Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Grateful Dead Is Not Suitable Scholarship"

There's nothing new about what my dissertation director used to call "contempt prior to investigation," which he considered an intellectual sin. But I'm always a little surprised when I see it. Check out the letter to the editor of the San Jose Mercury News after the Grateful Dead conference at San Jose State University:

Grateful Dead is not suitable scholarship.

I wonder if anyone saw that the natural progression from the virtual legalization of marijuana led to the "study" of the Grateful Dead at a publicly funded state university. I grew up with the Grateful Dead in the '70s, love their music, and saw many of their shows. But can we please keep things in proper perspective? I can't help thinking that the scholars in countries poised to overtake this country on so many levels are laughing hysterically.

Michael Brown
Monte Sereno

My question to Mr. Brown would be, "How can we keep things in proper perspective if we don't study them?" Ironically, one of the main threats to scholarship in this country isn't the foreign threat he fears, much less the derisive laughter of other scholars. Rather, it's the anti-intellectualism he advocates.

If he had studied the matter a bit more before firing off his letter, he would have learned that the conference investigated the Dead's relationship to the Beats and the San Francisco Renaissance, the history of the American and British countercultures, the most creative poster art of the 1960s, the Dead's innovative business model (now the industry norm), and many other worthy topics.

But I guess Mr. Brown was already in possession of the truth about what makes for "suitable scholarship." And who could deny the "natural progression" between the virtual legalization of cannabis and unsuitable scholarship?



At 6:46 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

We've been studying the Dead since WAY before pot was almost legal. There's no correlation.

I wonder how Mr. Brown would feel about the scholarly study of punk, EDM, folk, rock, or any of the other myriad genres of pop music that are funded every single day by public universities in his country. Surely the Beatles are an "appropriate" subject of study? They never had anything to do with drugs...

At 11:46 AM , Blogger Christian Crumlish said...

dang hippies!

At 7:55 PM , Blogger Peter Richardson said...

BTW, the Mercury News ran my response.


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