Fuck. Stanley. Fish.
You know, Freire is a very interesting thinker and writer even though he's wrong. Most leftish thinkers are. Their admirable and often correct skepticism about and hostility toward the extant institutions of culture and society breaks apart when it becomes prescriptive. The radical critique becomes a plan for new institutions. The solution to the perpetuation of dominant culture through its institutionalized educational structures is . . . education? Wait, what? Yo, these new institutions quickly professionalize, evolve a managerial and technocratic culture that leads inevitably back to status quo liberalism. Mandatory education is by definition indoctrination, no matter how radical the political content of the curriculum.
But. Fuck. Stanley. Fish. Freire is a real thinker with real ideas, whereas Stanley Fish is a hack professor at some lazy, South-Floridian Whatsamatta U. who traffics in such congenially pre-wrought phrases as "the virus of a politicized classroom." Oh . . . well, I think of it more as a bacterium . . . um, but, uh, let's agree to disagree, k? So as not to . . . politicize the discussion. See, education, especially in the humanities and so-called social sciences, is inherently and unavoidably political. The blandest, middle-of-the-road, on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand, unengaged, disinterested, milquetoast pedagogy for which Fish persistently . . . well, agitates is the wrong word . . . which he calmly suggests as some kind of alternative to whatever it is he thinks is currently going on is itself highly political, embedded with all kinds of cultural norms, economic theories, social assumptions, political and linguistic preferences, mores and ethical givens. Which is exactly the shining, neon fucking sign mounted at the center of Freire's work and shining like Vegas on a power surge. Fish's half-assed apolitical pedagogy is a deeply political proposal, a notion and practice arising directly from the political struggles of institutions of higher education in America at this very specific and particular point in time.
Watching Fish dash his skull against the edifice of a superior mind is kind of fun, like a good pile-up at the auto track, but it's also frustrating, because you can see the nice readers of the New York Times nodding along with it, comfortably ensconced in the belief that the broad, dominant, assumed, accepted culture of our times, its institutions, and its organization are apolitical, that methods of analysis and inquiry occupy a totally distinct universe from, um, "counter-hegemonic, even revolutionary, activity" . . . even though, fucking obviously, the maintenance of hegemony is not distinct from the critique of and struggle against hegemony insofar as they are all political acts.
Anyway, the solution is not the creation of counter-institutions but the eradication of education. The real radical proposition is not that there are different and better methods of teaching that will awaken the consciousness and conscience of the youth, but rather that compulsory instruction is violence and education is a violation. Put that in your pipe, Fish, you fucking hack.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Fuck. Stanley. Fish.