the end of print, what electronic text really
amounts to is a new medium altogether, just waiting to be explored.

http://emcarroll.com/comics/faceallred/01.html

On 14 November 2012 07:54, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 482.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 05:47:08 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: all the conversations
>
> In a quiet moment early this morning I happened to pick up and read the
> first few pages of a fine book, Alison Winter's Memory: Fragments of a
> Modern History (Chicago, 2012). It's grist for a mill I am building.
> Those pages not only told me that I had not misspent my book allowance
> (self-allowed and unregulated :-) but once again reminded me of the
> situation in which we find ourselves as digital humanists. So, grist for
> this mill also.
>
> These days it is often said that the digital humanities is the
> humanities' salvation. As I've perhaps commented before, I wonder in
> each case if the sayer has any idea at all what wonderful work is going
> on in these humanities, arm in arm as they are with the sciences, e.g.
> of memory. I do understand that institutionally the humanities are in
> trouble, but then higher education is in trouble as a whole -- caused by
> ignorance of purpose within and without. This ignorance is appalling,
> but I wonder whether it is a new phenomenon? More true of some
> disciplines than others? I suspect that a history of humanists'
> complaints would reveal a continuum of whinging ab ovo.
>
> But what impresses me is simply how much good work is going on, and how
> much we have to learn. We in the digital humanities have recently
> entered a very large room in which many astonishing conversations are in
> progress -- such as about memory. Wouldn't you think, for example, that
> while we help to build these cultural memory archives we make ourselves
> aware of this work? Stop talking as if (to resort to a N American idiom)
> we are endlessly baking apple pies, each tastier than the last? The
> question is, do we have anything to say to the people in this room we
> have just entered, or are we (to adjust my food metaphor slightly)
> merely serving drinks and nibblies, listening in briefly, at best
> catching snatches of this or that conversation before quietly moving on?
>
> Comments?
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
> the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
> London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
> University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
> (www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
> (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 13:33:20 -0800
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re:  26.482 do we have something to say?
        In-Reply-To: <20121114075447.A53E8604A at digitalhumanities.org>


Well, Willard's rumination is understandable, and not a post-turkey
dyspepsia.  But the root of the matters that concerns him may, or might? be
located in what has sometimes irritated me: that is, the term Digital
Humanities itself seems to have fossilized into an indigestible lump, from
its reification, both adjective and noun floating in a sea of generalities.

 My 3-year old grandson, with a sharp ear, was chanting the other week as
his father shoved him along in the stroller, that refrain he and his older
brothers always sing out, from HORSE FEATHERS, Groucho's famous
political-social jibe, "Whatever it is, I'm against it!"  Felix turned to
his father and surprised him with, "But Daddy, what *is* that *it* I'm
against?"

You can ask of DH, what *is *that *DH* I am for?"  Is it more or as much as
the sum of it 1s and 0s?  Is it something at all?

When Willard says higher learning in the subjects and teaching that are not
science or the social sciences, which are neither social nor sciences, is
in trouble in the universities, surely we all know it is a matter of money,
and, worse, something in our Western kulchur, as Ezra Pound named it.
Much-mocked Oswald Spengler may have put his finger on the fact, but not
the causes, when he spoke of the West's Decline.  If the mountain is made
of glass, there are neither handholds nor footholds, and down we go, as
Eliot put it in the first part of his Wasteland.  We can hold on tight if
there are any ledges.  In any case, patience and courage to do somehow what
was always done from the most ancient times, Swat, Study, and Think ... and
Record too, whether our work is preserved in Ther Cloud [a Pooh-ism], or
bound in leaves of perishable paper...

Jascha Kessler



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