The Faculty Forum
"Reading maketh a full man; writing, an exact man." --Francis Bacon
Vol. 8, No. 2 NOVEMBER 1996
1. John Richards on Teaching/Research
2. Collins & Pinch reply to Larry Evans
3. Plotnitsky on Derrida (reply to Evans)
4. Editorial: Strandberg on The Significance of Social Text
5. Roger Corless on The Real Duke (Faculty in Residence)
5. Three Letters: Sanford on Abolishing Associate Professor Rank
Staddon on "Science Studies"
McCarthy on Cost of Periodicals
6. A Menagerie à Trois: Ferret . . . Possum . . . Parrot
7. Ferret on Jung the Crackpot
8. Possum (Passim)
9. Parrot (Emerson) & Classic Erotica: Ovid, The Art of Love
10. Editorial Board & Policy
Note: Academic Council Minutes for Meeting of October 24, 1997 have been transferred to the following Web File, which contains the minutes for every Council meeting since 1992: http://www.duke.edu/web/acouncil/
Resolving the Teaching/Research Quandary
by John Richards (History)
All faculty at Duke are under steadily increasing pressure to carry out research at the forefront of our disciplines. The standards and sophistication of international science and scholarship grow more rigorous and competitive every decade. At the same time as Duke grows larger, we are asked to put our intellects and energy into the organization and running of new disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs. Most of us are deeply committed to the best possible management of undergraduate and graduate programs in our departments. We serve on search, fellowship, and other committees as needed. Most of us are committed to faculty governance in the university and serve willingly on search and review committees or act as legislators in various faculty bodies. Finally, we are charged with doing exemplary undergraduate and graduate teaching both within and without the formal classroom setting.
Of these three types of responsibilities, our research output is most visible and best rewarded. As we know very well, salaries, promotions and tenure rest primarily on evaluation of our research contributions. Generally, unless we take on extraordinary tasks, ordinary departmental and university service is not rewarded. (Visible unwillingness to serve is subject to considerable peer disapproval in most departments.) Our teaching efforts are least visible and not noticeably rewarded. In large measure this is because teaching evaluation--which relies solely upon student opinion by word of mouth or written evaluation forms--is perfunctory at best at Duke.
When both pressures and rewards push us toward research production, the path of least resistance lies in putting less energy into teaching. This does not mean that we teach badly or ineptly or are unprepared, but rather that we simply do not teach as well as we might. There are minimal costs to this approach, just as there are minimal benefits for extraordinary effort in teaching. We may avoid assigning a long research paper, or working up a new lecture to replace one that is stale, or fail to get materials together for a course pack in time to get copyright clearance and then rely on reserve materials. We may be less accessible and less sensitive to our students. We may ease up on course requirements. We may bring less intensity to each class meeting and to the course overall.
Good teaching is high energy, high intensity, intellectually demanding work. For me, and I suspect for most faculty, there is a direct conflict between teaching and sustained research and writing. The same intellectual effort and energy is required for both. During a teaching semester, I can and often do complete conference papers, revise articles, read manuscripts for presses and review books, among other such projects. Drafting one or more book chapters or wrestling with a major research problem is another matter. For that I need time and concentration with either a reduced teaching load or no teaching at all. (The university already has accepted that principle by granting a paid semester of research leave to tenure-track faculty before they come up for their crucial review.) Our regular sabbaticals do not come round very often in a career. Many fellowships that offer salary support for research and writing more often than not demand that the recipient move to an institute or center away from Duke. For obvious reasons not all of us can do that many times in our careers. What we need is greater flexibility in how we manage our tripartite workloads at Duke.
One way to provide this flexibility is by a system referred to as course-banking now used by one or more departments at Duke. The formula used rests upon the creation of a teaching unit as an accounting measure. One unit is assigned to the teaching of a formally-registered semester-long independent study for either an undergraduate or graduate student. Eight units are assigned for teaching a semester-long undergraduate or graduate course. Since the normal load consists of two courses per semester, each faculty member must contribute at least sixteen units per term. If he or she teaches independent study courses each will earn an extra unit that semester. If he or she teaches a third full course, that will accrue eight extra units. These extra units are placed in a course bank for future teaching credit. Extra team- taught courses are allowed a total of twelve units to be divided among the named instructorsi.e., a course taught by two persons would yield six units to each instructor.
Each faculty member may draw upon his or her bank account to negotiate course reductions in any semester. Eight units provide for reduction of one course; sixteen units are required to be free from teaching for that semester. Any use of banked units is at the discretion of the departmental chair, who may decide to refuse a requested reduction. These requests obviously must be made well in advance so that the department can plan its course offerings each semester. It may be possible to anticipate or even to borrow against future overloads and secure course reductions in advance. Under the current system, departmental and university service cannot be excused. Even with no teaching the exempt faculty member must continue to meet his or her service obligations. This means that course-banking does not really permit departure from the university and residence elsewhere.
By all accounts the system works well in those departments that have tried it. Faculty can plan the yearly rhythms of their research and teaching with greater ease and flexibility. For some, the opportunity to have a semester without teaching--which translates into eight months of research and writing time--has permitted completion of book manuscripts and very likely encouraged better quality research and writing. Because the system rewards teaching of independent study, it encourages faculty to meet student requests for individual attention. The system rewards and encourages the teaching of team-taught courses as an overload. This is especially important for interdisciplinary and cross-departmental programs.
In putting forward this plan I found that some of my colleagues worry that such a system will weaken teaching at Duke rather than strengthen it. I do not agree. Teaching three courses rather than two in a semester is as likely to improve faculty teaching effort as it is to diminish it. If we are free to focus on teaching in a given semester and have an assurance that we can concentrate on our research in other semesters, we can afford to teach creatively and intensively.
By stipulating that a reduced teaching load not permit reduction of service responsibilities we do not disrupt the management of critical departmental functions such as searches or contract or tenure reviews. However, I am inclined to think that it would be useful to permit a buy-out of all committee and other obligations in return for say somewhere between four to eight banked units. This arrangement would also be dependent upon agreement by the chair of the department.
Can this system be implemented across the university? My understanding is that each department can act to put such a system in place if desired by its faculty. In some departments course-banking may not be a high priority. Some individual faculty at Duke may not see any personal advantage to such a system and may well be opposed to its adoption. Other faculty may protest that we already have some version of course-banking by faculty who simply negotiate with their chairs or the dean for much-needed teaching relief. True, but a formalized system has much to recommend it. Everyone knows the rules; and everyone has equal access to the system. I think that course-banking is one modest step, that if taken, would help to resolve the tensions faculty feel between teaching, research and service to the university.
GOLEM AUTHORS RESPOND TO LAWRENCE EVANS
Harry M. Collins, Southampton University, UK , and Trevor Pinch, Cornell University
We were very disappointed to read Lawrence Evans' critique of our book, The Golem.(1) Most disheartening was his ad hominem conclusion. Evans says that we wrote The Golem because we were "on the make." This sets a depressingly low tone for a debate over serious issues and it is surprising that he makes such unsupported assertions against fellow academics in a university newspaper. In our response we will set Evans' animus towards us aside and simply point out some crucial omissions and distortions in his characterizations of our book and the self-defeating reasoning he displays in laying out his charges.
Evans declares that we have made our task easy by inventing the myths that we discredit. Significantly, however, he does not mention that we begin each of the passages on relativity that he cites with quotations from very real scientists. Thus, for example, where the myth at issue is the decisiveness of certain classic experiments, we quote Steven Hawking's statement that the Michelson-Morley experiment showed--presumably directly, non-controversially, and in and of itself--that the speed of light was "exactly the same" whether measured in the direction of the earth's motion or at right angles to it (2) and Albert Einstein's statement (with Leopold Infeld) that the Eddington experiment revealed "conclusively" the effect of a gravitational field on the path of a ray of light.(3)
Our view is that the precision and conclusiveness of those experiments have been attributed to them retrospectively--that is, read back into them by hindsight--because other events and activities occurred subsequently. Contrary to traditional myths, the authority of scientific knowledge is neither intrinsic nor immediately self-evident. Natural scientists, especially those who have not themselves been involved in scientific or technological controversy, are not usually well-equipped to study the historical processes that lead to the establishment of the authority of a particular experiment.
Evans borrows much of his critique (but not its insulting tone or slipshod accusations) from the columns in Physics Today written by the physicist David Mermin. Mermin himself has been gracious enough to admit that he has broadcast a scientific myth in his own textbook on relativity. In his Space Time and Special Relativity, he says that the Michelson-Morley experiment "forces us to accept" the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light. Indeed, as Stanley Goldberg has pointed out in his Understanding Relativity: Origins and Impact of a Scientific Revolution (Boston: Birkhauser, 1984), this way of presenting special relativity was very common in American textbooks, such as Mermin's, at the time. Evans' inaccurate characterizations, cavalier use of the texts he cites, and evident lack of awareness of the wider relevant literature suggest that he is not a reliable guide on these matters to the academic community he addresses.
In The Golem we point out that historical accounts of scientific discovery are often distorted by the effects of hindsight. Evans misses the crucial significance of this point and bases his critique of our relativity chapter on just the kinds of effects we describe. Thus, for example, he upbraids us for not mentioning the experiments and observations that have supported relativity theory during the second half of the twentieth century. But those subsequent experiments are irrelevant to our purpose in The Golem, which, as we state repeatedly and stress in both the introduction to the book and its conclusion, is to show how the picture grew during the first third of the twentieth century.
Having spent five columns insisting that it is we alone who have invented the myths we attribute to scientists, Evans produces a perfect copy of the current Challenger myth; the blame, he says, lay with the managers who over-ruled the engineers. Here he exemplifies both our major point regarding hindsight, and the minor one that scientists and technologists usually blame human error for what could otherwise be seen as scientific and technological failures. We, in contrast, say that rather than necessarily blaming science and technology, it is better for the general public to learn to love them for what they are. A recent analysis of the Challenger incident reveals just what a careful reader of The Golem would expect. Diane Vaughan reminds us that, prior to the launch, the two previous cases of serious erosion of the rubber O-Rings had occurred during the coldest launch and the hottest launch.4 Also it was known that rubber stiffened during cold but that the step in the function occurred at a lower temperature than the launch temperature. Furthermore, cold weather during the buildup to the previous launch had elicited no warnings from the engineers and the engineers were by no means unanimous about the significance of the O-Ring problem prior to launch. It was not, then, simply a matter of managers over-ruling engineers but of different groups of engineers reaching different judgments. Given the inevitable imperfections in scientific and technological systems to which Evans himself alludes, there will always be an element of risk in such a state-of-the-art technology as the Space Shuttle. Evans forgets his own strictures and concessions and uses 20/20 hindsight to perpetuate the myth of technological perfectibility and individual human error; rarely can a critic have so perfectly self-exemplified a thesis he is attacking.
By taking quotations out of context, Evans makes it appear that our purpose in writing the book was to trivialize science. That was not our purpose. To cast our discussion of the typical and inevitable untidiness of experimentation at the frontiers of research as an attack on science as such is to treat science as a monolithic ideological system--in effect, a faith--rather than a set of practices, skills, theories and findings. We do not deny the achievements of science--quite the contrary--but we argue that they do not require the support of a dubious and obsolete mythology.
Note: Trevor Pinch will be a visiting lecturer at Duke in February as part of the program, "Reconfiguring the Two Cultures," co-sponsored by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory and the Center for Historical and Social Studies of Science.
1 Lawrence Evans, "Should We Care About Science `Studies'?", The Faculty Forum, 8:1 (October 1996), 1-3.
2 Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch, The Golem: What Everyone Should Know About Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Canto, 1994), p. 29.
3 Ibid, p. 43.
4 Diane Vaughan, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
Another response to Lawrence Evans
--by Arkady Plotnitsky
Literature Program and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory
"The Einsteinian constant is not a constant, not a center. It is the very concept of variability--it is, finally, the concept of the game. In other words, it is not the concept of something--of a center starting from which an observer could master the field--but the very concept of the game [jeu] which, after all, I was trying to elaborate [in the lecture]."
Along with other quotations accompanying Professor Lawrence Evans's contribution ("Should We Care about Science `Studies'?"), The Faculty Forum (Vol.8, No.1, October 1996) cites Steven Weinberg's comment on this remark by Jacques Derrida. The remark itself was made famous by its incessant recycling in recent discussions around the so-called "Science Wars" in the wake of Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt's Higher Superstition, and then "Sokal's hoax," both of which comment on it, as does Professor Evans.(1) I complete Derrida's sentence in accord with the original, since the term "game" or "play" (a better translation here of the French "jeu," which carries both meanings) has a very specific meaning in Derrida's statement. The concept of play is central in Derrida's essay "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences," an oral presentation of which at a conference at Johns Hopkins in 1966 occasioned the discussion in which this remark was made, as part of Derrida's reply to a question from the French philosopher, Jean Hyppolite, who was also present.(2) Understanding how Derrida uses this term in his essay and understanding what Hyppolite means by "the Einsteinian constant" are essential for a reading of Derrida's statement, especially if one wants to make a responsible claim concerning it--say, considered as a statement on the philosophical implications of Einstein's relativity.(3) If Derrida's statement is given without any further explanation, it would be difficult to blame Professor Weinberg for saying "I have no idea what this is intended to mean" (New York Review of Books, August 8, 1996, p. 11), or Professor Evans for smiling at Derrida's "absurd attempt to say something profound about Einstein's relativity" (Forum, p. 1). A rather different picture emerges, however, once one considers carefully Derrida's and Hyppolite's statements themselves and their context. According to Hyppolite, then:
With Einstein, for example, we see the end of a kind of privilege of empiric evidence. And in that connection we see a constant appears, a constant that is a combination of space-time, which does not belong to any of the experimenters who live the experience, but which, in a way, dominates the whole construct; and this notion of the constantis this the center [i.e. would it be, according to Derrida's argument]? (Languages of Criticism, p. 266, emphasis added).
