Current day conflict within the Humanities seems to center around questions of practicality. If one were to establish poles between the practical and impractical within the Empire of language, industry and commerce would be on one end, with the humanities and academia on the other. If industry perfects the product, not merely as a consumable good, but as an object of utility within society, the humanities (and to some degree the academic) represents the refined idea unburdened by the necessity for practicality. In this regard, the anatomy of the system of the academy(its industry) provides an opportunity for people to work without really working. For to work is to struggle in the moment finding union with a particular task with one’s focus and agency directed towards completion. The academy implies a certain reservation towards accomplishment. Academics do work and accomplish, but without the traditional gun to their head.
The academic perfects ideas independent from the tragedy and filth of sweat. It is not that they don't work hard; but their hard work is towards a refinement that need not be confined to precise places and times in the manner of traditional work. I imagine part of this is by design, and that our goal is to figure out in a lab what would be far more messy in the world.
But sweat is important, if for nothing else as image and sign of work. It is the human predicament to want product without blood. To seek refinement and the sleek streamlined nature of invention without the image of busting up the earth, taking over land, and stealing other people’s shit. I guess we like to imagine that ideas are more important than wars. Perhaps they are-simply because war is an idea-everything is an idea first-born in the mind as the Cognitive and then born through speech deed and then fastened in the real world via language.
If we have lost our idea of the humanities as powerful and capable of changing the world, it is because we believe more than ever in the utility of violence.-the bang and clash of the world. We believe that all this talking, writing, and other bs don't really change the world. Even if we do, we are far more certain of our i-pad coming on and our e-mail downloading. We understand the power of technology, physicality, and paying bills more than we understand the ideas. In this regard, physicality becomes a proof for the invisible that it really never is. For the invisible need not always be physical; but nevertheless always has effects on the world of physicality.
For those working in the humanities our equivalent physicality consists of the words and concepts that exist in the empire of language. If they appear useless or marginalized, it is at the least connected to the awesome power of what we perceive through our senses: what we hold in our hands, what we buy, what we imagine as statically "real".
The commercial realm of ideas is the business of connecting valuable ideas to technological modes of distributing information. It is the nature of modern society that we value ideas based on their juxtaposition to media channels. Who cares what you think? seems less important than who knows what you think? If more people know-the idea seems to be more valuable. The empire of language rests upon this assumption, and the power of the empire cannot be separated from this impulse. The empire desires ideas that implicitly hold in their connotations the empire's greatness.
It is important to note that rebellion does not always mean that a concept is destroyed. It is possible to be angry, rebellious, and even contradictory; but still tapped into the empire's cognitive framework. In other words, certain cognitive concepts which appear to be rebellious actually fit very well into the empire of ideas and keep the empire running.
The problem with the humanities is complicated in a way back sort of way. For we imagine that those first humanities folks were humane in a way they never were. The Greek's xenophobia, the inability to imagine the other as like them, the exclusion of women, the white supremacy of the Enlightenment are all less than human ideals promoted by those "forefathers" we return to. The war and invasions called the age of exploration and colonialism are connected to the humanity of the conquerors. In some cases said humanity was actually justification for the conquering. The ideas used to indoctrinate us into the greatness of the empire are naturally separated from war for those on the bottom.
To often in the realm of the humanities they are duplicitous at best, down right sinister, and evil at worst. The idea of humanity in Western Civilization was never transcendent.
Our humanities, our great art is the treasure chest of the empire. The stolen obelisks and mummies sitting in museums are thefts that present the contradictions in striking fashion for all to see. They represent the extraction of other humanities into the realm of the empire's humanities. They are proof of what can be captured, owned, privileged or neutered, spaded, downgraded into the dung pile of cultures-exiled to the unworthy or elevated to the shining center ring of honor-by the empire.
And after all the real purpose of the humanities has been to convince those who maintenance the empire they have nothing to be ashamed of, that alas, even though our empire has murdered, killed, and wrecked shit, it and we are worthy of praise because of our transcendent ideals.
Come to think of it, the humanities are like the centuries old hype men for the empire. When the empire talks of how great it is, they provide the justified representation. Their power is implied by comparison with lesser arts, lesser cultures, lesser crafts-like the witchcraft Africans somehow became known for.
Of course the conquered know better. They understand better the science of power implicit in the praise of the empire's humanity-and are permanent witness to its inhumanity. They understand the utility of the humanities. Many "minorities" are dazed in its riddles and find science less intriguing. As wanderers they hold the cognitive riddle in their brain. They have suffered and are perplexed by it. They explored the cognitive structures of their own mind and link it with the empire's words to "re-member" some cognitive structure running in their brain that seems unworthy of articulation in the empire's language.
