"Militant Middles :-)"

Warren Sproule (Warren.Sproule@SOCIOL.UTAS.EDU.AU)
Mon, 27 Feb 1995 13:04:29 +0200

Bravo Indeed, Rick! For those of us who appreciate subtle comedy and an
all-too-sorely-needed GOOD BELLY LAUGH, your 'call to arms' of 2/24 is like
balm on a festering wound. All I can say is, watch out Dan Foss: Your
previously unassailable position as head honcho Restoration wit is looking
decidedly shaky! It's *so* replete with moments to savour that its hard to
know which bit is actually the funniest: Is it the exquisitely-ridiculous
early claims that anthropology's brief, supposedly post-Rodney King, is to
"bring us all together", or the well-timed follow-up, the astonishing "[a]t
this time we no longer need a common object of study"? I love the delicious
irony about 'ground rules' and 'standards' with no 'center', ie follow the
rules even though the rules aren't actually *about* anything (what I,
usually in reference to postmodernist notions, call "donut theory").
There's a slight miscue a little further on, where the aim of getting rid
of extreme positions in anthropology - making it the preserve of the
god-fearing right-minded 'middle' us - comes a tad early to count as a
punchline: But the act gets back on track with the rib-tickling "manifesto"
(a great send-up of Johnson and the simplistic proposition-pushing ilk in
general). The idea of juicing it all up with propaganda tropes (the
'militant middle' self-contradiction and the hilarious "enemies at the
gate!" finale) are sheer comic genius. And how could I leave out the phony
disingenuousness of this post's 'prologue' as distinct from "all the
flaming" that those accursed OTHERS engage in; the anti-'trendiness' ploy
#6, in a piece titled _Post-Negativism_; the *love it or leave it* attitude
that precludes any criticism of the past until "...you can suggest
something better" in #9; and the elimination of anything post-Boas in
tandem with the cosy picture of warm consensus in the "Boasian era"?
Wonderful stuff...

Only slight reservations I have are that, as responses to other ideologues
have shown, there's an element of humorlessness on Anthro-l, and some may
take this joke *seriously* despite your clear signals to the contrary. The
laudatory responses of astute minds like Yee and McReery - who are either
taken in, or extending the joke beyond the capacities of my funnybone -
signal the possible misinterpretations. Maybe, in the interests of the
young, or the feeble-spirited who actually treat appeals to the 'Brethren
of the Righteous' as anything but *drivel*, joke posts like this should be
reserved for April Fools day.

Love & Kisses,