Hyppolite's first sentence is somewhat obscure, which is not surprising given the extemporaneous nature of his comments (on which point I shall comment below). It can, however, be shown to be compatible with certain aspects of special relativity, in particular with the idea that the distinction between space and time depends on the observer. More important here is the question of "the Einsteinian constant." The phrase may not meanand does not seem to mean--a numerical constant, as virtually all the physicists who commented on it in print appear to assume. Instead it appears to mean the Einsteinian (or Einsteinian-Minkowskian) concept of space-time itself, since Hyppolite speaks of "a constant which is a combination of space-time" (emphasis added). Given the text, such an interpretation is more plausible than seeing this phrase as referring to a numerical constant. This alternative interpretation is not definitive, and perhaps no definitive interpretation is possible here, in view of the status of the text as the transcription of extemporaneous remarks given orally. Similar problems may also arise in regard to Derrida's statement.(4) That said, however, it is more productive to take these complexities into account, to sort them out to the degree possible, and to give these statements the most sensible, rather than the most senseless, interpretation.
In view of those aspects of Hyppolite's and Derrida's meanings that can be established more definitively, and given the text of Derrida's essay itself, the interpretation suggested here is both possible and plausible. The moment one accepts this possibility and reads the Einsteinian constant as meaning the Einsteinian concept of space-time, Derrida's statement begins to sound quite a bit less strange. It acquires an even greater congruence with relativity theory once one understands the term "play/game" as connoting, in this context, the impossibility, within Einstein's framework of space-time, of a unique or uniquely privileged frame of reference--a "center starting from which an observer could master the field" (i.e. the whole of space-time). Even if my reading of Hyppolite's term "the Einsteinian constant" is tentative, the meaning I suggest for Derrida's "play" or "game" [jeu] is easily supportable on the basis of his essay and related works. So is the understanding of this concept as congruent with (I do not say equivalent to) philosophical ideas of relativity.
With these considerations in mind, one might see Derrida's statement as suggesting that, in contrast to classical physics, the space-time of special (and even more so of general) relativity disallows either a (Newtonian) universal background or a uniquely privileged frame of reference for physical events (which become contingent upon the frame of reference from which they are seen). In short, one might see Derrida's statement as alluding to standard features and questions at issue in Einstein's relativity--admittedly, in a idiom that is nonstandard, especially for physicists. At the very least, both Derrida's and Hyppolite's remarks can be read as consistent or, again, congruent with the philosophical ideas and implications of relativity as they have been elaborated in traditional scientific and philosophical literature on the subject. What Hyppolite suggests here is that (part of) the conceptual content of Einstein's relativity may serve as a kind of model for Derrida's concept of decentered play and related ideas.
Of course, there has been much debate concerning the philosophical interpretation and implications of relativity, and one could certainly argue about how productive a Derridean framework could be in approaching relativity. Such an argument would, however, be quite different from reading Derrida's statement in a deliberately distorted manner, as in Sokal's hoax; or from offering "criticism" of it that is clearly uninformed, as in Gross and Levitt's book; or from other dismissive non-treatments of it on both sides of the recent "science wars." Such an argument would also be different from what one finds in Sokal's "serious" article in Lingua Franca (disclosing his hoax): manifest philosophical naivete and ignorance of philosophical literature, including literature on relativity and quantum physics.(5) The question here is not whether Derrida's philosophical ideas about relativity or his work in general should be criticized. The question is at what level of intellectual engagement, knowledge, and scholarship such criticism of Derrida (or of Hyppolite and others cited in those texts) should take place.
Derrida's statement on relativity has been commented upon without any consideration of its textual and circumstantial context, and without even minimal attention to the meaning of its terms--even, sadly, by scholars and scientists of extraordinary achievement, such as Steven Weinberg. Obviously, most scientists are not familiar with the ideas and contexts that would enable them to offer the kind of reading of Derrida's statement that is suggested here. One might, however, regret a certain lack of intellectual curiosity on their part and their evident unwillingness to consult scholars familiar with Derrida's thought, or indeed--why not?--Derrida himself. At issue here is not only the citation of Hyppolite's and Derrida's remarks out of context but the ignoring of even the minimal relevant norms of intellectual and, especially, scholarly exchange.
Derrida's quoted statement appears in the transcript of an improvised response to Hyppolite's question following an oral presentation of his essay. The essay does not mention relativity and the statement itself makes no substantive scientific claims. Relativity, and specifically the idea of the Einsteinian constant, are brought in by Hyppolite, not Derrida, who responds to Hyppolite extemporaneously, in the context of his just-delivered paper. It is curious that out of thousands of pages of Derrida's published works, a single extemporaneous remark on modern physics is made to stand for nearly all of deconstructive or even postmodernist (not a term easily applicable to Derrida) treatments of science. Given the circumstances described here, a responsible scholar, journalist, or other commentator would be hesitant to judge or present Derrida's statement as representative of his mode of writing or arguing, or of his thought on relativity, mathematics, or science, or indeed of anything else. There is nothing exceptional in the circumstances themselves. Such complexities of improvisation, transcription, translation, and interpretation often arise at conferences, and the circumstances that lead to them remain significant when such exchanges are subsequently reproduced in conference volumes, as is the case here and as is made clear by the editors of the volume containing the Hyppolite-Derrida exchange (Languages of Criticism, xi-xiii).
Scholars in the humanities should, of course, exercise
due caution as to the claims they make about science. Correspondingly,
scientists and other non-humanist scholars should exercise due care and
similar caution in their characterization of the humanities, especially
when they are dealing with innovative and complex work, such as that of
Derrida, and all the more so if they want to be critical about it. In the
case under discussion, however, no criticism in any real sense--not even
a dismissal that can be taken seriously--has been offered, at least not
yet. A serious engagement with Derrida's thought on the part of scientists
is possible, however, and we might yet see it. Then, perhaps, we will also
have a better understanding of why "the Einsteinian constant is not
a constant, is not a center," why "it is the very concept of
variability," and why "it is, finally, the concept of the game"or,
if that is the case, why it is none of the above.
1 Steven Weinberg, "Sokal's Hoax," New York Review of Books (August 8, 1996), pp. 11-15; Alan D. Sokal, "Transgressing the BoundariesTowards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," Social Text (Spring/Summer, 1996), pp. 217-252; Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).
2 Both the text of the essay and the transcription of the discussion are in The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man: The Structuralist Controversy, eds. Richard Macksey and Eugenio Donato (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970); the essay itself is included in Derrida's Writing and Difference, tr. Alan Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978).
3 I leave aside for the moment the problem of translation, although it is significant for the present discussion. On the circumstances at issue, see The Languages of Criticism, xi-xiii.
4 See, again, the editors' discussion in The Languages of Criticism, xi-xiii.
5 Alan D. Sokal, "A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies," Lingua Franca (May/June 1966), pp. 62-64.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SOCIAL T EXT
"In spite of the appeal which this impersonality of the scientist makes, . . . I believe it to be shallow. . . . The reason for this is that, so long as we deal with the cosmic and the general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with realities in the completest sense of the term ."
