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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » OSC on postmodernism (Page 2)

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Author Topic: OSC on postmodernism
blonsky214
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quote:
Perhaps it is a matter of weighing witnesses-- and I take his word to be of greater weight than your own, because it matches more closely with my experiences with academia than yours does.
That's fine, although it's kind of sad when you give people more credit simply because they already agree with you.

quote:
And I've learned never to give much consideration to virtual psychoanalysis. Especially those that ring with defensiveness.
Fair enough, though it certainly rings with no more defensiveness than OSC's constant kvetching about literature as studied in the academy. BTW, if you want to complain about imputing motives to others ("virtual psychoanalysis"), you should read OSC's recent column on Intelligent Design. Sigh.

quote:
Can you imagine, 'Portrait of the Alien As a Young Man?' It'd be the death of speculative fiction.
Um, yes, actually, I can. Try Samuel Delany. I'm not a fan, but I'm pretty sure he didn't kill off "speculative fiction."
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Dagonee
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Taking someone's word to be of greater weight than anothers because it matches your experiences is not the same giving someone more credit simply because they already agree with you.
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blonsky214
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Thanks for the update.
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Rakeesh
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My hunch is that I really don't much care about 'postmodernism' at all, but I do find this thread a humorous thing coming from people who have said in the past that OSC should not feel on the defensive around here.
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blonsky214
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Well Rakeesh...I can't really deny the justice of that point. I guess I enjoy getting worked up by things. On the other hand, I don't think OSC would write these columns if he didn't want people to bite back. But your point is well taken. (I just can't decide which was wrong: my earlier comment or the ones on this thread...)
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Dagonee
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quote:
Thanks for the update.
You're welcome. I like to help people out who have problems with basic logic.
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Scott R
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quote:
if you want to complain about imputing motives to others ("virtual psychoanalysis"),
You misunderstand the word 'virtual.' You psychoanalyzed an individual that you (as far as this forum audience knows) have no real world connection to. Because there is no true, personal connection, and because all your conclusions are based not on observation or experience, but on an admittedly biased and defensive interpretation of a number of essays (second hand, edited, oriented thoughts), your analysis (and any analysis undertaken in this type of situation) is questionable.

There is a difference in doing this and analyzing the documented efforts and literature of a group of people-- say macro-evolutionists.

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Pelegius
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If I may indulge in some virtual psychoanalysis, your problem, Scott, seems to be deification. Most people here agree that while OSC is a great writer of Speculative fiction and also of reviews, he is not always right (nor has he ever claimed to be.) This does not mean that he is less talented, only that he is human. In fact, I question the ability of anyone who does not make mistakes to write anything of any worth.
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Scott R
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Pelegius-

Gimme my nickel back.

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King of Men
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What the devil is a macro-evolutionist?

About the article : Scott, I think you are missing the point. If the writer thinks that physics should not be used to support postmodernism, well, I agree completely. But attacking the physics is a totally stupid way to make that point! It seems he accepts the principle that physics can be used to support sociological theories, and the best argument he can come up with is 'but Heisenberg might be wrong'! That's as bad as the other side, with the additional problem that he needs to search out obscure new crackpot theories.

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Dagonee
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Is there some secret meeting I missed where anyone that challenges criticism of OSC is automatically accused of worshipping him?

Come on boys, at least find something more original than that to dismiss other people's ideas with.

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King of Men
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Oh, Dag, didn't you get the memo? We decided that since the defenders of OSC were going to use logic and reason, it was only fair to accuse them of being irrational fanatics.
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Pelegius
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KoM, I am not sure the "how dare you criticize OSC on his own forum" defence counts as logic and reason.
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Dagonee
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Because NO ONE has said "how dare you criticize OSC on his own forum."

Your rephrasing, plus the idolotry accusations, are simply the convenient way to categorize those who decry posting no information on the topic but throwing in an "OSC is prejudiced about academia" comment for no good reason.

