Best Thing I Have Read This Week, From Arnold Kling

From Arnold Kling:

My understanding of post-modernism is based pretty much on what I have read from its critics. What is the best defense of post-modernism that is out there?

These brief two sentences embody nearly everything that has been lost and desperately needs to return to public discourse and in particular to universities.  The equivalent bleg from much of current academia is:

Though I have not read anything he has written, someone is apparently dissenting from my views on post-modernism. Can someone please have him run off campus ASAP, or at least provide me with a safe room wherein I have no chance of his opinions reaching my brain?

  • antognini

    I actually took a course in post-modern history back in college. At the beginning of the course, our professor asked us why we were taking it, and most of us (myself included) responded with some variant of "I was curious as to what exactly 'post-modern history' is." At the end of the course, though, I think most of us were still unsure about what exactly it meant. As best I could gather, it was about telling history from unconventional perspectives or in an unconventional style.

    With that said, it was a super interesting course! We read a lot of good papers out of an anthology called "Experiments in Rethinking History." I remember there was a great essay called "The abattoir of the prairie" which was about how in the late 1800s, small farming towns would construct these long fences at right angles to each other and then drive hundreds and hundreds of rabbits to the corner where the fences met and slaughter them. My professor, Robert Rosenstone, wrote a memoir, "Adventures of a Post-Modern Historian". I haven't read it myself, but it has good reviews and I've really enjoyed all of his other writing.

  • cc

    Post-modernism is an ideal refuge if you are a sloppy or crazy academic because you can't be wrong. This is why it is embraced so vigorously. While there is value in alternative ways of looking a say literature or history, this does not justify throwing out logic, careful documentation, etc.