David Thompson
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May 06, 2008

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JuliaM

"This is what I call the porcupine strategy. Make yourself as pointy, sharp and inflated as you can, and hope that any predators will just go away."

Flip the porcupine upside down. Disembowel. Repeat at leisure... :)

David

Julia,

Maybe students will eventually develop defensive countermeasures. I like to imagine a classroom in which two or more uses of the words “discourse”, “dialectics” and “spaces” within any 20 minute period triggers an alarm, alerting the students to impending bafflegab. Any further use of those words - or terms such as “dialogical strategies” - results in the speaker being sprayed with quick-setting insulation foam, which immediately swells to fifty times its original volume and takes on the properties of concrete, thus preventing any further irritation.

Franklin

The whole point of going into academia as a postmodernist is the opportunity to prey on the weak. Up against fully-formed worldviews, one might risk having one's feelings hurt. Good for those kids for putting their collective foot down.

Julia: :)

David

What I find strange is the assumption that examples like those above must – surely must – be rare and aberrant. In fact, blathering is remarkably commonplace, and quite shameless. And it seems to go uncorrected. What begins as opaque and technocratic posing rapidly degenerates into bald assertion and non sequitur. Poke around Mute or the Journal of Žižek Studies and you practically trip over the stuff.

Candice

It sickens me and even raises the blood pressure slightly to read of this willful obfuscation of meaning and corruption of language. To use speech and writing to conceal rather than to reveal, and to confuse rather than enlighten - this seems a sort of crime. A true thought-crime as it were, as the damage exists only in the mind. Yet it is as real as any theft by deception. I am being promised some exchange of information, but instead receive a polemic disguised in horribly imprecise blather.

As a lexiphile, I find seemingly-impenetrable prose to be its own reward *if* the thoughts being conveyed are made more precise by the use of a thesaurus. To attempt to decipher something "postmodern" only to discover that it is in fact nothing but empty words with either no meaning or so many meanings as to be meaningless - that is true agony.

The students of Ms. Priya Venkatesan should sue her and Dartmouth via class-action for loss of time and breach of contract. They paid for this class in the expectation of gaining some benefit, and instead got a waste of their time and in some cases a lawsuit for frank criticism. Perhaps such action would stifle some of the efforts of those whose skill lies in draining language of any meaning.

Amos

From the Derrida link:

"Capital contradiction. At the very origin of capital. Immediately or in the end, through so many differential relays, it will not fall to induce the 'pragmatic' double constraint of all injunctions. Moving about freely (aus freien Stucken), on its own head [de son propre chef], with a movement of its head but that controls its whole body, from head to toe, ligneous and dematerialised, the Table-Thing appears to be at the principle, at the beginning, and at the controls of itself."

Holy shit.

David

Don’t look directly at it. It’ll steal your soul.

AC1

Here's a postmodern discussion on the differences between Lorenzian and Minkowski spaces.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

David

Related... http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2008/05/the-prose-it-bu.html

Amos

Best line: "This summary omits much of the pleasure of reading [Derrida's] original."

steveaz

"Skillfully poetic." David, the prog's will like Burke's choice of qualifier for their product.

After seven years spent observing discursive styles in a university town, I'm noticing one pronounced quality of the Progs' tactical poetry is its deliberate lyricism.

I liked this definition of the noun, "lyr-i-cism," at "The Free Dictionary."*
1(a) The character or quality of subjectivity and sensuality of expression, especially in the arts.
1 (b) The quality or state of being melodious; melodiousness.
2. (a) An intense outpouring of exuberant emotion.

It captures perfectly the Prog's rhetorical decoction of trite, personal passions into a crude political paste. It also predicts the Prog's dissociation from the Western, objective sciences - correctly, too.

Cheers!

Link: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lyricism

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