Just one more poke at bad theory (sorry Larry)

A short while ago, as is generally the case, I was delighted and provoked to thinking by Michael Drout’s Wormtalk and Slugspeak, where he has posted not just arguing with a piece of theoretical jargon, but getting something useful for methodology out of it. Do go read. There is a bigger question I should be pondering in his strategy of elucidating thinking by extending metaphors to breaking point, which is how far does trying to understand something by likening it to something that it is not help, rather than distract or mislead, but I confess that my immediate reaction was something much more joyfully irrelevant. But I can’t post it there because his blog only allows comments from inside Blogger, and you’ll have spotted I’m on WordPress. If he can enable OpenID-authenticated comments, posts like this need never happen again :-)

Anyway. He has a brief swipe at the term “imbricated discourses”, which I had thankfully never encountered but which implies overlapping tiles of thought, like shingles (except hopefully less uncomfortable). He doesn’t think this term tells us anything, and I would be inclined to agree, and had the following comment written before I remembered I couldn’t post it:

`Imbricated discourse’ to my mind fails much earlier than that, as it implies that one piece of theory is not just overlapping another but obscuring it, so that in order to actually grasp what was in play you’d have to dismantle your roof. Hmm, and then the theorists would get wet, whereas as long as no-one does dismantle the roof to actually see what it’s made of they’re watertight…

Nah, I take it back, it works fine > :-)

3 responses to “Just one more poke at bad theory (sorry Larry)

  1. Watertight unless it has holes in it, so it leaks. And then you might have to dismantle the roof anyway to clean up the mess.

    Yes, it works pretty well, actually.

  2. No need to apologize. I have no problems with valid criticisms expressed in a thoughtful and professional manner. My concern was the level of rancor and heated exchanges that serve only to poison the well. Plenty of room for good discussions.

  3. Pingback: For whom does ‘theory’ work, and for how long? | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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