January 5th, 2010

Semiformalishmaybe

Revisiting Fish

To briefly revisit a limited issue with postmodernism (spoiler: I think postmodernism is rubbish and the wrong direction to go from the fundamentally right challenges posed by relativism) and "X studies" fields (where X is gender, feminist, black, latino, or a few other things), I have a better criticism of Stanley Fish's criticism of Alan Sokal's prank. Collapse )

On a personal note, whenever we see papers, books, and similar that connect radically disparate ideas, we should be very skeptical, even if these ideas are fascinating or the authors brilliant/funny/nice. Yes, perhaps marxist theory and queer theory can tell us something about media consolidation, but more likely we have a few tame observations that cultural creation is becoming more open dressed up in very fancy clothes (if so, Lawrence Lessig says it better and with less questionability). Yes, perhaps cellular automata are teh sekkrit path to understanding all of reality, but more likely we have a bright guy with a few neat ideas who doesn't have enough people around him telling him when he's full of shit or unoriginal.

A further personal note - it's important to tell people when they're full of shit (or unoriginal, or both). It's too easy for people to decide "I will be original and brilliant", write their manifestos/books/etc, and not realise that their foundations lead them to reinvent the wheel for the 57th time, badly, and that there are also some rather well established criticisms for what they're trying to do if only they would look. I've had this happen a few times in my life - where I had to say "dude, go look up anarchoprimitivism", "libertarianism", "christian socialism", "turtle logo", "lisp", to someone who had essentially synthesised it themself (I've also had a number of "original" ideas that turned out to be not so original).

(note that saying "I disagree", "I disagree and find your ideas disturbing", "you're only half-right", "your criticisms are fine but your conclusions are poor", "you're full of shit", and "you reinvented the wheel" are all different things you might say - be sure it's clear in your mind which of these you're actually saying)

Largely unrelated, I am happy to see that Howard Dean is making a comeback. Collapse )