If I would be so bold as guess what Humanities professors in the American university think they are doing, my guess would be that their millenial project is something like "Expanding the definition of 'normal' in order to make society more inclusive", and that their primary strategy in doing so would be twofold, the first leg of which is to bring into question select standards of normalcy. The second leg would be championing the 'unincluded' aka the Other by various offensive and defensive methods. They have been playing this game all my life and Mighty Casey is beginning to appear mighty lame. It occurs to me that they have mostly succeeded in forgetting the the purpose of the Humanities, having been on automatic all these years. Then again, I'm only boldy guessing.
I wonder, for example, what is the animating purpose in redefining the role of women in American society. I say that pointedly because when you decide that there should be Charlie's Angels, which is essentially what I see in today's television that was absent in the television of yesteryear, you have already gone far beyond the myth making required for the victims of female circumcision in various African cultures. It does not seem at all proper that Feminism should be class-based, then again, I'm only boldly guessing what the Humanities has staked out for its territory.
From my perspective as one of the Digiterati, I have always been concerned with what it is that humans should take pride in once they are liberated from the sort of drudgery we can program machines and systems to accomplish. Having been a bank teller, back when I was 20, I was fairly certain that my job should have been gotten rid of by the ATM. For the most part, it has. Although tellers remain, they are nowhere near as pletiful as they were in 1981. Indeed old bank buildings seem awfully oversized for the number of people employed by them, and new bank branch offices - bulletproofed and claustrophobic bear little resemblance to their marble vaulted ceilinged grandfathers.
More to the crux, we in the IT profession have been thinking about what thinking is. Chess thinking has been figured out, so has android walking and so has speech. So a walking, talking, chess playing automaton is doable, although nobody really wants one. But what is love? Who is worthy of it and how is love manifest? I think about this when I consider how absolutely impossible it seems for any American high school student to relate personally to Romeo and Juliet. Can you imagine two families in any American suburb so bent on keeping their teens from having sex that they would commit mutual suicide? It is the sort of tragedy our idea of humanity has precluded us from having. That may be a success, but on the other hand, there goes devotion. So I reiterate, what of devotion?
And what of those mountains of wisdom which no longer apply to our contemporary circumstance? If there are no great minds, and surely it takes greatness, to consider at length and reify what best to do in those, our human situations, then who are we to follow besides the whims of merchants and clergy? Poets, priests and politicians all have words for their positions; words that scream for your submission, should we be heeding their transmissions? Or is there a Humanities project which is beyond politics, commerce and religion? Are there poets? If so, what are they saying that we haven't already heard?
I have begun reading Charles Dickens because I am adjusting my expectations of life to a potential world without electricity and endeavoring to know what then civilizes besides the Android Operating System. I am looking backwards for Humanity. But I'm beginning to look around me too.