Sunday, March 18, 2012
Happy Trails to You
I first heard of The Valve back in late Spring or early Summer of 2005 when I caught wind of an up-coming discussion of an anthology entitled Theory’s Empire. The idea, it seems, was to look at what had by now become capital “T” Theory and, perhaps, hope! hope! lay it to rest.
So I showed up in early July and joined the commentariat. I soon found myself playing an unaccustomed role, that of the old timer who says, “Now, back in my day . . . “ Now, I’m not that old, and it wasn’t that long ago in calendar years, but it WAS before the personal computer and internet. I was an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins when the French landed in 1966 and I’d lived the ferment in literary studies that had been occasioned by those ideas. I also encountered developmental psychology, through Mary Ainsworth, and psycholinguistics through James Deese. And so I added Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky to my repertoire while studying semiotics and comp lit in English translation under the tutelage of Dick Macksey, one of the organizers of the (in)famous Structuralism conference.
The upshot of all that is that I shuffled off to Buffalo and joined the cognitive revolution under the tutelage of David Hays in the Linguistics Department. But my degree was in English and my dissertation was on cognitive science and literary theory. I’d decided that structuralism led, not to post-structuralism, deconstruction, or postmodernism, but to cognitive science. The profession did not agree with my assessment of the situation; we parted ways several years after I got my degree.
But I kept up my intellectual program anyhow, publishing this and that, here and there. I showed up at the Theory’s Empire event to see how things were going in the literary academy and to engage that part of it that might, I thought, just might, be looking for something new. Later in that year I was asked to try out for the masthead and was accepted early in 2006. Since then The Valve has been the closest thing I’ve had for an institutional home base.
Up into the second half 2010 or so The Valve functioned as a vigorous group blog, more vigorous at some times than others, but strong and interesting. In the Spring of 2010 I set up my own blog, New Savanna, mostly so I could post on a wider range of topics than I felt appropriate to The Valve. By the end of 2010 it was clear, however, that, as a group effort, The Valve was dying. I continued to post here, as well as at New Savanna, because it was easy enough to do and because there seemed to be constant traffic from somewhere out there in the ether.
All things change, however. John Holbo, The Valve’s progenitor, informs me that it’s time for The Valve to go the way of the Phoenix and be reborn. To do that, however, it must first die. Really and truly. Dead.
And so I will cease posting at The Valve in order that this plot of cyberspace may lay fallow for awhile.
It was a good run.
I’d like to thank John and the other Valvsters for the good intellectual company and you, our readers, for your kind and generous attention.