It’s all just history

Scott Malcomson

  • There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing Too by Stanley Fish
    Oxford, 332 pp, £16.95, February 1994, ISBN 0 19 508018 1

People who can find the world in a grain of sand are not necessarily people one wants to spend a lot of time with. At a recent conference held in a SoHo gallery in New York, the moderator spoke of interventions and discursive spaces, of enacting positions in a performative way, of avoiding both essentialism and relativism. He spoke of crucial theoretical work. To a person of my generation, this rap is utterly familiar, even homey; one has to struggle to imagine a time when things were différent. Nevertheless, the idea of crucial theoretical work appears to me laughably pretentious. Crucial to whom? How? Why?

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