If a number is complex, what of the number of annals dedicated to the thoughts and processes of humanity's records, histories, and cultures? How many numbers are there? How many scenarios? What is number compared to the infinite human experience, its documentation, its contradictions?
A great metaphor is a wheel-a simple invention so common, so often used, we imagine it never could have not been in words. Great metaphors make cognitive sense, though what makes cognitive sense is subject to audience and flaws. Simply stated it is possible for a bad idea-one that is hostile, violent, reductive, or simply not true to hold weight and power in the empire. In these cases our proof in the end seems to return to physicality, though in the case of minorities there is always the example of the ravaged mind.
The oversight is common and natural. Any form of supremacy or superiority will draw us back to the empire and invest in the realm of humanity as a set of values and ideas that must be worth more than those of others.
The great metaphor of the empire is that all comparisons to "us-our" culture render the compared element less. The bridge of the comparison is always the same. Implicit in all the comparisons are the inflation of elements from the empire, and reduction of those outside. There is no awe, no surprise, no revelation. We return to the simplicity of the empire's abstract value as the best, the most, the greatest.
Sadly, this is not science, and the reason why we are suspect of the humanities and the arts that pivot on language. It is not only that we take language for granted, but also that we know it is the site of some of the worst crimes, lies, and fabrications used by the empire to take people's stuff. For this reason these portions of the cognitive infrastructure are ignored by people on the top and the bottom. The top ignores to clarify it really doesn't matter and the empire will stand regardless; the bottom ignores to avoid the depression that comes from acknowledging the power and shape of the cognitive connotations not properly addressed in the empire's portrayal of its humanity.
If thought and deed are wedded in speech, at least there we can attempt to recognize the lie coming out of the mouth in the physicality of the body, the presence of the moment; but language on the page does not give such clues. It is architecture, like bricks, like iron, like buildings. Language can be crafted. Language is crafted out of the cognitive blocks the society makes real through management and daily operations.
One can lie with language. Racism is an obvious example. Hitler is another. The lie crafted into language need only be activated by the minds that make use of the cognitive structure. What is built-what is published cannot be denied. Those subjects of the empire who possess alternative cognitive concepts sift through the rubble making weird contraptions out of what has already been made; trying to get it right.
There is no death of the humanities, but more so an assassination of the humanities. The desire to let the lies stand as monuments to the true awe and beauty of the empire requires the concept of humanity as a discipline be destroyed or not funded. For if people continue to study the contradictions in the empire of language, reconcile the connotations with the truth of the matter, surely the empire will not survive.
We know this in our hearts and minds. Even those who manage the empire often find it hard to clarify the cognitive confusion presented in its texts of the past. The choice of whether to laud a text for its superior process or content depends on the day. The tactic is employed based upon the present needs. To convince the subjects that they must convert-content is employed. To send them in a maze of developmental wheels process is employed.
The goal of content is to produce conversion, that the empire is defacto greater than everything else. The goal of process is to channel the conversion into a process where survival can only be contemplated adjacent to the empire. The first is religious, the second is education.
The two steps are how the empire establishes itself in the minds of others and uses language to hold itself together.
The death of the humanities within the empire is simply a natural conclusion that comes from the attempts to reconcile the lies with the truth. The answer is a new science. The science is metaphor. For precise constructs of a discipline that actually refines the comparative aspects of language will be able to reject false comparisons through a series of processes. I have engaged in this work with my students in poetry classes. Focusing first on images, then similes, and then metaphors. Our process begins with the cognitive and a definition of human experience and then moves towards the linguistic. If the discipline is the humanities, we should first begin with some rough definition of humanity. We should at least attempt to define what it means to be human and then move towards how the linguistic relates to that.
Study of metaphor centers itself in a search for a way to teach people to recognize false comparisons.
The recognition of inadequate comparisons, or rather, the science of comparisons, is the science that would have recognized the intellectual inaccuracy of racist concepts from the beginning.
A scientific approach to metaphor must operate in the space between the cognitive and the linguistic-for after all what else is language-but a metaphorical representation of the cognitive. Language is merely a set up symbols that assign a trajectory for the mind on the page that represents the cognitive processes of the brain in relationship to human communication. Though speech is slightly different in regards to the cognitive and the word in the moment, the process is similar. We communicate by sharing how our minds work with others via the cognitive blocks of a language.
The domain of language studies should center itself in metaphor and focus on comparison as the core of the maintenance and expansion of language. If there are cognitive concepts not yet forged into iron in the empire of language-metaphor will be the tool used to construct them. If things are to be born, metaphor will do must of the labor.
