Re: cooperative opposites

janet cross (hceng028@DEWEY.CSUN.EDU)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 10:41:19 -0700

On Wed, 31 Jul 1996, Eric Crump wrote:

> Ah, one thing I love about this gig is the way it allows for difference to
> not just co-exist, but complement. Steve, obviously, as a different way of
> looking at how we learn about writing than I do. He's not too wild about
> unfettered exploration (or rather, about the validity of the result), and
> I'm not all that impressed with conventional methodologies, even though
> they have validity coming out their ears (a carefully constructed validity,
> I would add, one that we traditionally agree to trust). I'd rather trust to
> stories; he'd rather trust to research.
> That's cool.

Sure. But consider also that research *is* stories. What's "valid" as
research is deeply contingent, implicated, imbricated (I learned that one
from Eric) on/with story. Let me explain a bit. I didn't make it to college
til 29. No HS. Yet I did a tremendous amount of geneological research. The
questions asked usually lead the research. People generally want to know if
their ancestors were "royalty." I could usually dig up some royalty
somewhere. Just have to search enough "lines." Same things for rogues.
Consider also, if one goes back far enough, the ONLY records have to do with
royalty, Their money, their serfs, their criminals. The PRIMARY SOURCES, land
records, tax rolls, church records, birth and death certs are REPORTED
EVENTS. Consider someone using the HUGE paper trail we all leave today (and I
was good at paper trails). Those sources are no better, no worse, than the
oral histories I tried to always start with. People present themselves to
history. Studies present themselves to history. Methodologies are stories in
that they narrarate a particular vision of present/future/past. A truly rich
history, one that re-counts a person's story, the family story, the research
story, the statistic story, includes as many variables as possible. Revealing
my late arrival to academia, revealing my own sliver of historicity, sheds
light on my understanding of academia. So it should come as no surprise when
I say that I often turn a jaundiced eye AWAY from "tried and true" icons of
the established whatever it is I am studying. I prefer to also listen to
stories, out and out stories. The old folks rocking on the porch, the
practitioners here on the lists, the people who are DOING whatever it is I am

An example:

Last night at Tues Cafe, we teacherly types got together with some geek types
(gotta love them binary boundaries <--- ultra sarcastic) It seemed to me that
had we actually shared a few stories, compared experiences, we would have
found that the binary oppositions were not as binary as many folks seemed to
think. Language, jargon, metaphors, always important for revealing attitudes,
was an important part of the discussion. However, that language, TAKEN out of
context, slapped with binaries of male/female didn't seem to yield much. Is
it scholarly to say "kill the process" is a gendered term without taking a
look, a really good look, at where it came from. Knowing what a "process" is
might actually locate the term "kill" in clearer light, That's where the
stories come in. I have been listening in on the computer history list for
quite some time. These "geeks" have much to say to us if we just shut up and
LISTEN. Like listening to the old folks rocking on the porch. THEY point the
way to further "scholarly" work. THEY have many answers/starting points to
offer. If you wanna know why the toilet is stopped up, you can investigate
yerself or call a plumber. Either way, WHAT you find is open to
interpretation, is a story, revealing biases, (euw yucky!) or (how
typical...see this alla time) or (here is the cycle of life) or (insert yer
own here). Toilet analogies aside, I guess my whole point here is that both
stories and "traditional research methodologies" are ongoing processes
subject to our "take" at the moment. We hear what we wanna hear, see what we
wanna see. So what priviliges one over the other? I would just as soon use
the words of folks here and on the Puter history list as "authority," just as
soon use my own students words as "authority" Since research leads
inevitably (for me) to stories, and stories lead inevitable to research, I
fail to see what all the fuss is about.

Arg. I have been going on way too long.

> /rhetnet/process/process_note.html

cool. I like. Further imbrication, uh implication, erm, fertilization,
(someone stop me please)

> It's not complete or smooth, so please make suggestions about how to
> change... anything (design or content).

Can we use crayons? I love crayons, so fat and dumpy in a colorful way.
The way they just wax over the fibers of the page....


There are now-a-days professors | DaMOO
of philosophy but not philosophers. |
Thoreau | or
| telnet 7777
Janet Cross | |
Learning Resource Center |
Cal State University, Northridge |