Ever since Clifford Geertz urged the “blurring of genres” in the social sciences, many scholars have considered the crossing of disciplinary boundaries a healthy alternative to rigidly maintaining them. But what precisely does the metaphor of “blurring” imply? By unpacking the varieties of visual experiences that are normally grouped under this rubric, this essay seeks to provide some precision to our understanding of the implications of fuzziness. It extrapolates from the blurring caused by differential focal distances, velocities of objects in the visual field, and competing perspectival vantage points to comparable effects in the intersection of different scholarly disciplines. Arguing against the holistic implications of Geertz's metaphor, as well as the even more totalizing concept of “consilience” introduced by E. O. Wilson, it suggests that blurring implies new types of complexity between or among those disciplines.
Introduction: Genres of Blur
Martin Jay, Ermanno Bencivenga, Peter Burke, Christopher P. Jones, Ardis Butterfield, Mercedes García-Arenal, Avinoam Rosenak, Francis X. Clooney; Introduction: Genres of Blur. Common Knowledge 1 April 2012; 18 (2): 220–228. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-1544905
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