Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 341.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2003 05:31:18 +0000
From: email@example.com (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Re: 17.337 theory
[the focus is on what is doing theory]
> The relevance of this story is that we need to expand the question to look
> not only at theory but the practices associated with theory. What does it
> mean to theorize? How do we do it? How do we exchange theories? Is all
> theory performed, even if the performance is a reading?
[the focus is on the whatness of theory]
> Willard is to kind to ascribe a coherent position to me when I was reacting
> to a performance. One of the directions I was headed was to assert that a
> computer model could be a theory the way we could say that a work of
> philosophy is a theory.
> This raises the question of what is the incarnation of a theory. Is a
[the focus is on a recursive imbrication of the question of performance
with that of existence]
> The artefact is interpreted during theorizing as a theory.
Lachance is tempted to suggest that theory making and theory reading are
comparative exercises. The possibility of dialogue is inscribed in the
very gesture of theorizing is a gesture of demarcations. One set of
readers & commentators & theorizers will approach a theory from the
elements to be found within the boundaries it delimits. Other subjects
(readers, commentators, theorizers) will approach from a place sensitive
to the repressed, occluded and unheard.
quoting de Certeau and inviting subscribers to subsitute "theory" for
This relating of systems to what displaces them, or metaphorically
transforms them, corresponds as well to the way time appears to us and is
experienced by us. From this perspective, historiographical discouse is,
in itself, the struggle of reason with time, but of reason which does not
renounce what it is as yet incapable of comprehending, a reason which is,
in its fundamental workings, _ethical_.
There is a particular conjunction of poesis (the reificative "this is
that"), drama (the performative "this moves from this place to that") and
the narratological (the historical that mediates between the events of
poetic reification and the objects of dramatic performatnce). I believe
that the awareness and articulation of such a conjunction is indeed
inflected by humanities computing:
I am reminded that for Turing machines a state is both a description
and an instruction. For a technological imagination, a picturing and a
telling are tools. I'm intrigued by the possibilities of translation
between picturing and telling because for me this represents a test of
the analytical tools at hand.
<quote from http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/dolezel.htm
A theory is a tool. A tool resides in intersubjective space. And that is a
space that is accessed through the picture making of poesis, the staging
of theatricality and the reiterations of narrative and narrations.
Precisely what a computer in a networked environment is designed to do:
make, move and go meta.
Happy is the scholar who finds joy in theory and theory making.
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance
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