--William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (Chapter XX)
The wisdom of William James--the greatest psychologist who ever lived, and an exquisite thinker in philosophy and religion--offers sweet balm against the world's nuttiness. The foregoing excerpt, I would say, is all we need for a complete understanding of the O. J. Simpson trial or the electoral success of Jesse Helms. And it indicates the most reasonable approach I can think of toward the controversy over Social Text (hereafter ST), which requires first of all a willingness to entertain the world-view propagated by the magazine.
That world-view is well served by William James's title. The futility of arguing with the ST ideology derives precisely from its status as a religious phenomenons--something that can be described but not effectively debated. In quintessentially Jamesian fashion, the ST ideology comprises a way to cope with two essentially religious problems: the need to think well of oneself and the desire for a significant life.
In his chapter on "The Value of Saintliness," William James observes that in our time "helpfulness in general human affairs" has supplanted the self-mortification of medieval ascetics as "a species of divine service." Though they might scorn the word "divine," the ST ideologists support a program of social change resembling this Jamesian model. The objectives of that program are altogether noble: to befriend and empower the victims of social injustice, including women, people of color, homosexuals, people living in poverty, the uneducated, and the involuntarily unemployed. The only way to remedy these evils, they believe, is through a social revolution that will wrest power from the forces of oppression and bestow it upon these victims. To participate in this struggle is to obtain reason for thinking well of oneself and for achieving a significant life.
Conventionally-minded people, myself included, believe that our democratic institutions--the franchise, the courts, freedom of speech, our power to tax the rich so as to help the poor--make this sort of revolution not only possible but inevitable, though on a gradual basis. Within a single lifetime, our society has produced women's franchise, the civil rights revolution, increasingly equal access for the handicapped, more open immigration, Social Security and Medicare, and a trillion-dollar war on poverty. In the view of the ST people, however, these ameliorations are intolerably inadequate. Beneath the benign surface of our system, they believe, there remains not only an atrocious maldistribution of the nation's wealth, but the expropriation of political power in the service of that wealth, and the perversion of virtually every social institution to ensure the permanence of this self-serving system.
Among these corrupted institutions--the media, the military-industrial complex, our legal and banking systems, our politics--the most basic and unregenerate is our system of education, which, far from enlightening our victims about their plight, prevents reform by ignoring or perhaps even justifying social inequity. The first step in effecting real social change must therefore be to take over the educational system at its governing level. In my own area, the Humanities, and in the Social Sciences this attainment of power has been substantially successful, in so far as our most prestigious universities lavish major powers and resources on offices, departments, programs, and publications that feature what their detractors call "oppression studies." Moreover, in my experience, this power, once attained, has been jealously guarded: anyone indifferent or resistant to their varieties of "theory," as the proponents of these studies call their enterprise, is likely to face reduced chances in the job market and in gaining access to the organs that publish scholarship.
There is one university precinct, however, that has been stubbornly impervious to these trends, and that is the natural sciences. On the surface, it seems logical that the study of nature should be free of political ideology. But from the ST point of view, every exercise of power is political, and the establishment that presides over the natural sciences exercises a great deal of power. That power, they believe, must be challenged, not merely because its voracious appetite consumes vast resources which belong to all of us, nor because too much of science is diverted to the mercenary purposes of a capitalist ecomony, nor even because science has produced evil effects like weapons of mass destruction and world-scale pollution of air, soil, and water.
The real fault lies much deeper than that, at the level of intellectual perversion, according to the ST ideology. While affecting to be objective, reality-centered, and non-ideological, proponents of the natural sciences do in fact propagate a subjective, politically biased ideology. They do so by inducing people to accept their own hierarchy of beliefs and values, an automatically (if often unconsciously) political activity. Especially on behalf of young people in their vulnerable formative years, those beliefs and values must be challenged when they relegate superior values to an inferior status. How do we know which values are superior? We are back where we started: Superior values are those that make a life significant, and what can be more significant than effecting social justice? If natural science denies this claim, it is an adversary to be contested.
That contesting of values, in turn, has produced what many readers find most surprising about the ST phenomenon: its periodic fusion of ignorance about science with an abrasive arrogance of tone. But here one other feature of religious psychology applies. For many sponsors of the ST movement, a truly significant life requires not merely a rational program for social justice; the project must also entail a Manichean struggle against forces of evil. Capitalism is most likely to occupy the devil's throne on this battlefield, but after the overthrow of the Berlin Wall, other agents of oppression (e.g. patriarchy, colonialism, heterosexism) have more largely served to make heroic resistance, and therefore a heroic identity, possible. The exaggerated tone that pervades this kind of writing--predominantly accusatory, sometimes triumphalist, occasionally apocalyptic--stems, I think, from this sense of a participation in a mighty crusade against evil. Given such a foe, nothing compares to victory in battle for conferring significance.
It may interest the scientists among my readers to learn how long ago the editors of ST summoned their faithful to battle. In the Fall, 1981 ST (page 110), Richard D. Wolff wrote the following manifesto regarding a book by Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar, Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts (Introduction by Jonas Salk). Wolff's review was entitled "Science, Empiricism, and Marxism":
"The mystique and mysticism surrounding the procedures and products of the natural sciences are beginning, finally and fortunately, to disintegrate. The nearly totally pervasive empiricism characterizing natural scientific discourses and the descriptions natural scientists give of their own practices is under increasing attack. The fawning and imitative adulation of social scientists for what they, too, took to be the vastly greater rigor and realism of natural science will, it is hoped, disintegrate soon too. . . . The Latour and Woolgar volume is a piece of heavy weaponry in this disintegrative assault upon the self-image and privileged social status of the natural science establishment world-wide. It deserves the careful attention of the widest possible audience. . . ."
It all washes out, finally, in the language. If I were to recite the verses of "The Old Rugged Cross" or observe "a Holy Day of Obligation," you would infer, respectively, a background of Protestant or Catholic worship. The words affirm doctrine and imply membership in a group. That is precisely the function of Social Text's linguistic gobbleygook: to identify and pass favor upon members of a sect while excluding unbelievers. This artificial language now embraces, I would guess, several hundred words, most of which decayed into cliche virtually in the act of coinage. "Hegemony," "praxis," "episteme"--having been saturated for years in this dreary stuff, I know what the words mean, but it is only their secondary meaning that really matters, the code function that signifies "he's one of us."
The secret of Professor Sokal's success in violating ST's inner sanctum lay in his threefold manipulation of their verbal code. With tour-de-force efficacy, he mimicked the sect's lingo, he practiced the prescribed rites of obeisance to authority (Derrida & Company), and he blew the bugle of revolution in his title, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity."
What the critics of ST fail to understand is the distribution of significance that the editors would have assigned within Sokal's title. With social change having the highest significance, because that's what makes a life significant, Quantum Gravity--the only significant term for real scientists--carries minimal value. Its slot could have been filled with Relativity or Black Holes without affecting the argument. It's the other four words that bear ascending degrees of importance. First, "Hermeneutics," ostensibly meaning a strategy of interpretation, signified to the editors that Sokal is "one of us"--he's playing our game by our rules. This password of admission was amplified by the word "Transformative," which normally denotes change but here connotes solidarity with a liberation movement. (The word actually harkens back to the May, 1968 student riots in Paris, which were undertaken in the name of "La Transformation.")
