Monday, April 23, 2007

Here's where the comments are Weary Po-Mo Platitudes
Browsing through the reviews section of the current issue of Antiquity, I came across a confusing and irritating piece (behind a paywall) by one Dr. Charlotte Whiting. She works for the Council for British research in the Levant and is based in Amman in Jordan. Her review article treats three recent books on the Iron Age of the southern Levant, in other words, what is commonly known as Biblical archaeology. Though I entered archaeology as a shovel grunt on Tel Hazor in the Galilee, I know very little of this subject. I have read none of the books Whiting discusses; my complaint isn't about that. What raises my hackles is a series of snarky hyper-relativistic phrases that mark Whiting out as the kind of lingering 1990s post-modernist that is all too common in my discipline. What confused me was that those distasteful soundbites are interleaved with sensible rationalistic arguments that are quite at odds with hyper-relativism.

That sounds about right. I've always thought a lot of Po-Mo stuff is the basic sorts of things scientists pretty much acknowledge on an everyday basis -- Hey, we're not totally objective after all! -- all dressed up in flowery language.

I was trying to think of a good reason to post Whiting's pic, but I just did it because she's fairly attractive and, let's face it, we need the good publicity.