Friday, April 08, 2005

From Critical Theory to Theoretical Discourse

Paper Delivered to

The Experience of Theory

University of Göteborg, Sweden, 24-26 September 1993

by Sean Homer

This is the cost of pure warfare; that is, of the pure and empty form, of the hyperreal and eternally dissuasive form of warfare, where for the first time we can congratulate ourselves an the absence of events.

Jean Baudrillard1

No president of Ruritania in the near future will speak to the American ambassador the way that Saddam Hussein spoke to April Glaspie.

Francis Fukuyama2

In his notorious article, 'The Reality Gulf,3 published on the eve of the Gulf war, Baudrillard argued that a war would not take place, furthermore it would not take place due to the inexorable logic of deterrence. By this Baudrillard did not mean that Iraq would be deterred from fighting by the military superiority of the coalition forces; on the contrary, that the US would itself be deterred from prosecuting the war through its own sheer excess of destructive power which would paradoxically act as a counter-deterrent. Like a frightened animal caught in the headlights of an on-rushing juggernaut, the US. administration would be paralysed, mesmerised by the overweening force and scale of its own weapons of mass destruction. In the light of Baudrillard's somewhat perverse logic, Francis Fukuyama's triumphal assessment of the Gulf war and its lessons for any would-be Ruritanian dictator makes sobering reading. Fukuyama sketches a rather different scenario to that of Baudrillard in which the end of the cold war, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the renewed confidence of US military power will now ensure that any potential Third World "aggressors" will think again before challenging Bush's "New World Order". The discrepancy between these two accounts of a single event can not, I believe, be reduced to a mere conflict of interpretations, as is highlighted by Baudrillard's even more startling claim in a subsequent article, published after the cessation of hostilities, that the Gulf war had in fact not taken place.4

What is perhaps most disturbing about Baudrillard's views on the Gulf war is not so much their absurdity - no one on the left or right has the slightest difficulty dismissing them out of hand - but rather that they are, on one level, profoundly true. Not only was debate around the issues of the Gulf war extremely restricted but the war itself was felt to impinge so little upon our own daily lives in Western Europe that it was seen as primarily a media event, of which the strategic site, according to Baudrillard, is the television screen, from which we are daily bombarded. With the cessation of hostilities came the cessation of media and public interest. Very few people now wished to continue the discussion of national sovereignty and individual rights, the issue of the Palestinians and Bedoun Arabs, or the emergence of the increasingly elusive free and democratic Kuwait. Within weeks of the ending of the Gulf war it would appear that it had, indeed, never taken place.

I do not intend to rehearse once more the issues concerning that appalling conflict but to reflect upon a situation in which probably the most prominent, certainly the most fashionable, theoretician of the Postmodern can formulate such a thesis; and in which that thesis no longer seems to scandalise us. Indeed, it appears to have left as little trace as the Gulf war itself. If such complacent ideas, such as those now proffered by Baudrillard, can gain such wide currency then it is time to ask: what are we doing with theory?

What is at the root of my concern is the lack of reflexivity of much contemporary theoretical discourse. I had always understood "theory" or "theoretical discourse" to be a critical practice. But within certain strains of post-structuralism, particularly the ascendant discourse of postmodernism the whole notion of "critique" has been bracketed, it has become an out moded concept. Critique has been replaced by, what Baudrillard calls, "theoretical violence," or, the endless disruption and reversal of symbolic codes and an incessant play on language. In his influential essay `Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism'5 the American critic and theoretician Fredric Jameson identifies one of the principal features of postmodernism as its "depthlessness". Postmodernism, Jameson argues, confront us with a whole new spatial logic whereby notions of depth have been replaced by new conceptions of surface, or multiple surfaces. Consequently many of our most cherished and time-honoured radical conceptions, about the nature of cultural politics such as negativity, opposition, critique and reflexivity - which rest upon spatial presuppositions - are no longer appropriate to the moment of postmodernism.6 In other words, the possibility of achieving some form of "critical distance" is no longer an option. From both a political and a theoretical perspective I find this abandonment of the site of critique, or, critical space a disturbing and unsatisfactory phenomenon. Taking Baudrillard's work, as perhaps the most extreme terminus of this particular theoretical trajectory I shall briefly trace the eclipse of the concept of critique through his work, before questioning some of the axioms, or doxa, on which current theory rest and suggesting a number of alternative resources.