Sokal's next word, "Boundaries," would ordinarily indicate merely the extent of a discipline but for the ST people the word had the impact of a clutch of eggs on a tree snake--you know damn well that something exciting will happen to those [take your pick] patriarchal, sexist, racist, homophobic, capitalist, elitist boundaries. And the key to it all is "Transgressing"--that irresistible call to rebellion against established norms and powers. There's a heroic, subversive ring to it, a willful flouting of superior authority. It is what makes a life significant, and Sokal's scientific mumbo-jumbo was, to the editors, the merest trifle compared to that grand promise.
If this whole episode seems a childish, vainglorious business, it also merits some sympathetic understanding, because those people are not so different from the rest of us. We all have the need to think well of ourselves, and we all share the quest for significance as probably our strongest urge after food and shelter. The ideal of a good society outshines many other answers to the problem such as fame, money, power, success in business, military prowess, sexual conquest, and arguably even scientific discovery.
This is not to say that the ST approach is the best or only path to a better society. Moreover, real scientists are rightly concerned over the appalling prospect that Science "Studies" may displace true science in the curriculum of some universities, allowing students to satisfy their science requirement by taking courses in the ST mode. In this respect, scientists may be catching up with many members of my own discipline who for decades have considered "Cultural Studies," which are animated by precisely the same ideology as ST, a woefully inadequate approach to the study of literature. But in the end, we cannot impose views of reality on one another. In facing this dilemma, the best recourse for everyone, ST proponents and skeptics alike, is probably the wisdom of William James--as, for example, in the sentences subsequent to the epigraph that began this essay. To those who wonder why the ST proponents subordinate scientific reality to an ideological agenda, this is the final significance of Social Text:
"The axis of reality runs solely through the egotistic places. . . . Compared with this world of living, individualized feelings, the world of generalized objects which the intellect contemplates is without solidity or life."
The Real Duke: Thoughts on faculty in residence
--by Roger Corless (Religion)
"Why would you want to go and do a thing like that?" my colleague asked incredulously; "you'll be kept up 'till all hours solving their problems!" "No" I replied, "we've been told specifically that we don't do that. In fact, not to be in charge of discipline and not to be amateur psychotherapists are the only definite things we've been told about our job. Otherwise, it's 'whatever.'"
What could this job be, with no duties? Maybe I shouldn't tell you. Maybe "they" don't know that, at last, "they" have done something that places Duke dangerously close to becoming a real university, and if I spill the considerable beans, I will lose the job and be returned to caretaker duties at the Theme Park.
Well, but, the new editor of this periodical made it clear that my complaints, while editor of the erstwhile Faculty Newsletter , that nobody wrote anything, so that I had nothing to edit, entailed the clearly Kantian imperative of submitting at least one article to its successor, the Faculty Forum, and I had made the mistake of becoming enthusiastic, in his very presence, about Duke University. This was, to him and to all others within earshot, such a startling change from my long recognized cynicism, that he demanded to know what in thunder had happened to me. "I've become a Faculty-in-Residence," I said triumphantly, seeing his face change in a way that must have been familiar to John Henry Newman and Ronald Knox when they told their friends that they, though undoubtedly English, had become Roman Catholic (or "poped" as the phrase then was). "I did it because the students asked me to do it," I said, trying desperately to appear innocent of enthusiasm (a passion against which Ronald Knox, indeed, wrote passionately) and regain my accustomed air of Olympian disdain. But it wouldn't wash. My body language betrayed me. I was enjoying myself.
So, what is this all about? It goes back fifteen years, when SHARE (standing for, I am told, Student Housing as a Residential Experience, an acronym so bland and redundant that it must be a cover for something more risque) occupied Wilson House. Wilson House had a faculty apartment, a remnant of the time when it was in fact the Faculty Apartments Building. The faculty member was leaving, the SHARE living group was looking for a replacement, and they felt that I was, as we used to say back then, able to "dig their vibes." At that time, Wilson House, like Epworth in later years, was regarded as a hippy hangout, the last refuge of the rabidly radical, a flop-house full of drug-crazed ne'er-do-wells who somehow managed to keep their GPA high enough to remain at Dukein short, it was more like the real world than the nervous, conservative kitsch that Duke so often presents as its public image. When I was interviewed as the prospective faculty resident for this group, by some administrative body that is probably long gone, there was the expressed suspicion that I was being duped. "The students in Wilson House asked for you?" "Yes." "Well, Doctor Corless, do you know what goes on there?" "Oh", I blithely tossed off the implied vision of profligacy, "I've been a Visiting Professor at Berkeley. Wilson House seems quite ordinary to me." And so I was accepted.
But it didn't work out. Another administrative body at Duke precipitously moved SHARE into Alspaugh which, either having no faculty apartment or having a faculty apartment that contained a faculty member who was not about to move out (I forget which), could not accommodate me.
Five years went by. SHARE members came and went, but the energy, or perhaps we can say the personality, of SHARE was cohesive enough to remain identifiable. (An interesting lesson in rebirth as understood by Buddhism, but I won't go into that now.) And so it was that SHARE, by then housed in Epworth (the dorm that, when East Campus was all ladies, was known to favor ladies of the more vigorous kind, the "Olympic girls" after whom Sir John Betjeman feigned to lust) asked for me again, for again it was losing its resident faculty member, and it still felt, after all these years of reputed wantonness, that I was their man. Again I was interviewed (by, I now definitely remember, Al Eldridge), and again I was accepted, but again it failed. Some other administrative body decided that the apartment was needed for an artist-in-residence, and it had seniority over whatever committee Al was on at that time, so a stranger was foisted on the Epworthy ones, and I, who had been evicted from Central Campus Apartments, moved into a house I was thus forced to buy. (Oh, sorry, no, it wasn't an eviction, not technically. Central Campus was being converted to an all-undergraduate facility because it had been decided, definitely and absolutely and for ever, never to build another dormitory, and graduate students and faculty members living on Central were served Notices of Non-Renewal of Lease.)
Another ten years passed. Again, SHARE was losing its resident faculty member, and again it asked for me. "No" I said flatly "I have a house," regarding that as definitive. But there seemed to be, as we say, some part of "No" that they did not understand, for they countered with "We'll help you move." It's fate, I told myself, why not, it'll never happen anyway. Another interview, this time with Ben Ward, and then the "We'll call you" routine. And, lo! this time it worked, and here I am, officially ensconced in the newly renovated Coach Inn (as Epworth House was called when it was a hostelry on the stage coach route and Duke University was still in Buck's financial loins) with, as I mentioned, a lot of beanssomething close to $9,000 a year in a tax-free bonus, I thinkfor I have no rent nor utilities to pay and I get 500 Food Points per semester (a Food Point is, for those who, not being students, don't know, a unit of currency equivalent to a U.S. dollar but it is non-negotiable and, like manna, it vanishes when the weather gets hot). And, I have no defined duties, although it is expected that I will "hang out" with the students.
