This is just one massive train wreck of a theory-bashing post:
Have you ever ran across something academic (paper, book, lecture) that you thought was complete and utter bullshit? And yes you can include postmodernism 🙂
Why did it have to happen when I was offline? Now it’s too late to join in the snarking. And look at this:
I personally have found that “theory” usually is shorthand for “jargon-laden writing,” and that “jargon” is quite often shorthand for “words I don’t know and can’t be bothered to look up.”
BURN! That’s gotta hurt. And what about this exchange?
M: People hate what they don’t understand [i.e., postmodernism].
S: Hold on. Hate what they don’t understand? I understand completely, and I think it’s bullshit.
R: You completely understand postmodernism? . . . Alright, I’m done now.
G: Oh please god explain it to me. I think I might have an orgasm.
Really, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there who think theory is bunk when one’s bookcase is in danger of collapsing from the weight of the cultural studies books stored there. But then some undergrad comes along shooting their mouth off and wackiness ensues.
4 Replies to “I fear to look, yet I cannot turn away”
There has been debates that were situated much higher on the academic latter than undergrad level, thinking of Alan Sokal’s several public burst-outs.
The latter sentence of above quote though makes me think too that theres someone young profiling.
Ah yes, the infamous Social Text incident. You know, it’s been insinuated that Sokal’s essay was an honest attempt at engaging with “postmodernism”, but that he chickened out later and claimed it was all a prank.
Sokal and Bricman wrote a book called Fashionable Nonsense which took it to people like Baudrillard, Derrida, etc and claimed it was all rubbish. Sadly, their book misquoted, misrepresented and misunderstood almost everything they were trying to criticise.
Theory’s got bunk, but its a literary genre and every genre has bunk. Postmodernism has made a lot of hard, obtuse writing, a lot of rubbish and now and then, something genuinely eye-opening, socially aware, useful and still very hard to read. There’s a myth that once you get postmodernism, you love it, that its like a cult. This is popular amongst right-wingers, for example. Postmodernity is just an explanation for what the hell happened to culture, and really, should be explained as much.
When I need to explain postmodernity to students I say this: “You get it, I don’t. You grew up with the Simpsons, I grew up with Doogie Howser and the Wonder Years. Its not a time thing and its not a culture thing; its just anywhere where culture shits the blanket.” and then I show an episode of Family Guy.
I know, and it’s not like postmodernists are even all in agreement about what postmodernism is or even if they’re postmodernists in the first place. But “where culture shits the blanket” seems to be a workable definition in everyday language.