Zooming Past Theory

At first I thought it was a screed against jargon. Then I approached it as a defense of narrative in cognitive activity. None of this satisfied me. I am a believer in the big word for the big occasion and a true sport when it comes to tracing the narration (the manner in which a story is conveyed) as much as outlining the narrative (the story). So I looked again at where my resistance was ringing out clearly.

Oratory, on the other hand, is unambiguous in its meaning. Oratory: place of prayer, to persuade.
The author that I am reading thus begins her second paragraph after having contextualized the practice of theory as one of argumentation and one that implies that which cannot be shown cannot be known. Argument, demonstration, testimony, evidence. It is all a circle for her. It is ironic that that positioning "on the other hand" set up a circular argument, one based on would be exclusive binaries. There is theory there and oratory here.

But for me, theory is a way of looking, from the Greek theoria view, speculation from theoreein look at. And as such is close to one of the meanings of "prayer" that is overlooked. Prayer as persuasion is of course the situation of petition. One is asking some more powerful being for intercession in one's affairs. But prayer according to Funk and Wagnalls International Edition (1958, 1959, 1960) has a number of synonyms including: adoration, devotion, invocation, litany, orison, petition, request, suit, supplication. So yes there is asking for a favour but there is also respecting and honouring.

And so I return to theory making as a type of reverence for the object that is being speculated about. There is in looking upon a bestowing of honour. It is worth my while to think about this in whatever set of words may be appropriate. And then later there may be storytelling and imparting of wisdom. The magic and the show & tell are distinct and are not opposed but complementary. Especially for those who do not see it as a worthwhile project to hang on to a "sacred self". Sometimes the sacred is best approached by letting go in a pure act of speculation.

It is from such a space that I resist Lee Maracle. Oratory: Coming to Theory (1990) and am not with her except in the resistance to victimization.
I want to know who is going to be there with me, resisting victimization — peacefully or otherwise, but always stubbornly and doggedly struggling to re-claim and hang on to my sacred self.
I resist. I am stubborn. I struggle doggedly. I will not bark out my prayer. I will not pray. But I will reverence and soar on speculation. I am born to the camp of theory makers.

And so for day 298