Monday, August 15, 2005

Zarvarzadeh on Pleasure and Crisis 1

Mas’ud Zavarzadeh’s 1994 “article,” “The Pedagogy of Pleasure 2: The Me-In-Crisis” is both a rant against the idea of the personal and an urgent plea for students (and scholars) to engage in a “rigorous critique of their situational in history” through ideology critique (and rigorous intellectual work, producing scientific knowledge). Zavarzadeh is vehemently opposed to the idea of the individual and strongly in favor of collective; he’s against experience and for science/knowledge; he’s against “talk” and for “reading.” In other words, Zarvarzadeh defines subjectivity as historical and class-founded, as opposed to subjectivity as individualism. At this point, I am with Zavarzadeh. We are on the same page. But Zavarzadeh takes this difference in subject formation and uses is as a jumping off point to rail against experience--seeing experience as used only to illustrate difference and thereby perpetuate the myth of the individual as distinct from others (as the “me’s” experience is not the same as the next “me’s” experience). Here he argues that experience’s “main political outcome is to mystify the historicity and class-founded nature of subjectivity.” This is because experience focuses on effects (according to Zarvarzadeh) and obscures causes: “causes have to be KNOWN through CONCEPTS.” In other words, we can’t KNOW anything through experience. Power must be theorized, not “talked” about.

This stance leads him to critique feminism and feminist pedagogy, which he describes as anti-intellectual. His goal of course here (and he as much as admits this at the end of his “article”) is to antagonize, and he does it well, but while Zavarzadeh is busy critiquing students, scholars, feminists, etc. for ignoring and/or obscuring and/or failing to recognize causes and their own situational, he fails to acknowledge the ways in which the types of knowledge and idea of CONCEPTS/CONCEPTUALITY that he calls upon are training in patriarchal modes of thinking, learning, speaking, and writing. He fails to question the ways in which the formal paper that he assigned also protects the privileges of the bourgeois subject (something he accuses his student of doing)--the ways in which a formal paper (presumably written in formal academic discourse) fails to “confront the historical and socio-economic structures of the subject in history.”


james said...

I'm posting for selfish reasons, I must confess. I've come across your blog quite by accident. I'm doing research on graduate programs, including SUNY Albany and Buffalo, and your blog was caught in my wide net. I'm lost in seas of options, theories, advice, discouragement and fear. (read: panic) I'm closing in on deadlines, and need feedback from pioneers who have traveled the trail ahead of me. I see you haven't posted in a while, but I hope you still have the comments sent to you. I suppose it would be fitting for me to beg for help. Here, I beg.... Please, find it in your heart to share some tidbit of advice/admonition/encouragement/etc.
I'm considering the SUNY's, U of Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern, among others. I have decent grades (3.5) and a 700 on the gre. I'm an honors writing student. I'm also on my knees. Please help. My email is Thanks, James.

johntheo4752 said...

I read over your blog, and i found it inquisitive, you may find My Blog interesting. My blog is just about my day to day life, as a park ranger. So please Click Here To Read My Blog