Friday 16 March 2012

More Quotes About the Eighties

Perception is reality.
 (Marshall MacLuhan)

Bad books are unreadable books, in my view, irrespective of what they say. Hard-core literary theory of the 1980s must be responsible for some of the most impenetrable and jargon-ridden prose of the past quarter century: "The center is at the center of the totality, and yet, since the center does not belong to the totality (is not part of the totality), the totality has its center elsewhere" [sic]. This is actually from one of Jacques Derrida's essays, Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, but any of his books would do – along with any author who dares to call George Eliot's Middlemarch "an autonomous signifying practice". (Valerie Sanders, professor of English at the University of Hull, Times Higher Educational Supplement March 2012)

Paul Gross and Norman Levitt published Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science in 1994. (That long ago?) And of course, when in doubt, the text is a pseudo-hegemonic discourse critiquing the gendered dialectic that speaks to the tribulations inherent in the human condition as metaphorically represented by eroticized bodies, fissured parent-child relationships, the color white, thwarted acts of redemption and socio-political realms of intensely fraught interaction between the authorial presence and the protagonist-as-reader-surrogate. (

The entire Marxist tradition was repressed, leaving a weird sinkhole that quickly filled up with the most dreadful rubbish: wise wounds, herstory, nature goddesses… (Jenny Turner on feminism 2012)

There was a moment 40 years ago when women decided that looks were incidental to their lives. (Alice Thomson Times January 2012)

My goal isn't to defend science from the barbarian hordes of lit crit (we'll survive just fine, thank you), but to defend the Left from a trendy segment of itself. (Alan Sokal. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the publication's intellectual rigor and, specifically, to learn if such a journal would "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if it (a) sounded good and (b) flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions." The article "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity", published in the Social Text Spring/Summer 1996 "Science Wars" issue, proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. Wikipedia)

Lyotard rejected notions of truth and clarity as synonymous with ‘prisons and prohibitions’. Foucault shared these sentiments, claiming ‘reason is the ultimate language of madness’, suggesting that nothing should constrain our beliefs and political preferences, not even logic or evidence. Frank Lentricchia, another left-wing theorist, said the postmodern movement ‘seeks not to find the foundation and conditions of truth, but to exercise power for the purpose of social change’. Hicks’ suspicions are confirmed by Stanley Fish’s argument in
Is There a Text in this Class? (Harvard, 1982) that theorising and deconstruction ‘relieves me of the obligation to be right . . . and demands only that I be interesting.’ (An endeavour in which he, like many of his peers, has often failed.) (Eye magazine May 2001. I think "exercise power for the purpose of social change" is code for "propaganda".)

More about the eighties here, and links to the rest.

Quotes About the Eighties Part I

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