Monday, December 04, 2006

FROM THE FASHIONABLE DICTIONARY (A Postmodern Reference Guide)

Alphabet
The opposite of the Goddess. "But one pernicious effect of literacy has gone largely unnoticed: writing subliminally fosters a patriarchal outlook. Writing of any kind, but especially its alphabetic form, diminishes feminine values and with them, women's power in the culture." [Leonard Shlain, The Goddess and the Alphabet]

Alternative
A wonderful thing. Because it's the opposite of everything. You have the regular, normal, boring thing, like medicine, or scholarship, or education, and then you have the alternative kind, which does whatever the opposite is. Normal medicine relies on testing, so dear alternative medicine relies on guesswork and hunches and an inner voice. So much more spiritual.

Canon, the
A mysterious document (which no one has ever seen) drawn up (no one knows when) in secrecy by a tiny conspiracy (no one knows where) of deceased European males dictating what everyone must read.

Darwin, Charles
Primarily an economist, who happened upon the theory of evolution after dabbling on the stock exchange. 'Darwin's whole theory of evolution by natural selection bears an uncanny resemblance to the political economic theory of early capitalism...Darwin had some knowledge of the economic survival of the fittest because he earned his living from investment in shares he followed daily in the newspapers. What Darwin did was take early-nineteenth century political economy and expand it to include all of natural economy.' [Richard Lewontin, Biology as Ideology]

Dispositif
Like discourse only bigger.

E=MC^2
Probably a sexed equation, the product of a male obssession with speed. 'Is e=mc2 a sexed equation?...Perhaps it is. Let us make the hypothesis that it is insofar as it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us. What seems to me to indicate the possible sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather it is having privileged what goes the fastest...' [Luce Irigaray, Le sujet de la science est-il sexue?]

Education
Brutal, violent intrusion of arbitrary material into the clean innocent heads of children, which should be left empty.

Elitist
Someone who knows more than I do.

Empiricism
Absurd notion that observation and measurement are useful in getting to know about things.

Enlightenment
Sinister, destructive period of history which had a 'project' to dominate nature, prefer reason to superstition, and stop going to church. All a big mistake, but postmodernism will fix it.

Evidence
1. Something that can be tailored to the requirements of my arguments.
2. A tiresome thing that may conflict with something that I believe.

Fanatic
Someone who strongly believes something I don't believe.

Gödel
A man with a theorem. Has something to do with axioms. Importantly, shows that everything is relative. To be invoked with quantum things.

Genes
Do very little. Can be ignored. Not selfish.

Human nature
Fantasy. Fictitious entity, like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or the free lunch. Humans have no nature, only culture; we can learn to fly, or live in the ocean, or echolocate, or pick things up with our trunks, if we will only concentrate.

Inclusive
Very very nice thing to be. Loving and accepting of everyone, except of course linear thinkers, reductionists, determinists and anyone else whose opinions are dangerous.

Instinct
A very bad thing when we're discussing evolution, genetics, human nature, but a very good thing when we're discussing women's different ways of knowing.

Intolerance
Subjecting my assertions or beliefs to criticism.

Jung
The right kind of scientist, one with insight and intuition and spiritual albeit highly implausible ideas, such as the Collective Unconscious.

Linear thinking
Unfortunate, controlling, impoverished, male variety of thinking that's all hung up on logic, evidence, chronology, causation, and pedantic in-the-head stuff like that.

Lyotard
Very important French philosopher. Invented postmodernism. Nothing to do with aerobics.

Microscope
A tool that scientists use to peer at tiny powerless things which are none of their business.

Mystery
A beautiful thing. Mystery is always better than understanding. The more obscure everything is, the better.

Narrative
It's all narrative. Get real, of course it is. All that stuff about evidence and logic is just window dressing, we all know that. Just a way for scientists to puff up their pathetic little egos. They're just spinning a tale like everyone else.

Newton
Like Bacon, an advocate of raping Nature. Also a pitiful has-been. Inventor of a pathetic outdated unhip linear kind of mathematics and astronomy-type thing that worked okay for a couple of centuries but has now been completely left behind because during the time that everyone was so fed-up after the 1914-1918 War, the Zeitgeist came up with quantum mechanics, and after that poor old Newton looked very very obsolete indeed. Shows you can never be too careful about keeping up.

Obfuscation
Useful move when talking to people who know more than you do.

Paradigm
A thing that shifts, thus proving that scientists merely make up their findings.

Penis Envy
Not mine, you wouldn't.

Perspective
Everybody has one, therefore nothing that anyone says is true. Or false. Except of course what I just said - that is true, but it is the only thing that is true. Or is there maybe one other thing...no, no, that's the only one.

Positivism
The insane, harmful, elitist idea that one should have some evidence before deciding something is true.

Quantum
First name of various ideas that no one understands, least of all scientists, so it makes a great metaphor for chaos, complexity, relativity, randomness, Postmodernity, and just about anything one needs a metaphor for.

Reason
Bad, toxic entity, that foolish people use when they ought to use their inner voice, or angels, or intuition, or a gut feeling, or their hearts, or the I Ching.

Reductionism
Reducing something we like to something we don't (genes primarily)

Repressive
A feature of things like reason, linear thinking, logic and other forms of patriarchal, hegemonic, phallogocentric discourse. Not liberatory. 'Like postmodern social theory, postmodern science sees modernity and modern reason as inherently repressive.' [Steven Best, 'Chaos and Entropy: Metaphors in Postmodern Science and Social Theory']

Science
1. An inconvenient discipline that tends to undermine our most cherished beliefs.
2. A tiny cabal of powerful people who ignore what the majority of humanity believe.
3. A civil religion.
4. Part of the ideological state apparatus. Science "like the Church before it, is a supremely social institution, reflecting and reinforcing the dominant values and views of society at each historical epoch." [Richard Lewontin, Biology as Ideology]

Scientist
1. Wicked, elitist, narrow-minded member of tiny unelected aristocracy which does not share the beliefs of the great majority of people. "How can metaphysical life [New Age] theories and explanations taken seriously by millions be ignored or excluded by a small group of powerful people called 'scientists'?" [Andrew Ross, Strange Weather]
2. A bourgeois, legitimator of capitalist exploitation. "Science is the ultimate legitimator of bourgeois ideology." [Lewontin, Kamin and Rose, Not in our Genes]
3. A dull, plodding, unimaginative person who only knows how to count things; a bore; a geek, a nerd, a swot, a grind.

Sidestep
A maneuver to make a virtue of when you don't know how to answer an objection. 'Plainly the social constructivist argument has its limitations, because it ends in relativism...I find that the most enlivening philosophical work tries to sidestep that set of philosophical traps...' [Donna Haraway, Interview, Socialist Review 21, no. 2]

Strong programme
A dynamic aerobic (see Lyotard) workout routine developed by the sociology department at the University of Edinburgh. Enables robust, muscle-bound, butch sociologists to dominate and frighten weak, timid, nerdy scientists.

Text
Word it is mandatory to use instead of book; book very wrong indeed; must never never say book; everyone will stare if not laugh. Book elitist, hierarchical, last week, etc.

Thus
A useful word to insert between two arbitrary assertions, thus making both appear to be vaguely justified. 'Orientalism responded more to the culture that produced it than to its putative object, which was also produced by the West. Thus the history of Orientalism has both an internal consistency and a highly articulated set of relationships to the dominant culture surrounding it.' Edward Said, Orientalism

Transgressive
Desperate for attention, or publication, or tenure, or promotion, or all those. The route to solid bourgeois comfort in the academy is via being as transgressive as Madonna on speed.

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