how to speak and write postmodern

just got this link from a friend, who apparently thought it had my name on it:
how to write and speak postmodern
it's an excellent crash course in how to be a jerk.

but, as another friend says, if anyone can get any mileage out of this, it's invented usage. so i'll just say that postmodernism (poststructuralism, too) gets a bad rap for being so convoluted and buzz-wordy. but these phrases (and the invention of them!) do important theoretical work for the philosophers that use them (although it's true that they will just make you sound pompous if you use them at too many receptions).

for example, a philosopher might choose to use an obscure phrase coined by another philosopher and only understood by philosophy students without explicating it. he might do this, and do it legitimately, to make his own writing less accessible. this can actually be useful, if, for instance, he wants to point to the context of another philosopher's work and use the term in the way the other philosopher used it and ensure that only people who understand this earlier philosopher even bother to tackle his argument. scientific papers often do the same thing when they quote a paper or refer to a school of thought they just don't do it postmodernly (yet).

so the implication is that using the language means you know the background. hopefully the instructions in the article linked above don't ACTUALLY produce coherent-sounding postmodern speak. but all language users run the risk that people aren't using the language according to the conventions we expect.

all jargon, and particularly university jargon, IS exclusive and jerky. it makes academic literature hard to get a foot hold in. it DOES perpetuate the status quo in university teaching because you are more likely to need a professor to help you get that foot hold. but postmodernism is good because it tries to acknowledge these things. and postmodern-speak, if used properly (i mean, according to convention... that was a close one!), is good because it's efficient at acknowledging things. it allows you to say 'yes, i know my speech reflects my education/educational system and european-descended middle-class background; yes i KNOW my use of these terms is contradictory or circular at some level; i'm aware of the arguments of philosophers who wrote on the topic and used these terms; BUT...' all at the same moment that you're starting to engage with the topic and making a further argument, which you obviously consider to be valid and worth talking about or you wouldn't have bothered, given all the above caveats you just made.

now that's an invented usage that packs a whallop!

1 comment:

meika said...

it would be better if we used new bits of grammar to do the same job, i.e. some declension to frame "warning recursive notice" or for each of "speech reflects my education/educational" background

now that English uses preposition for nearly everything, we could reuse the declensions and archaic cases for such self-referential speech acts

this way we could teach our children to be more reflective of their powers as language users at a very early age.

it would allows us to chunk complicated relations into a number of expected cases, just as prepositions do now for objects and relations

now that i have had this idea reading your blog I will have to turn it into a poem or story or Englsih language grammar plug-in

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