Vignette One: Introduction

[This is post one in a series; they start here.]

If you understand One-Dimensional Man, even a little bit, the idea of an academic paper discussing or reviewing it is worthy of a deep, dark, tanuki belly laugh.

The entire work is Marcuse’s fear that society has become static. He worried that society made everything fit into a pre-existing frame; that even complaints simply reinforced the status quo instead of subverting it. So we’re supposed to make this work fit into the traditional constraints of an academic paper?

Think about this for a minute: Ideas flow through our worldview like water trickling through a rat maze. There’s no way for the water – or ideas – to change the course. It has to fit the contours of the walls.

When there are only round holes, where can you fit the square peg? Do you try to move the walls a little bit? Do you smash them all down? Or do you make the squareness of your peg so great that to even begin to comprehend, you have to move your own walls to the side?

So what do you do? Do you risk being accessible and find your work co-opted? Do you blow holes in the status quo and risk being rejected as a simple destroyer? Or do you make it hard to get, force people to make some effort to understand, and risk being ignored?