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[Xmca-l] Re: The history of science fiction and imagined worlds

I suscribe Peter's words entirely. However their limitations, universities have so many intellectual interstices. Commonly, those interstices are their most attractive places. I usually encourage my students to look for (or inventing) those spaces and care less about the formal curriculum.

On Sep 24, 2014, at 12:37 PM, Peter Smagorinsky <smago@uga.edu> wrote:

> I don't see "academia" as so monolithic. Plenty of university activists have been around for a long time. Some private colleges have radical traditions (e.g., Oberlin, Wesleyan). If anything, universities are generally considered to be far more liberal than their host communities and states, at least to hear the taxpayers howl about our radical faculty. Individuals on my university's faculty have formed a Freedom University to provide free classes for undocumented immigrants and support their petitions for residential tuition. 
> I'm not saying that universities are populated entirely by free thinkers, just that I fundamentally disagree with any effort to characterize them all as being the same in any way. p
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Larry Purss
> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:44 AM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: The history of science fiction and imagined worlds
> Robert, Yes.
> You passionately stated:
> " the role of academia has been  to service the status quo, not challenge it in the name of justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the mind or alternative visions of the future.
> I will suggest that this may be an example of Andy's *developing* a *concept* that requires joint *activity* to reawaken THIS *truth* [real and imaginal].
> The university must be *re-imagined* and the present trajectory re-directed.  SENS: [sense and direction] Larry
> On Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 7:29 AM, Robert Lake <boblake@georgiasouthern.edu>
> wrote:
>> Relevant to "imagined worlds discussion-(see underlined section at
>> least).Series: Why humanities?
>> <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/series/why-humanities>
>> Previous
>> <
>> http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/01/science-geeks-uni
>> te-higher-education-funding
>> | Index 
>> <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/series/why-humanities>
>> The death of universities
>> Academia has become a servant of the status quo. Its malaise runs so 
>> much deeper than tuition fees
>>   - Share
>>   <
>> https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http://www.theguardian.co
>> m/commentisfree/2010/dec/17/death-universities-malaise-tuition-fees
>>   5926
>>   -
>>   -
>>   - inShare36
>>   - Email
>>   <
>> http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/17/death-universitie
>> s-malaise-tuition-fees#
>>   - [image: Terry Eagleton]
>>   <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/terryeagleton>
>>   -
>>      - Terry Eagleton <http://www.theguardian.com/profile/terryeagleton>
>>      -
>>      - The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian>, Friday 17
>>      December 2010 17.00 EST
>>      - Jump to comments (326)
>>      <
>> http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/17/death-universitie
>> s-malaise-tuition-fees#start-of-comments
>> Are the humanities <http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/humanities> 
>> about to disappear from our universities? The question is absurd. It 
>> would be like asking whether alcohol is about to disappear from pubs, 
>> or egoism from Hollywood. Just as there cannot be a pub without 
>> alcohol, so there cannot be a university without the humanities. If 
>> history, philosophy and so on vanish from academic life, what they 
>> leave in their wake may be a technical training facility or corporate 
>> research institute. But it will not be a university in the classical 
>> sense of the term, and it would be deceptive to call it one.
>> Neither, however, can there be a university in the full sense of the 
>> word when the humanities exist in isolation from other disciplines. 
>> The quickest way of devaluing these subjects – short of disposing of 
>> them altogether – is to reduce them to an agreeable bonus. Real men 
>> study law and engineering, while ideas and values are for sissies. The 
>> humanities should constitute the core of any university worth the 
>> name. The study of history and philosophy, accompanied by some 
>> acquaintance with art and literature, should be for lawyers and 
>> engineers as well as for those who study in arts faculties. If the 
>> humanities are not under such dire threat in the United States, it is, 
>> among other things, because they are seen as being an integral part of higher education as such.
