Monday, April 10, 2006

CHOMSKY, POSTMODERNISM AND MADELEINE BUNTING

Firstly, hats of to those filthy Drink-soaked Trots for spotting this Chomsky Bot (via ModernityBlog). Go ahead, ask him anything. I asked him if he'd taken crack with Ward Churchill and received a quite illuminating answer. I'm sure he'll be as frank with you too.

It reminded me of an old site we once used to great effect in the postmodernism-afflicted Law Department of Birkbeck College. Each time you visit this site it generates a novel postmodern discourse for your dialectical pleasure.

Imagine the humour of seeing several academics, who should have known better, quite avidly discussing the merits of one of the generated pieces. This, for example:
1. Neodialectic deconstructivist theory and precultural feminism

The main theme of the works of Fellini is a self-justifying whole. But Marx uses the term ‘precultural feminism’ to denote not deconstruction, but subdeconstruction. The subject is contextualised into a Marxist socialism that includes language as a totality.

However, the example of Batailleist `powerful communication’ intrinsic to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is also evident in Amarcord. Debord uses the term ‘conceptual discourse’ to denote the fatal flaw, and subsequent absurdity, of dialectic sexual identity.

Therefore, the subject is interpolated into a precultural feminism that includes narrativity as a reality. The primary theme of Bailey’s[2] analysis of Marxist socialism is not discourse per se, but prediscourse.

In a sense, any number of theories concerning the difference between society and class exist. Lacan uses the term ‘conceptual discourse’ to denote a mythopoetical paradox.
In my hunt for the Postmodern Generator, I came across the following site, which may or may not have made use of its services:
If we conceive of the book strictly in terms of an Eros-Thanatos dialectic, pleasure versus parabola, then we may miss another important structural correlative: the codex object itself.
Considering only pleasure versus parabola? A schoolboy error if ever I saw one.

Here's someone who seems to be churning out her Comment is Free posts using a simplified version of the Postmodern Generator.

Although I think she's been getting some assistance from the Straw Man Generator as well. Firstly she states:
Consider this: "The European Enlightenment was a unique event in human history in which all the founding principles of western secular democracies were forged. All our scientific developments, the importance of reason, religious tolerance, the rule of law, rationality, a secular state, progress in human rights and our atheism can be traced back to this momentous period of intellectual history. This is the legacy we must hold fast to, and assert unapologetically against the challenges it faces from Islamism."

Agree with all that? If so, you're on very shaky historical ground but you've got plenty of company.
Really? Which defender of the Enlightenment seriously believes that all our scientific achievements can be traced back to this period in history? If you believe that, you may well have plenty of company, but it will only be the voices in your head.

Marcus from HP gets the final word:
MB: One of the most common misconceptions, is that the Enlightenment was about atheism, and drove an irreversible wedge between science and reason on one hand and religion on the other.

No, no and thrice no.

No serious historian has ever said that the Enlightenment was "about" atheism because it damn well wasn't.

Secularism on the other hand is the separation of religious and state power, or at least the weakening of the former in the public sphere. Even Maddy might agree that the idea of secularism received a huge boost during the Enlightment.

Before the Eighteenth Century most European countries incorporated the power of the church within that of the state: after the Enlightenment there was a long withdrawing roar as the church and state parted company.

You don't have to be an atheist to see the benefit of such an arrangement, or to see it as a step forward in human development and I won't rehearse the argument here save to say that even the most devout Christians today would find it hard to argue that theocracy is preferable to democracy as a way of running a country.

Either one thinks this separation of state and religious power is a good thing or a bad thing. It really is that easy. Sadly, despite the enormous amount of flak she throws at imaginary interlocutors it's still not clear which side of the fence Our Maddy of the Sorrows prefers.

Penultimate word to Maddy:

After more than 300 posts I've learned a lot, but I've also attracted more contempt than in my whole career as a journalist.

I wonder why.
Heh.

Right, that's enough Bunting for now. I see Norm's not touched her latest article; probably had to head straight for the bottle...

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