Golly, what a revolutionary idea! A faculty member actually meeting students on their own ground! Without formal strictures! One fears that real teaching and learning will occur. Not the so-called teaching of the classroom. Courses, based on lectures in classrooms, are all right in their way, but the universities which are oldest and have presumably amassed the most experience in teaching and learning, Oxford and Cambridge for example, have never taken to them. At Oxbridge, a lecture is a sort of talking book (in truth, that's what the word literally means) and, like a book, is ancillary to the living, personal presence of the Tutor, the human being who is visibly wrestling with ideas, for whom ideas are never abstract, but palpable noetic entities, who is on the edge of new discoveries (and new disappointments), who at best is the embodiment of a discipline and at worst is a reminder that books are written by fallible humans.
It is impossible to understand the quest for knowledge in the firm belief that there is something worthwhile to be found, the fides quaerens intellectum, if students and faculty only meet each other across the barrier of the podium. Knowledge is a coquettish lover, or, to change the image, the quest for knowledge is a stochastic fumbling in the dark. One never knows when an insight will show itself, so one must always be open to the possible, perhaps still more to the (apparently) impossible. At Epworth, this happens. The theme of the SHARE living group is Diversity. We are diverse in years (we have been saved from the monocultural disaster of the all-first-year-student dorm that has fallen like a blight on East Campus), in disciplines, in gender and sexual orientation, in race and (having just become handicapped accessible) in disabilities. In short, we are a university.
What goes on here? There is a friendliness and a rapport between residents that is obvious but, to the despair of the census takers, unquantifiable. The architecture helps. Rather than the grim corridors and cramped "expanded triples" of the other dorms, Epworth, having been designed for a more leisured age when people traveled with trunks and expected rooms rather than cells, has wide halls and tall ceilings, and there are obvious places where people congregate, naturally, while they are on their way in or out. It is unpretentious, it has seen it all, it doesn't, unlike most of the Duke architecture, care what you think of it and try to look like something else (the towers of Princeton, say, or Thomas Jefferson's rotunda). It is what it is, thank you very much.
In these functionally funky spaces people move about at all hours, conversing, playing board games, cooking and eating, and, yes, studying. There is no great gulf between work and play, they seem to flow into each other. So, for example, I go down the hall to find someone who might know why I suddenly can't get on to my e-mail. After a few blank looks, one student, turning down his roommate's music, confidently asserts that the symptoms point to the DNS server being down again. It goes down too often, I say, what's wrong? We bewail the inadequacies of computing services at Duke, and assess the advantages of setting up one's own DNS server. Another student comes along and asks what we thought about the debate. "What debate?" questions a serenely apolitical student, unaware that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Dole have been exchanging views that could affect the future of the planet. The student who has watched the debate is shocked, and the discussion turns from computers to political activism. This gradually turns into campus politics, and the advantages and disadvantages of an all-first-year-student East Campus. This leads into an enquiry into human nature since, it is somewhat reluctantly agreed, first-year students are human. From there it is but a short jump to interrogating Ultimate Truth itself, especially as Mr. Clinton had taken it upon himself to claim that all religions are basically the same, on hearing which I howled in mock agony. Where are we? About six of us are sitting on the floor, in one of the wide corridors, arguing loudly (a nearby room door pointedly closes) and eating freshly made popcorn. It is nearly one in the morning. Oh, yes, I'm being kept up 'till all hours, solving the problems of the world. Suddenly, I realize, after twenty-six years here, I've become a teacher. This is the real Duke.
To the Editor:
The question of the value of academic rank came up in the Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure when I served on this committee in 1985. After one member circulated a memo on the importance of the distinction between associate and full professors, I responded with a letter that recommended abolishing academic rank. When this letter was circulated to committee members, it was greeted by polite silence. Since Victor Strandberg has recently revived the issue (The Faculty Forum, October, 1996), I have adapted and extended my letter as follows:
I propose the abolition of academic rank.
The distinction between instructor and assistant professor is dying a natural death. It is currently important because it typically coincides with the independent distinction between lacking and having tenure. The abolition of rank implies nothing about the institution of tenure, the standards for awarding tenure, or policies of financial reward.
Discussion of the value of academic rank thus focuses on the distinction between associate and full professor, which I maintain causes more trouble than it is worth. What is it worth? I have heard several arguments advanced in defense of the importance of Full Professorship, to which I shall reply in turn.
Ambition for Promotion as Stimulus
People publish in order to be awarded tenure. With a view to promotion to full professor, they continue to publish after the award of tenure. Indeed, much published scholarship looks just like what it is: work published in order to get promoted. I do not deny that really outstanding work can be stimulated by ambition, but I believe it is ambition of another order. Writers who have an international reputation, for example, would continue to crave it apart from its alleged connection with qualification for a full professorship. If ambition for promotion were necessary to stimulate outstanding scholarship, then we ought to have still more ranks in an ascending hierarchy with enough levels to last a working lifetime.
Rank as Restricting the Power of the Incompetent
A university such as Duke needs everyone to be competent to teach graduate students and direct graduate research. But some fail to live up to the promise of early work. No matter how high the standards for awarding tenure, some careers go downhill after the award of tenure. Do stringent standards for promotion to full professor lessen the harm done by incompetent but tenured associate professors? Many organizations besides colleges and universities have the problem that incompetent people become entrenched and that sometimes people with the power of seniority use their power to perpetuate mediocrity. The institution of academic rank offers little help in dealing with this problem. The only prerogative that full professors have that others lack is that of recommending that someone else be promoted to full professor.
Abolishing academic rank would not affect the practice of ranking faculty in the sense of judging one person to be more valuable than another. The standards of evaluation, whether they emphasize publication or teaching, international reputation or local prominence, are independent of rank. Salary policies are also independent, whether they emphasize merit, however defined, or heavily weight seniority, or strive to increase the average salary while decreasing the difference between the highest and the lowest. Under the current system, it is better not to regard distinguished professors with named chairs as having a rank higher than full professors. They are a special kind of full professor. So long as outside donors are persuaded to fund professorial chairs, I would not argue against preserving this special group.
The word "professor" designates a profession, a rank, and a title. I see no reason for using some other word to describe our profession. Duke can do without the title "professor" as many universities in this country have practically done for years. In other regions, the title "professor" exists mainly for ceremonial use; and the title "doctor" is reserved for dentists, physicians, and ministers. Architects and accountants get along fine in North Carolina without being addressed as "Architect Smith" or "Accountant Jones," as would we professors without a professional title. Title and rank are independent. If the title remains, it should be proper to address any faculty member as "professor." The distinctions of academic rank that I want to abolish, unlike distinctions of military rank, do not correspond to genuine forms of address.
David H. Sanford
Department of Philosophy
Editor's Note: The following letter is in response to the essay by Lawrence Evans in the October FF, "Should We Care About Science 'Studies'?"an extended essay that included commentary on the Sokal's Hoax controversy.
