forwared post for the public record

Wed, 1 Jun 1994 14:11:24 EST


I sure do appreciate receiving your last two posts to Anthro-L. The only
reason I can stand working on my degree at age 48 is that I personally
believe in the computational approaches which many anthropologists I have
dealt with take delight in deriding. I've been advised that if I'm too new
and innovative, I'll be unhirable. In my opinion, that doesn't say much for
the profession.

I just had my first contact with feminist postmodernism at a conference in
Banff on Cyberspace. It seems to allow its practitioners free reign to
criticise and speculate using out of date theories without any of the
accountability that science usually demands. I can't believe that public
money is spent to support that activity. "Hyperlinguistification" is one new
term for which I'll find many uses. Fortunately, not all the males or
females present followed the pomofem line.

Here I sit, expected to (or expecting to) embrace a multidisciplinary
excursion into biology and computer science, at the cutting-edge with no
departmental support, and a desk and floor full of partially read papers and
bills. And I'm about to go to Stanford to hear an Anthropological Colloquium
on Artificial Life, a new discipline of which I'm quite fond. Ironically, I
suspect the emphasis will be on the mindset of A-Life practitioners rather
than on its potential as a scientific paradigm. Cultural criticism rather
than science of culture. One of my old profs tells me, "Post-Modernism is

Part of me would really like not to know how endemic pomo-ism is in the
academic community. But following the old Chinese proverb: "Know thy enemy
and know thyself - 1000 battles, 1000 victories," I may as well throw myself
in neck deep. I'm depressed at the moment. But if the past is any
indication of the future, this depression will turn into anger in time for
this confrontation.

Nick Gessler