[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Tue Jul 12 17:51:53 UTC 2011


I agree with this to a point.  I think it is time to build alternative
channels and institutions to do what was once called "humanities"

However, if you look at much of the critical work being done outside
of the old institutional channels (or within new or alternative
channels, like this one), there is a tendency for such work to take
place within close proximity to the university.  As someone who does
not want to be an engineer or programmer, I find that being even
loosely related with academic institutions brings access to libraries,
technologies, expertise and colleagues that I couldn't if I were
working at the Walmart (which is increasingly the cultural heart, and
the DISH network the cultural brain, of many small towns across the
country).  Having an academic job, even with a 4/4 teaching load,
means that I also am required to think about these things as much as I
am able to.  Many of the features we have come to associate with a
high "quality of life" (coffee, good beer, books, nightlife, good
food, local music, cosmopolitanism, permissive atmosphere, and other
marks of neoliberal gentrification) have been pioneered (particularly
within the midwest USA) by the "college towns" (it should be noted
that there are exceptions to the "college connection" in some of the
bigger cities, especially cities with strong public institutions and
public services).  My guess is that these "quality of life" issues are
less dependent on universities in social democracies, where the state
itself cares about its citizens, and where even working people are
encouraged to experience pleasure without shame (though, as you
indicate, this too is changing).

It is interesting that the general sort of cultural atmosphere that
has bubbled up in the US around colleges and universities, with its
strong roots in the humanities, has come to be synonymous with
neoliberalism, and the financial benefits of such "development" have
come to overshadow the immense amounts of cultural work and social
interaction required to make life enjoyable.  Richard Florida has
built his career on interpreting human creativity and social desire
through the lens of technique.  I wonder if "culture" can survive
without being cultivated and supported by the general public that it
exists to connect.

I agree, it is a good idea to figure out other ways to provide for the
cultivation implicit in culture.  It hasn't always been the University
that has done this.  It once was done by the Church.  In other times,
it came down to individual patrons.  I like the idea that the
responsibility for culture should be shared, and the fruits of this
shared responsibility, should, in turn, be shared.  But how?


On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 11:54 AM, Geert Lovink <geert at xs4all.nl> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I would say that the future of culture and arts in not lying in
> academia (understood as a place for research and not for vocational
> training). This would artifically overvalue the importance of academic
> work. Cuture and the arts have to be alive in society and can be
> supported with research from  the university level but should never
> depend on them in any way. Let alone that they should depend on the
> 'science system' (STEM). It always struck as a particular weak
> proposition to argue for 'arts and science' collaborations in order to
> save artists etc. This makes the arts subsidient and puts it in a weak
> position. Just look at for the submissive STEAM ideas, which in the
> end downgrade writers, artists, musicians, designers etc. to servants,
> obedient to Science (because they have to support these programs, they
> are not invited to come up with a radical critique, let alone work on
> their own projects). Instead of creating a temporary solution for a
> handful of subservient artists that have to pretend they are
> scientists (write papers etc.) imho it would be much work together on
> alternatives for the entire sector. You can think of alternative
> revenue models outside of the intellectual property right regimes. It
> would be foolish to somehow suggest that in some countries artists can
> still become lifelong civil servants of the state. It is nice to
> accuse Europeans of such 'socialism' but such solutions (and
> illusions) have not existed anymore for decades and maybe everyone has
> already heard enough by now about the radical cuts in the arts and
> culture budgets in the Netherlands. The neo-liberal regime is now in
> place across the board. It is time to develop common visions that
> benefit all!
> Greetings, Geert
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> iDC Photo Stream:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
> RSS feed:
> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
> iDC Chat on Facebook:
> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref

More information about the iDC mailing list