About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

61 U. Cin. L. Rev. 407 (1992-1993)
So Near to Cleveland, So Far from God: An Essay on the Ethnography of Bankruptcy

handle is hein.journals/ucinlr61 and id is 417 raw text is: SO NEAR TO CLEVELAND, SO FAR FROM GOD: AN ESSAY
ON THE ETHNOGRAPHY OF BANKRUPTCY
John D. Ayer*
Metaphysics is a subject more curious than useful, the
knowledge of which, like that of a sunken reef, serves chiefly to
enable us to keep clear of it.**
Don't cheer boys; the poor devils are dying.***
I want to accomplish three overlapping tasks in this paper. First, I
want to say something about the situation of bankruptcy scholar-
ship, inside the academy and otherwise, specifically about the struc-
ture through which it is produced and merchandised. Second, I
want to identify a style of scholarship that Seems to me to have gone
largely unnoticed in the current marketing environment. These two
points may rightly be called procedural, in that they have to do with
the procedures of manufacture and distribution. But I have a sub-
stantive point as well. That is, I want to identify and appreciate a
particular way of looking at bankruptcy issues that seems to me too
often obscured in the current procedural framework.
What I am describing here is in essence a special case of a more
general kind of conflict that has divided Whigs from Tories, sheep-
men from cattlemen, squatters from pacers, whatever, in academic
life generally. This, however, raises a question. For if it is truly a
twice-told tale, the skeptical reader may wonder why I so tax her
patience. But in fact I think the very generality of my point tends to
strengthen, rather than weaken, my argument. For my point is that
the parties to this conflict seem not to have noticed that they are
playing themselves out on the wide screen. Essential to my substan-
tive case is a claim of non-novelty-the claim that what I have to say
has in fact been said before, but under circumstances that almost
guarantee that it will not be heard.'
* Professor of Law, University of California at Davis. I had helpful comments from
Joel Dobris, Ellen Jordan, and Nancy Rapoport. It is no reproach to them that I did not
follow much of their good advice. For research assistance, thanks to David Arietta.
** Charles S. Peirce, How to Make Our Ideas Clear, in PHILOSOPHICAL WRITINGS OF
PEIRCE, 23, 40 (Justus Buchler ed., 1955).
*** Captain John Woodward Philip, of the battleship Texas, as his ship swept past
the burning Spanish ship Viscaya, battle of Santiago, July 3, 1898.
1. While this paper was in draft, I came upon Lawrence Ponoroff and F. Stephen
Knippenberg, The Implied Good Faith Filing Requirement: ,Sentinel of an Evolving Bankruptcy
Policy, 85 Nw. U. L. REV. 919 (1991), which tries' to draw a distinction similar to the
distinction that I draw here. I think this is an admirable piece of work with which I have
a good deal of sympathy. For present purposes, I note two important criticisms. First, I
think the division of the world into just two classes-economists and

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most