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Pelegius
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quote:
Do you think that it's funny, or witty, to insult someone on their own site?
From Douglas Adams and OSC, directed at clod.

And in a atypical moment OSC himself
quote:
So easy to come on my website and attack me....

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King of Men
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Zing! Oh my, Dagonee caught out in an error of fact! Whatever will happen next?
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Scott R
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I'm a little unsure why you're using those two examples, Pelegius, seeing as they have no bearing on this discussion, and as Dag pointed out, no one's defended OSC in this thread by using that particular argument.
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Dagonee
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First, I was talking about this thread. Scott, at least, picked up the context correctly, although I could have been more explicit.

So examples from other threads don't really count. However, even if they did, you'd still be wrong.

quote:
quote:
Do you think that it's funny, or witty, to insult someone on their own site?
From Douglas Adams and OSC, directed at clod.
Insult <> criticize. If you can't be precise in your own accusations, that's hardly my problem.

quote:
So easy to come on my website and attack me....
Attack could mean criticize here, so at least it's seemingly possible that this one might be applicable. "Attack" could be referring to something like criticsim. It could also be referring to something like the insults we've seen here. However, since you haven't bothered to supply a link, I can't really tell from the context of your quotation.

quote:
Zing! Oh my, Dagonee caught out in an error of fact! Whatever will happen next?
At minimum, you are premature in your zinging, and only if we grant a universality to my previous post which I did not intend.

Quite possibly, depending on the context of Pel's quote, you are wrong.

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Pelegius
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All comments are universal unless qualified.
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Dagonee
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quote:
All comments are universal unless qualified.
1.) No. You specifically accused Scott of "deification," presumably in response to his conduct in this thread. In response to that, KoM posted something about my use of logic and reason, to which you responded with your "how dare you criticize OSC on his own forum" crack. The thread of conversation is very clear.

2.) You ignored everything I said about the quotes themselves, which applies whether you twist my remark into universality or not.

3.) Please explain what you meant by posting "KoM, I am not sure the 'how dare you criticize OSC on his own forum' defence counts as logic and reason" in this thread? Was it just a random decision to put it in this thread when nobody in this thread had said so? Were you referring to something specific? If so, what were you referring to?

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Pelegius
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Actually, in accordance with my statement about comments being universal, I was commenting about Scott R on this thread yes, but also on other threads.

This is really quite an ordinary convention of the English language. When I say that the CSU is composed primarily of those who believe it still to be 1950, I mean that most, but not necessarily all, CSU politicians are hopelessly out of touch and provincial. However, when I say that Václav Havel is a great man, I do not mean that he is only great at certain times, nor do I mean that he is perfect. Finally, when I say that Joyce Kilmer's poetry should only be preserved as a monument to creative folly, I mean just that. Is that sufficiently clear.


By the way, the sentiments expressed in this post are applicable everywhere, and not just in this thread.

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clod
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I, for one, find it hard to read my own posts. Sometimes because I was just stretching too far into obscurity, sometimes because I was just being an irritable turd. (I'll keep my own counsel on what percentage belong to which type.)

Is it easy to come on his website and attack "OSC"?

No. The only type of person who would say such a thing is the type who hasn't tried it.

Attacking a concept, I mean.

[edit: for grammatical correctness]

[ February 20, 2006, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: clod ]

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Scott R
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quote:
All comments are universal unless qualified.
Ah. How prevalent is this type of attitude on Hatrack?

I feel quite differently, Pelegius.

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Dagonee
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Having given you two opportunities to address the inadequacy of the quotes themselves to support the contention that someone has said ""how dare you criticize OSC on his own forum," I will simply assume you are unable to do so until I see evidence otherwise.
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clod
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dagonee,

Was that comment directed at me, Scott R., or Pelgius?

It's not always clear who is responding to whom. Sometimes, I submit a post and it appears a few places away from the post of the person I was responding to. For that reason, I tend to try and use the handle of the person I'm hoping to reach. I dropped that recently, as it didn't seem to be the norm around here.