This is the vision for what we now know as English or language arts. Currently, it is a discipline that seems to lack science and is focused more on the practical tasks of teaching people to read and write well using the cognitive blocks of the empire. The failure to view the discipline as scientific is simply an expression of the empire's use of language as a characteristic of its own humanity and superiority in relationship to others. Though we often have trouble swimming through the mess of oppression-there's simply no science in it. It is whack, ugly, fucked up. Yet, our real struggle with racism and notions of superiority is a scientific process that clearly recognizes the problems in intimate situations such as linguistic expression. In this regard metaphor works to systematically identify the relationship between the cognitive and the linguistic, in conjunction with the inaccuracy of the ideas employed.
Currently, we use argument as the core tool in the discipline to empower students on the journey through society. Argument, of course, is central to the law, and along with rhetoric, essential to the maintenance of our democracy. Yet, the anomaly of Western Civilization is the separation between the ideas and the practical invasions and domination of the world. The error of argument is its monotonous nature when dealing with issues as pervasive as racism. The subjected have supposedly no real science and are doomed to use a tool designated to governing power to convince those in power of a reason to take another course. Unfortunately, the power wasn't really obtained by argument. In most cases it was obtained by a dominating physicality, nationalism, or collective cognitive structure that argued to members of their group a need to be unified in relationship to others.
Metaphor as compared to argument begins to suggest a new set of tools to deconstruct the master's house. The hours of research and the wandering of the newly crowned intellectuals through the long hallways of the institutions of learning with arguments in their hands is a slow walk towards a millennia of deconstruction. We find numerous stories that slip back in time and find people who we did not know existed, that reshape our ideas about culture and history. The cognitive in the empire prints its money everyday. It manufactures Donald Trump's and the consciousness that affirms him. The deconstruction of the bricks simply takes to long.
What is required is an alternative educational system that is integrated with the practical application of linguistic endeavors and rooted in the study of metaphor. For metaphor is not simply about shared meaning of scientific concepts, but also implies a reduction or focus (as a positive term) that allows those perceiving the metaphor to imagine simplicity where there is great complexity. Metaphor's focus on the cognitive easily addresses the relationships between audience and the cognitive experiences of particular listeners and how the connotations reflect not simply cognitive concepts in the empire of language, but also connotations that come from their individualized experience. Metaphor implies linking, reconciliation, and compression of existing cognitive structures and experiences into more manageable compartments
As science, the great metaphors compress loads of information into simplified forms. It could be ancients studied metaphor and considered it both science and religion. For most religions are simply metaphorical systems. The great ones, like Yoruba, are so complex the study of them results in an "everything is everything" approach to the totality of life. An advanced metaphorical system is similar to the construction of a priesthood based in the cognitive and linguistic. This priesthood is simply another name for what we now know as the English discipline. It is what our discipline would be were we not serving the empire capable of producing an idea like white supremacy.
For what is white supremacy but a bad metaphor that cognitively justifies the actions and shared experience of a particular audience?; and it is primarily that audience who suggest the humanities need to die. For the utility of glorifying the empire via literature that often pivots on the absence or proper rendering of much of the humanity in the world is highly suspect. It is a conqueror's proglem nevertheless, for a literature that serves its own people and does not lay claim to the right to control the world has no such problem. The binary employed in much of the literature is highly suspect. The cognitive concepts are begging to be transformed to better fit the true consciousness of those in the empire.
Rest assured, it will take quite some time to transform a dying discipline into a thriving one; but perhaps the death is a sign of the reduced resistance to such ideas. Almost everyone involved in the discipline knows it has to change. The question are simply: How much longer will it last? And what shall we do instead?
For those of us spitting truth, speaking it to power, we imagine that something has been done to us, when it reality we should ask what did those who seek to indoctrinate us first do to indoctrinate themselves? Much of what we receive are leftovers. The empire did not create new info for us, it simply downloaded what was already given to its folks. When Aristotle says metaphor is genius that has not been taught, perhaps he is referring to things Greece did not learn from Egypt. For Egypt is the father of many of the Greek gods, and surely was a metaphorical system of the highest order.
Our heroes who have worked the long night of darkness, engaged the monotony, the discipline, the struggle, in pursuit of the craft, monk like and almost spiritual, reading and studying, pursue the world of the abstract via letter and concept headed towards the concrete. They explore and document some portion of what the mind experiences to share, to unify, to beam out like a light from the dark world of the disconnected. This work in between the poles of the image (sensory perception) and the abstract(ideas and conceptual links between things which appear to be separate) is best regulated and investigated through the study of metaphor. For metaphor carries seeing in its pouch and connects what we see with what we do not see so that we can see better.
The task of the humanities is to preserve and pursue the humane in the interests of all of us. Surely some say, what a useless art! For we are all wedded to a vibrant colonialism, a game of power, the struggle over physical assets, the pursuit of ideas that may better serve those who have some power or quest for it, lust for it.