Dear Javiera,


Dear Javiera,

 






Your text on elenchus is one of those electrifying
[pace the
torpedo fish]
responses that potentially defines and clarifies the agenda of the course
for a specific length of time or for a particular avenue of inquiry within
the topic at hand. I can think of about a half a dozen off-hand:
Isaac’s
intervention
that kicked off the second Hysteria
and Paranoia
seminar; Kate’s
intervention
in the same seminar shortly thereafter,
which
triggered
Eric’s
incendiary response
which in turn moved Jordan
to write a double-agendaed and strategically provocative response to Eric
and to Kate. The reverbs from Jordan’s set things really in motion, helped
along
by the wolverine
intelligence
of Richard
Gropp
.
 

Your intervention on elenchus has the foundational
incision of Isaac’s and a clarificatory quality reminiscent of
Kimberly’s
late intervention in the second
Aliennations
course, on the nature and implications of
jouissance.
And there’s the disarming encounters that
Josh
handled so well, like his calling me to task in the
Science
Fiction Practice and Theory
course on my too-quickly-metaphorical
version of the quirky results of the gravitational contest launched by
a
Swedish king
.In the Japanese
textualities
course, there was Jeff
Melin’s
lyrical challenges about what languages say when they seem
to say love and Alexis’s dissatisfaction with surface
and depth
, Paul Davis’s and Paul
Davis’s
and Katherine
Darnell’s divergent
interrogations of the use of
Freudian
fetish theory to undermine its own phallocentric presuppositions – especially
when applied to cross cultural
sexual-metaphor
politics
such as those I attempted in my reading
of
M.Butterfly.
And
Lisa’s
readings
that made such piquant counterpoints to
the readings I juxtaposed in the „
comparative
wonderings
“ series for that class.

And Scott
Seguin’s
first email message in Semiotics
and Psychoanalysis
, about not being able to send messages. This message
became „My
Lack“
and a lynch pin in my developing theory of internet
pedagogy
.

    My own thoughts on elenchus run
quickly to questions of ethics in particular to the ethics of teaching,
which, for me, has been the most pervasive subtext of the seminar. I agree
with you wholeheartedly that there is something manipulative about the
elenchus as it is preserved in some of the dialogues. I personally find
Socrates at his most uncharming in the
Ion
– the badgering there seems to be far more prominent than any intellectual
discovery to emerge from it – either for Socrates or for Ion. It’s easier
to suspend sympathy for Amyntus in the
Meno
since he’s sort of a hot head, and knowing the reputation of Meno himself
also keeps me sympathetic with Socrates’s treatment of him, except for
the end with its detour into prebirth memories. I’m sure this is unredeemably
anachronistic, but I think that detour exacerbates what I feel to be among
the most pessismistic of all of Plato’s dialogues. And – I think such pessimism
is as pertinent to the question you raise concerning the ethics of the
elenchus as are the issues of fairness or bullying.

    Ironically, when you all submitted
your
intellectual autobiographies,
one of you prefaced her or his submission by admitting it was written in
a style and with techniques and emphases deliberately gauged to push my
buttons as they say. And it did. I responded by doing the same, with the
larger agenda of using the resultant joint text to illustrate just how
cruel Plato’s
elentic
texts
might be. Remember they are entitled with
the names of real people who had public reputations. So I wanted to post
a text with a „real“ name that would have a similar impact within our microcosm.

    And I really laid it on heavily,
designed to make sense and make points but moreover to render even those
points in their very usefulness and ostentacious insightfulness indices
of cruelty in that each point made was so clearly and deliberately at the
expense of the „real person“ subjected to it by textual proxy. I of course
asked permission and ensured both of us that the text would be emblazoned
with a disclaimer. But even so, after looking at it several times and even
html-encoding it, I couldn’t bring myself to post it. The dilemma of mimesis
again.

    It reminded of the days of the
saga of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. Among the charges brought against Jim
was that he would occasionally give other men a „
homosexual
look
“ in the steam room of the Christian Empire’s
gym. Some one asked me what a „
homosexual
look
“ looked like. I realized then, there was no
way I could imitate one, no matter how parodically or farsically I meant
it, no matter how many brackets I put around it. Because you can’t imitate
a „look“ without it being that „look.“ By the same token, I think the very
salience of the points I made in the fake elenchus grilling made it impossible
to maintain its fraudulence.

But one of the ways we might approach the problems
of the ethics of the elenchus is to consult the Web for texts on the subject.
I
have been
doing searches, compiling results, and
taking notes on our topics since last quarter. And to compress the process
regarding my thinking through elenchus, I offer these
search
results
gleaned from the Noesis
search engine
for on-line philosophy texts. [I
discuss this one in the philosophy resources of the
paideia.
Check the
Metapaideia
for the indices.]

I’ve read about four or five of the texts listed
here, and I hope
those of you
interested in this question [
hopefully
all of you
] will do the same. I’ll tell you which
ones I’ve read, but I reserve my opinions on them so as not to interfere
with your own critical responses to them.


The two I especially think might trigger interesting
discussions are:


  • Carpenter, Andrew N. „The
    Socratic Elenchus as a Search for Truth
    “ (Antioch College).


  • Higgins, Chris. „Philosophy
    of Education
    : Socrates‘ Effect/Meno’s Affect: Socratic Elenchus as
    Kathartic Therapy
    “  – Responses

  •     For the list of texts on elenchus,
    courtesy of the
    Noesis
    search engine
    , click HERE.

    I have more to say on this topic, the ethics of
    teaching and the peculiarity of the elenchos. It impinges on my „troubleshooting“
    techniques in correcting and/or responding to student work. I list some
    of the Trouble Shooting texts I have on the various sites. I’d really appreciate
    a discussion of some sort to develop around your misgivings on the elenchus
    and the encounters with the student papers on the sites. I list the ones
    that I think will offer something even to people outside of the context
    of the course in which the work was done. First of all, there are two trouble
    shooting pages on our site, but it might be easier to discuss the practice
    through texts more removed from us.


     


    On Histories of
    Meaning Site


    http://www.anotherscene.com/meaning/tshoot1.html

    http://www.anotherscene.com/meaning/tshoot2.html

    Hysteria
    and Paranoia

    Trouble
    Shooting One

    Trouble
    Shooting Two

    Trouble
    Shooting Three

    Trouble
    Shooting Four

    Trouble
    Shooting Five

    Trouble
    Shooting Six


     

     On
    Suspense Fiction Web Site


     

    Net Two













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    To mix metaphors unforgivably, you’ve hit the nail
    on the head as well as a nerve!

    More soon,

    Earl

     







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