08 March 2007

Slings and Harrows: A Random Thought

A TrebuchetContemporary critical theory is like a trebuchet: its design is sophisticated, but it's also cumbersome, often impractical, and for the complex calculations involved, it misses its mark more often than not. For those seeing it in action for the first time, it can seem awesome and powerful; but its advancement on its predecessors is minimal, and almost always-already obsolete, and so it impresses less and less as one discovers its virtues are seldom as great as its detractions, especially as one realizes how long it takes to set the damned thing up properly before it fires its first shot. Ultimately, it's just an elaborate device for slinging things, capable of great devastation, but one that demands extensive defending if it it's going to remain of any use at all. Yet no object quite like it allowed for the offensive hurling of stones and at-hand garbage in a fashion so admirably; the number of principles involved and accounted for, set in motion largely under their own weight, combined David's weapon with Goliath's magnitude, enabled the scientific siege. But ironically, for all its grandeur, its range was often significantly less than that of a skilled marksman, and maintaining it regularly cost more than it warranted. The larger, and less-defensible, the apparatus, the more self-defeating it becomes, even if now and then it could unleash Hell. Which, of course, was its entire raison d'etre.

2 comments:

Pious Labours said...

Nice extended metaphor!

Just curious: what prompted this post? I remember our discussions years ago in the Open End and Cock and Bull, but did something happen recently I'm not aware of ? :)

Dr J said...

Nope, nothing new to prompt anything. Just where the addled head goes.

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