The waning of the critical impulse within theory is closely associated with the critique of representation and the referentiality of language. The basic premise behind the logic of representation is that there exists a relationship between a word and an object in which the former stands in some way for the latter. There is, to use Baudrillard's phrase, a logic of equivalence between the signifier and the referent. As is well known, Saussurean linguistics decoupled this dualism by insisting on the arbitrary nature of the relationship and on the need to bracket off the referent. A given signifier does not signify a specific phenomenon but rather the concept or image of that phenomenon. Signs, therefore, do not function according to a logic of equivalence but through a differential logic within the total economy of signs.

Baudrillard's critique of Saussurean linguistics and of the structuralist theory that developed from it was that they posited a separation between the sign and the real, whereby the former functions as the form and the latter as the content. For Baudrillard this separation of form and content is nothing but a metaphysical illusion or fiction. However it is a fiction that has important ideological implications. In his 1972 work 'For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign',7 Baudrillard argues that the economy of the sign, or semiology, is homologous with classical political economy: 'sign value is to symbolic exchange' writes Baudrillard 'what exchange value is to use value'.8 More precisely Baudrillard identifies the economic distinction between exchange value and use value with the constituent elements of the sign itself, the signifies and the signified respectively. Baudrillard's early work, particularly 'The System of Objects' and 'Consumer Society',9 advanced a critique of the distinction between exchange value and use value based on its latent anthropological conception of "need". Essentially Baudrillard argues that any critique of political economy which retains this classical dichotomy will implicitly rest on a conception of human need as its ultimate ground or "alibi". However, such a conception of need is no longer appropriate for our understanding of contemporary consumer society, or an order of discourse in which the subject as an autonomous self-centred ego has been dissolved. According to Baudrillard, consumption - as it is understood in "consumer societies" - is nothing to do with the satisfaction of needs but is rather an 'active mode of relations ... a systematic mode of activity and a global response on which our whole cultural system is founded’.10 In other words, the objects of consumption are not material goods but rather "signs". Consumption, writes Baudrillard, in so far as it is meaningful is a systematic act of the manipulation of signs’.11 The transformation of the object into the systematic status of signs entails a correlative transformation in human relations and it is this new relation, suggests Baudrillard, that is the relation of consumption. In this sense, the system of consumption functions "like" a language. Baudrillard, therefore, argues that the only way to move beyond a political economy which is grounded in need and to understand the commodity structure of consumer society is to see that use value no longer corresponds to human need, indeed there is no longer use-value as such, just exchange value.

Extending his analysis of consumer society to the "political economy of the sign" Baudrillard argues that any economy of the sign that retains the signifier/signified dualism will smuggle back in the referent as its ground or meaning. For Baudrillard, Saussure's bracketing of the referent did not so much solve the problem of equivalence as simply displace it. In other words, the same logic, or strategy of concealment, applies to both political economy and the economy of the sign:

[T]he double aspect of the commodity (UV/EV) in fact conceals a formal homogeneity in which use value, regulated by the system of exchange value, confers on the latter its "naturalist" guarantee. And the double face of the sign (Sr/Sd generalizable into Sr/Sd-Rft) obscures a formal homogeneity in which Sd and Rft (administered by the same logical form, which is none other than that of Sr), serve together as the reference-alibi - precisely the guarantee of "substance" for the Sr.12

Following Lacan, Baudrillard insists that the arbitrariness of the sign does not reside in the relationship between the signifier and the referent but within the sign itself between the signifier and the signified; on one hand, we have the signifier as form, and on the other the signified as the thought content and the referent as reality content. Just as Baudrillard came to see use value as merely a projection of exchange value, he (and here he goes one step further than Lacan, who had sought to retain some space and role for the subject which was not wholly determined by language) now argues that the referent is no more external to the sign than is the signified, both are internal to it, the referent is a projection of the sign itself. That is to say, there is no reality just the reality effect, the "world" that the sign "evokes" is nothing but the effect sign, its signified/referent. Thus Baudrillard avoids the metaphysical illusion of a separation between the sign and the real as the real in-itself does not exist as an independent concrete-reality but only as 'the extrapolation of the excision ... established by the logic of the sign onto the world of things'.13

