the performance of the public intellectual

In my performance studies class this fall, folks presented papers on a variety of topics. I was utterly floored by the caliber of them, even those that i was not topically invested in. One of my classmates – Rudy Ramirez – presented a paper that really made me think about what it means to perform being a public intellectual. I found this discussion especially intriguing considering the role of the blogger as a pseudo public intellectual. (Yes, i know that there are huge problems with this statement that i’m just not going to take up right now.)

Ramirez’ paper – Authorizing Activism: Arundhati Roy and the Performance of the Public Intellectual – discusses the topic through the life of Arundhati Roy (who is a most amazing public intellectual). It’s a fun read if you enjoy this kind of thing.

Of particular interest is the lit review discussion about the collapse of the public intellectual and the rise of the pundit, whereby professional standards are at issue as well as a concern that narrow expertise does not necessarily imply moral authority. All of this is highly relevant to the blogging community.

[I will take some of these issues up more later when i can think more straightly. Still, i wanted to offer the paper to those who are bored at work waiting for New Year’s.]

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3 thoughts on “the performance of the public intellectual

  1. todd x

    the quote taken from Swati Rana (on the difference between the intellectual and lay person) is really pretty amazing.

    that said, the very idea of who frames the intellectual, who makes the intellectual, and who deems the ignoramus (or is it ignorami) is key to the performace itself. this paper illustrates not only the construct in which the intellectual is manufactured but also how it is to be resisted.

    now this got me to thinking about a couple other things, namely the pundits. Most of you saw jon stewart destroy the twit in the bow tie on his own show no less. this is the thing, stewart is an intellectual on the left that masks this with brilliant satire, comedy, and lighting fast retorts. He is the best pundit the left has, he shold also be archtype. The intellectual is becoming a relic in our society, because the intellectual does not possess the language of the people. In a time when most of us have been conditioned to recieve and deliver gratification instantly why should anyone wait to hear what an intellectual has to say. That takes to much time.

    got more to think about

    also reading the paper noticed Edward Said, we lost him and Susan Sontag this year. Two brilliant intellectuals that everyone should read at least one thing they wrote. In particular, Said’s Hegemony and Sontag’s On Photography.

    tell Rudy it really is a great paper

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