Pomo Wars Round 2: Clarity and Obtusity
Steve Mizrach (SEEKER1@NERVM.NERDC.UFL.EDU)
Tue, 12 Apr 1994 00:53:05 -0400
Yikes, it's yet another flame war from ancient Greece. I didn't want to
step in this one, I really wanted to stay out; the last set of Pomo wars
made me too weary, and I really didn't think I could add anything to the
topic. Lots of diverging threads here: religious texts' use of obscurity;
deconstruction of the 'hard sciences' and their claim to clarity; Dan Foss'
(as ever) contributions to the matter being masked by pages and pages of
(Length, Dan, length. On a 9" screen, page after page really makes your
eyes hurt. Really. That's all I have to say on the matter. I have nothing
against your content, everything against your context. How about chopping
up some of
Seems to me we are witnessing yet another one of those abiding dualisms to
which Ruth Benedict once tried to point out: Apollonian vs. Dionysian (I'll
leave out the Faustian and leave it as a dualism.)
Those folks that loved the sun god Apollo back in ancient Greekish times
appreciated things like clarity, reason, order, linearity, abstraction,
mathematics, logic, and all those good things. On a good day, which this is
not, I might try and argue that these are all 'left brain' things.
Those folks that loved the wine god Dionysus back in ancient Greekish times
appreciated things like mystery, intoxication, ecstasy, cyclicality, verse
(as opposed to prose), intuition, chaos, concreteness, creativity, poesy,
myth, and spontaneity. On yet another good day, I might try and argue that
these are all 'right brain' things.
Hence, Apollonian vs. Dionysian. A cultural war that was raging long before
Pat Buchanan told us it was here. And one that Anthropology and Academe
writ large can never fail to reproduce, and which continues here on the
pages of ANTHRO-L.
Each side will defame the other endlessly: the Apollonians are too
masculinist, fascist, ethnocentric, narrowminded, logocentric, rationalist,
etc., etc. Or the Dionysians are too obscurantist, occultist, irrational,
fuzzy-headed, illogical, incompetent to cut it in the 'hard sciences,' et
al, et al. Meanwhile, someone naive and untutored like myself will just say
it is the left brain yelling at the right brain, and vice versa, all over
The war will not end here; it will go on and on as long as the mind is at
war with itself. Leaving those of us interested in the wedding of Dionysus
and Apollo (remember, Dionysus is androgyne, but perhaps better represented
by 'his' feminine counterpart, Diana), wondering who to invite.
I suppose I can start my list with Dan Foss. Will he bring the
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