The Difference that Theory Makes
May 14, 2007
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A Monday morning driveby post: I was just reviewing some materials for a discussion I’ll be leading later today, and ran across the following quote from Michael Zinzun, reproduced in Leonie Sandercock’s “The Difference That Theory Makes” (1998 Towards Cosmopolis, p. 85). The quote captures some of the visceral tension involved in advocating for the importance of theoretical work, particularly in situations in which immediate crises are urgent and confronting:
Theory is necessary to figure out what’s REALLY going on. People always want to be a saviour for the community. It’s like they see a baby coming down the river and want to jump in and save it. We need to stop being so reactive to the situations that confront us. Saving babies is FINE for them but WE want to know who’s throwing the goddamn babies in the water in the first place.