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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Barthes, Derrida and Deleuze/Guattari

On the tyranny of Theory

i'd like to follow-up on paul's posting in observing how poorly we
approach or apply theory sometimes to the point where theory, far from
remaining an analytical tool, becomes an otherizing agent. the
assumption that every experience may be entered through the portals of
european theory is a very disturbing one and indicates, quite often, an
insensitivity which negates the pluralism we otherwise promulgate. and
just as paul points out, sometimes these theories are little more than
personal readings long overtaken by events, in other words individual
moments of understanding magnified into putatively universal ideology by
lazy followers and lay interpreters. one really tires of reading and
hearing names like derrida, deleuze/guattari, and baudrillard trumped up
on every imaginable occasion, as if theirs was the greatest story ever
told. theory has its uses, and we all are familiar with much that has
come from these philosophers, but folks ought to get off their asses,
also, and show some originality of thought rather than remain groupies
all their lives running after the grateful dead in their teens and
deleuze/guattari in their middle-age! besides, it would be useful if
folks began to expand the cultural and racial walls of their libraries
and private studies to see who else has said what else about much of the
experiences that they repeatedly rely on this pantheon for
understanding. there is a seeming paradox in all this, for it has been
the duty of some of us from the non-western world to challenge the
ambivalence toward theory in our communities; to argue against those who
believe that there is no relevance in theory, only praxis [from dubois
to fanon to gates, appiah, homi bhaba and those of us who are less
well-known, this has been our battle.] yet--and i believe it is this
that removes the paradox--we seem to have a better understanding of the
limits of theory and the potential terror contained in every _culture_
of theory. because we have to argue for--stand up for--theory, we also
know that theory, when abused or uncritically approached, cuts like a
double-edged sword, and could become a fortress door, a "european
citizens only" gate at the port of entry, and like every tool of
multiple agency, may serve to dismiss or disavow contingents and
continents even when not so intended. beware, then, the glib reference,
the quick name-drop, the unthoughtful assumption, the tyranny of theory,
the terror or the word. beware the grate of metal on concrete floor.

olu oguibe

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