>> When they first emerged in their present shape around the turn of the 
>> 18th century, the so-called humane disciplines had a crucial social 
>> role. It was to foster and protect the kind of values for which a 
>> philistine social order had precious little time. The modern 
>> humanities and industrial capitalism were more or less twinned at 
>> birth. To preserve a set of values and ideas under siege, you needed 
>> among other things institutions known as universities set somewhat 
>> apart from everyday social life. This remoteness meant that humane 
>> study could be lamentably ineffectual. But it also allowed the humanities to launch a critique of conventional wisdom.
>>> From time to time, as in the late 1960s and in these last few weeks 
>>> in
>> Britain, that critique would take to the streets < 
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/dec/12/riots-fire-anger-defin
>> ing-political-moment
>>> ,
>> confronting how we actually live with how we might live.
>> *What we have witnessed in our own time is the death of universities 
>> as centres of critique. Since Margaret Thatcher, the role of academia 
>> has been to service the status quo, not challenge it in the name of 
>> justice, tradition, imagination, human welfare, the free play of the 
>> mind or alternative visions of the future. We will not change this 
>> simply by increasing state funding of the humanities as opposed to 
>> slashing it to nothing. We will change it by insisting that a critical 
>> reflection on human values and principles should be central to 
>> everything that goes on in universities, not just to the study of 
>> Rembrandt or Rimbaud.*
>> In the end, the humanities can only be defended by stressing how 
>> indispensable they are; and this means insisting on their vital role 
>> in the whole business of academic learning, rather than protesting 
>> that, like some poor relation, they don't cost much to be housed.
>> How can this be achieved in practice? Financially speaking, it can't be.
>> Governments are intent on shrinking the humanities, not expanding them.
>> Might not too much investment in teaching Shelley mean falling behind 
>> our economic competitors? But there is no university without humane 
>> inquiry, which means that universities and advanced capitalism are 
>> fundamentally incompatible. And the political implications of that run 
>> far deeper than the question of student fees.
>> On Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 12:22 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> Yes, I was impressed. But mostly I was impressed by how cramped, 
>>> ethnocentric and also present-centric Saler's view of imaginary 
>>> worlds is.
>>> The argument, as I understand it, is that the colonization of 
>>> imaginary worlds only begins with Sherlock Holmes, because it is 
>>> only with Sherlock Holmes that people began to deliberately 
>>> "believe" in a fictional creation and "disbelieve" in the actual 
>>> creator. That is, adult play only begins with people who were the 
>>> peers of my grandparents. Hoaxes, myths, and religions may also be 
>>> imaginary worlds that are inhabited by large numbers of people, but 
>>> they do not signify, because the effort of believing in them in 
>>> order to inhabit them is not differentiated from believing in them 
>>> because you think they are true.
>>> Of course, the distinction between the conscious, volitional 
>>> "suspension of disbelief" and non-conscious, non-volitional delusion 
>>> is very much older than this. At the end of Don Quixote, the old 
>>> man's neighbors try their very best to convince Don Quixote to go on 
>>> inhabiting the novelistic world he has created for them, and fail; 
>>> there is no suggestion that they do this because they believe the 
>>> old man's world is real. There was a spate of similar novels in 
>>> English in eighteenth century (e.g. Charlotte Lennox's "the Female 
>>> Quixote"), and Jane Austen's first novel, Northanger Abbey, is a 
>>> romance about a woman whose whole attraction is that she actually 
>>> assumes only the very best motives in real people, and reserves her 
>>> fascination with ill will for the reading of Gothic novels; when she 
>>> meets with a genuinely nasty character (General Tilney) for the 
>>> first time, she imputes Gothic motives to him where there are only 
>>> mundane and mercenary ones, and the novel ends with the half 
>>> disenchantment of the heroine and half enchantment of the General's 
>>> son, both quite deliberately acts of metacognition.
>>> But as with so many things, the Chinese thought of it much earlier.
