Monday, June 16, 2008

Habits of Mind for Public Intellectuals

Anyone on this site

I would suggest that another habit of mind be added for scholar practitioners who want to use critical theory to develop new social movements and that is the habit of creative contribution on the web.

It doesn't have to be much but we have the means to make a contribution in a small or large way, everyday to the big flow of ideas in the world. It is important to make a contribution locally in my physical space but just as important to me is to feel that I have added something good to the noosphere, the world of ideas.

It feels a little like shooting in the dark, contributing to a forum or a newsgroup or commenting on a blog or wiki or even twittering, but someone somewhere is reading, thinking, processing, using the habits of mind and creating something new. I don't know the specific person or the specific place but I know it it happening. I also know I won't necessarily get credit for it but thankfully the habit of creativity is catching on.

There are many blessed individuals, in whom society has a invested a great deal, who insists on being paid for their ideas, respect my copyright, buy my book, give me a grade, subscribe to my journal, sit in my class, give me tenure, a research grant, reputation, respect, worship etc and then I will share with you.

I was reminded of Kahlil Gibran a few days ago. It was in a snarky comment about cheezy sentimental, emo-poster, made for Hallmark mushy minded-70's pap. I remembered that I use to read The Prophet in the 70', and 80's and I also realized that I still subscribe to some of the ideas Gibran articulated so poetically. I particularly love his piece on Giving and it connects with how I see you should contribute on the web. Not because you can expect some return but because it is what you do. All Gibran's works are online here.

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