Friday, July 17, 2009

Works cited

I've finally come up with a title for this blog.

Citation, appropriation, and pastiche are the postmodern techniques par excellence, and yet for some reason this seems to go hand in hand with a willful resistance to documentation of any kind. Yesterday I read a review of a book that I respect; the reviewer excoriated the author for being "an appalling writer." The crime? Referring too frequently to her scholarly predecessors and interlocutors! Evidently that's just too boring to be allowed. Heaven forbid that a reader be made to take notice of a heterogeneous intellectual tradition. I've even heard someone complain about an editor noting textual variants in the endnotes. What?

I love citations. They help me do my work, follow up on interests, figure out the terrain. I hate it when books have endnotes but not a comprehensive bibliography. I despise an edition that has no note on the editorial principles. The more apparatus the better.

So here's to works cited in the age of appropriation.


Unknown said...

That seems symptomatic to me; the ethos of bad postmodernism is the conceit that in ironizing/pastiching/appropriating our predecessors, we surpass and transcend them. When we laugh at them to distinguish ourselves from them, appropriation is an aggressive act of differentiation, and to such a mind, the idea of a continuing linkage is at best perverse and at worse a basic threat to the project. But that's why bad postmodernism has a hatred and contempt for history; good postmodernism recognizes -- through the very process of citational care to the texture of social time -- the processs by which history constitutes us as us and how we do so through history.

Which is to say, nice name.

Natalia said...

Thanks, Aaron.

Neil Verma said...

Dang, wish I thought of it first.

Maria said...

nice! also, children, CITE your sources.

Natalia said...

Thanks, Neil and Maria!