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Dagonee
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That was to Pelegius, the original author of the quoted portion.

I try to use names, but get lazy about it when I quote someone.

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clod
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that's cool. everyone's a bit lazy on this bit or that bit.
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MrSquicky
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I'm sorry. We don't state our opinions that people who have previously been untrustworthy on a particular subject should have their current statements on that subject taken with a grain of salt? That's not the Hatrack I know.

Likewise, I'm not sure I get the logic of saying you shouldn't express an opinion because people fall into either believing you beforehand and will believe you afterwards or don't believe you and won't believe you afterwards. For one thing, that's a pretty stupid false dichotomy. For another, it's hardly a reason to get so upset that someone expressed an opinion.

One thing I've notice Dag, when you're telling me what I know or understand or am trying to do, that I come across as pretty simple-minded. I don't know, I would have thought that I've built up a reputation for a great deal more complexity than you generally seem to give me credit for.

Let's take this instance. Now, you've been the other principle in discussions in the past where I've shown that OSC has made false statements about parts of academia that I am very knowledgible about. Based on his false and venemous statements about parts that I know very well, I exressed the opinion that it's likely his current venemous statments about academia may not be all that accurate.

For what reasons? Here's a simple list.

1) The emperor has no clothes. OSC writes from a position of authority and is also accorded a position of authority on Hatrack. However, he has a history of making false statments. There's a host of psychological phenomena that deal with situations like this, all of which pretty much boil down to the same less as the fable I referenced. Unless someone breaks the surface tension, many people are going to assume that the group is more certain of what is being asserted than they are, and will often squelch their own doubts or at the very least, be hesitant to make them public.

2) If you look at it, you'll notice (despite Scott's wild distortion) that what I said was pretty mild, especially given the past history of which you're aware. That's due in part to another social dynamics technique. I was trying to establish a referrence point for criticsm. Posting a low key response along the same lines that other people were no doubt thinking should have some effect towards setting the tone of other critical responses.

3) This is hardly an isolated situation. I've been on this site for some time and have established a certain reputation, independent of OSC's articles. This reputation is going to factor into people's reception of what I said. For that matter, people who don't know me by reputation, say newcomers to the site, are going to take something away from the fact that I'm a long established and relatively active member of the site and that my statements stand relatively unchallenged.

4) I fully expected other people to come along, as they did, who know this part of academia to refute OSC's assertions. This both strengthens my personal standing and the standing of previous and future statements I'll make. Making predictions that then come true is a good way to establish credibility.

5) I expected you or other apologists to attack me. So, then we have this conversation and, most likely, will expand the conversation into a wider discussion of the previous false statements that OSC has made about academia, which I'll try to use to strengthen many of the previous reasons for my statements.

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MrSquicky
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Regarding criticism of academia:

You know, I'm a member of academia and I find an awful lot to criticise about it. Here's the thing though. It's not monolithic, nor is it a group of moustache twirling villians.

Are there people who use their positions of authority to irresponsibly spread their opions and punish those that disagree with them? You bet. Are their people who slavishly adhere to a certain philosophy and react with extreme hostility to anything they see threatening this? Yes. Are there people who get totally unconnected from reality? Yup. Is there an enormous amount of BS put out there by people who aren't up to the task, who don't have good ideas of their own, who are just trying to make themselves feel or seem important? You better believe it.

But here's the thing, in these respects it's really not all that different from the "real world". All of those things describe my interactions with the world outside academia pretty accurately. Look at any large company, you'll see everything I described there.

As I've said, I don't know a darn thing about post-modernism in relation to the study of literature, but here's some things I can tell you about it if it follows all the stuff I do know about. First, though it may be a strong movement inside academia, while it may even completely dominate the faculties at specific institutions, it is very far from the only movement or a bit of established orthodoxy. There are likely many people within academia strongly critical of it. Second, while there are plenty of people pumping out essentially meaningless BS within its bounds, there are also people making very insightful, useful, and illuminating observations using it as a framework. Third, the people working in this area are not unified by character, motives, or methods. They are not an easily addressible group who all have the same clear, simplistic faults.

