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<eyebeam><blast> Theory

Greg Ulmer (4/3/98)
>Would natural scientists claim that it is possible to experience
> their object of study?
> Social scientists?
> Do theorists of culture claim that it is possible to experience
> their object of study?

Olu Oguibe (4/3/98)
>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 

Tim Jordan (4/3/98)
>The question becomes, what sort of politics
>results from these sorts of thinking? What is a politics of

It is always healthy to criticize theory, to be aware of its "tyranny",
learning how to defend from "the terror of the word" (as olu writes).
And it is oportune to comment about the old problem of theory&practice
relationship (as Greg does) (always a problem, obviously: it's not an
easy jump from one form of complexity to another).

But, as I see it, the problem is not the "theory" (the writing); the
problem is how to read it. Theory (for the authors) is writing, writing,
writing, and (for us readers) reading, reading, reading. Yes, I love
theory books. I like to read theory as literature, it has to convince me
first by the way the writer chooses the words and makes the sentences,
paragraphs, etc. The so called theory books are incredible imaginative
(not all of them) and they appeal towards our most "noble" ends,
touching our desires of changing the world - and changing it indeed!
(every word changes world hypertext although if we look through the
window everything seems to be the same as yesterday: this is the
gaze/discourse problem)

Should we read theory books as novels, romances, science-fiction
stories? (the pleasure of reading...). Foucault in his Pensee du Dehors
(Thought from Outside) tries to establish a way of thinking between
reflexion and fiction; and locates the problem in the space _between_
those two fields. To _create_ thought: that's the problem - and the

Yes, I am too much into D&G now, but they indeed stressed the role of
philosopher as a creative writer and they have a place in the flow of
liberating thought from academic strains, and it seems that maybe this
lead to a sort of banalization in the reception of their thinking (see
the efforts to compare the web to rhizome: it is naive trying to find
one thing into another one. Rhizome as a concept should make people
develop new forms of thinking things. The simple comparison just makes
reality weaker than concept, when it is not. Concepts, maps, should
never cover the world - remember Borges).

Theory has to be "experienced" in its proper dimension and it is part of
life! To _practice_ theory is not (should not) to step out of life,
because it is (should be) an open field  of conceptual engineering that
is involved in complex and highly creative development of forms of
survival and fighting. French philosopher Eric Alliez writes about the
"phenomenology of the concept": theory can't be only "understood", it
has to be life experienced, it is a field of sensorial comprehension!

I have a friend, artist Eneas Valle, who proposed to organize the "First
Theory Festival of Rio de Janeiro" (1st Teo-Fest Rio), where everyone
could invent, conceptualize and perform his/her own theory (about
anything). In fact, every banal action today seems to be drawn into
"theory" and concepts stick in objects, food, behavior, gestures,
feelings. After all, what we need theory for if it is not for living?

"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." (Olu Oguibe)


Ricardo Basbaum

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