Baudrillard's critique of political economy and the economy of the sign paths the way for him to map a full historical periodization, or, odyssey of the sign, and to formulate a new theory of "symbolic exchange". Baudrillard posits three orders of representation: the counterfeit, the productive, and the simulation, each governed by its own specific law of value.14 The first order demarcates the period from the Renaissance to the industrial era and is governed by a natural law of value. The second order designates the industrial epoch which is governed by the commodity law of value. The final order is the present phase of late capitalism or consumer society which is governed by a structural law of value:

Today, the entire system is fluctuating in indeterminacy, all of reality absorbed by the hyperreality of the code and of simulation. It is now a principle of simulation, and not reality, that regulates social life.15

For Baudrillard, the logic of the sign remains essentially one of equivalence, even when one acknowledges that a given signifier may refer to many signifieds this essential structure remains untouched, 'the equivalence has simply transmuted into polyvalence'.16 Therefore, against what Baudrillard calls the determinacy of the sign he opposes the indeterminacy of the code and of symbolic exchange. Although the exact nature of the code is never clearly defined, the symbolic designates the realm of ambivalence beyond the structural determinacy of the sign, there is no symbolic value as such, just symbolic exchange, that is, the symbolic is the realm beyond all value. What Baudrillard calls the structural "law" of value is in effect the structural "play" of each indeterminate code in relation to all the other indeterminate codes. This realm beyond the commodity structure of value is essentially a realm in which no normative statements can be made and all value is contingent and relativized.

The concept of critique is bound up with the second order of representation - that is, the order of the sign and the commodity law of value - it emerged in the West, writes Baudrillard, 'at the same time as political economy and, as the quintessence of Enlightenment rationality'.17 The whole notion of critique therefore is inextricably entwined with what Paul Ricoeur calls, in Freud and Philosophy,18 the hermeneutics of suspicion, that is they presuppose that there is something latent, something hidden which can be retrieved or demystified. Thus critique depends on the separation between the sign and the real, in the discrepancy that exists between our representations of the real and the real itself, which Baudrillard has laboured to dissolve. Critique presupposes not merely a metaphor of depth but also an assumption that one can maintain a critical distance, that one can be outside or have a particular self-conscious reflective position with respect to the discourse one is analysing. Whereas today, according to Baudrillard, we live in a hyperreal world of fluctuating and aleatory codes, of simulacra and simulations, of floating signifiers which are indeterminate non-referential and unconscious. The concept of critique, along with such other redundant notions as: rationality, referentiality, functionality, historical consciousness and all their metaphysical baggage of equivalence and depth have no place in this volatized, depthless, world of hyperreality.

With the loss of critical distance the radical theorist is faced with a profound dilemma: how can one now formulate an oppositional discourse? Baudrillard's solution to this dilemma is hardly in keeping with his own hyperbole. Observing consumer society's capacity to absorb and co-opt all strategies of resistance Baudrillard argues that critique itself serves to legitimate its antipathetic discourse. Thus, all critique can be said to ratify the dominant discourse by the very act of opposing it, therefore it must be seen as not only counter-productive but a strategy of the dominant discourse itself. Baudrillard's "radical" solution to this dilemma is to insist that the only escape from the inexorable logic of symbolic indeterminacy is death! Short of a nihilistic program of mass suicide however, Baudrillard advocates a strategy, if one may call it such, of silent and passive resistance:

I would no longer interpret in the same way the forced silence of the masses in the mass media. I would no longer see it as a sign of passivity and of alienation, but to the contrary an original strategy, an original response in the form of a challenge; and on the basis of this reversal I suggest to you a vision of things which is no longer optimistic or pessimistic, but ironic and antagonistic.19

Baudrillard sees the radicalism of this strategy in his 'strong, symbolic and primitive' understanding of the term "response". According to Baudrillard, `power belongs to him who gives and to whom no return can be made'.20 The only way to challenge the dominance of the symbolic is to refuse to play the game, to break the symbolic exchange by not participating in it, to give without the expectation of return.

However, there are a number of problems with Baudrillard's notion of symbolic exchange, not least his tendency to hypostasize the "principle" of simulation. Can one, for instance, distinguish between the 'the masses in the mass media' and the masses of subjects in any given social formation, Baudrillard's theory would suggest not, as there can be no independent reality separate from the symbolic. If this is the case, Baudrillard's strategy of silent and passive non-responsiveness, of ironic disavowal, may well be a comfortable option for the strong and empowered but is hardly a radical solution for the weak and disenfranchised. Leaving to one side the reflection that any power structure, and not just the present one, would whole heartedly welcome the silent, passive resistance of the majority of its subjects, Baudrillard's notion of resistance assumes that if individuals opt out of the system that some how it would break down and cease to function. After all "exchange" can only take place when it is reciprocated. But if the real itself is nothing more than a projection of the symbolic, where is that reciprocation, let alone resistance, to come from, how can subjects respond in a way that is not determined by the symbolic unless they can exert some independence and distance from it. It is the very irreducibility of the real to the symbolic that allows, for example, with Lacan's conception of desire or Althusser's conception of ideology, for the relative-autonomy of a de-centred subject and the possibility of an intervention in the symbolic. Against Baudrillard, I shall argue that we should resist the temptation to conflate distinct levels of abstraction and signification.

The persuasive quality of Baudrillard's work and certainly of his earlier work lies in its descriptive capacity. That is to say, it is seen to provide a good, if somewhat unsubstantiated, description of a subject's lived experience within an advanced capitalist or consumer society. Baudrillard's world of ubiquitous information technology - the technology of reproduction and proliferation rather than of production - approximates well to the situation of Western Europe and the US throughout the 1980s. However, it remains descriptive and once it is universalised beyond its own specific historical and cultural situation it becomes one more totalizing concept, erasing difference and collapsing distinctions.

Postmodernism's celebration of irony, contingency and play, coupled with literary theory's widespread use as a paradigm discourse, or model of theoretical practice, would appear to have resulted in some the more absurd claims that theory now proffers. One can understand how literary theory has achieved its pre-eminent position within theoretical practice: our raw material is after all language and texts, through which all other disciplines are necessarily mediated. At the same time literature by definition does not "hook up" to reality in any common-sense way but undergoes complex mediations between language and reality. However, when we begin to extrapolate from the insights of literary studies we confront a number of epistemological and philosophical questions which the majority of us do not have the intellectual training or background to address. To say that the unconscious is structured like a language is not the same as saying that the unconscious "is" a language, or to say that one can read our social world like a text is not same as saying that it "is" a text. As Fredric Jameson argues, in The Political Unconscious,21 the real may be only accessible through its prior (re)textualizations but this is not the same as saying that the real is itself a text. For Baudrillard to suggest that a semiotic model is the most adequate for understanding the dynamics of consumer society is a proposition of a different order from declaring the real is now constituted by the symbolic. The reduction of the real to the symbolic is simply to confuse questions of ontology with questions of epistemology, to commit what Roy Bhasker has called the "epistemic fallacy" that is, the reduction of being to knowing.22 Bhasker further defines the displacement of this fallacy to language or discourse as the" linguistic fallacy". It is true therefore that we can never know what "actually" happened in the Gulf war in an immediate, unmediated sense, but it is an utter fallacy to suggest that the Gulf war did not take place as a particular series of events except insofar as we retextualized those events. One does not have to subscribe to naive realism to posit an independent reality, indeed 'all philosophies, cognitive discourses and practical activities presuppose a realism - in the sense of some ontology or general account of the world’.23

According to Bhasker, experimental activity 'entails the possibility of a "non-human world" which operates and continues to operate even when it remains unknown, unperceived and undetected by human beings. In other words, there will always be questions of being which 'cannot be reduced to or analysed in terms of statements about knowledge,' or, ontological matters which cannot be transposed into epistemological terms.24 We need to respect the specificity of both the epistemological and ontological dimensions and not, as with many postmodernists, conflate or slide between the two. In fact, Baudrillard does not actually deny that real events take place, that the Gulf war did actually happen and was not entirely a media simulation. Furthermore, Baudrillard appears to concede that there is a more prosaic and quotidian reality behind his hyperreal world of simulation:

[All] this does not mean that the domestic universe - the home, its objects, etc. - is not still lived largely in a traditional way - social, psychological, differential etc.25

Baudrillard thinks, however, that this is no longer where the stakes lie and therefore is working at a different level of abstraction and signification. But in failing to define his ontology, it is Baudrillard, along with most other postmodernists, who are committed to a naive realism.