I have a friend who is likely around as smart as I am. He's just about to get his PhD in Art History from NYU. We used to have long arguments about Art, especially in regards to the things I appreciated more, like literature or science. At a certain point though, and I'm not entirely sure when this happened, I realized something very important. That is, this is a very smart person who is very passionate about this thing and has studied it very thoroughly. It's also a field I have little knowledge of and am not intrinsically iclined towards. And what came out of this is, while we still enjoy a good argument, I've realized the importance of, at times, shutting the heck up and listening to what he has to say. It's been incredibly rewarding. I get it a lot better now. When I go to a museum, especially if I'm hanging with my friend, I get a lot more out of it than the "oooh, pretty pictures" reaction I had before.

Also, those Art school girls can get pretty freaky.

All of which is to say, the academic world isn't substantially different from the "real" world in many things. It's neither a shinig bastion of people who are free from the petty problems that everyone else goes through nor is it a never-never land for out of touch people who look down on everyone else while at the same time behaving irresponsibly.

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Dagonee
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quote:
I expected you or other apologists to attack me.
Ah, there we go - the more polite form of the "deification" charge.

But not much more polite. I mean, it's technically true, but it's also correct only at certain times. Certainly, I'm less of an OSC apologist than you are an OSC assailant. But, whatever.

I'm guessing then, that you wouldn't mind if I posted about how you distort the views of others every time you post? You'd be fine with that?

Because I can certainly support it at least as easily as you support your claims about OSC, and can muster at least as strong a reputation to back it up.

Of course, I won't do that. I'll mention it when I find it relevant in the context of saying something else in response to you. But I won't post it when I have nothing else to say on the topic.

My point is very simple. You had no information about the article, and you posted a general insult about the author of the article.

It's pointless. It's rude. And it's unsurprising.

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MrSquicky
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I posted an opinion on the likely accuracy of the description presented based on the previous inaccuracies by OSC on related aspects of the super-subject. I don't see how that was a general insult. Nor is it in any way out of line to how we would treat any other member of the site who did something similar. From where I sit, the hidden point of yours and Scott's posts is "OSC should be treated differently from other people." which is something I don't agree with, at least not in regards to being called out when he writes things that aren't true.

I just listed five things that I thought were substantive aspects of my response. So, I don't see how I agree with you that it was pointless.

[ February 21, 2006, 03:44 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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Dagonee
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quote:
Nor is it in any way out of line to how we would treat any other member of the site who did something similar. The hidden point of yours and Scott's posts is "OSC should be treated differently from other people." which is something I don't agree with, at least not in regards to being called out when he writes things that aren't true.
In the words of an ex-President, "there you go again." I'd appreciate it if you could support this at all from my posts on the subject. My statements were general and not at all based on OSC's status as host of the site.

And, once again, you weren't calling out OSC when he wrote things that weren't true. You specifically didn't know if he had written anything untrue in the article in question.

Come to think of it, I've been knocking on this door pretty hard on the other side with respect to other non-posters.

quote:
just listed five things that I thought were substantive aspects of my response. So, I don't see how I agree with you that it was pointless.
Perhaps those are substantive aspects of your response. I won't go into that right now. But, they weren't in your original post.
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Scott R
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Dag pretty much said what I wanted to say.

"You only feel that way because you're obsessed with OSC, and can't see his faults clearly," is a pretty pathetic excuse, especially since you don't know me well enough to offer that kind of analysis.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
In the words of an ex-President, "there you go again." I'd appreciate it if you could support this at all from my posts on the subject. My statements were general and not at all based on OSC's status as host of the site.
Your comments were ridiculous. You said, in effect, that it was pointless to express an opinion because people either already agree with you or don't. You then claimed, because of this, I must have written my post with the only purpose to insult OSC.

