[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

Brian Holmes bhcontinentaldrift at gmail.com
Wed Jul 13 03:05:00 UTC 2011

Geert Lovink wrote:

 >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'

Davin Heckman wrote:

>   I wonder if "culture" can survive
> without being cultivated and supported by the general public that it
> exists to connect.

I agree with both of you. The thing is, in most capitalist societies 
outside maybe a few European cities, only the university can concentrate 
a deep knowledge of the past and widely explore the present through 
interpretation and experiment. But today the university is dominated by 
student processing and professional research programs. It can't deliver 
on the cultural desire that some still invest in it, and in the 
meantime, the very sources of that desire tend to disappear, swallowed 
up by the imperatives of profit and the seductions of pleasure. 
Obviously this has huge political consequences as critique and radical 
invention become mainly just fuel for careers within the norms.

The only solution I can see (and Geert has been doing this for some 
time) is to create forms of deinstitutionalized cultural production, at 
once public and subversive, in a collaborative-parasitic-antagonistic 
relationship to the academy where so much brains and resources and 
insights are still concentrated (and neutralized). The step outside the 
academy is something intellectuals and artists have always had to do if 
they want to be critical and utopian, and though it makes it difficult 
to earn six figures or even five sometimes, that's the breaks. The real 
problem is to generate results that are rigorous and cutting edge, but 
also socially alive and sharable, meaningful and provocative outside 
professional bounds. Culture definitely can't survive without that 
connection and it's clearly threatened! Lots of academics know it and 
they are looking for ways to collaborate outside the hallowed halls.

Examples of how culture and the arts become alive in society, with and 
beyond the tech entailed, might be the most important thing this list 
could offer.

best, Brian

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