Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power, and People

Illustrated by Leon Golub. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers (2004)

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Keeping Good Time is a collection of writings motivated by the tasks Chuck Morse sets out for the politically engaged radical critic. He writes, “It is the task of the politically engaged radical critic to side with the excluded and the repressed: to develop insights gained in confrontation with injustice, to nourish cultures of resistance, and to help define the means by which society can be rendered adequate to the full breadth of human potentialities.” The book includes an interview with the artist Leon Golub and is illustrated by him.

The opening and closing essays of the book – “Keeping Good Time” and “Exercised” – set the tone for presenting the warrant for politically engaged scholarship in an internationalist context. Each comments on an allegory told by the great writer Eduardo Galeano, and each locates the source of crucial social knowledge about misery and culture and about what’s called globalization or neoliberalism in the allegory’s ordinary protagonists. In miniature, the bookends trace the outline of what’s involved in locating the place where the diagnostic and the imaginative are married in subjugated knowledge. They trace what’s involved in treating this knowledge, not as limited or specialized or particularistic or in need of managerial oversight by superiors, but as valuable and generalizable critical thought. And, they signal the importance to me of storytelling, the arts of representation, and the nature of the power by which writing can, to use Ralph Ellison’s words, “command [our] mind and emotions.”