I wouldn't have to put up with this nonesense for anyone but OSC.

quote:

And, once again, you weren't calling out OSC when he wrote things that weren't true. You specifically didn't know if he had written anything untrue in the article in question.

Yes, in fact, I was. OSC has written false things about academia before. A consequence of this, as part of being called out on it, is a tendency for people to disbelieve him when he writes on that subject in the future. That is what I expressed, that I had doubts about the accuracy of OSC's description based on his prior inaccuracies on very similar subjects.

quote:
Perhaps those are substantive aspects of your response. I won't go into that right now. But, they weren't in your original post.
I have no idea what this means.
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MrSquicky
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Scott,
You tried to tell me that we don't say that we doubt the accuracy of people who have said false things in the past on Hatrack. I really don't think that this is true, nor do I think you would have said anything like this with any expectation of being taken seriously if it wasn't about OSC.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Your comments were ridiculous. You said, in effect, that it was pointless to express an opinion because people either already agree with you or don't. You then claimed, because of this, I must have written my post with the only purpose to insult OSC.
Let me sum up: You couldn't bother to take the time to make your case, but you wanted to get your insult in. That's why it was pointless - you weren't even trying to convince anyone. You just wanted to further your little vendetta against OSC.


Oh, what's that you say? You don't like having your opinion dimsissed by motive? Then don't do it to me.

By the way, does this mean you can't point to anything in my post that suggest I think this standard should be applied only to OSC?

quote:
I wouldn't have to put up with this nonesense for anyone but OSC.
This is a false statement.

quote:
I have no idea what this means.
Well, at least you didn't just make something up to respond to when you couldn't decipher the meaning.

Let me use clearer language: the 5 substantive points weren't in your original post.

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Dagonee
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quote:
I really don't think that this is true, nor do I think you would have said anything like this with any expectation of being taken seriously if it wasn't about OSC.
You have yet to back this crap up. I've spent quite a bit of time dealing with someone on the other side who makes crap up about Bush based on similarities to what's being made up to other things he's done.

Once again, back up your assertion that this is only about OSC.

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MrSquicky
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Dag,
Those weren't 5 substantive points. They wre 5 substantive aspects or reasons for my initial post. I offerred them because you describe what you apparently felt where the only reasons and expectations I could have about that post. They are there in order to, as I've said, answer your accusation that my post was pointless.

I haven't been around all that much lately, so maybe I'm missing how your telling somoene that they shouldn't post negative things about George Bush because people already either believe them or not before they are posted. If so, it's as poor an argument there as it is here, for the 5 reasons (and likely more than that) that I posted.

OSC has said false things (and things that were not difficult to discern were false) about academia in the past. He did so with a very accusatory tone and wrapped up in what was difficult not to see as an attack on "academia". Because of this, I said that I wouldn't be suprised if he was being inaccurate here.

You've apparently taken objection to this. I've already answered your initial stated grounds for this objection (i.e. that it was pointless and I knew it was pointless). So, do you disagree with the idea that we should point out that people who have said false things in the past should have their current statements taken with a grain of salt or does the basis of your obhection lie elsewhere?

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Dagonee
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quote:
OSC has said false things (and things that were not difficult to discern were false) about academia in the past.
Almost each and every time this subject has come up, others have disagreed with your assertion that what he has said were false. In the vast majority of those cases, you have been either taking single sentences our of context or purposely picking the more inflammatory (and usually less natural) reading of his articles. You know that those accusations have been contested. Yet you posted them as conclusions, provided no backup, and then said you wouldn't be surprised if OSC is making stuff up. It's either very rude or very lazy - as in, you wanted to get your dig in but didn't want to take the time to actually support your dig.

Whatever. I don't care to rehash those things with you, because it is as abundantly clear as ever that you have no intention of dealing forthrightly with me (see the incredibly dishonest summary of my initial post as "so maybe I'm missing how your telling somoene that they shouldn't post negative things about George Bush because people already either believe them or not before they are posted" for exhibit one). I have asked time and time again now for you to backup your contention that I wouldn't make the same kind of argument about someone else. You have refused and given the weak excuse that you haven't seen me do so because you haven't been around.