The tendency to conflate all discourses and homogenise all texts is pervasive within postmodern theory and not least in the relationship between post-structuralism and postmodernism. These two discourses have become synonymous with each other, but we should be wary of an over-hasty assimilation of the two. Post-structuralism loosely refers to a set of practices concerned with the analysis of discourse and texts, whereas postmodernism designates an object of study. Furthermore, postmodernism as a cultural phenomenon explicitly supplants the very tradition to which post-structuralism remains wedded, that is to say Modernism. The authors that recur in post-structuralist textual readings are not Thomas Pynchon or Angela Carter, but Joyce, Kafka and Mallarme. Even Barthesian "jouissance" is essentially a Modernist aesthetic. Barthes insists that there can be no bliss in mass culture, which he describes as a 'bastard form', a 'humiliated repetition’; strictures which we might more readily associate with the mandarins of the Frankfurt School than the self-indulgence of much postmodernism. Theorists such as Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson argue that "theory" is itself a postmodern phenomenon, particularly in its present volatized, free-floating and indeterminate state. Much theory can be seen to feed off itself in an increasingly self-referential circuit of exchange, but this presents a rather partial reading of theory. Christopher Norris has argued for a number of years that for every textualist reading of Derrida there is a more conventional philosophical reading. Norris concedes that Derrida's own work invites a textualist misreading through its overly "inscriptionalist idiom" but argues that deconstruction is more than simply sophistical wordplay. According to Norris, Derrida's project is essentially a continuation of modernism, and his preoccupation with epistemological issues of truth, reality and representation, as well as ethical concerns, places him firmly in the enlightenment tradition. Derrida may question the values and metaphysical presuppositions of that tradition but he does not simply do away with them. I am not trying to suggest that there is no common ground between these two discourses and some fruitful areas of interaction: rather that we should not be too quick to conflate distinct discourses, thus eradicating "real" differences.

An emancipatory strategy assumes that there is a subject in whose name emancipation is taking place. But as we have already seen, within Baudrillard's world of hyperreality this space does not exit. Similarly the critique of value presupposes an alternative value system against which the original is being judged, as Kate Soper writes:

I would want to argue that the very reasoning that allows us to appreciate the attractions and importance of discourse theory and deconstruction is such as to commit the reasoner to defending certain values.26

Baudrillard's attempt to move beyond value is little more than that old liberal strategy of refusing to name one's own discourse, it was after all one of the earliest lesson's of literary theory that we can not make value-free judgements. The persistent hymning to heterogeneity, indeterminacy and chance is not so much a value-free realm as an alternative set of values that need in turn to be scrutinised. In a society that depends upon the levelling of all value and the fragmentation of our lived experience, is the celebration of such qualities a radical gesture or simply a programmed response? Such claims will rightly be charged with being reductive but I would suggest it is no more reductive than the universalising claims of postmodernism. What is required is a more dialectical approach towards theory, one in which we grasp it as potentially both progressive and regressive. In other words we reject the totalizing and homogenising aspects of postmodern theory in favour of a pluralist theory which is historically and situationally specific. From such a perspective the assertion of marginality and heteroglossia would be seen as a progressive gesture in relation to a hierarchical and univocal discourse. However, to assert the absolute indeterminacy of meaning and our inability to make any claims to the veracity of a given discourse can be profoundly reactionary. Similarly, the critique of value represents a radical response to the canonisation of an exclusive "great tradition" but there is nothing progressive in a critique that means we can no longer make evaluative judgements on the intrinsic merit of texts.

