June 08, 2005

Bad, Sure. But Evil?

Abstracts that make me want to read the whole paper:
Like most kinds of writing, academic writing rarely shines, but far more often than ordinary writing scholarly prose is murky and impenetrable. This brief jeu d'esprit considers several forms of bad writing, rejecting the claim, increasingly made in academic quarters, that "difficult writing" is necessary to the scholarly enterprise. Bloated, foggy, and enigmatic prose masquerades as profundity that escapes conventional mental grooves. In fact it is useless, unethical, and taken far enough, evil.
Do tell! On this front, I recall writing a lit-crit paper once on E.M. Forster's Passage to India with a sentence that proudly contained four dashes, three semi-colons, two uses of the word "jouissance," and one instance of the phrase "always already". Since you asked, no, it's not worth quoting in full. Still, at the time I had neither evil nor unethical thoughts on my mind, though it can be fairly stated that the whole thing was, in fact, quite useless. That much said, apparently three-hour films on Heidegger are all the rage these days...

update: Pity, the paper turns out to be not at all worth reading. (This is better.) Nevertheless, evil. It's a thesis that deserves a defender.
-- Brad Plumer 2:32 AM || ||