In other words, you've admitted to lacking a basis for saying I would only say this in defense of OSC but saying so anyway.

Once again, back up your assertion that this is only about OSC.

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Pelegius
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quote:
Ah. How prevalent is this type of attitude on Hatrack?
In theory, I would imagine that it is nearly universal (at least among those who have studied logic or at least Geometry) but I concede that it is, perhaps, a law more honoured in the breach than in the observance. However, honouring a law which is often forgotten is no just cause for attack, and attacking thus means loosing any moral high ground which one might have wished to have claimed.
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Scott R
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quote:
You tried to tell me that we don't say that we doubt the accuracy of people who have said false things in the past on Hatrack.
But you didn't say any of this in your original post.

You said,

quote:
seeing as it's OSC writing about academia, I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of what he said is based more on prejudice than on the acutal state of affairs.

You can only cry wolf so many times before at least some people stop believing you.


The discord here is that I see that OSC's stance on academia is a valid one-- apparently, so do many others.

You do not.

However INSTEAD of presenting the information to counterract OSC's essay, you chose instead patronism ("Oh, how CUTE! OSC thinks people still read.") and insult ("OSC is unable to be correct because he's prejudiced.")

quote:
I really don't think that this is true, nor do I think you would have said anything like this with any expectation of being taken seriously if it wasn't about OSC.
:shrug:

I'm not overly given to discussing my motivations, since they don't bear at all on this discussion, and can't be proven anyway.

Since, I remind you, you don't know me.

quote:
However, honouring a law which is often forgotten is no just cause for attack, and attacking thus means loosing any moral high ground which one might have wished to have claimed.
Can you clear this up for me? I don't understand.
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Scooter
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quote:
Originally posted by blonsky214:
quote:
As I became aware of critical theory years ago, it has been easy to see the things that OSC talked about, but I suspect that some people who buy into the theory don't necessarily see it as agenda-driven or slanted in any way because for them it is just a "normal" way of thinking, and critics of it just verify the legitimacy of critical theory in the minds of those who promote it. I realize that some of these observations can be applied to other agendas/perspectives/value systems, etc. However, that fact doesn't discount the afore-mentioned observations per se, unless I am so blind that I can't see what is really going on--but how does anyone prove that about anyone else, especially on an internet message board. [Wink]
Oh I see, so you can say PoMo is still alive because you're objective and neutral while everyone else is blinded by ideology, but your perspective is inviolate because this is a message board. Nice work.

Yes, PoMo is alive and well--the point is that academia is also full of people who DON'T buy into it. The error is not in saying that Postmodernists are ideological, b/c EVERYONE has an ideology.

Hence why I stated that the same can be said of others (which could include me), but that that fact doesn't change the point. I could have been more explicit about it, but I don't pretend to be any more objective as a whole than anyone else, but I can observe some things from an outsider position and analyze it from that perspective.

Winky-smiley-faced guys usually imply some tounge in cheek; I think your tone was a little harsh in light of these points, but hey, maybe your smiley face was implied (insert smiley face of choice here).

