Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Faculty Follies - Those who can't, engage in cant

Colloquy, an online journal put out under the aegis of the Faculty of Arts at Monash University is always worth a visit for those interested in collecting excellent samples of obscurantist academic cant. The following extract from the editorial of Volume 10 (2005) is typical. (The editorial was written by no less than four persons - Rhonda Khatab, Carlo Salzani, Sabina Sestigiani and Dimitris Vardoulakis.)

"Rather, obscurity is that area in thinking which will always remain outside a secure system but in such a way as to make possible - and impossible - the unravelling of thinking. This obscurest shadow of the obscure installs, like the comma, a moment of hesitation and indecision which is not only inevitable but also guarantees the future of thinking and writing. It is then an obscurity that follows Blanchot no less than an obscurity that Blanchot himself follows."
One can only imagine the intense collective intellectual labors which led to this gem of a paragraph. And it only took four authors! What are they saying? I don't know. Whose fault is it that I don't know what they are saying? It is their fault. They wrote it, and their style indicates indifference to the reader, and incompetence with the basic elements of expository prose (syntax, punctuation, word-usage and semantics).

I suspect that if you interrogated each of the authors separately and asked each one to paraphrase the passage, that they themselves would give four different interpretations. Only dills attempt to hide their ignorance and lack of insight behind a mask of "insightful" and pretentious prose. (See Gibberish).