anti is ok (getting to 'why')

Eric Crump (wleric@SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU)
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 15:12:38 -0500




why anti-?

and why is Calvinball exactly what we're after?

Maybe I should start with why and get to why anti- Why attempt a web-based
venue for collecting narratives about individual writing processes?

Well, speaking for myself, it's worth doing because we can. This is a much
maligned stance within the academy, a common basis, in fact, for urging
caution in pursuing and incorporating/being-incorporated-by new technologies.
"We shouldn't do things just because we can!" How many times have we heard
that often-unelaborated claim? Reflex leaping-without-looking is the kind of
foolish thing foolish explorers do. It means accepting and even courting
mistakes and failures. It means elevating learning as a higher goal than
immediate success. It means accepting messiness in the interest of learning
more. Wise scholars employ their prodigious critical thinking skills
before proceeding. Prudence. Caution. Reason.

Nothing wrong with that approach if being right is what you want, if
finding Truth and True Paths is your gig. But inquisitiveness takes a
back seat & it has always seemed to me that curiosity is the heart of
scholarship even though it's a chained heart, not trusted to behave.

* I want to help develop this writing process stew *
* project because I want to see what happens. *

anti- is a tool of the foolish explorer, a way to get some leverage for the
journey. It's a launching pad for journeys fueled by curiosity.

| "I shall use 'edification' to stand | Richard
| for this project of finding new, |
| better, more interesting, --------------------------------------
| more fruitful ways of | "Edifying discourse is *supposed* to |
| speaking." | be abnormal, to take us out of our |
----------------------------| old selves by the power of strange- |
| ness, to aid us in becoming new |
Rorty | beings." |

Textbooks |_____\ These things, seems to me, are mechanisms for
Protocols | / defining limits, for closing systems in order... facilitate the illusion of control and definite knowledge. It's a
fine illusion to facilitate. It's the illusion upon which the academy as
we know it is founded. All I want to assert, really, is that there are
other illusions that are perfectly fine to operate under, including the
notion that we can learn more by making less effort to control the

| (Edupage 25 July 96) |
| Complaining about the computer system that failed in |
| the opening days of the Olympics to provide timely and |
| accurate information about competitive events, journal- |
| ists asked Billy Payne, the president of the Atlanta |
| Olympics Organizing Committee, "Why wasn't the tech- |
| nology system tested?" Payne replied that "there is |
| no way to duplicate the totality of the Olympic |
| condition before the start of the games." (Atlanta |
| Journal-Constitution Olympic City p34) |

Steve Krause: | "A protocol, after all, is just a |
| method for doing something, the |
----------------------------------- "rules" of research; why |
| "Wouldn't that more or less be | would you want to re- |
| the "Calvinball" of research | search without any pro- |
| (making it up as you go along)? | tocol at all? |
----------------------------------- ---------------------------

Calvinball *is* a protocol, even if it's an anti-protocol protocol. It
might be the most appropriate primary rule under which to operate if what
we want to do is *see what happens* as opposed to testing a hypothesis by
pitting control results against variable results. Ya need protocols if
proof is what you're after.

But we don't *have* to be after proof, do we? We could just be after a
new opportunitiy to edify and entertain ourselves. It's not a better or
worse goal than proof, just a different one, one that employs different
methods. It's an approach that is peripheral to the main business of
scholarship (which is mostly about *knowing*) and maybe to the main
business of pop culture (which is mostly about *amusement*). That's OK.
The periphery is where it's at if what you want is relatively unfettered
pursuit of curiosity.

more later...

--Eric Crump, academic calvinite