>>> "Journey to the West" started out as "fan fiction" of a particular 
>>> kind of Buddhist adventure novel, and became parodistsic. "Dream of 
>>> the Red Chamber" is about a stone left over from when the world was 
>>> made, which is reincarnated by a sensitive young man who falls in 
>>> with one cousin and marries another. It is also about a garden, 
>>> built for a one day visit to her family by one of the Emperor's 
>>> concubines, which eventually bankrupts the family. But the children 
>>> of the family are allowed to run wild there, and they indulge a wide variety of fancies:
>>> at various places we are told that various parts of the novel, and 
>>> even whole families, are simply willful fictions in the minds of 
>>> others. Actually, in the days before mass printing, almost every 
>>> fiction manuscript was passed around in a community (rather as Jane 
>>> Austen's manuscripts were shared in her family) and "Dream of the 
>>> Red Chamber" was probably finished by someone else (the last third 
>>> of it was written well after the death of the author, but computer 
>>> analysis has not definitively proven that it was written by someone else).
>>> I think that the reason we tend to make howlers like Saler's is 
>>> that, like fish, we just can't see the water we swim in, and we keep 
>>> thinking that our own age is somehow uniquely modern, and the 
>>> preoccupations of our own brands of irrealist and realist thinking 
>>> (e.g. between art and science, between rationality and wonder) are 
>>> the last word and not merely latest one. I spend a great deal of the 
>>> time that I spend writing half-listening to eighteenth century 
>>> operas, which are in very obvious ways imaginary worlds which we 
>>> enter only by voluntarily checking our linguistic assumptions in the 
>>> cloakroom. In less obvious ways, it seems to me, these imaginary 
>>> worlds are interested in a clash that we no longer take very 
>>> seriously. It's the clash between a form of knowledge which is 
>>> broadly humanist, because empirical, and one which is narrowly rationalist, because puritanical.
>>> The humanist agenda demands that the opera must end in an act of 
>>> forgiveness (as the Count is forgiven in the Marriage of Figaro). 
>>> The strictly rationalist agenda forbids this (because forgiveness by 
>>> its very nature is a kind of diremption of justice). Don Giovanni 
>>> gets around this problem by making repentance a precondition for 
>>> forgiveness, and then by arguing that the truly damnable will never 
>>> repent, not even as they are actually being damned.
>>> We still see traces of this clash between empiricistic humanism and 
>>> merciless rationalism in my own field, language teaching. There is 
>>> the humanist belief in words--empirical, temporary negotiations of 
>>> meaning between human beings--and the rationalist belief in the 
>>> inflexible, innate laws of grammar. But elsewhere it seems to have 
>>> been subsumed in the general opposition between art and science that 
>>> we find in Saler's talk. Part of the point of my book is really to 
>>> try to revive it--in the form of a humanizing dialogic tendency in 
>>> story telling versus a more rationalizing narrativistic one.
>>> David Kellogg
>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>>> By the way...the index of the book has at last been fixed, and 
>>> everybody and their grandchildren can download the first two 
>>> chapters for free at....
>> https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/imagination-and-pr
>> axis/the-great-globe-and-all-who-it-inherit/
>>> (Yes, even xmca postings sometimes carry promotions...think of it 
>>> not as an interface between the virtual world and the real one, but 
>>> only as yet another interface between this virtual world and the 
>>> next one!)
>>> dk
>>> On 24 September 2014 12:10, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>>>> Just trying to keep some minimum level of continuity in the
>> discussions,
>>>> Greg. Maybe its just my problem alone, but I think one or two 
>>>> others
>>> suffer
>>>> from the same difficulties.
>>>> My intention is to watch both and consider them together. If 
>>>> that's a mistake, my loss! I do not watch TED talks as a general 
>>>> rule, but when
>>> they
>>>> are specifically called out by xmca members as relevant, seems 
>>>> like a relatively painless way to figure out what other 
>>>> participants in the discussion are trying to communicate.
