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TSE  February 2005

TSE February 2005

Subject:

Re: 'Academia' and "producing junk"

From:

Vishvesh Obla <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Wed, 23 Feb 2005 20:12:15 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (251 lines)

Dear Nancy,

The issue is much complex than just expressing
anything in the name of academic freedom.  

Well, accepting the fact that one can express oneself
'freely', I think it is still a responsibility of the
writer to defend himself/herself and to substantiate
his/her position when being questioned.  That too when
the writer is from the academia. You cannot write a
thesis relating a limp phallus to an organ of a God
revered by millions, or imply oedipal motives between
Gods without inviting the wrath of a group of people
and then obscure the whole issue by its political
repercussions.    Freedom of speech is associated with
responsibility and if the academia doesn’t realize it,
who else would ? If you can open the first URL I made
a note of and read it, you can understand that she
doesn’t even have a basic understanding of Hindu
mythology, but still she and her cohorts could write
books that contain nothing but slander !  I hold my
head in shame when friends of mine ask me if that is
what I too learned in the studies of humanities that I
pursued.

I will make a note again that I am talking here in the
context of the ‘academia’.  If  a Salman Rushdie can
write a blistering comment on Islam, it is one thing. 
 What we gain by reading a writer as him is not my
concern here.  For that matter, there are thousands of
writers in India itself who can write the worst things
about Hindu Religion and its mythology.  But when an
academic as Wendy Doniger or her Doctoral cronies
write the same,  it is a shame for the entire
academia.  

--- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Dear Vishvesh,
> 
> First,  I cannot access your URLs.  I tried one and
> went to a site that
> not only required membership and a password (which
> of course I do not
> have) but locked up my screen totally.  So I do not
> know what Wendy
> Doniger said.
> 
> BUT--second--in principle and in fact--it does not
> matter.  She
> absolutely does have a right to say whatever she
> likes, both by academic
> freedom and by the first amendment.  If it is wrong
> or stupid or
> ignorant, others have the right and responsibility
> to show why and argue
> against it.  Even the arrogant stupidities of
> Lawrence Summers are not
> forbidden, just stupid and arrogant.  (yes, yes, he
> was being
> provocative and academic, etc., but we all know that
> it was once
> "knowledge" that too much reading would shrivel a
> woman's womb and that
> exercise would ruin them--so much for Virginia Woolf
> or Madame Curie or
> Ada Lovelace or Mary Wollstonecraft or the women now
> presidents of
> universities and so much for all those women Olympic
> athletes; just
> amazing how they do it.)  So Doniger may be as
> ignorant and wrong on
> Indian culture as Summers is on women's ability at
> science. (Amazing
> also how the known fact the women do better on tests
> of verbal ability
> never stopped Shakespeare or Eliot or any male
> writer, and no one says
> they shouldn't get tenure in fields requiring verbal
> skill.) So write a
> rebuttal.  Show how wrong she is.  Say whatever you
> like. But you are
> not a self-appointed authority on what she can say
> and have no right to
> decide whether she can say it.  NONE.
> 
> It is not part of academic work to prevent ideas in
> advance and it is no
> one's right to shut anyone down in advance. 
> Her "belief" that she can say anything in the name
> of academic freedom
> is precisely true--and in the name of American
> Constitutional rights. 
> You can do the same.  
> 
> No one in this country has the right of prior
> restraint on intellectual
> debate--not even if they think they know better. 
> And despite current
> attempts, it is still no one's right to impose any
> view of religion as
> beyond discussion.
> Nancy
> 
> >>> [log in to unmask] 02/23/05 8:00 PM >>>
> Dear Nancy,
> 
> I have myself made a few postings earlier on the
> issue
> with Ms.Wendy Doniger.  
> 
> Ms.Wendy Doniger is a self-appointed authority of
> Indian culture who believes she can say anything in
> the name of academic freedom.  She and her cohorts
> have been producing junk after junk on Indian
> mythology and Culture.    
> 
> I will give you two URLs and you judge yourself:
> 
>
http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/articledesc.asp?cid=307042
> 
>
http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=239156
> 
> - vishvesh
> 
> PS : As I made a note in another posting, my beef
> here
> is with the academia as related with that quote.
> 
> 
> --- Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > Why?  Do you think he was both jolly and idiotic? 
> > And why is Eliot's
> > view relevant here?  As I read the little that is
> in
> > these URLs (and it
> > is not a whole story unless my computer did not
> > access the original for
> > some reason), there is not a simple issue here. 
> Can
> > someone tell
> > exactly what Wendy Doniger said and why it is
> > somehow comic?  Rick?
> > 
> > Also, the "assessment" of academic work is always
> an
> > academic project. 
> > Anyone can read and comment and think what they
> like
> > (as "anyone" did
> > with Julius and Seymore-Jones), but it requires
> > scholarly expertise to
> > evaluate another's scholarship.
> > 
> > No one doubts this in other fields.  Patients may
> > have views of any one
> > doctor, but it really takes a specialist in brain
> > surgery to know if
> > another  one is qualified.  "Anyone" may have
> views
> > on the privatization
> > of social security, but unless they know what
> > economists can document on
> > the data and financial impact, they cannot really
> > "assess" its long-term
> > impact.  We all drive cars, but whether they are
> > really safe in their
> > design takes engineering knowledge. This dismissal
> > of knowledge is
> > simply anti-intellectual and silly.
> > 
> > Why this absurd mockery of the need for
> scholarship
> > in evaluating
> > scholarship?  It's standard.
> > Nancy
> > 
> > 
> > >>> [log in to unmask] 02/23/05 5:19 PM >>>
> > I suspect he would be killing himself laughing.
> > Cheers,
> > Peter
> > 
> > Vishvesh Obla wrote:
> > 
> > >"The place to assess her work (Wendy Doniger) is
> in
> > >the academy, not polemical billboards or Web
> > pages."
> > >
> >
>
>(http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0502/issue/letters-counterpoint.shtml)
> > >
> > >
> > >That was a statement that caught my attention on
> > the
> > >letters section of the Febraury edition (Vol 97) 
> > of
> > >the University of Chicago
> >
>
>website(http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0502/issue/letters.shtml)
> > >
> > >I don't want to go deep into the related details
> > (the
> > >URL has enough details), but I am concerned if
> that
> > >statement has a very tragic paradox implied in
> it. 
> > >Can 'Academy' be only an isolated organization
> > >promoting intelligence only to the few related to
> > it ?
> > > Or is it that the 'Academy' has become so
> > >sophisticated that no one other than it can make
> > any
> > >sense of it ?  Either way, as related to a
> > statement
> > >as that, despite what goes before it, seems to me
> > only
> > >to imply a malady of our modern education.  
> > >
> > >I remember Eliot too making a note of this issue
> > about
> > >criticism being practiced in his times mostly by
> > >university professors (Frontiers of Criticism?). 
> 
> > I
> > >remember him making a note that he wasn't much
> > worried
> > >about it though.  I would only wonder if he would
> > have
> > >similarly felt so had he lived in our times ! 
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >		
> > >__________________________________ 
> > >Do you Yahoo!? 
> > >Yahoo! Sports - Sign up for Fantasy Baseball. 
> 
=== message truncated ===


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