The Novel and the Police

What a gift it is to re-read DA Miller’s The Novel and the Police. A true joy.  I thought/think I know this book inside and out, only to be shocked by the details.  For instance, of course he begins the book by talking about authorization.  Of course, I forgot that.  So I’ll be able to remember it forever, here it is – – the beginning of the book:

“Even the blandest (or bluffest) ‘scholarly work’ fears getting into trouble: less with the adversaries whose particular attacks it keeps busy anticipating than through what, but for the spectacle of this activity, might be perceived as an overall lack of authorization. It is as though, unless the work at once assumed its most densely professional form, it would somehow get unplugged from whatever power station (the academy, the specialization) enables it to speak. Nothing expresses–or allays–this separation anxiety better than the protocol requiring an introduction to ‘situate’ the work within its institutional and discursive matrix” (vii).

I’ve spent a long while troubling through what I think about cultural authority and academic authority (the temporary result of such thinking appears here), but I should have known/remembered that Miller always already beat me to it. Which is one more reason to resist the impulse to be timely.  The old gems that have shaped the field and are now out-of-date always have more to say.