There is something brewing slowly in my brain regarding Trump (it isn’t overkill until yours truly pummels the perished equine corpse of yesterday’s hottest topics). But, to keep you busy, here’s today’s “Three to Read”:
The American Prospect has a story of a professor who got a nonsense abstract accepted on a conference panel. I find this far less damning than the post-modernist article that was published some years ago (and he refers to in his piece), although I think that there is a point to be made on the opacity of much humanities and social science research. Considering that the author has a healthy academic pedigree, the need to fill conference panels in order to present one’s own work, and the possibility that the conveners themselves hoped to understand the author more fully at the conference itself, I think this story could be as much about the perverse incentives of modern academia as its pseudo-profundity.
The story reminded me of an old favorite of mine in the much-missed Lingua Franca on whether “Bad Writing is Necessary”. It contrasts the writing of Adorno and Orwell and asks whether flouting bourgeois literary convention is more genuinely revolutionary than purposefully demotic prose aimed at the hearts of the working class. There is a classic, if understated, continental vs. Anglo-Saxon worldview antagonism at work here too.
One professor who writes very clearly is Martha Naussbaum. Here she is, in your grandfather’s the New Republic, slamming Judith Butler for her reliance on jargon. Some might ponder whether this somewhat ironic in light of my previous posting on standpoint ontology but…. you can piss off! 🙂