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TSE  February 2005

TSE February 2005

Subject:

Re: 'Academia' and "producing junk"

From:

Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Thu, 24 Feb 2005 10:02:53 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (348 lines)

Thanks--that is interesting and amusing.  But can anyone tell me
whatever it is she has said that is supposed to be saying and why it is
so unacceptable?

If it is simply using psychoanalysis on any culture or religion, that is
a pretty standard kind of analysis.  As I object myself to many
conclusions of such study, this has nothing to do with whether I agree
with her.  I doubt I would.  But I do not understand--really--what the
problem is.  Has she said demonstrably false things?
Nancy

>>> [log in to unmask] 02/24/05 7:39 AM >>>
From the UL provided:

In the Annual Convention of the AAR in 2000, Wendy (as she is
affectionately 
known) was felicitated by her fans at a special session in her honor.
She 
has enjoyed building her franchise and sees her own immortality through 
it[vii]. One speaker after another spoke about her great
accomplishments. 
Many persons from the audience joined in -- presumably to ensure their 
tenure, or job, or promotion. Then I raised my hand, and when Wendy 
acknowledged me, I stood up and asked: "Since you have psychoanalyzed 
Hinduism and created a whole new genre of scholarship, do you think it
would 
be a good idea for someone to psychoanalyze you, because an insight into

your subconscious would make your work more interesting and
understandable?"

There was both uneasy tension and laughter in the audience, and she
replied 
that there was nothing new that any psychoanalyst would find about her, 
because she has not hidden anything. I stood up again, and stated that
most 
clients also tell their psychoanalysts that they have nothing hidden in 
their mental basement, but that such clients are precisely the most 
interesting persons to psychoanalyze. She laughed again, took it well,
and 
said, "You got me on this one." I concluded with a remark that I would 
predict that research on her own private psychology would get done in
the 
next several years, and that it would become important some day to 
psychoanalyze many other Western scholars also, since they superimpose
their 
personal and cultural conditioning on their research about other
peoples.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: {SPAM?} Re: 'Academia' and "producing junk"


> Dear Vishvesh,
>
> This does not in any way respond to my point.  Yes, there should be
> responsibility.  Yes, academics can be fools or make mistakes or even
be
> shameful.  I have no idea if any of this applies to Wendy Doniger.
>
> But I "hang my head in shame" at demands that anyone can control what
> others say.  Think and say whatever you like.  Perhaps in your culture
> it is not acceptable to state freely what one thinks.  I don't know
and
> don't judge.  I often judge ideas and often debate them.  In this
> culture, you don't have the prerogative to assert what is right and
what
> others may not think or say.  It does not matter what you think of it.
>
>
> That is academic freedom--the freedom to speak and to debate. 
"Slander"
> is just your view.  Why don't you state what she says is wrong and say
> why?  That would be useful and interesting.
>
> But Wendy Doniger--whatever her views--has  no responsibility to fit
> your view of anything--only to speak what she has come to think true.
> Her responsibility is to research and analysis, but even if her
> conclusions are wrong in your view, your only valid response is to
show
> why, NOT to say she should not say them.  If you can show that her
> research is incomplete or her citations wrong or her conclusions
> misguided, show that.  But you have no right to say she cannot say it.
> Neither you nor those who agree with you have cornered the market on
> trut, let alone the right to speak.
>
> It is true some things are vicious--like racism or sexism or
> anti-semitism or any discrimination or any praise of crime or cruelty.
> But people say them all the time, and one's responsibility is to say
> "No."
> Nancy
>
>>>> [log in to unmask] 02/23/05 11:12 PM >>>
> 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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