Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is sense/nonsense an untenable dichotomy produced by oppressive binary logic?

Thanks to Jenn for the link to this refreshing article about academics' misuse of language to make simple--simplistic even--ideas seem complicated. Or complexified, if you will. This is something that Rob Taylor complained about--justifiably--in his review of John Newlove's new Selected, specifically in the afterword by Jeff Derksen. I just finished reviewing the book too, and can't for the life of me understand why the publisher would think that piece of jargon-larded bafflegab was an appropriate closing note to the selected works of a poet who disliked theory and was dedicated to an ethos of clarity in his own writing. It seems almost disrespectful.

Here's a poser: If Whitman was alive and writing today, would he say that he contains "pluralities" or "multiplicities"?


GM said...

Only in the context of young men, and then I think he'd quite like the words.

Brian Palmu said...

If Whitman were alive today,and infected with relativism, he'd say he contains "ambiguous referents signifying optional and inexhaustible inconclusiveness".

One searches in vain for a concrete noun.

My take on the professorial twaddle is that it's a make-work self-important project to sell their "authority" to the naive. I suppose they're tired of embroidering the classics with yet another superfluous essay, and are trying to "heighten" the academic discourse. Just another thread in the post-post-modernist theoretical stupor.

Good blog, Zach.