Monday, September 27, 2004

Drat, Last Again!

It is a good thing I chose not to indulge in reading the latest Lemony Snicket novel, or this would have been even later.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that not just once, but twice I fell asleep while reading Bell. While his prose is not quite as turgid as a certain historian of literacy who shall remain unnamed, it comes close.

1. Not a question so much as a statement (namely, ick!): "Whatever the extaordinary appeal of Marxism as a social appeal, it was in backward countries, not advanced capitalist countries, that Marxist movements have been most successful" (56). [italics are mine]

Bell fails to examine his own assumptions, those ideas and ideologies upon which his own worldview are based. Maybe this is my question: if we were to flesh out the assumptions on which Bell grounds this statement, would the argument hold up? How do his biases effect his conclusions and/or affect reaction to his conclusions.

2. "Not only is there a much greater degree of educational attainment, but there is also a greater degree of cultural homogeny" (143). What is Bell's basis for this correlation. Does greater "educational attainment" lead to "cultural homogeny," or are there other factors at play here? In a text full of references to information, he doesn't seem to consider the manner in which information (and entertainment) are disseminated and how this might also be a factor. Or does he?

3. As you probably noticed, I've been busy examining the assumptions behind Bell's argument. Here is another item that troubled me. "News is no longer reported but interpreted"(468). When had it ever been otherwise? While admittedly discussions of representation are perhaps more in vogue now than when Bell wrote his book, he has, I think, quoted enough dead Germans (and others) as well as referred to ethos, the representation of character, the idea of information/knowledge, to understand that all news, all information, is interpreted. Since he refers, at times, to Plato, shouldn't he be more consciously aware of the Forms?

I guess all of this (and other points of question that I didn't post) stem from this issue of assumptions and biases. What did or didn't Bell see, consider, "forecast, etc., because of assumptions he made based on his definitions, the methodologies he privileges (and I have heaps to say about this), etc?

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