Is this good writing?

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Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:18 pm Post

vic-k wrote:It seems simple enough to me...He's talking about sex.

If he's talking about Freud and Jung, then he's got the wrong word.
Shouldn't it be phallusy?


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Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:36 pm Post

There seems to be an awful lot of agreement here on what constitutes good or bad writing, as if this can be determined by any of us for any situation, or that there should never be attempts to change or refine it. I could go on a bit about how useless "good" and "bad" are for talking about writing, but let me please instead counter the approval for Sokal and the other "anti-postmodernists" with a very nice quote from Dwaipayan Banerjee from Sarai's Reader-List (a great place to keep up with Indian intellectual culture if you're interested - ). This is not because I think the original piece of writing is "good", but rather, this kind of debate always ends up with the assertion of clear lines for goodness and badness which tend to exclude anything new or different. And frankly, I don't see the point.

Dwaipayan Banerjee:

"A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream."

- Gaston Bachelard

I read the post on the Sokal-Bricmont affair a couple of days ago, and I have to say the currency it continues to hold years after the event is disconcerting to say the least.

To put it briefly, I cannot find many ways of distinguishing between those who blindly toe the Sokal line and the editors of the journal (not peer-reviewed let us remember) that the hoax was sent to. To me, they both represent the highest forms of intellectual laziness and lack of rigour. Why? Simply, because when Sokal and Bricmont make sweeping accusations about disciplinary masters such as Deleuze, Latour, Irigiray and Lacan, they have simply not bothered to train themselves in the disciplines they think they are at such liberty to condemn. To me, it is precisely the equivalent of someone 'debunking' Eistein's theory of relativity because it did not make immediate sense to him as he flipped through it before bedtime. I am not for a moment arguing that there is no such thing as bad social science writing. I am just wary of people making judgements on such writing without the adequate training to do so.

I am honestly scared of a world and people that would walk into a Picasso exhibition without any understanding of painting and dismiss it summarily without any curiousity or desire to learn. I am also scared of a world with only the literature that is 'easy' to read and has no place for Joyce, Eliot and countless others. I certainly would not enjoy living in a world that ridiculed the hootings of a Charlie Parker because it did not make them immediately want to dance. In academics, as I make place for a host of mathematics and physics that I do not understand, I wish simultaneously that a similiar place would be made for philosophy and social studies of science rooted in philosophy (which of course are strengthened by a fundamental knowledge of the science examined). I am glad therefore for the many scientists and mathematicians who have come out over the last ten years against Sokal and debunked his 'debunking' so to speak.

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Tue Sep 25, 2007 12:55 am Post

If Jung is involved, shouldn`t we really be thinking in terms of `collectives`i.e. orgies and therefore the word should be `Phallusies`

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