To the Editor:
"But please alvays to call it 'researrch '!"--Tom Lehrer
Larry Evans' trenchant critique points up why "science studies" rests on shaky ground. If science is done properly, it is self correcting. Elimination of errors is the name of the game. Consequently a field that views science as an accumulation of biases is is either studying disciplines that have ceased to be scientific, or (as Evans points out in the case of physics) studying something of its own invention.
No doubt the response will be "but who is to decide what is a 'real error' since all judgments are irretrievably biased?" There is of course no answer to this except to do the best we can. The one thing we cannot do is what the science studies people would evidently prefer, which is to concede to them a special insight on "bias" which is denied to the scientific community at large.
Despite this impeccable logic, science studies does now exist in a few places and it purports to find power relations and reactionary politics at the heart of science (and everything else). How can this be, given the nature of science? Perhaps the softer sciences and sciences strongly driven by societal need have become less interested in nature than in social and professional success. In these areas, power and politics (not necessarily of the reactionary sort) may play a significant role. But the science-studies people seem attracted to the more remote possibility of corruption in physics and other hard sciences. (Can politics be involved in this choice?) Or perhaps the isolation between introverted academic enclaves has reached a point where any kind of jargonistic nonsense with enough ideological horsepower can hope to make a place for itself. Or, perhaps, all of the above.
To the Editor:
The cost of scholarly periodicals needed by university libraries more than doubled in the last six years. If the cost of gasoline had risen as fast as academic library materials in the last 15 years, it would now cost $2.66 a gallon to put fuel in your car.
(Source: American Library Association Office for Research & Statistics, ALA Washington Office, Library Research Service, Colorado State Library)
Associate University Librarian
Editor's Note: Ms. McCarthy's figures on rising costs occasion the following statistical tables:
NUMBERS TO THINK ABOUT:
1. INSTITUTIONS WITH WHICH WE COMPARE OURSELVES Dept:
( Could it happen here? Did it happen here?)
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer of March 31, 1996, the University of Pennsylvania now has 29 more full-time students registered than there were in 1980. During same period it has added 1820 more administrators and non-teaching staff members.
2. FACULTY SALARIES & ENDOWMENTS at Selected Universities (1995-1996).
Sources: Academe (the AAUP Bulletin, March-April 1996) and The Chronicle of Higher Education
(September 2, 1996)
(Average Salaries, in thousands, are rounded off to nearest whole number.)
Prof. Assoc. Assist. Endowment (in millions)
DUKE /92/ 63/ 50/ 783
HARVARD 107 59 55 7,046
YALE 101 56 47 3,959
PRINCETON 101 60 47 3,882
U PENN 97 64 56 1,676
CORNELL 70 54 45 1,476
U TEXAS 76 49 45 5,043
U MICHIGAN 85 62 50 1,321
U CALIF 87 57 49 2,143
NYU 97 64 54 741
U VIRGINIA 81 54 44 824
BROWN 80 54 47 680
UNC-CH 76 54 46 265
3. William King and his Duke Archives staff have assembled the following figures about tuition, undergraduate enrollment, and numbers of faculty:
YEAR TUITION STUDENTS FACULTY
1965/ $1237/ 4064/ 795
1970 $2000 4668 984
1975 $2780 5352 1161
1980 $4230 5824 1368
1985 $7380 6042 1424
1990 $12,800 6009 1620
1995 $19,000* 6002 1661
(* $19,500 for freshmen; $18,500 for upperclassmen)
THE Ph.D. JOB MARKET:
"The typical person who receives a Ph.D. in English spends eight years in graduate school, accumulates $10,000 worth of debt and is unable to find a job. . . . The placement rate for new Ph.D's in English is about 45 percent. But the number of doctorates awarded in English goes up almost every year. . . . Since 1989, the number of academic job openings advertised in the field of history has dropped by 11 percent; in art and art history, 26 percent; in foreign languages, 35 percent; in political science, 37 percent. And every year universities give out more Ph.D's than they did the year before."
Louis Menand, The New York Times Magazine September 22, 1996 (78)
As we explained last month, the editor's helpers have been assigned the following division of labor. POSSUM, our omnivorous scholar, will try to entice the faculty away from their overspecialized regular diet for a few tastibits of general education. FERRET will snoop, sniff, and snuffle out little nuggets of controversial or even slightly scandalous matter. And PARROT, to offset her big advantage over her two accomplices (a voice), will be limited to reciting what someone has said without editorial comment. (If her column requires commentary, Ferret will make it.) Anyone who wishes either to feed the beastie/birdie with new tidbits or to wring its neck may do so with a note, letter, or column mailed to Victor Strandberg, 315 Allen Building (90015) or sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Voicemail is 684-3976.
CRACKPOTS ON PARADE
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
Parricidal offspring of Freud the Father, who on three occasions fainted in Jung's presence; cruel exploiter of his mistress, whom he would neither marry nor let go despite her threat of suicide when he refused to divorce his wife; inventor, or some would say discoverer, of universal archetypes in the collective unconscious, Carl Gustav Jung earns his place in the parade by virtue of the vision that called him, at the age of twelve, to his lifelong mission of reconceptualizing Christian theology for the twentieth century.
It is true that the ancient Hebrews risked a touch of anthropomorphism at times, by endowing their Creator with enormous feet, for example, in Isaiah 66:1 ("the earth is my footstool"), but Jung's extension of the idea is uniquely grotesque. Here is Jung's reminiscence of the event that transformed his life while he stood outside his father's church in Basel, as he described it in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (New York: 1963, 36, 39-40):
"One fine summer day that same year  I came out of school at noon and went to the cathedral square. The sky was gloriously blue, the day one of radiant sunshine. The roof of the cathedral glittered, the sun sparkling from the new, brightly glazed tiles. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sight, and thought: 'The world is beautiful and the church is beautiful and God made all this and sits above it far away in the blue sky on his golden throne. . . .'
I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on his golden throne, high above the worldand from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the wall of the cathedral asunder.
So that was it! I felt an enormous, an indescribable relief. . . and an unutterable bliss such as I had never known. I wept for happiness and gratitude. The wisdom and goodness of God had been revealed to me. . . . I had experienced an illumination. From that moment on, when I experienced grace, my true responsibility began."
An extraordinary experience, to be sure, which might well have a considerable effect on the soul of a puberty-stressed adolescent. But let's have a look at the long-term aftermath of this epiphany of "grace," "illumination," and "true responsibility." I instance the testimony of two of Jung's patients, Americans whose pilgrimage to Zurich occurred during the full maturity of the maestro's 50th year. The question they brought before him was how they should conduct their love life while remaining married to other people:
"In the summer of 1923, Harry wrote to Jung and arranged for a visit to Zurich in 1925. Once Harry started telling Jung about Christiana, Jung himself opened up, in 'earthy, concrete language,' with his own stories of Anima captivation: his affair with twenty-three year old Toni Wolff. Harry was impressed that Jung 'and his young co-worker and lover had entered a permanent relationship with the consent, and even the approval, of Emma Jung [Jung's wife]. Harry was overwhelmed, of course, not merely with what to an American sensibility appeared outrageous in their triadic relationship, but also with what it suggested--however shockingly at first--might be possible in his own life.'
