Stuffed Voles

Here are a couple of longer things Carl has written, in case you’re a complete glutton for punishment. All rights are reserved. Scroll down for Asher’s stuff.

When You Talk to Yourself, Who Talks Back? Complex Selves, Complex Identities is an unpublished manuscript that I boiled down into a talk at (then) Methodist College. It came out of the fruitful period in my career between grad school and this permanent job when I taught philosophy, sociology, human development and history all over the Bay Area. I put a lot of pieces together in a way I’m afraid would offend actual specialists in each of the fields I cover. One idea was for this to be the introduction to an edited volume in which pals of mine from those fields did surveys of identity as understood in their own disciplines. I still think that’s a cool idea, but I don’t live like that anymore so it would be hard to recapture.

Learning from “The Life of Brian:” Saviors for Seminars is a rough penultimate draft of an essay published in Aichele and Walsh, eds., Screening Scripture: Intertextual Connections Between Scripture and Film (Trinity, 2002), which is a fine volume despite my junk in it. I’m being playful here about a movie I still quite like, while showing my theory chops. Since there’s no actual sociological research of any kind in it, no actual person needs to feel hurt by my cutting wit. Btw, this is where I describe (and enact) the limitations of perverse academicism.

OK, now for the biggie. Here’s what a dissertation looks like if you poke at it a little but basically ignore it for ten years. In my view there’s a lot of good stuff in here mixed up with some junk and a bunch of conversations I don’t need to be having anymore. I’m currently not sure what conversations, if any, I do want to be having with this stuff. The project is about a number of things, most centrally what I call ‘sociologies of rationality’ in late 19th and early 20th century Europe. I’m interested in how they were thinking about the mismatches between rationalist expectations of social action, especially marxist revolutionary theory, and the actual mucky realities of people fumbling through their lives. This does not currently have a title; as a dissertation it was Indeterminacy, Irrationality, and Collective Will. Gramsci’s Marxism, Bourgeois Sociology, and the Problem of Revolution (1995).

Preface This is an experiment in reframing the basically expository character of the original dissertation with this idea I dreamed up of the ‘prehistory of postmodernism’. Suggestive but not entirely successful.
Introduction Problems with reason as an account of human motivation and action; the great 19th century rationalisms beginning to break down in the fin de siècle. Marxism as exemplar. The development of various theoretical expedients, “space-maintainers,” to cope with the practical ‘irrationality’ of the world in relation to the ‘rational’ expectations of theory: folded-up napkins under the short table leg.
Chapter 1: Orthodoxy, Bernstein, Sorel Examples of rationalism and space-maintenance strategies in marxism.
Chapter 2: Lenin, Lukacs Further examples of rationalism and space-maintenance strategies in marxism. One of the first things I wrote, based on even earlier things. Apologies for the larval style I’ll need to clean out at some point.
Chapter 3: Gramsci’s Local Context Laying out the contrast space within which Gramsci was disposed to dispense with theoretical space-maintenance and take on the world more directly.
Chapter 4: Gramsci and Machiavelli Some further history of conceptual resources available to Gramsci that made the break with space-maintenance possible. The problem of emergent political culture. (With some topical interpolations this became a paper on the (un)likelihood of quick and easy democracy in Iraq, given at Rethinking MARXISM in 2003.)
Part 2: Intro to Sociologies of Rationality Completes the introductory task of reframing this moment in the history of social theory in terms of the sociologization of rationality.
Chapter 5: Gramsci and Durkheim One cut through that field: the contingency of reason, knowledge and morals in relation to the complexity of identity.
Chapter 6: Gramsci and Weber Second cut: the “dialectic of motivation and competence,” emotion and reason, fact and value, passion and planning, is and ought.
Bibliography

*****

Firefly is a story by Asher Kay, regularly described by those who have read it as ‘lyrical’ and ‘brilliant’.

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6 Responses to “Stuffed Voles”

  1. Stuffed but not stuffy? Int-er-est-ing.

  2. Ha! I think that declension is implicit in the crack about gluttony for punishment.

  3. Keep up the good work brotha!

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