The kind of theoretical response I am advocating may become a little clearer if we return to the example of the Gulf war. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities a concerted propaganda campaign marginalized all oppositional voices to the war. A radical challenge to this monological discourse would take the form of a reassertion of those disparate and silenced voices, foregrounding what is absent from the discourse, its discrepancies and contradictions. However, once the war was underway the authoritative discourse relied on just such an indeterminacy of the symbolic codes in order to forestall any further public opposition. We were bombarded with images of smart bombs entering ventilation shafts; but at the same time asked to believe that the same technology could not see hundreds of women and children entering a mosque every night. In such a situation to claim that we can simply never know the truth behind such representations is cynically and complacently to acquiesce with the dominant structures of power. No radical critique can celebrate the indeterminacy of such images without highlighting the discrepancy between official rhetoric and the images that appear on our screens. It is the facts of the war, its reality, the incineration of over 25,000 fleeing conscripts, prisoners and refugees on the Basra road, or the burying alive of Iraqi soldiers in their trenches, that is politically explosive, that presents a challenge to our conception of a surgically clean war without casualties. As Edward Said observed, the whole notion of "surgical" strikes implies that the war was some how good for the Iraqis, that the coalition was cutting out some kind of cancerous growth within their midst. It is in other words within that separation of appearance and reality, the separation of the symbolic and the real which contrary to Baudrillard, was so marked and pronounced during the Gulf war that theory finds its progressive role.

I should like to conclude with some remarks by E.P. Thompson, emerging from that period of reaction in the 1950s Thompson reflects on the slide from disenchantment through quietism to reaction:

Disenchantment ceases to be a recoil of the responsible in the face of difficult social experience; it becomes an abdication of intellectual responsibility in the face of all social experience. And, ... the withdrawal or despair of the disenchanted was twisted - often by lesser men - into an apologia for complicity with reaction.27

Having yet to emerge from that more recent decade of reaction, the 1980s, I would suggest that it is high time we restored the "critical" aspect of theory.


1 Baudrillard, J., 'Fatal Strategies', in Selected Writings Poster, M., (ed.), (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1984) p. 191.

2 Fukuyama, F., `Changed Days for Ruritania's Dictator', in The Guardian (8.4.91).

3 Baudrillard, J., `The Reality Gulf', in The Guardian (11.1.91).

4 See Baudrillard, J., `The Gulf War Has Not Taken Place', in Norris, C., Postmodernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War (London: Lawrence and Wishart), pp. 192-6.

5 Jameson, F., `Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism', in New Left Review, no. 146 (July/August, 1984). Reprinted in a slightly revised form as ch. 1 of Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991).

6 Ibid., p. 48.

7 Baudrillard, J., `For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign', in Selected Writings, pp. 57-97.

8 Ibid., p. 60.

9 See Baudrillard, J., Selected Writings, chapters 1 & 2.

10 Baudrillard, J., `The System of Objects', in Selected Writings, p. 21.

11 Ibid., p. 22.

12 Baudrillard, `For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign', p. 87.

13 Ibid., p. 87.

14 Similar schema have been sketched by Foucault, M., The Order of Things (London: Routledge, 1989), Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F., Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia vol. 1 (London: Athlone Press, 1984), Jameson, F., Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991).

15 Baudrillard, J., `Symbolic Exchange and Death', in Selected Writings, p. 120.

16 Baudrillard, J., `For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign', p. 82

17 Baudrillard, J., `The Mirror of Production', in Selected Writings, p. 116.

18 Ricoeur, P., Freud and Philosophy: An Essay in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970).

19 Baudrillard, J., `The Masses', in Selected Writings, p. 208.

20 Ibid., p. 208.

21 Jameson, F., The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (London: Routledge, 1981).

22 Bhasker, R., Reclaiming Reality: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy (London: Verso, 1989).

23 Ibid., p. 2.

24 Ibid., p. 17.

25 Baudrillard, J., `The Ecstasy of Communication', in Foster, H. (ed.) Postmodern Culture (Cambridge: Pluto Press, 1985), p. 133, n. 4.

26 Soper, K., `Postmodernism, Subjectivity and the Question of Value', in New Left Review, no. 186 (March/April, 1991), pp. 123-4.

27 Thompson, E.P., `Outside the Whale', in The Poverty of Theory (London: Merlin Press, 1979), p. 214


At 5:52 AM, Blogger "What Comes Naturally" said...

Hi Sean,
I was googling for references to the conference "The Experience of Theory" and found your paper. My reason for searching in this direction is that I have come across a performance theorist and practitioner whose theory-practice reminds me of the amalgamation of theory and experience that I remember as a leading idea in my own engagement as a scholar at that time. I'd be glad to know what you are doing these days. Myself, I'm a high-school teacher of English and Philosophy. My theory-engagement this time, however, stems more from an interest I have in opera singing (I'm doing the tenor parts in a local choir) and the development of that genre.
All the best
David Dickson


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