Friday, August 31, 2007

Theory-laden activities

I was reading through the special issue of Classical Philology devoted to ekphrasis (ok, I'm a big geek), and came across a mention in passing to Michael Baxandall saying that "seeing is a theory-laden activity." Yikes! This right after seeing Philip Nikolayev's poll over on the Fulcrum Fanclub discussion board:

"Do you believe in the theory that the poetic forms (the rhymed sonnet, the disjunctive fragment, etc.) are inherently political (either reactionary or progressive, depending on the form)?"

My answer there was simply, "No." But for some reason the question enters, to my mind, the same territory as Baxandal's assertion. If everything is theory- or politics-laden, who is doing the seeing, and who the devising of all that theory and politics? I'm sorry that this sounds so stupid, as it must, in fact. There have always been alchemists, squarers of circles, reducers of the absurdio and lawyers of the excluded middle, and always will be. Bless them all, but watch out for the inherent before it eats up our inheritance!

No comments: