I'm a pomoid, she's a pomoid, he's a...

Wed, 15 Dec 1993 09:21:34 EST

OK, I wanted to shut up, but I couldn't help myself. Last post on this
topic. Honest. Until I change my mind, of course. ;-)

I agree with D St. C.'s assertion that the label of pomoid is being thrown
around way too much. As I see it, these are some of the assertions that I've
seen in certain pomoid writers:

1. That new technologies of representation will make it increasingly more
difficult to separate truth from fiction, and that any one concerned with
doing so should worry about hyperreality...
2. That people cannot ignore their own subjectivity in observations of the
objective world...
3. That it's worthwhile to consider the meaning as well as the function or
efficient cause of behavior...
4. That maybe it's worth considering culture as a text for heuristic purposes,
and seeing if we can get anything out of it through the techniques of
post-structuralist literary criticism and/or semiotics...
5. That there are certain infrastructural changes which are behind certain
phenomena in the ideological world which we call "postmodern thinking"...
6. That 'totalizing narratives' in the social and human sciences may be
excluding important things that shouldn't be left out...
7. That science, as well as anything else, should be seen as a SCR (social
construction of reality), but seeing it as socially constructed doesn't mean
we have to give it up, just that we have to see it in context of where it
came from, where it is in culture, and what it does... without, of course
reifying it or anything else, such as 'postmodernity' or 'culture'...
8. That there is a certain crucial interrelation between knowledge and
power which people should not be naive about...
9. That the social sciences should be deployed for the purposes of
cultural critique (esp. self-critique) as well as analysis... with the idea
that the critical method negates in order to reach higher levels of synthesis..
10. That what appears to be 'self-indulgence' may in fact be a new
appreciationg for the ludic elements of culture (ludic meaning, relating to
games, jokes, pastimes, and puns...)
11. That perhaps, as Feyerabend suggests, paradigms are incommensurable, e.g.
from Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, the basis of any system can never come
from propositions of that system itself but require a metasystem or metalevel
of statements...
12. That perhaps ambiguity, irony, and complexity are as inherent in human
life as clarity, reason, and definition...
13. That people may not like having their behavior predicted, and may even
go out of their way to behave contrary to the way people describe them...
14. That people do not interact with material reality so much as they interact
with their perceptions of that reality and what they think is real...
15. That maybe there's something of value in premodern thought which can be
added to modern thought to create something better than either...
16. That the subject of anthropological endeavor ('humanity') is facing
some definite boundary shifts in the near future...

Well, these are 16 propositions that I've come up with, maybe I could come up
with 16 more. Some of them I agree with, others I don't, does that make me
a pomoid? But these seem to me to be more than just a "reintroduction of
subjectivism and relativism." They are all philosophical (or more
properly) epistemological issues worthy of consideration, unless of course
one is predisposed a priori not to want to deal with any of them...

Look, I don't know how many of these propositions those anthros who *do*
call themselves pomo would agree with... I think all of them need to be
dealt with irregardless of who came up for them and their motives...

Of course, since pomo is itself a SCR, then the motives and interests of
its promoters should not be left out of the matter. But I suspect that
they are interested in more than somebody's office, or fomenting
nihilism. Derrida's target appears to be Western metaphysics; as for
Taussig, Geertz, Rosaldo, Tyler, or anyone who *does* call themselves
pomo, I'm not sure...

Don't ask me to defend any of these propositions, since many of them I'm
just putting on the table. However, I will argue that each and every one of
them deserves argument and/or debate, and that they can't be put aside...