On being critical or polemics?

Recently I posted some remarks about whether it is possible to be partisan without being polemical, noting that Foucault preferred “problematizations, not polemics.”

Now there’s this essay considering polemics in more detail.

Can you have, in other words, polemical critical readings:

When did critical reading, criticism, and critique begin to be discussed? Is there such a thing as “uncritical reading”? Hypercritical reading? (Viewing?) Is this (mere) entertainment?

Nick Blomley raised this question last year:

At its best, critical scholarship can offer rigorous, compelling and persuasive social science. Yet even supportive commentators raise concerns at the ways in which critical geography has become normalized and institutionalized, worrying that this can blunt the political edge of critical scholarship (Hague, 2001; Waterstone, 2002). This is a theme to which I will return in subsequent reviews. More pressing, for my purposes, is the hunch that critical geography has become, in many quarters, a little too easy. At its least reflexive, it can veer dangerously close to a paint-by-numbers formula:
1) summon up righteous wrath at an oppressive relation (usually involving some clearly
marked ‘Other’),
2) demonstrate the way space/ideology produces 1,
3) deftly puncture dominant power relations (perhaps through an invocation of Lefebvre),
4) reveal the existence of resistance and opposition (albeit latent),
5) conclude by a pious appeal to progressive/emancipatory/liberatory alternatives, without specifying these in detail.

We’re left wondering if everything is “too” critical nowadays?

2 Responses

  1. This is something I’ve thought about re: blogging. I tend toward the polemical, but feel that a problematizing approach would be somehow superior.

  2. […] (MSM). I wrote about this earlier, if a bit obliquely, with the central question of whether you can be partisan but not polemical. There are many people around who advocate bi-partisanship, cooperation and lack […]

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