Well, good luck with that; your Grievance Studies hoax (aka Daughter of Sokal), just now disclosed, will get plenty of attention, etc.

It might even help people understand how scandals like Avital Ronell happen.

But although the hoaxes keep coming, and although America’s best minds – Richard Rorty, for one – have for decades warned us about the deadly combination of hypertheory and political correctness —

When one of today’s academic leftists says that some topic has been ‘inadequately theorized,’ you can be pretty certain that he or she is going to drag in either philosophy of language, or Lacanian psychoanalysis, or some neo-Marxist version of economic determinism. Theorists of the Left think that dissolving political agents into plays of differential subjectivity, or political initiatives into pursuits of Lacan’s impossible object of desire, helps to subvert the established order. Such subversion, they say, is accomplished by ‘problematizing familiar concepts.’

Recent attempts to subvert social institutions by problematizing concepts have produced a few very good books. They have also produced many thousands of books which represent scholastic philosophizing at its worst. The authors of these purportedly ‘subversive’ books honestly believe that they are serving human liberty. But it is almost impossible to clamber back down from their books to a level of abstraction on which one might discuss the merits of a law, a treaty, a candidate, or a political strategy. Even though what these authors ‘theorize’ is often something very concrete and near at hand – a current TV show, a media celebrity, a recent scandal – they offer the most abstract and barren explanations imaginable.

— no one seems able to find their way out of the fog.

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8 Responses to “‘We hope this will give people—especially those who believe in liberalism, progress, modernity, open inquiry, and social justice—a clear reason to look at the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left and say, “No, I will not go along with that. You do not speak for me.”’”

  1. dmf Says:

    there is certainly the delusion that they are making some political difference (and or equipping students to do the same) there are also the false beliefs that they are teaching “critical” thinking or empathy (engaging books and people being very different) but if what they are left with is something akin to teaching arts appreciation or job training for academic careers than we have better uses for our tax dollars.

  2. Bill R Says:

    “Recent attempts to subvert social institutions by problematizing concepts have produced a few very good books. They have also produced many thousands of books which represent scholastic philosophizing at its worst.”

    “Many thousands”?

    I know that many people have WAY too much free time. But “Many thousands”? Really?

  3. Bill R Says:

    Professor Ronnell is a puzzle. She is gay and so not attracted to men. He is gay and so not attracted to women.

    Fine. God bless them both. But if you are going to indulge in a career destroying affair, shouldn’t somebody be having some fun?

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Bill R: I’m afraid thousands is correct.

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Bill R: I think she was having fun while she thought he liked her.

  6. Bill R Says:

    Re: Many thousands.

    I have a daughter in college. I’m sensing what I call a TRO. (Tuition Reduction Opportunity).

    Re: Prof. Ronnell. Yes. I’m heterosexual personally and can’t imagine anything different. The ins and outs of bisexuality are a mystery to me.

    That said, Prof. Ronell received the following letter from her supposed paramour.

    “Mon Avital, beloved and special one, I only now relieved [sic] your beautiful and special message.… I thank you for your infinite understanding and sensitivities that are always beyond measure, all of which I reciprocate with tenderness and love. I thank you so much for walking me through this catabasis [descent]. I don’t know how I would have survived without you. You are the best!!! I love you so much. You are the best, my joy, my miracle. Kisses and devotion, always. Yours—n.”

    I would like to think that if received such a thing from an attractive woman half my age, I would think it an obvious attempt to manipulate me. But in all honesty, maybe not.

    “Catabasis” is a nice touch.

  7. DRC Says:

    I sent you a link last night about the Grievance Studies hoax, but I see now that you were way ahead of me!

  8. Margaret Soltan Says:

    DRC: Yep. But thanks for the link!

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