12.0188 items for review

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 1 Sep 1998 23:34:31 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 12, No. 188.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998 23:24:48 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: two items of significance

Dear Colleagues:

For reasons related to the demands placed on my time by my garden (see
Humanist 12.0168) I am so far behind in current preparations for the
teaching year about to commence that I may not get the chance adequately to
deal with the following two items. If anyone here would care to review them
at length I would be personally most grateful.

The first is John Keane's article in the Times Literary Supplement for 28
August, "The humbling of the intellectuals", which concerns, as the subtitle
notes, "Public life in the era of communicative abundance". Just to tease
you into volunteering a close review, allow me to quote a single passage:

"These various examples suggest that a combined effect of communicative
plenty is to call into question the royal, solar and tribunal
('enlightenment') metaphors of the early modern period, that is, to weaken
claims to a transparent society based on rational communication of the
truth. A common sense of contingency and disorientation spreads. Profusion
also breeds confusion."

The second is a majesterial study of the material culture of microphysics,
Image and Logic, by the historian of science Peter Galison. Thanks to a
review in the TLS, mentioned here earlier, I acquired the book and have
immediately burrowed into the methodological analysis at the end, "The
Trading Zone: Coordinating Action and Belief". As the TLS review pointed
out, Galison has adapted anthropological observations on the interaction of
disparate cultures, and in particular on the formation of pidgins
(artificial languages formed to serve these interactions), and in some cases
creoles (pidgins grown into languages that serve the range of human needs).
Galison has thus gone beyond the common idea of translation, which I have
used in thinking through the consequences of textual markup, to something
that appears to me to be a much more powerful notion. It deserves, I think,
considerable attention.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
<Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
maui gratia

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