I’m reading Bruno Latour’s “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” I’m not sure what to make of his critique of critique yet, but I do like his style, which he calls “mean” (228).
Do you see now why it feels so good to be a critical mind? Why critique, this most ambiguous pharmakon, has become a potent euphoric drug? You are always right! When naÃ¯ve believers are clinging forcefully to their objects, claiming that they are made to do things because of their gods, their poetry, their cherished objects, you can turn all of those attachments into so many fetishes and humiliate all the believers by showing that it is nothing but their own projection, that you, yes you alone, can see. But as soon as naÃ¯ve believers are thus inflated by some belief in their own importance, in their own projective capacity, you strike them by a second uppercut and humiliate them again, this time by showing that, whatever they think, their behavior is entirely determined by the action of powerful causalities coming from objective reality they don’t see, but that you, yes you, the never sleeping critic, alone can see. Isn’t this fabulous? Isn’t it really worth going to graduate school to study critique? “Enter here, you poor folks. After arduous years of reading turgid prose, you will be always right, you will never be taken in any more; no one, no matter how pwerful, will be able to acuse you of naÃ¯vetÃ©, that supreme sin, any longer? Better equipped than Zeus himself you rule alone, striking from above with the salvo of antifetishism in one hand and the solid causality of objectivity in the other.” The only lose is the naÃ¯ve believer, the great unwahsed, always caught off balance. (238-239)
Latour, Bruno. “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” Critical Inquiry 30 (Winter 2004): 225-248.