Re: 'deconstruction' of C. Geertz

Fri, 4 Aug 1995 09:18:14 -0400

Several have already 'deconstructed' RJ's 'deconstruction' of
anthropology (or rather, of anthropolog*ists*). I will not bother with
such subtleties and come straight to the point.

RJ's ontology seems truly interdisciplinary and unbounded.While
espousing a fashionable post-modernist approach, he nonetheless
writes that:

> Anthropology is a *science* and culminant discipline.
> Anthropology is not a *fashion statement* (emph. mine).

Similarly, while attempting to deconstruct anthropology as a
discipline (undermining authority, structure, transcending boundaries,
etc), RJ simultaneously attempts to assume a position of authority
himself, for instance, when he writes the following:

> *First lesson*. Anthropology is not restricted tunnel vision
> enforced by its placement among departments of
> "Arts and Sciences." It is not a front (bla bla
> bla...)(emphasis mine)

Having 'transcended' and 'undermined' all imaginable boundaries RJ
proceeds to impose his own boundaries on the world around him when he
writes that:

> Except of course those racists who considered
> anthropology as science of the "colored" folks-sociology the science
> of "the dominant social order."

ie. *All* anthropologists who do not agree with *him* naturally
consider anthropology in this (racist) manner.

And having managed to *reconstruct* the universe as something which
somehow derives its natural boundaries and order from his person, he
then quite rightfully states that:

> Your statement is example of the sloppy thinking which infects
> debates and ultimately the effectiveness of anthropology.

His own transcendental status in the scheme of things are finally
brought home by His confident statement that:

> I could easily implicate the entire academic enterprise
> The entire academic enterprise should be implicated and,
through dialogue, indicted.
>From this point onwards the discussion begins to enter the
realms of the sublime and 'unknowable', the contents of which
this subject has great difficulty in comprehending. The words of
another, far lesser spirit, come automatically to the fore:
> > ...but, then again, I couldn't be bothered - I
> > have better things to do.

Upon which the centre of the universe answered:

> A concise statement of "anthropology's" problem.
> Robert Johnson
> Liberation
> Anthropology

I consider this my last response to god's incomprehensible attempts at
communion - after which I shall follow the advice of those who have
followed this path before me... Sometimes meaning can be better
achieved by practicing silence, thereby hoping someday also to
achieve the status of Great Spirit. At least one piece of wisdom and
understanding I have gained already - others have managed to do so
before me.