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February 08, 2004


Russell Arben Fox

John, you're perfectly clear. (So unlike Butler.) Your example of Zoë is dead on. I love these anti-theory, anti-bad-writing, and anti-bad-writing-which-thinks-it's-theory posts of yours, all of them. Someday you're going to publish your book, and guys like me, who aren't conservative but know they have a point, are going to gobble it up. But I'm telling you now: it's too late. The horse has left the barn. And we have no one but ourselves to blame, you know? I wonder if perhaps we should have been just a bit more guildish, just bit more aristocratic ourselves, and never let anyone doing literary studies read so much as a smidgen of Heidegger. Kept the stuff under lock and key. Wouldn't have worked, I know. But just think how much happier our colleagues down the hall, the ones who only ever wanted to teach students how to read their beloved Henry Miller, would be if we had.


Even scientists, whose verbal perplexities Theory-heads adduce as evidence for the professional necessity of obscurity, are trying to clean up their act.


Another take on Theory in Chaos, and on Mumbo-Jumbo ("And here are the deconstructionists, preaching the truth that there are no truths, in language so dense and obscure that when one sceptical academic wickedly parodied it, they at first hailed his insight and then tried to maintain that they hadn't been hoaxed.") [Sokal]. You touch upon hoax in flogging the mule [Panza's?], but I think it more central (e.g. Melville's The Confidence-Man [and embedded Letters of Phalaris bull]; Ossian; Malley [& Spectra] ...) and philosophically relevant (David Stove on Popper and Cole Porter), coalescing into a Bakhtinian Carnival of Epistemology.

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