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Abhi
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okay, so i'd call myself a postmodernist (i can already hear people typing on their keyboards), and i'd like to 'defend' post-modernism.
first of all, from an acadmic perspective, OSC seems to be confused between Postmodernism, and post-modern critical theory. Let me illustrate: Salman Rushdie is a Postmodernist. Derrida, is a post-modern theorist. Trying to put deconstructionism (or post-structuralism), feminist theory, multiculturalism, race readings, etc under Postmodernism is beyond misleading. it's incorrect.
Deconstructionism (or post-structuralism) isn't _removing_ meaning, or saying that the text has no meaning. what it _is_ saying, is that the the meaning of the text is indeterminate. Why? Because language is inherently unreliable: there is nothing "table" about a table. one person's understanding of the word will differ from another's. therefore, you can never communicate exactly what you want to say... there's always more or less being communicated. (This is why deconstructionism is often also called post-structuralism). If you're interested in this topic, read Gerald Graff's essay "Determinacy/Indeterminacy". Graff isn't a deconstructionist himself, but he explains the theory pretty well i think.
However, OSC's main issue seems to be the liberal values that accompany Post-modernism. I dont think this is a critique of pomo theory, but is his political perspective. "One of the worst sins of postmodernism is that it has cut us off from our cultural roots" epitomizes the cultural arrogance that permeates the entire essay. So writers of color are taking the place of dead white men in the canon. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The canon should comprise of writings based on their quality and impact... not on their race.
OSC also seems to take issue with Modernism... of course, he forgets that Modernist writers like Eliot were instrumental in putting Donne in the canon, and were obssessed with the Romantics. Also, fyi, the "New Critical Theory" was popularized by Modernists too.
So yeah, I guess if we want to set literary theory (and literature) back about two hundred years, we should throw Modernist and Pomo theory out of the window. But that seems like a pretty stupid move.

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Scott R
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quote:
I guess if we want to set literary theory (and literature) back about two hundred years, we should throw Modernist and Pomo theory out of the window. But that seems like a pretty stupid move.
Your description of postmodernism does nothing to help me understand why it should be kept around. Literature at its most basic is about communication-- your definition of postmodern critical theory undermines this.

Literary theories are not like scientific theories; if I completely forsake postmodernism, I'm not going to loose the ability to speak. Indeed, if I forsake postmodernism, I shall GAIN clarity... [Smile]

quote:
So writers of color are taking the place of dead white men in the canon. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The canon should comprise of writings based on their quality and impact... not on their race.
Oh, certainly. 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' is, to me, more valuable than 'Tess of the D'ubervilles.'

That said, OSC's actual charge was more serious-- that postmodernist professors are only allowing serious study of literature that fits a certain agenda, and excoriating literature from a different era that does not fit their agenda. He charges that postmodernists are not concerned with quality at all, but with religion. And in the postmodernist church, being dead, white and male is apparently a mortal sin.

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Morbo
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quote:
Originally posted by KidB:
I think the very first thing that needs to be grasped here is that Postmoderism is in no way the originator of empty jargon, snobbery, dogmatism and academic elitism in literary studies. These things were around many decades before the big pomo onslaught of the Reagan years. Before the 80's there was psycho-analytic theory (Freudian, Jungian, Lacanian, etc.), Marxist lit theroy, Modernism (totally different from Pomo), and a host of other "critical theories". So pernicious have all of these competing voice been that, even by the 1960's, people were able write parodies of them. Ever hear of the Pooh Perplex? The author parodies no less than 12 equally absurd types of lit crit jargon - two decades before the Po-Mo era.

So, please, let's stop acting like this is a recent phenomenon. There have always been elitist jargonistas.

Very true, jargon has always been around, in any field. But has it ever been carried to the dadaesque pinnacles of absurdity that postmodernism has done? I agree with Card that much of modern literary criticism is rampant with obscurantism as a masque hiding fuzzy thinking, obvious truths, and obvious nonsense.
quote:

Finally, I've got to object to this characterization - I hear it so much and I'm getting sick of it - of college literature departments being "taken over" by the pomo bots.

So some Postmodernist bots finally got tenure? Good, their stuff will probably have more relevance than the human deconstuctionalists.

Good posts, KidB, and Abhi. Abhi, I also liked your post in the last Iran nuke thread.

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Yozhik
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quote:
I agree with Card that much of modern literary criticism is rampant with obscurantism as a masque hiding fuzzy thinking, obvious truths, and obvious nonsense.
I'll third this, or fourth it, or whatever. I was in a graduate program for literature for four years. It was not a good experience.

Although I was introduced to a lot of literature that I still love, I found nothing meaningful in the way in which we were "supposed" to be processing said literature. It was rather like taking a bunch of delicious ingredients such as chocolate and pineapples and flinging them all over the kitchen or rinsing them down the sink, as opposed to making something good to eat from them.

