So poetic a title, Vibration and Control. As in Whitehead’s term vibratory organism, or as in Baudelaire’s poem, Music, ‘vibration and control’ suggests the very dynamic of human existence – our lives as shaped expressions of energy…

Music, like an ocean, often carries me away!
Through the ether far,
or under a canopy of mist, I set sail
for my pale star.
Breasting the waves, my lungs swollen
like a ship’s canvas,
night veils from me the long rollers,
I ride their backs:
I sense all a suffering vessel’s passions
vibrating within me:
while fair winds or the storm’s convulsions
on the immense deep
cradle me. Or else flat calm, vast mirror there
of my despair!

I sense all a suffering vessel’s passions / vibrating within me… It’s also the very basis of aesthetic response: Listening to music, sailing away on its ether, makes one resonate with the universal suffering of the human vessel. Yet that sympathetic vibration, because it is for you, at the moment of listening, aestheticized, feels as it were supported (“cradle me.”) Tis what UD has said so often on this blog about artistic experience, and it’s an idea that goes back to Aristotle: We are intensely drawn to aesthetic response in part because it cathartically allows us to go through the feeling of suffering in a way not personal to us. Art “mirrors” our despair; it is not the raw stuff of our despair. It vibrates our being with being and is therefore thrilling, clarifying, purgative, and even – in making us feel universal suffering – compassion-making…

But what grand work of art is titled “Vibration and Control”?

Well, let’s shift gears.

“Vibration and Control” is the name of an engineering journal. One of its contributors was part of a peer review ring:

[Peter] Chen and possible collaborators may have set up as many as 130 fake email accounts that they used to fabricate identities as peer reviewers to help clear articles for publication. On at least one occasion, [the journal's publisher] alleges, Chen “reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he had created.”

The journal has in one swell foop retracted SIXTY articles.

Not very poetic, but very postmodern. A lot of journals these days pretty much run themselves. When you don’t have real editors (most journals don’t have much in the way of readers either), this sort of thing will happen. Another instance of what UD calls where the simulacrum ends.

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UD thanks two of her readers for various links to this story.

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2 Responses to ““Vibration and Control.””

  1. david foster Says:

    “Vibration and Control,” in the engineering sense of the phrase, is about some pretty important stuff. The journal defines its scope as including: “All linear and nonlinear vibration phenomena and covers topics such as: vibration and control of structures and machinery, signal analysis, aeroelasticity, neural networks, structural control and acoustics, noise and noise control, waves in solids and fluids and shock waves.”

    To pick one of these subtopics, the study of Aeroelasticity is about the prevention of “flutter,” a phenomenon that has been known to cause airplanes to fall apart in flight.

    So it would seem to gaining fraudulent acceptance of a paper in a journal like V&C is even a more serious matter than doing the same with journals of other kinds.

  2. Polish Peter Says:

    The Editorial Advisory Board should be asking some serious questions. It’s nice to be asked to serve on these, but it also comes with some responsibilities.

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