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Thread: reading list ideas

  1. #16
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    people tell me theory is interesting then i look at it and think, what the fuck is this?
    i thought it would be nice, since theres so many theory bods here, if you post a few impenetrble passages of delueze or something, then explain it, thereby reassuring people who are intimidated by theory that some sense can be wrung out of the most opaque chunks of prose. i'm not on a wind up here, i'#m quite genuine, i want to see it in action.

  2. #17
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    nice one luka...
    i didd literature at uni & found theory to be very, very occasionally useful...mainly for winding up of tutor purposes...but it gets in the way of the actual text most of the time...unless it is the actual text in which case please ignore...but i think there is a tendency to trust theorists because they are impenetrable and appear to be authoritative...frequently they lead people away from their real concerns into frustration, fear and in extreme cases insanity...one's own instincts can be trusted...at least sometimes

    eagleton i found to be deeply annoying...william empson, at least from a literary angle, i quite liked...and he did have a spectacular beard

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka
    people tell me theory is interesting then i look at it and think, what the fuck is this?
    Theory's dead useful. Conceptual modelling innit. From an architectural viewpoint: the building stays up. Why does it stay up? (Answer: engineering theory. True but dull.) Now. The building stays up, but doesn't seem to "work". What does this mean?

    And off we go.

    Easy peasy. Now...

    Quote Originally Posted by luka
    thereby reassuring people who are intimidated by theory that some sense can be wrung out of the most opaque chunks of prose
    Tricky. Acquired taste innit: takes a lot of knowledge to really grok where they're coming from. Sometimes the opaqueness is coming from cool word games. Sometimes it's just a lot of toss. It's like figuring out which are the good Zappa albums, and which ones aren't. 's alright, and I like books like "introducing critical theory" cartoons cos you can read them while holding a baby.

    In the end though, I prefer RAW, who tends to really wind up the lit crit crowd, but I'm from Essex, so who cares?

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2stepfan
    Theory's dead useful. Conceptual modelling innit. From an architectural viewpoint: the building stays up. Why does it stay up? (Answer: engineering theory. True but dull.) Now. The building stays up, but doesn't seem to "work". What does this mean?

    And off we go.

    Easy peasy. Now...
    of course...but there's a difference between architectural theory (building not falling down) and a theory of architecture (form/content/style/function)...or is this an arbitrary distinction?
    Last edited by rewch; 02-12-2004 at 12:36 PM. Reason: spellin/grammar/sense

  5. #20
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    doesn't anyone read marx anymore? start with the manifesto.

  6. #21
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    surely someone can rise to the challenge. if i get back to bethnal green and there's no response i'll find a passage myself and we'll turn this thread into a bookclub! discuss this passage...

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by rewch
    of course...but there's a difference between architectural theory (building not falling down) and a theory of architecture (form/content/style/function)...or is this an arbitrary distinction?
    actually it's structural engineers that ensure that buildings don't fall down and are insured so you can sue them if they do - architectural theory is generally based on a similar range of conceptual source material as most other forms of cultural output- deleuze still fairly fashionable at the moment

  8. #23
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    I will attempt to respond later I promise! Have been v. busy teaching. Hope someone else will give it a go too....

  9. #24
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    Default reading list ideas

    thanks everybody for all the ideas - the next time i am somewhere near a decent bookshop i shall be filling my arms with stuff. very generous of you to give up your time to this!
    the main impetus for this request was that mnay ideas get recycled in novels, music crit etc and i feel i am getting bits/flavours. it was interesting the number of people who feel defensive about this stuff - my wife claims that it's bad writing because it seems impenetrable, i argue it's difficult writing but what they're trying to do is difficult - then agian she doesn't think most of the stuff on the shelf is music either. as my mate's wife once famously said "are we supposed to like this?"
    re: Zizek, with the synchronicity that a list like this likes, after never hearing his name i see it twice in one day - a long letter in the LRB claiming that it may be better for left leaning types for bush to win - it will demark the battle lines all the more clearly (what happens to the world then for the next four years?) and then whilst trying to save my toast from the kids an article in the observer (it takes me a week to read the thing)about intellectuals - apparrently Birkbeck have appointed him to some public intellectual role.

  10. #25
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    Re the impenetrability. I always thought a lot of that was to do with reading stuff in translation. I have this fantasy that these guys are writing the most lucid accesible stuff, that then gets turned into these difficult texts that all you theory bods find so terribly exciting ; ) Has anyone read a lot in the original to comment?

    Mind you, if you read Claude Levi Strauss (which you should; can't dig post-structuralism until you've dug structuralism) it's beautiful (and clear and plain) in English, so who knows?


    Quote Originally Posted by HMGovt
    You people really need to read something other than critical theory all the time. Maybe a bit of science now and then.
    I think he has a little bit of a point here in that it's always interesting to see how things are seen from different approaches or disciplines. For example, comparing the difference between how Freud is seen/used in Psychology and in Lit/Critical Theory is quite a laugh.

    (Idea for new thread: Freud was wrong about everything and his influence on contemporary thought is entirely negative: discuss. - just kiddding)

  11. #26
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    er... new request

    Derrida "Writing and Difference"... frankly im struggling, can someone suggest a primer? introducing derrida or somesuch.

  12. #27
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    i know what luka means. i think reading eagleton or jameson is non-starter because they are second-order exploiters of other people's ideas, and generally seem to follow the wind. these days eagleton praises raymond williams, e p thompson, et al, but he used to be a total shit about them. why? because althusser was 'the shit' way back when and he followed the money. for a general intro i'd recommend perry anderson's 'considerations on western marxism', which considers why bright people like the posters here read very politically involved tomes which are restricted almost exclusively to cultural criticism, hence crazy concentration on 'the subject' ect ect. not that one would want to write off *all theory* (how philisitne) -- even though theorists are quite happy to write off *all history* when the mood suits.

  13. #28
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    Default Michel Serres

    Mate of Foucault's. Rare among theorists in that he is actually a very good writer. Poet even.

    Currently rereading Genesis.

    Accessible article here.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    people tell me theory is interesting then i look at it and think, what the fuck is this?
    i thought it would be nice, since theres so many theory bods here, if you post a few impenetrble passages of delueze or something, then explain it, thereby reassuring people who are intimidated by theory that some sense can be wrung out of the most opaque chunks of prose. i'm not on a wind up here, i'#m quite genuine, i want to see it in action.
    15 years later still waiting for a response

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    15 years later still waiting for a response
    I might try and answer my young belligerent self. Let's see how the day pans out.

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