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Pelegius
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Scott, if literature were, at its most basic, about communication, life would be boring. Technical writing is about communication, but good nonfiction is about provoking thoughts. Good fiction is much harder to define, but I would hazard say that it is usually about the meaning of life, and the characters search thereof. Not that he or she (or it for that matter) nescarily finds this meaning, but they spend an awful lot of time looking for it. In many cases, the meaning is clear, "must defeat bad guys," but clever authors, like Tolkien and OSC, show the aftermath of defeating the "bad guys," which often leads to a lack of purpose in the lives of the character.

For example, if I may slander OSC by means of oversimplifying the Ender Sage: Ender/Andrew 's first purpose is to defeat the Buggers, his second purpose to get out of battle-school/that asteroid, his third purpose is to find a place for the Hive Queen, his final purpose is to save Lusitania while at the same time keeping his marriage together. Most characters don't grow as much as Ender/Andrew does.

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Abhi
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Aaah! Now we're getting to some interesting talk!
Pomo Religion! Well, it just so happens that Religion and Literature are my two main areas of interest. [Smile] So hold tight!
Since we've already talked about Postmodernism vs. post-modernist theory, and OSC is talking about critical theory, let's take that first.
Deconstructionists are not really interested in 'culture' as much as they are interested in how language works. Can deconstructionism (or any other critical theory) be used as blunt object on religion? of course. But that's not a flaw in the theory, only in the application. Even in the pre-pomo era, Freudian Psychoanalysis, etc, were used in a "vulgar" (in Freud's own words) manner. But to discard critical theory because a couple of people misused it is naive.
Does post-modern critical theory help us understand texts better? Yes. Take Huck Finn for instance, with the advent of post-modern criticism, valid questions are being raised on the race representation in the novel, and i think that kind of dialogue adds to not only literature, but also contemporary culture. A more 'contemporary' text: "Midnight's Children". A basic education in post-modern theory introduces many more levels of meaning to Rushdie's text.
As far as elitism is concerned, pretty much every generation of great thinkers has been elitist. From Blake (poetic genius), to Wordsworth, to Byron, to Eliot, Pound, Derrida.
Anything technical can be reduced to 'jargon', but jargon provides a useful standardized vocabulary for people to start from. Derrida's "differance" thus, is similar to Baseball's "short-stop" in it's utility. A person who has never watched baseball could describe the same thing jargon-free, but for those who are familiar, "short-stop" is a concise way to present the idea.

Pomo Religion: well, i'm not quite sure what is being said here about this topic. all i've gotten so far is vague attacks on the left for corrupting "our kids in college". Please be aware that the "kids" you send to school are between 19 and 22... and thus adults. let them make their own decisions. i go to a liberal arts college in the midwest, where the faculty is mostly liberal and the student body is overwhelmingly conservative. so it seems to me that the conspiracy theory about literature departments brainwashing our innocent kids doesnt seem to hold much water.

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Yozhik
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quote:
Good fiction is much harder to define, but I would hazard say that it is usually about the meaning of life, and the characters search thereof.
Well, I agree with this particular statement, removed from context. In fact, that's what I had thought literature was ABOUT -- searching for the meaning of life, which is why I went to grad school in the first place.

In grad school, they attempted to teach me that literature is really about games with words, and has nothing whatsoever to do with anything important in life. It's all about seeing how many French theorists you can quote in a paper and how clever of a subtitle you can think up.

[ February 25, 2006, 02:39 PM: Message edited by: Yozhik ]

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Scott R
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quote:
Good fiction is much harder to define, but I would hazard say that it is usually about the meaning of life, and the characters search thereof. Not that he or she (or it for that matter) nescarily finds this meaning, but they spend an awful lot of time looking for it.
I should have said 'The purpose of literature is communication,' rather than 'Literature is about communication.'

With that thought in mind, I don't think your definition precludes mine.

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