As I am in what Walter Benjamin would call “a moment of danger”…that is a moment of flux and change that reveals much about the inner workings of society (or in this case myself)…I’ve gone ahead and changed blogging platforms….I was going to have to change blog addresses anyway as Blogger was discontinuing it’s FTP functions (making everyone switch to “blogspot.com”…when I was using my own “projectpast.org” as my root URL)…so I’m taking advantage of the fact that I MUST change blog address and I’m jumping to WordPress.
Well…Farther Along started on WordPress way back in 2003 (or some such)…I left to go to Blogger as I liked that(at the time) I could customize my own templates using HTML (which I could not on WordPress ass it is a server-side application)….
Seven years have come and gone and WordPress has grown to more than a blogging platform…It is now a commonly used web-design platform for dynamic pages…Southern Arkansas University has switched to WordPress a while back and I find that my web pages (last redesigned in about 2006) are beginning to show their age…so I’m learning to use (and playing around with WordPress…while I’m doing that on the web-side…I figured I’d go ahead and switch to WordPress as a blogging platform.
In short…update your URLS and RSS feeds (that is…all four of you who read my blog *smile*)
Let’s see how this goes. “Farther along, we’ll know more about it….”
A recent post from my colleague over at Middle Savagery reminds me that for some of us…it physically makes us happy to read theory…I agree…Like Levi Straussian myths, for me some theory is “good to think.”
At the same time I am reminded by one of my current students who is taking a “Method and Theory in Archaeology” class that many of his colleagues in the program simply have not been exposed to, and are not comfortable talking about “theory.”…many of these folks see theory as strange, alien, and “not useful.”
I have encountered these two groups of people my whole academic career. At the University of Memphis and the University of Arkansas, I was the frustrated “theory guy” in heavily method-oriented programs…However, when I went to the University of Texas at Austin, although I was finally satisfied with the rich theoretical program there, I also began to realize the importance of the connections between methods and theory…and I felt that some of my colleagues at UT may be very theoretically sophisticated, but not very fluent in good archaeological methods.
I do not see these two entities as diametrically opposed opposites…I see them as inextricably connected…Obviously this should not be a radical idea (praxis anyone?), but time and again one meets “theory” people and “dirt archaeologists.” Close friends and colleagues even mistakenly stereotyped my long-time collaborator James Davidson and myself–he was the method guy and I was the theorist…this woefully underestimates Davidson’s theoretical savvy and (I think) my practical background.
I am a “dirt archaeologist”…I have years and years of contract archaeology underneath my belt (and over 20 “technical reports”), but I am also proud of my theoretical engagement…and I firmly believe that there is no such thing as “non-theoretical” archaeology…only archaeologists who do not acknowledge what theoretical interests they serve.
Part of the problem is a lack of great examples that connect archaeological methods and theories in a solid (and easily accessible) way…How many books have you read (especially in historical archaeology) that have an eloquent theoretical section weakly linked to the actual artifacts and excavated contexts…they read like two unrelated monographs. I long to see more work that is sound in both its methods and theories.
I’ll close by pointing to one literary model I think we should look at…Check out Larry McMurtry’s book Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen…If the rootsy, plain-spoken western writer can draw sophisticated connections between Bejamin, storytelling and the West Texas community hub known as the Dairy Queen…theory can be accessible to anyone.