>>>> Easier than reading, for example, *Who's Asking*?  !! :-)))
>>>> Rockin chair mike
>>>> Thanks
>>>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 7:38 PM, Greg Thompson <
>>> greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> I thought the other tread was beginning to descend into "reality" 
>>>>> more
>>> than
>>>>> I care to (or perhaps worse, spiraling downward into the abyss of 
>>>>> an epistemologically-minded social constructionism - is there a 
>>>>> there
>>> there?).
>>>>> Seemed like good reason to soar in the imagination (yes, Mike, I 
>>>>> know
>>> that
>>>>> you prefer to invert that metaphor and "ascend to the concrete" -
>> which
>>>>> makes me wonder what you mean by "the concrete"? Reality? Or 
>>>>> something else? A "made real"?).
>>>>> But I'd agree that it is on point with a "making"-oriented social 
>>>>> constructionism (trying to avoid using that awful word
>> "ontological"?).
>>>>> Anyway, I think this is the Haidt talk that John Cummins was
>> proposing:
>>>>> http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind?languag
>>>>> e=en
>>>>> I'm wondering if people are a bit fed up with the Ted talks since 
>>>>> it
>>> can be
>>>>> tough to find 20 minutes to watch/listen to a Ted talk and they 
>>>>> can be
>>> hit
>>>>> or miss.
>>>>> But I would again strongly recommend the Saler talk I originally 
>>>>> sent
>> in
>>>>> this email. I thought David Ke, in particular, would find it
>> interesting
>>>>> (or at least point out where it is wrong). David?
>>>>> Others?
>>>>> -greg
>>>>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 6:59 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
>>>>>> I thought the other tread involved imagination as a central
>> component,
>>>>>> Greg.
>>>>>> So not clear why this is a distraction. (Or am i in the wrong
>>>>> conversation
>>>>>> here?).
>>>>>> Can you find the Haight TED talk that was recommended to us? 
>>>>>> Perhaps
>>> the
>>>>>> two talks will aid the discussion.
>>>>>> mike
>>>>>> On Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 7:37 AM, Greg Thompson <
>>>>> greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> Apologies for distracting from the "real world" discussions 
>>>>>>> on the
>>>>> other
>>>>>>> thread, but I came across this Ted talk and thought that 
>>>>>>> others
>>> might
>>>>> be
>>>>>>> interested in the history and role of imagined worlds in politics:
>>>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUtErxgz7Mo
>>>>>>> But perhaps it is worth tracing otherworlds and "the 
>>>>>>> otherwise" to
>>>>> works
>>>>>>> such as those of Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne, and Rabelais.
>>>>>>> Seems like imagining other worlds has always been a deeply
>> political
>>>>> act.
>>>>>>> -greg
>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>>>>> 882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>>>>> --
>>>>>> Development and Evolution are both ... "processes of 
>>>>>> construction
>> and
>>> re-
>>>>>> construction in which heterogeneous resources are contingently 
>>>>>> but
>>> more
>>>>> or
>>>>>> less reliably reassembled for each life cycle." [Oyama, 
>>>>>> Griffiths,
>> and
>>>>>> Gray, 2001]
>>>>> --
>>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
>>>>> Assistant Professor
>>>>> Department of Anthropology
>>>>> 882 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
>>>>> Brigham Young University
>>>>> Provo, UT 84602
>>>>> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>>>> --
>>>> Development and Evolution are both ... "processes of construction 
>>>> and
>> re-
>>>> construction in which heterogeneous resources are contingently but 
>>>> more
>>> or
>>>> less reliably reassembled for each life cycle." [Oyama, Griffiths, 
>>>> and Gray, 2001]
>> --
>> *Robert Lake  Ed.D.*Associate Professor Social Foundations of 
>> Education Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading Georgia 
>> Southern University
>> Secretary/Treasurer-AERA- Paulo Freire Special Interest Group P. O. 
>> Box 8144
>> Phone: (912) 478-0355
>> Fax: (912) 478-5382
>> Statesboro, GA  30460