Snow’s essay provides a thoughtful insight into the parallels between that of literary intellectuals and a scientist, especially when thinking philosophically. This is done by creating an argument around the idea of scientists versus non-scientists. Also addressed is the stereotypes people have about scientists. Snow states most view scientists as “bold and brash” which is most usually the opposite of the reserved individual. Another important confliction is the false narrative scientists cannot have a religious worldview, however Snow feels the most contempt in life are the religious whether factually correct or not. Another distinction between human and scientist is the vulnerability of obsolescence and dying before making an impact on the world. Scientists are less likely to fall into this trap as they are “very intelligent” and constantly create new concepts from a realm of scientific “culture.” A question I have is where do we find this distinction between scientist and regular human? Is there a defining line or attribute we should be looking for not mentioned in the text, rethinking our educational horizons is a positive, however we should be looked upon as being inherently similar in thinking not distinct due to our common humanity.
“At one pole, the scientific culture really is a culture, not only in an intellectual but also in an anthropological sense” (9). I had never thought about how people within the sciences view other scientists in a certain light or have inside stereotypes about them even within the broader coalition of the sciences. The humanities are more cohesive it seems.
“This culture contains a great deal of arguments, usually much more rigorous and almost always at a higher conceptual level than literary persons’ arguments.” (12). How does he define conceptual level? Sciences are more esoteric; does that equate to a higher conceptual level just because humanities are broader and require less special education and structured training to engage in speculation?
Among the top 10 scientific theories, I recognized
- Evolution through natural selection
- Quantum Theory
- Plate Tectonics
- Oxygen Theory of Combustion
- Game Theory
- Mendelian Genetics
- Marie Curie’s work with radioactivity
- Pavlov’s Dogs
“Performance Remains” by Rebecca Schneider
(!) An archive is a performance in and of itself; Archives may retain artifacts, but they also “disappear” because purpose is gained from what is lost. Schneider writes, “disappearance is that which marks all documents, records, material remains. Indeed, remains become themselves through disappearance as well.” Schneider later parallels disappearance to the death of an artist or author. “Killing the author, or sacrificing his station, may be, ironically, the means of insuring that he remains.” Their work may become more popular and have greater influence following their passing. Artifacts gain their significance as an artifact following their prime. Their past is what supports their ability to remain and retain purpose.
(!) Archive comes from the greek word “Archon” which means “ruler.” Archives, retaining and accumulating material over time, have a connection to the patrilineal order which they serve. The etymology of “archive” represents its hegemony.
(?) Schneider argues that the use and acceptance of archival methods comes from western values of materialization and accumulation (Schneider 100). Are these strictly western values or are they common values of humanity? Do these values gain significance as society develops?
(?) Schneider suggests, “if performance can be understood as disappearing, perhaps performance can rupture the ocular hegemony.” Does performance rupture or support ocular hegemony? Although performance is fleeting, it requires visual attention.
“Ritualizing the Past: Ralph Lemon’s Counter-Memorials” by Nicholas Birns
(!) Birns compares Lemon’s work to the ideals of memory-historians, writing “his work makes clear that any reckoning with the past must be both traumatic and incomplete.” Perhaps a distinction between an archive and a performance is that an archive is based on fact and performance is based on emotion. Truly understanding history requires an emotional confrontation. Earlier in the work, Birns discusses a lynching site in Duluth, Minnesota where “any trace of it ever happening is gone from the site.” Lemon highlights this lynching in his on-stage performance, yet its history is not physically memorialized. In this situation, archival material has disappeared and performance is what keeps the memory alive.
(?) According to Birns, Lemon’s work “Charlie Patton,” “balances love and violence, tenderness and desecration.” Does performance have a natural balance that archives do not?