Sunday 6 October 2013

Clowns, Provenance and Intellectual Whoredom

Clowns are funny people, they frequently speak and write nonsense, but to make people think it has a modicum of credibility they shamelessly boast about their abilities and brag about their honours. Like the Modern Major General, this one can write love poetry in five modern languages ("in addition to Latin, Greek and studies in extinct ancient scripts found on coins"), that one has the largest private collection of dugup Seleucid coins this side of Galatea, the bossy one served his country in the Air Force while a fourth one wrote a chapter in Kate Fitz Gibbon's book and knows Arthur Houghton. So, they want you to believe, everything they say must be treated as having the authority of a grave pronouncement of sage elders and never questioned.

So it is that these folk (Peter Tompa and his sock-puppet-Arthur Houghton,  'What's his "Provenance?"...', Cutural Property Observer (sic), Sunday, October 6, 2013) expect me to play the same game, boast about how many publications, where I've dug, who I've been to bed with, that kind of stuff.
But what do we know about Mr. Barford's own background or "provenance" if you like?   [...]  Arthur Houghton suggested that CPO ask the following questions for Mr. Barford to answer.
Obviously the Director of the American Cultural Property Research Institute has nothing better to do with his time. Apparently it somehow bugs them that in my profile I refer to myself as an "archaeologist". From their other writings, one gets the clear message that these clowns (though they know nothing substantial about them or the discipline) hate archaeologists. Rather than accede to the harassment and imperious demands of Houghton and Tompa and append a copy of my CV (parts of which I consider to be personal data), I've decided to change the profile. "Bearded cat-lover". My qualifications for wearing a beard are known to those who saw me without one. My qualifications as a cat lover can also be vouched for by many.

That should remove any controversy, and now we can get on with discussing what I say about portable antiquities, rather than the constant ad hominem rubbish these people utilise to avoid discussing the views. These things have absolutely no bearing on what I write here.

I have no obligation, nor the inclination, to justify myself before the likes of Tompa, Welsh, Sayles, Hoghton or any of their guffawing metal detectorist mates.  

Sock-puppet-Houghton's second question concerned why I went to Poland. Well, that is personal - is nothing to do with politics - and has absolutely no bearing on what I write here on my blog in a changed country nearly 30 years later. 

Thirdly, Peter Tompa, the paid lobbyist of two international numismatic associations asks:
"Does Mr. Barford have an undisclosed financial interest behind his commentary?"
Absolutely none.  If I took money, I'd not be able to write what I think, but what my paymasters want me to say. Mr Tompa, that would be intellectual prostitution. Maybe other jobsworths will lower themselves, but I certainly could not accept the position where I am forced to write nonsense or avoid discussing something for money as (for example) a trade association's whore. What about you, Mr Tompa?

Vignette: Culture and propiety - Miley Cyrus. 


Paul Barford said...

Cecilia von Zebra-Crossinghk asked me to post this:
"I note that Bailey & Ehrenberg are a firm specialising in employment law. Why not ask Mr Tompa (who demands you list your publications) to list all the cases he has handled and their nature. Is there going to be a pattern which confirms his position as a specifically Cultural Property lawyer? Or is a full list going to show this is something he does in his playtime?"

Thank you Cecelia. In addition, what scholarly, peer-reviewed publications has Mr Tompa published on numismatics?

Paul Barford said...

Tarquin Foules-Ponsonby-Wright asks me to post the following:
"Paul, these people really take the biscuit!

Exactly what credentials do Tompa and Houghton have to pontificate about what archaeology is and should be? What have they published about archaeology? Have they ever been affiliated with any excavations?

Both ask about what someone else might earn. Isn't that a typically classless American question? I thought collectors were gentlemen; Mr ("State Department") Houghton ought to be aware that over here in Europe gentlemen never discuss money. It seems "some" are more gentile than others.

So, since he asked, what undisclosed financial interest lies behind the CPRI Director's running commentary on you?

Maybe he should get on with running his institute properly and try to be above getting mired down in ad personam tit-for-tat?


Thank you Tarquin. They certainly do have a nerve. I put it down to a lack of real arguments and the lack of an ability to reason.

Anonymous said...

"I put it down to a lack of real arguments and the lack of an ability to reason."

Well, speaking personally, I have never suffered disparaging remarks, character assassination or physical threats from anyone that didn't have a grubby and destructive hand in the communal history pot, directly or indirectly. There are no exceptions and one conservationist is worth a thousand takers. I don't like being attacked one bit but once I twigged that simple reality it all became bearable.

David Knell said...

I wonder if anyone has spotted the insane irony in the fact that those who constantly attack "the selfish attitude of academics who live in ivory towers" are now hellbent on attacking someone precisely because they assert that he is NOT an academic living in an ivory tower!

Whether their opponent is a qualified archaeologist or not is of course utterly irrelevant. I find it supremely amusing that they cannot grasp (or pretend not to grasp) the uncomfortable fact that possibly - just ever so possibly - opposition to their cavalier and destructive approach to a heritage that belongs to the general public might come from anyone other than only an archaeologist.

But admitting that would of course ruin their constructed fallacy that the general public is represented (and their interests best served) by a few self-centred dealers and collectors rather than ALL thinking people (not just archaeologists) concerned about preserving the record of history.

Paul Barford said...

"hellbent on attacking someone..."
Well, precisely they are just hellbent on attacking someone.

If I gave them a list of my publications, they'd trawl through any of them they could get their hands on and pick statements out of context to start a whole range of time wasting tangential discussions. Let us leave them making up their clownish stories.

David Knell said...

> If I gave them a list of my publications ...

I imagine it suits their purpose to not try awfully hard to find them. In a moment of idle curiosity a few years ago, I found in a brief and cursory search not only both your published and forthcoming books but also several other academic publications and a list of many more in English, Polish and French. The search lasted all of about two minutes or so.

It's a little worrying that ACCG dealers and collectors are apparently incapable of finding the same. But perhaps their inability to conduct background research may be excused on the grounds of a simple lack of experience. It's really not their fault. The whole concept of bothering to check whether something is licit or not is all new to them.

Paul Barford said...

Last time I updated the CV it was over 180 items, so a bit difficult not to find at least some of them - that is assuming coin collectors actually know how to do a bibliographic search. But the French one is probably subsequent to that, so it could be more.

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