Thursday, September 04, 2008

Digging in soil

Michel Houellebecq, one of France’s most famous authors, had an interesting piece in the September edition of Artforum. He writes about his compatriot and fellow writer Alain Robbe-Grillet and dissects his dislike of Robbe-Grillet’s novels. In his analysis Houellebecq includes a brief description of pedology, the study of soil, since both authors went to the same prestigious French school of agronomic engineering (one of France’s grande ecole).

Houellebecq writes: “The reigning method of pedology since its inception is soil cutting. It involves digging a vertical trench into the ground, its depth varying depending on the soil in question (generally, one continues down to rock stratum). Once the trench is made, what does one do? Well one observes.” What I love about his description is the similarity between the methodology of “soil cutting” and observations of consumer behavior. The key question remains how deep one is cutting and how one is observing. Digging in the wrong spot will only unveil the wrong dirt. And the absence of a theory of soil will lead to nothing or to just dirt, too.

2 Comments:

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