Sunday, September 03, 2006

Some University Nuttiness

Universities can be, are, and should be, refuges for the offbeat person, the person with odd ideas, the experimentalist, the insane along with the rational. Knowledge progresses from these folks who walk to their own drummer and pull society along sometimes kicking and screaming. They are not trade schools where a student, or a faculty member goes to learn only about a craft, but instead serve to enrich the wide body of thought about many subjects.

However, there is a pernicious threat in some departments of the University, called postmodernism. This phenomena seems to be concentrated in only a few areas, like Lit Crit, Cultural Anthropology, certain Jungian Profs of Psychology, and some areas of sociology. It is uncommon in other departments, and scorned in departments which require high level logic, such as science and math.

PoMo started as a European movement, mostly from old leftists, various dreamers, pseudointellectuals, and other neer-do-wells.

It is characterized by an overinflated and obtuse - even bizarre - "body of literature", which is read by other postmodernists, and totally ignored by anyone with the slightest bit of logical reasoning.

PoMo got the best put-down in the history of academics a few years back when Alan Sokal (a very legit physicist) published a totally nonsensical article in the leading postmodernist journal, Social Text. On the day the article appeared he also published another article explaining the hoax, how he did it and how any third year physics student would have been rolling on the floor laughing by the third paragraph of the article. Read all about the Sokal hoax HERE ...

And now comes this little gem to give you an idea of the "deep thought" (by Jack Handly, no doubt), of a typical piece of postmodernist gobbeldygook. Thanks to James Randi who had this quote up on his page this week.

We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multidimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously. A machinic assemblage, through its diverse components, extracts its consistency by crossing ontological thresholds, non-linear thresholds of irreversibility, ontological and phylogenetic thresholds, creative thresholds of heterogenesis and autopoiesis. The notion of scale needs to be expanded to consider fractal symmetries in ontological terms.

When David Horrorwitz goes after the nutty profs in Universities he has very poor aim. It's the PoMo's that deserve derision, not the run-of-the-mill academics.

Ah ... and I almost forgot the biggest howler in all the history of fruitcake writing. When a PoMo disciple "proved" that the penis is equal to the square root of minus one.

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