Skholiast has an especially rich and nice post up riffing on my post about Rote Theory and Practice. He really gets right to the core of the issue. Perhaps I’ve just had it driven into me by my background in Lacanian psychoanalysis, but for me the ultimate normative imperative regulating my thought is “Listen and look!” I’m not suggesting I always live up to this, but it is the ideal that governs nearly every discussion of ethics and politics I participate in. In this regard, I have a visceral reaction to any theoretical framework that I sense is merely subsumptive, placing phenomena under pre-existing ossified categories rather than opening itself to being surprised by phenomena. Needless to say, listening and looking is not equivalent to merely “hearing” auditory vibrations or receiving wavelengths of light. Listening and looking is incredibly hard and requires overcoming Malkovichism:
Again, I am not suggesting that I live up to this ideal. It is not without reason that Freud said psychoanalysis is among the impossible professions. But that makes it no less a theoretical ideal.