And even after Harry came back, . . . Jung would write him things like, 'Your life is yourself. Nothing matters but the completion of the self.' . . . Now it was her [Christiana's] turn to go to Zurich and consult with the Old Man. . . . Jung opened, she wrote, 'the possibility of a truly great advance, an advance equal in magnitude to that of Christianity.'
Meanwhile Harry arranged for Jo [his wife] to meet with Jung. Jung took her for a twenty minute walk along the lake, in which Jung told her that Harry was not to be thought of as a model of purity, and was, like all men, 'part animal.' While he assured her that her husband still loved her and would continue to do so, the 'ideal' of marriage had passed for him as it had for many men throughout the centuries. Men are animals, he assured her, and that's women's problem.
Well, maybe not only women's problem. Doubtless, like his compeer Freud, Carl Gustav Jung was a genius, but one little detail may have gone askew in that vision of grace he received beside his father's church. Can it be that in unloading His bomb on the cathedral, the Unnameable One narrowly missed His true target, that adolescent spectator standing on the sidelines?
(Ferret's source is an essay called "Dirty Harry," by a Jungian scholar named Sheila Grimaldi-Craig, in the June, 1993 number of Spring 94 (152-154).)
POSSUM (Passim): Random Readings of a Near-Sighted Omnivore
1. WHITHER RACE CONSCIOUSNESS? (I)
"New immigrants are assimilating along the same dimensions and at roughly the same pace as earlier European immigrants did. For many Hispanic people and Asian-Americans, ethnic identity itself will be blurred by intermarriage, just as it has been for earlier immigrant groups. Among American-born married women ages 20 to 29 in 1990, 67 percent of Asian-Americans and 38 percent of Hispanic women married outside their ethnic group, according to Zhenchao Qian of Arizona State University."
Samuel H. Preston, The New York Times Magazine September 29, 1996 (97)
2. WHITHER RACE CONSCIOUSNESS? (II)
"Protectionism may be the truest purpose of affirmative action. By supporting it whites agree to see blacks as victims rather than as inferiors, and in return blacks agree to see whites as people of racial goodwill rather than as racists. Sadly, this quid pro quo, in which deference to the other race's vulnerability buys protection from one's own, is the only real contract that exists between blacks and whites on a policy level."
Shelby Steele, The New Republic October 7, 1996 (26)
3. REVERSE DISCRIMINATION, ESKIMO-STYLE:
"The name Yup'ik is the self-designation of the Eskimos of western Alaska and is derived from their word yuk, for 'person,' plus the postbase pik, meaning 'real,' or 'genuine.' Like many indigenous people throughout the world, they consider themselves 'real people' in contrast to presumably less real outsiders."
Natural History 8/96 (12)
1. CHOICE NUMBERS:
"About half of all U.S. women will opt to abort an unwanted pregnancy at some point in their life, a survey from the Alan Guttmacher Institute finds. These women, two-thirds of whom intend to have children in the future, come from every age group, race, social class and creed--including those thought to oppose abortion. Catholic women, for example, had an abortion rate that was 29 percent higher than that of Protestant women. Six out of 10 women having abortions used protection."
Scientific American October 1996 (28)
2. THE FEMINIZATION OF AMERICA:
"Claudia Springer in Electronic Eros ... shows how the pumping, thrusting, visible hardware of the industrial age has been replaced by the humming, internal (some say feminine) machinery of the computer era."
New York Times Book Review 10/27/96 (38)
SCIENCE FOR LAYPERSONS:
"In the beginning--or to be precise, a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang--the universe was a seething, unimaginably hot ball of energy. The forces that we know--gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak forces that govern atoms--were still joined as one. But in an instant, this sea of energy changed. Much as water abruptly turns to ice, the universe crossed a temperature threshold and the universal force fragmented.
As unlikely as it seems, a group of Finnish physicists claims to have recreated these primordial conditions in the lab. They believe they have simulated important features of the newborn universe in a flask of liquid helium chilled to near absolute zero, and their experiments, they say, bear out the predictions of a controversial theory.
As the universe cooled, according to this theory, defects in the fabric of space-time appeared, just as water solidifying to ice develops crystal imperfections. These cosmological wrinkles--called cosmic strings--would have been far thinner than an atom, perhaps infinitely long and extremely massive, spanning the universe. As strange as these objects seem, they would solve a host of vexing problems in cosmology. Because of their enormous mass, the strings' powerful gravitational fields would have helped pull together the first galaxies and provided the framework for the large-scale structure of the universe."
--Jeffrey Winters, Discover November 1996 (42)
"The largest creature ever to fly was Quetzalcoatlus northropi, a Cessna-sized pterosaur that soared through Cretaceous skies 68 million years ago on wings spanning 30 feet. Fossils of the giant flier were first discovered just 20 years ago in Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas."
--Discover November 1996 (30)
Binary Opposite Number One:
"Man is a. . . stupendous antagonism, a dragging together of the poles of the Universe. He betrays his relation to what is below him--thick-skulled, small-brained, . . . hardly escaped into biped. . . . But the lightning which explodes and fashions planets and suns, is in him. . . . [Here] they are, side by side, god and devil, mind and matter, . . . riding peacefully together in the eye and brain of every man."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Fate"
Ferret-Question for Publius Ovidius Naso: What do you mean, "unstrung?"
"Let the woman too feel love's act, unstrung to the very depths of her frame. Nor let winning sounds and pleasant murmurs be idle, nor in the midst of play let naughty words be hushed."
--Ovid, The Art of Love (Loeb Classics, 173)
The Faculty Forum is published monthly by the Academic Council of Duke University.
Editor: Victor Strandberg (English). Assistant Editor: Sara Cohen (Trinity '97).
Editorial Advisory Board: Matt Cartmill (Biological Anthropology & Anatomy), Howard Clark (Biomedical Engineering), Buford Jones (English), Miriam Cooke (Asian and African Languages and Literature), Seymour Mauskopf (History).
The purpose of the Faculty Forum is to provide an opportunity for faculty members to discuss topics of common interest. The FF therefore welcomes, and indeed depends on, contributions by faculty members. Absent ad hominem matter, contributions may be published anonymously, but the editor will need to know the identity of all contributors so as to authenticate the contribution and to permit appropriate editing procedures.
The design of this publication figures to take the shape of a sandwich. Somewhere near the middle will be our presentation of the latest Academic Council minutes--an entry that controls the date of our appearance in print. Working toward this midpoint from Page One will be the contributions we receive from faculty members. Working backward from the last page will be the scibblings of the three helpers who have been assigned the task of filling the space left vacant after the faculty has had its say.
Contributions of every kind should be sent, in both print
and (if lengthy) computer disk, to the editor, Victor Strandberg, in 315
Allen Building. Voicemail is 684-3976; no objection to calls at home, 489-5531.
E-mail is email@example.com FAX (English department) is 919-684-4871.
The deadline for submissions is the 20th of each month.