Thursday, January 22, 2015

Verbosity take down

The Guardian has a lengthy essay up with the somewhat promising title "After the Paris Attacks: It's Time for a New Enlightenment."   The author is Pankay Mishra, who I don't know, and while he  appears well intentioned, it seems from a quick scan to be a very verbose, somewhat rambling exercise that does an awful lot of sympathetic "contextualising" of European Muslims, which I am inclined to think is not a very useful response.

More interesting (and amusing) is this comment which really puts a boot into this style of essay.  I will re-print it in full:
This will be become the standard example of the post-modern essay for first year undergraduate humanities students. It demonstrates all the features required to achieve celebrity pundit status. Firstly make sure you extensively quote many other pundits, trying to avoid scientists and politicians in democracies, both actual text and hearsay, name dropping as much as possible but carefully avoiding having any original thoughts yourself. This will confirm how well read you are but not expose you to the tedious business of having to defend your views. If the quotes come from those getting bungs from the Templeton Foundation, so much the better. Secondly, make sure that what you say will be just this side of bonkers and irrational so you don't come across as actually objecting to physical reality, gravity or such like but don't impugn those whose views encompass denial of historical events, human rights or some of the benefits of modernity. Thirdly, and this is very important, don't come up with any concrete suggestions yourself on how to effect change, manage difference and organise a functioning society but maintain an ethereal detachment from the nitty-gritty of getting elected or promoting tolerance and pluralism without being killed. Lastly, whatever you do don't draw attention to the obvious failures or barbarities of some cultural practices or, if you have to then make it seem as though these are not really related to the culture itself but must be some relic of previous oppression. Once these techniques have been mastered future commissions for filler and click bait are assured.

No comments: