Bock Bullshit Awards

 Posted by on April 28, 2010  Add comments
Apr 282010
 

Here’s something I was sent today.

Fintan Walsh is an academic from Trinity and no doubt a highly educated man.

But Fintan unfortunately suffers from a profound handicap: the complete inability to write plain English.

Here’s Fintan’s description of the lecture he’s going to deliver in UL tomorrow, and I swear to you, this is exactly as I received it.  I did not — repeat NOT — in any way enhance this to make it sound more pretentious, or to make it harder to understand.

And yes, it is a form of English, but one spoken only in university coffee shops.  I will send a free Bock the Robber t-shirt to the five best translations of this into English.

This lecture explores the notion of ‘trouble’ in the field of masculine ontology and cultural representation. Moreover, drawing on a range of case studies, the presentation considers the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and sacrificial modes of signification. The talk argues that these proliferative aesthetic practices gravely restrict relational, cultural and political transformation, not least of all because they are invariably premised upon the traumatization of the feminine, and the feminization of trauma.

This lecture addresses the writing of visual artist and psychoanalyst Bracha L. Ettinger, whose work seeks to reclaim the feminine from psychotic positionality. While Ettinger focuses on visual art, she is more broadly interested in the manner in which our encounters with the matrixial in art practices might open lanes of fragiliztion that resist the foreclosure of subjectivity. I look to Ettinger’s work to redress the place of the feminine/matrixial in the field of male relationality. Drawing on a selection of illustrative performances and representations, I suggest that if male trouble is to be truly transformative, then it must be fragilizing, and the feminine (and its associated others) must be disassociated from abjection and psychosis and negotiated as the basis for a border-linking, border-sharing ethical relation.

Hmmm.  I challenge you to say what that means.

University, eh? Learning, eh? Literacy, you say?

Imagine writing a thesis for Fintan. I think I’d lose the will to live.

Truthfully now.  Isn’t that simply pathetic?

___________

Here’s what I think it means:

Men should try to be more like women, and women should stop feeling so sorry for themselves.

Of course, that kind of language wouldn’t get you a PhD, would it?  Not vague enough.

__________________

Here’s an interesting academic paper entitled On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit.  Everyone should read it.

Also on Bock: Plain English

Elsewhere:

The art of crap-detection

Plain English Campaign

  114 Responses to “Bock Bullshit Awards”

Comments (114)
  1.  

    What??? No mention of patriarchy???

    standards are slipping.

    Ah well enjoy your exploration of the matrixial and the feminazation of trauma. Oops I was going to write feminazation but realised I already wrote feminazation – Freudian slip.

  2.  

    Easy peasy:

    The man wants to talk about how the representation of male power in art and in cultural perception restricts the man as such to be a goody man in society. And that’s because the women are oppressed and feeling oppressed themselves is too girly for men to change their ways.

    His ideas are based on Ettinger, a feminist from Israel who thinks, well in short, that mothers are as bad as fathers, but at least she invented the concept of matrixial, that is the womb where all trouble starts or such like
    Anyway, our intellectual wants to concentrate on the role that women/mothers have in the ability of men to have relationships in which they usually have trouble (or are troublesome).

    But if anything good should come out of that trouble men have to learn that having trouble is nothing bad and not at all girly and should be seen to find a truly meaningful relationship with women and their own female side. Or so.

    In short, it’s a lecture for men who should learn how to cry, eat chocolates, share gossip with each other, and mostly express themselves candidly, and that all this sets them free because they connect with the little girly which hides in every man. And all will be good.

    But it sounds more acceptable for manly men if nobody understands it. It would help the good lecturer to get at least a meaningful relationship with his students if he could express himself properly

  3.  

    OK. Re-write it in English and I’ll send you a t-shirt.

  4.  

    Allow me to translate (for I have sat there):

    “I will talk about how macho men behaving badly can impede progress in society, not least because they imply that women and poofters are losers. I quite like this artist, Ettinger, who says that men must learn to behave more like women and poofters, so that we can all play nicely and be friends”.

    But if he said anything that simple, everyone would wonder what all the fuss was about and why we all seem to think that academics are intelligent.

  5.  

    Would you like a t-shirt?

  6.  

    Do I get a t-shirt?

  7.  

    Yes, but I’m out of extra-large. I’ll send you the biggest i have.

  8.  

    Who said I was extra-large? I didn’t ask for a jock-strap.

  9.  

    All out of Bock-straps as well

  10.  

    I fear we’re descending into what Fintan would call hegemonic masculinity. Perhaps we all need fragilize for a moment. I forgive you your inventory lapses, my dear Bock, which I no doubt deserve. I should not have foreclosed on my subjectivity in this manner.

  11.  

    Can I get a t-shirt without re-writing it? Pleeeeze?

  12.  

    Nothing free in this life, I’m afraid.

  13.  

    He’s giving a one-hour lecture to say we shouldn’t say ‘girly’ when we mean ‘bad’.

    Which is why he’s not saying it in plain english.

  14.  

    “Nothing free in this life, I’m afraid.”

    But it would be the first step for a border-sharing ethical relation, don’t you think? Thought not.
    Now I feel the truly and not only matrixial traumatization of the feminine and deeply fragilized, because your psychotic abjection is an illustrative performance of your hegemonic male relationality.

  15.  

    Seriously though Bock; why not gatecrash the lecture and report back to your waiting world?

  16.  

    I thought about it, until l spotted that dreaded phrase, Women’s Studies.

    Someone is going to attack me for this, I know it, but seriously. Women’s Studies?

    Read this: Seminar themes include: posthumanism and bioethics, intersex, discourses of embodiment, queer theory, theories of the image, masculinities, gender and sexuality in clinical psychoanalysis, and critical theory and the maternal.

    I think I’d slit my eyeballs if I had to sit through it.

  17.  

    Your eyeballs? Surely you’d be damaging the wrong sense organs?
    Or as Herself Indoors put it, ‘those are not the balls we’re looking for’…

  18.  

    I had a lecturer who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on ‘Intersexuals and the Law’. Apparently, intersexuality is a lot more common than people think…

  19.  

    Here’s my translation: “I’m not entirely sure what I’ve written here, so I’m going to obfuscate it with terrible language so no one will understand it, and therefore, no one will be able to call it a load of bollix.

    Prose like this makes my eyes water. I would consider myself reasonably intelligent: I have a postgraduate education, not that is by any means essential to having a good command of the English language. I’ve always loved reading and I do a lot of it. I’ve come to the stage where I strongly believe that if I can’t understand a piece of writing, it’s simply Bad English, not my own lack of ability to understand complicated concepts, perhaps with the exception of complicated maths or scientific papers! The sole purpose of (non-creative) writing is to communicate thoughts or information to a reader, not to impress or bamboozle your audience with overly-complicated sentences and vocabulary in an attempt to make yourself look good.

    From my time in college, I’ve realised that Women’s Studies, Sociology and and Literary Theory seem to be particularly afflicted with the Incomprehensible Disease. The first and last of these are both relatively new disciplines, and my theory is that they feel like they have something to prove and so feel they have to over-think and over-write everything. My personal favourite is a famous Literary Theorist called Gayatri Spivak. She writes natively in English (though she’s from India), is the author of many famous books and articles and has taught in Universities all over the world. However, her prose is completely and utterly unreadable. It’s just awful, awful English. She would be lucky to get a D in Pass English in the Leaving Cert. Try reading this: http://www.mcgill.ca/files/crclaw-discourse/Can_the_subaltern_speak.pdf if you want to give yourself a migraine. It’s not even that it’s overly complicated, concept-wise. It’s just full of terrible sentence structure and definite articles which could refer to any number of things in the preceding sentences.

    One of the authors I came across during my thesis was a man called Austin Woolrych. He published an incredible book about the English Civil War even though he was over the age of 80. He is as academic as they come, heading a History Department in Britain for years and publishing many acclaimed books. The book is meticulous in detail and academically rigorous, encompassing a massive and complicated period in English history, yet the prose could be easily understood by anyone with a Junior Cert education (http://tinyurl.com/3xuqaqy for an example if you’re interested). Writing like this demonstrates ten times more intelligence and academic ability than Mr. Walsh or Gayatri Spivak could ever hope for.

  20.  

    There was a time when people took pride in making their prose as clear as could be.

    But making a thing sound simple requires effort and clear thinking. It’s much easier not to bother.

  21.  

    What are little boys made of?
    Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
    That’s what little boys are made of !”
    What are little girls made of?
    “Sugar and spice and all things nice
    That’s what little girls are made of!”

    Treble extra large – for comfortyou know- please.

  22.  

    @thesystemworks: Is that what Jose Mourinho has? All the women I know seem to thing so anyway.

  23.  

    Was he trying to say, Guys wassup, Man up and be a bit of a sissy like me, the girlies love it ?

    I know the meaning of most of the words themselves.. but I can’t make head nor tail of the meaning of the sentences. The grammar is atrocious.

    Two of the words I wasn’t sure of , weren’t in the dictionary.. and I tried a couple of dictionaries.
    Matrixial and Fragilization..
    Word not found in the Dictionary and Encyclopedia. Did you mean:matrix
    fragilization- no dictionary results

    If they want to study some feminine art, I’d go with Georgia O’Keeffe. Most of her paintings have vaginal imagery.

  24.  

    Ponder: There is a reason Spivak can’t communicate normally, and that is because she has nothing worth communicating. She’s a Marxist, for a start. Georges Sorel blah blah blah blah blah

  25.  

    Bock-staps? I’m not sure I want my tackle supported by your face…. No offence, like…

  26.  

    At times like this, it’s always useful to apply Ludwig Wittgenstein’s dictum: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

    If we cannot communicate something with clarity, then better to move on silently and leave it be, accepting there are things we cannot know.

    (and by the way, ‘fragilize’ is really terrible linguistics – Ludwig would not have approved).

  27.  

    Life is too short to bother translating that shite or even attending. It just proves that education is no guarantee of intelligence.

  28.  

    Bock, I believe it to be a lecture about the transformation of the Leinster Rugby set up under Micheal Cheika. The concept deals with the initial Ladyboy image imposed on the Leinster team due to their continued feminisation of the game of rugby. Contrasting that to the addition of Rocky Earls and several other more direct rugby players Fintan explores how transformation of the team over the last few years culminating in last years success. Fintan also is exploring how the imposition of the new rules have affected contact at the breakdown and scrummaging in general. I believe that the last few lines of the above address how Munster under McGahan have semi abandoned the traditional 8 man game with a dependence on forward power to encompass a more expansive running approach.
    Thats my take on it, then again my doctor recently upgraded my medication to the type routinely used to sedate Grand National Winners and Green party politicians so I could just be wrong.

  29.  

    I believe that you are referring to Rocky Elsom, medication clearly not working.

  30.  

    Alright, God help me on this one, but here it goes.

    @thesystemworks

    Stop talking about things you know nothing about. While I have little time for Marxists, Marx’s own economic theories are perfectly coherent – albeit probably wrong; but quite enlightening as to certain things still, such as stagnant wages, increased working hours and major oversupply in the market (wonder why all those things get cheaper in a recession).

    As to the rest of the Frenchmen inspired by Marx – I’m not sure how far this is true, but we’ll run with it – they’re quite different from each other in many ways. Foucault is easy to read – I get the impression that you haven’t tried, you’ve just looked up the Sokal Affair on Wikipedia to confirm your own prejudices. I challenge anyone here to read “Discipline and Punish” and report back here if you fail so that I can mock your illiteracy, as it is not a particularly difficult book – its prose is actually quite evocative. The others you named are more difficult, but not entirely incomprehensible.

    Which brings me to my next point: the disciplines you name are specialist disciplines. You say that those who teach and write them should be as clear as possible. Why? If you go into a physics class will they write ‘as clear as possible’? Will they go right back to the beginning and hand out copies of Aristotle (whose ‘Physics’ is not as clear as all that) and Newton (ditto)? Of course not, they’ll bombard you with obscure formulae until they go into your head in some sort of semi-understood but still usable way.

    All this opacity can be purposely put to bad use though – in that I agree. Sometimes academics use it to (a) sound smarter than they are, (b) disguise the fact that they haven’t come up with any original ideas and (c) say things that are plainly wrong. These three criteria probably apply to the good doctor quoted above. I’ll try to highlight some of what he’s trying to say (the overall gist of which I think is rubbish):

    The first part, as many people suspected, is saying that, in order to be blokish men have to give something up. People who stare at pictures of tits in FHM all day and brag about how big your car exhaust pipe is, suffer from an inability to communicate properly (no, the irony is not lost on me….); specifically about relationships, culture and politics.

    The second part is a little wierder. Here the author equates women’s position in society with those who suffer from severe (psychotic) mental disorders. Then he goes on to say that men need to be a bit flowery and feely so that they can rescue women from this terrible state of affairs.

    So, as all you good people can see: in the first part the author made a pretty commonplace assertion cloaked in a specialist terminology in order to add it weight and make it not look so commonplace. In the second part, the author made a far stranger assertion – one which I certainly don’t agree with, mind you – and backed it up by refering to some other academic who, no doubt, backs up her strange assertions with reference to some other academic – and so on, ad infinitum.

    T-shirt please?

  31.  

    Sincerest apologies No.8, Rocky Elsom it is. Rocky Earls sounds too much like an ice cream flavor to be a Rugby player.

  32.  

    I had to stop reading after the first sentence. I had a cultural theory module when I studied in UL.It drove me mental having to read stuff that was written in that intellectual babble. Sometimes I felt thick while I was reading/translating into normal English for myself. When I then approached my lecturers with my interpretation of what I’d read in simple English they would tell me, “Yes, that’s it” and then I would ask so why was this stuff written in such a bullshit way they had no answer. I wanted to strangle them!! These “intellectuals” don’t say much but generally need pages and pages to do so. Judit Butler is the queen of that shite.
    Check out Nick Cohen’s “What’s left?” for a brilliant attack on this type of writing

  33.  

    @ Pelotudo

    The same Nick Cohen that supports the Iraq War – in the face of over a million people dead? Daily Mail columnist? Crypto-neo conservative?

    Why on earth would you want to read anything by him? blah blah blah

  34.  

    I’m going to make myself unpopular by saying of the turn that writing in the humanities has taken:

    a) That the prose style is often unforgivably opaque and a clear case of a deliberate ‘barrier to entry’ but…
    b) Among it all there are some seriously useful ideas.

    My impression is that clarity is recently coming more into fashion. And, of course, the right use difficult reading as an invitation to give up thinking. (Thanks Phil). If you really want to wade through shite read one of those tomes on self-improvement, new-age spirituality or management theory.

    Maybe ’twas ever thus – has anyone read Kant or Spinoza recently? Or indeed Aristotle and Newton as Phil rightly points out.

  35.  

    Bock – here’s an idea – have you emailed the good Fintan for comment? Surely he should have some say in the awarding of prizes.

    walshf7@tcd.ie

  36.  

    Phil: Irving Kristol was actually the father of blah blah blah blah blah

  37.  

    @ Pope Epopt

    You’re absolutely right – obscurity has always been there and its given us many great things: advanced mathematics, modern physics, cellular biology, computers etc etc. There’s also been great abuses made – both in the past and in the present. But there’s also a wonderful tradition of taking the piss out of such obscurity – I’m thinking Montaigne (you want a good perspective on this writing and one that isn’t in the insecure Cohen style read “The Art of Conversation”, one of the best essays ever written) and to a certain extent Nietzche too. Here I’ll give some random examples from my bookshelf – pages picked at random (each are from the start of a section, so I’m not being disingenous):

    This is by Friedrich Schiller (late 18th century) who, along with Goethe is one of Germany’s major literary figures. His literary works aren’t particularly obscure – in fact they are quite wonderful; the man could write. From “On the Aesthetic Education of Man”:

    “Nature begins with Man no better than with the rest of her works: she acts for him where he cannot yet act as a free intelligence for himself. But it is just this that constitutes his humanity, that he does not rest satisfied with what Nature has made of him, but possesses the capacity of retracing again, with his reason, the steps which she has anticipated with him, of remodelling the work of need into the work of free choice, and of elevating physical into moral neccesity.”

    This is by Baruch De Spinoza (17th century) who was supposed to be a major influence on Einstein and his atomic theories. This is from his book “Ethics”:

    “The essence of man does not involve neccesary existence, that is, from the order of Nature it can happen equally that this or that man does exist, or that he does not exist.”

    Aristotle (3rd century BC). From his “Physics” – which were Western man’s working model of physics until Copernicus:

    “Of things that exist, some exist by nature, some from other causes.
    ‘By nature’ the animals and their parts exist, and the plants and the simple bodies (earth, fire, air, water)-for we say that these and the like exist ‘by nature’.
    All the things mentioned present a feature in which they differ from things which are not constituted by nature. Each of them has within itself a principle of motion and of stationariness (in respect of place, or of growth and decrease, or by way of alteration). On the other hand, a bed and a coat and anything else of that sort, qua receiving these designations i.e. in so far as they are products of art-have no innate impulse to change. But in so far as they happen to be composed of stone or of earth or of a mixture of the two, they do have such an impulse, and just to that extent which seems to indicate that nature is a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it belongs primarily, in virtue of itself and not in virtue of a concomitant attribute.”

    I rest my case.

  38.  

    @ Phil
    Why on earth would I want to read anything by anybody?
    I don’t know…sometimes to relax, sometimes to inform myself, or in this case because it was a gift and I had no idea who Nick Cohen was and I had no other books to read in English (I live in Spain).
    As far as I know he’s a Guardian journalist but I can’t say I was familiar with him until I read his book as I’m not a regular Guardian reader. However, I thought the point of his book was exactly what you said that the left is full of idealists and none of them have any actual real ideas/solutions to offer.
    I agree with you about his opinion on the Iraq War. It didn’t convince me but I think he was right about the bullshit “intellectual” babble of Judit Butler and her kind.And thanks for the tips on the other writers who I can check out.I will.
    What I thought in university and what I think now is that if you have something to say or some good ideas, why hide it behind dense text.
    @ Pop Epopt– I agree, but you have to wade through some awful bullshit to find them.
    I thought Judit Butler had some interesting things to say about gender but written in a way that is only aimed at other so-called intellectuals.The people who work within a certain sphere.

  39.  

    @Pelotudo

    You know what I meant by “why read him”. But to clarify: Cohen is a bullshitter. He doesn’t understand what he writes about. He attacks intellectuals blah blah blah blah blah

  40.  

    Feck sake!
    What are ye all on about?
    Can’t ye see that it’s simply a proposal by the speaker to discuss, with true fans, a script to a brand new episode of Fraggle Rock? One who’s theme is the plight of the big guy versus the fuckwits?
    How is it possible that you lot have missed this?

    I just don’t get it; I really don’t.
    BOCK, I may have to reevaluate my opinion of your readers true intellectuality.

  41.  

    @Phil

    Thanks for all the quotations. They are an antidote to the populist anti-intellectualism that a discussion on obscurity can descend into. Not this one – I think we’ve acquitted ourselves reasonably well.

    And a plug for Montaigne into the bargain! I’d recommend the Penguin Edition. It’s a big book, but divided into small to larger-scale essays on a wide range of subjects, by an original thinker. Dip into it for pleasure and to broaden your mind.

  42.  

    @ Phil
    Well I’ll admit I didn’t know who Irving Kristol or Norman Podheretz were but now I’m curious to read them seeing as you offer them up as examples. It doesn’t mean I’ll agree with what they say. i wasn’t convinced by Nick Cohen’s arguments but I do think there are quite a few people writing in universities, a lot of them within the sphere of Cultural Theory, and hiding behind babble.

  43.  

    Sometimes, difficult concepts need difficult language, so I wouldn’t knock Newton. Anyway, there isn’t a plain-language substitute for integral calculus. He wrote Principia in Latin because that was the custom of his day.

    But sometimes, academics turn plain language into bullshit because they lack confidence in what they’re trying to say, or because they’re trying to dress up the banal as something profound. This kind of language is designed to create a false sense of precision, as if it was somehow more exact than the words used by commoners like the rest of us.

    It’s mystification.

    Bertrand Russell was able to explain relativity in ordinary plain English, but of course he had confidence in himself and in his grasp of hs subject.

  44.  

    Here’s a proper plug for Montaigne – who no one can say writes obscurely – and one which, in all the balance and moderation typical of Montaigne applpies to this topic perfectly. In an essay that rips on academics who babble, people who complain about babbling academics and himself he writes:

    “Stupidity is a bad quality: but to be unable to put up with it, to be vexed and ground down by it (as happens to me) is another, hardly worse in its unmannerliness than stupidity. And that is what at present I wish to condemn in myself.”

    But there are grades of stupidity – some rest on ignorance, but some on conceit:

    “I would prefer a son of mine to learn to talk in the tavern rather than in the university yap-shops. Take an arts don; converse with him….. Let him remove his academic hood, his gown and his Latin; let him stop battering our ears with raw chunks of pure Aristotle; why, you would take him as one of us – or worse. The involved linguistic convulutions with which they confound us remind me of conjuring tricks: their sleight-of-hand has compelling force over our senses but in wise shakes our conviction. Apart from such jugglery they achieve nothing but what is base and ordinary. They may be much more learned but they are no less absurd.

    I like and honour erudition as much as those who have it. When used properly it is the most noble and powerful acquisition of Man. But in the kind of men (and their number is infinite) who make it the base and foundation of their worth and achievement, who quit their understanding for their memory, hiding behind other men’s shadows, and can do nothing except by the book, I loathe (dare I say it?) a little more than I loathe stupidity.”

    I’ll take that over war-mongering neo-cons who apply double-standards and speak in the tongues of “moral truth” any day. Those type of people challenge the very institutions of learning and knowledge rather than just abuses of them – and they end up barbarians writing for PNAC or the Daily Mail.

  45.  

    Back to the language as such:
    In Germany there is the term “Herrschaftssprache”. To my knowledge there is no English translation for it. It means the language of the ruling classes or language of control. Basically it means that all those who want to assert their superiority, stay in control of knowledge and hence in control of the great unwashed use a language which makes sure that nobody else understands them and so they can pretend to know it all – and rule.

    Simply put: Latin is a good example. The catholic church used Latin to make sure nobody understands the nonsense they are babbling, nobody can read the bible for themselves and have their own thoughts about it. It was the great merit of Martin Luther that he translated the bible from Latin into German.

    French is another example, which was the language of the aristocracy in Europe for centuries, unlike their subjects, who only spoke their local dialects and didn’t have a clou about French. Well, it was different in France, obviously.

    Latin was the language in all European universities for a very long time. To study basically meant to learn Latin to be able to read all the books, or later to understand at least the terminology of science. Nowadays the scientists and academics don’t communicate in Latin anymore (though at my time in Germany it was still necessary to learn Latin to go to university), so they invented their own “Herrschaftssprache” – still with the intention to keep knowledge in their own academic circles, being unintelligible to the rest.

    By the way: Marx at least had undeniably original thoughts and theories, unlike most of the modern academics. You don’t need to be a Marxist to acknowledge it. His economic theories are worth to read, because it makes economics quite transparent. Pity that his theories morphed into an ideology which wasn’t really his intention. He was a miserable writer, though.

  46.  

    Phil: I find the ‘neocon’ label thrown around a bit too much. Its used as a slur on regular conservatives, while the ‘neo’ to many is just a code for ‘Jewish’. Like the term ‘fascist’ blah blah blah blah

  47.  

    TSW — Did you happen to notice at all what this post is about?

  48.  

    Sorry, I noticed the talk going on about neoconservatives. I don’t think they talk in nonsense-language to cover bad ideas, as Phil suggests. The ideas may be wrong, but by and large they make no attempt to dress them up. Plus, I thought it would be nice to spread some reading tips since we are talking about literature.

    Hey, everybody got into discussing the merits of Marx (I thought that debate would have ended years ago…) beyond language style. Anyways, both his ideas and quality of writing were rubbish, like most economists other than Henry Hazlitt.

  49.  

    @ thesystemworks

    First, cut the whole Jewish thing – blah blah blah blah blah

  50.  

    Folks. Not one more word about Jews, Israel or neocons.

    OK?

  51.  

    @Bock

    More than happy to adhere to that. It really is the easiest rhetorical trope you can possibly pick up. One point though: there was only one person here talking about it… Everyone else was talking about something entirely different. But as I said: easy rhetorical trope. Generally I wouldn’t even argue with people like that – but its a slow day.

  52.  

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    That commenter knows only one song. I will shortly turn down the volume if that sort of bullshit continues.

  53.  

    My interpretation of the lecture: “Men and Women are different”

  54.  

    Phil, I wasn’t out to get you on the neocon ‘buzzword’ stuff. As we were talking about language and neoconseratives, I wanted to point out that the word ‘neocon’ became the most abused term of this decade, in a way Orwell said of the word ‘fascism’. ‘Neoconservative’ came to mean, among ignorant people, a term for evil Americans, or any right-wing figure they didn’t like.

    Henry Hazlitt was far from obscure. Economics In One Lesson sold over a million copies. He headed the book review section of the New York Times, one of the most influential journalistic posts you can get in America. For decades he was one of the most influential business columnists in the country with his popular ‘Business Tides’ column in Newsweek.

    Nor do I argue that ‘economics is pants’ and I want it dumbed down. You come across to me as very arrogant. Economics is not like learning to count to ten, that’s for sure. But as Hazlitt said: ‘Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man’. That is why there NEEDS to be so much terrible writing on the subject. Like Spivak and Derrida, what is peddled has very little value. The reason for all the fallacies in economics? Coming back to Hazlitt, it is down mostly to ‘the special pleading of selfish interests’ and in addition: ‘…the persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups’.

  55.  

    Langer sandwich, now where’s the ketchup?

  56.  

    thesystemworks wrote:

    “Anyways, both his [Marx’s] ideas and quality of writing were rubbish, like most economists other than Henry Hazlitt.”

    thesystemworks then wrote:

    “Nor do I argue that ‘economics is pants’”

    I’m only arrogant when I’m right. You said Marx is rubbish, most economists are rubbish, Harry Hazlitt is not rubbish. I said:

    blah blah blah blah blah

  57.  

    Jesus Christ, this is boring the arse off me.

    TSW, if you start calling people names again, I’m switching you off. I’m sick of you now. You had your chance on your own thread, and you abused the privilege so much I had to close it down.

    That’s the end of it. One more personal remark about another commenter and you won’t be commenting here again, ever.

    And enough about economics as well.

  58.  

    I don’t believe neoconservatives are insecure about intellectual inferiority blah blah blah blah blah

  59.  

    Phil: I didn’t say most economists are rubbish, there are many good ones. What I said was that they tend to make BAD WRITERS (the subject if this post), because they are also trying to cover their bullshit. The pleading of special interests has indeed promoted so much fallacy for years that much has become accepted fact.

  60.  

    @thesystemworks

    I reserve myself the right to criticise people based on psychological observations. People do this day in and day out (“He’s only so mean because…”; “No she’s just jealous of…”). I don’t see a problem with it.

    Dunno why you’re talking about the Bar Council. I think it might be time to seal this conversation up with a nice pretty bow. To sum up my position: the piece in the original post was pretentious rubbish dressed up in academese to disguise the simplicity and sometimes unusualness of the propositions put forward. However, this does not mean that absolutely everything taking place along certain university corridors is rubbish.

    I’m outty.

  61.  

    Bock, this could go on forever. It’s boring the arse off everyone me thinks.

    TSW, Phil.. ye both have big dicks, I mean brains.. now get in touch with yer girly side will ye and give eachother a big hug.
    Bock I think you should give the best bullshit award to both TSW and Phil to share. Sorry lads.. Can the acceptance speeches not be too prolonged, I’m finding it hard to keep my eyes open. :)

  62.  

    ‘To sum up my position: the piece in the original post was pretentious rubbish dressed up in academese to disguise the simplicity and sometimes unusualness of the propositions put forward. However, this does not mean that absolutely everything taking place along certain university corridors is rubbish.’

    I agree with that sentiment very much. Why can’t we be friends?

  63.  

    @ thesystemworks

    Well, then I apologise – but you did refer to ideas of certain economists at the same time as you referenced Hazlitt. But that’s on me, I should have read closer.

    I still maintain that saying that Hazlitt is one of the only good economic writer is pretty retarded though – I mean, have you read them all or what?

    That’s it – I swear.

  64.  

    Get a room

  65.  

    ‘In actual fact economics finds itself with many fragile points due to the nature of blah blah blah blah blah

  66.  

    Bock, I have read it a few times now and have no idea what it is about. Tried to look up ontology. Not quite as scary as oncology but a bit more vague. I finished at that. It was a pleasant enough day. Why spoil it.

  67.  

    Fuck sake, I wander off to the pub for an evening sans blackberry, as is polite in my circle, and what happens? Two jumped-up psuedo intellecuals have a school yard brawl over Bill Kristol, of all the unworthy targets you might have chosen, and Bock gets shirty because somebody said ‘Jews’.

    Jesus, is the pub still open?

  68.  

    I got shirty because TSW had an entire post to himself all about Jews, and I thought he could maybe give it a rest

  69.  

    Fair enough Bock – I must have missed the earlier fun on the Jewish question. And I agree, one post per decade on that topic is enough. It’s almost as boring as debating the Northern Irish issue. Inexplicably, our tribal species never seems to tire of arguing the merits of each others’ imaginary friends. Whatever.

  70.  

    I’d like to know, who got the free Bock the Robber t-shirty besides Cynical Joe and do they come in pink and if not, how come?

  71.  

    FME — I saw one or two translations. Haven’t looked through it yet because I had a raging headache all day. I’ll check tomorrow.

    There are no pink t-shirts because I don’t like pink. What do you think I am — a French rugby player?

    CJ — Aren’t you the lucky one? I wish I’d missed it.

  72.  

    What a shame. It could have been such an interesting discussion about language and bullshitting. About how the academic world works.

    TWS and Pit hijacked it with the same language as second-hand marxists/neo-conser-whatever/students proud of their latest literature/arrogant academics – anyway as the same boring intellectual nitpickers who destroy any free-thinking discussion. They are caught in “Herrschaftssprache”. And they managed that I glazed over their writings. As did the teachings in my two year studies on Marxism at university. No, don’t get me started about Habermas… (bragging here, I admit – but just to fob off the two theoreticans with all their bragging about the books they have read).

    I’m with Val here: Get a room.

    Unfortunately (or maybe thankfully) my lengthy initial reply about Marx et. al. disappeared. Hit the wrong button and whooosh…
    The keyboard sometimes reminds of an Ouija board…

  73.  

    It’s intellectual wanking.

    In future, anyone showing off gets banned. Anyone too boring gets banned. My decision is final. No explanations.

  74.  

    Now that I think of it, why don’t I just delete all that pseudo crap?

    Good idea, Bock!

  75.  

    I was showing off too mentioning Georgia O’Keefe.. I happen to see her paintings in the Met in New York recently.. I did so I did.. so there.

    Well if I win Bock , which I doubt.. I only want a pink t-shirt. I don’t like black. I suppose they do say once you go black you can’t go back.. Get some pink in Bock.. it’ll be a huge seller.

  76.  

    Do you know the origin of pink for a girl and blue for a boy?

  77.  

    About the t-shirt:
    I recommend the following for you:
    http://www.36-tshirts.com/t-shirt-shop/item.html?item=065&aw=go-kinski
    It says: Shut up so that you can hear what I am saying!

    I still like it in medium, black with red print.

    Thank you.

  78.  

    No idea.. something to do with some animal?

  79.  

    It’s mediaeval. A boy-child was regarded as closer to the angels, and therefore represented by the celestial colour blue. Girls, on the other hand, being merely flesh, are pink.

  80.  

    I wasn’t talking about Jews, I was talking about the misuse of the term ‘neoconservative’. There has consistently blah blah blah blah blah

  81.  

    Enough. I’m sick of this shit.

  82.  

    TWS: Gosh, do you ever listen? Dou you ever read what people write?

    See above: “Shut up so that you can hear what I am saying!”

  83.  

    Yeah.. I suppose I can understand why boys were more valued (closer to the angels) than girls in those days, due to the nature of work required to be done at that time.. with fellas being stronger than us girls and all.

    (All though in saying that, I arm wrestled a guy recently in front of all his friends for a 50 euro bet.. and I beat him and I don’t work out too much. My arm is still sore though. It’s was pure adrenaline though, of I’m going to show this little arrogant shit.)

  84.  

    Still got a headache, Bock?

    I’ve had sinus and throat problems for weeks now… Some say its a seasonal change thing… does that happen?

    See, I want to move beyond the heavy stuff.

    Anyone ever walk in on their parents doing it?

  85.  

    No, I have a pain in my arse. Take a hint or take a holiday. It’s up to you.

  86.  

    TWA said: “I’ve had sinus and throat problems for weeks now… Some say its a seasonal change thing… does that happen?”

    It’s not a seasonal thing, it’s psychological. Sinus problems occur when you are congested with bullshit. Throat problems occur when you are talking too much with a sinus problem… :-)

  87.  

    That’s it. Back on topic please. From here on, irrelevant comments will be deleted.

  88.  

    Do you mean my comment?
    I tried to get back on topic, but … ah whatever.

  89.  

    In Belgium they do the opposite colour wise; its pink for infant boys and blue for girls.

  90.  

    I meant that I’d very much appreciate it if people could stick to the topic, since it could be an interesting line of discussion, if some of our commenters weren’t so fixated on the sound of their own voices.

  91.  

    Bock said: “I meant that I’d very much appreciate it if people could stick to the topic, since it could be an interesting line of discussion, if some of our commenters weren’t so fixated on the sound of their own voices.”

    That’s what I tried to say all along.

    Back on topic:
    Can’t you just say: No, I didn’t mean your comment, I meant such and such. Would be much easier to understand than generalizing.

    You see, people who try to be too specific and get lost in details, or those who use warbled language just to be apart, are as bad as people who try to avoid straight answers.

    That’s the trouble with language: You can use it to manipulate, to dominate, to hide behind it, to basically do with it everything.

    I’ve learned in English, since it’s not my native tongue, to express myself as clearly as possible with the limited linguistic knowledge I have.You however are a kind of master of language (in my opinion) and an interesting thinker with an interesting following in your blog. That’s why I’m here.

    So I hope that you are as clear in your expressions as you expect it from that drama queen, eh professor, in your initial post.
    He is a professor of the drama department after all…

    Thank you.

  92.  

    Carrig — Your contributions have always been relevant, and you have not been hijacking topics. Therefore I have no reason to complain.

  93.  

    Ok
    Back on topic, so.
    My translation:
    Men ignore their problems to their own detriment and women are mad.So, we should swop roles and we might learn something.
    Chau….

  94.  

    Bock – thanks first… appreciate it… that’s as much as a woman gets, methinks …

    … so it works, more or less: asking straigthforward questions and getting straight answers – kind of.
    Men have still a lot to learn how to get in touch with their female side :-D

    But you’re getting there… ;-)

    Well, I’m tired now but loved the language part of this discussion and how language works to manipulate people and how to blur or disguise what you really feel or try to say.

    Language is a shield, and a curse. And a blessing if it only were connected to our feelings and thinkings.

    Communicating with my dog is far more honest and satisfying.
    Why?
    Because she doesn’t SPEAK and has no theories!

    Go figure.

  95.  

    For those of you who can’t make to his lecture – shame on you ! – his book will be released on the 29th of August and can be bought from Amazon for a mere US$ 65.00. In the meantime, while you’re just gagging (!) for intellectual stimulation, perhaps you could bury yourself in Fintans previous opus :-
    ” The erotics and politics of mascochistic self-abjection in Jackass. ”
    http://www.genderforum.org/issues/gender-disgussed/the-erotics-and-politics-of-masochistic-self-abjection-in-ijackassi/

    PS. The original blog piece translates roughly as ” I’m gay. And I just love myself to bits”

  96.  

    The good Prof. must of swallowed a dictionary (although, that appears debatable ! )…..in my humble, he’s simply saying, had all us guy’s been ‘Girly-Men’ more human progress would have been achieved !…..then again, if that had been the case, there’d be no subject matter for his lecture…..hmmm !

  97.  

    Uh… I actually did contribute to the topic before I, reluctantly, got dragged into all that other crap (sorry, can’t help myself sometimes).

    So, first I gave the only actual proper translation of the piece – you know, the topic at hand – and pointed out that half of it was disguised truisms and half of it was just wierd. Then when the discussion moved on to cryptic academic language – you know, the thing all you “cool”, “ironic” hipsters started referring to when complaining about my posts, but which myself and another poster actually started? – yeah? Well when the discussion moved on to academic cryptitude, I posted ample evidence to suggest that (a) this has always been there (b) this is not neccesarily a bad thing (c) it is often abused by wankers (d) there is a great tradition of taking the piss out of it (with more quotes and references).

    Hats off guys…

  98.  

    It’s ok. I’ve modified the bullshit posts to make them more readable by uneducated fools like me.

  99.  

    Oh, very funny Bock…

    MISES!

  100.  

    Bock,

    It all reads very clearly to me and I totally identify and agree with Dr. Walshs postulations. He is obviously a multi-dimensional thinker who can use the vernacular to the extreme in order to expound on topics which, in the main, are of little or no interest to lesser males or, females for that matter. Having worked in a broad section of organisations from the accademic to government departments, semi state bodies and the private sector, and often in highly charged and temper fraught environments, I frequently resort to using ‘babble talk’ as a strategic technique. I find this written and/or oral style to be most useful in three situations, (a) use high English to confuse the opposition and make them feel inept, (b) It allows me time to think on the next tack or arguement while my opponents are attempting to desypher what I had just said and finally ,(c) when I don’t know what the fuck I am talking about myself regarding the subject matter I elevate into the realm of unintelligable English beyond the normal scope of my detractors. This is usually done with a substantial tome of the Oxford dictionary of ‘never used words and terminologies’ on my lap under the table which I scan as required. It must be said that on occasion, I even invent words while thinking on my feet which frequently does the trick. The reason I readily identify with Dr Walsh’s brief is that I am happy to declare my dyslexia, in which form, I seem to have a facility to read and clearly understand dried cow path – bull shit to you – and also note, that I am demonstrating my understanding of Dr. Walsh’s theories by being able to grasp the concept through the intersexualisation of metaphors through correlating cow and bull to describe the bottom line of all of this, which in a word is – crap!

    Keep up the good work and I wonder if Tom Collins’ Catherine could fall into any of the categorisations outlined in his most illuminating text.

    Slan, Rua

  101.  

    @lapsedmethodist

    The Erotics of …what!?! That can’t be for real. Clicks. And it is. Score to Fintan.

    But wait – that’s Meeja Studies. Anything goes there.

    I do it infrequently. Watch telly and make insightful remarks about the erotics, semiotics and plain tics of this and that.

    I could do that. Gissa job.

  102.  

    @Phil.

    Ignore that Bock fella. He thinks this is his house but we’ve just squatted it.

  103.  

    “This lecture explores the notion of ‘trouble’ in the field of masculine ontology and cultural representation. Moreover, drawing on a range of case studies, the presentation considers the relationship between hegemonic masculinity and sacrificial modes of signification. The talk argues that these proliferative aesthetic practices gravely restrict relational, cultural and political transformation, not least of all because they are invariably premised upon the traumatization of the feminine, and the feminization of trauma.”

    Guys sometimes have problems getting an erection, and they assume that this makes women upset because that’s all they care about.

    “This lecture addresses the writing of visual artist and psychoanalyst Bracha L. Ettinger, whose work seeks to reclaim the feminine from psychotic positionality. While Ettinger focuses on visual art, she is more broadly interested in the manner in which our encounters with the matrixial in art practices might open lanes of fragiliztion that resist the foreclosure of subjectivity. I look to Ettinger’s work to redress the place of the feminine/matrixial in the field of male relationality. Drawing on a selection of illustrative performances and representations, I suggest that if male trouble is to be truly transformative, then it must be fragilizing, and the feminine (and its associated others) must be disassociated from abjection and psychosis and negotiated as the basis for a border-linking, border-sharing ethical relation.”

    Fellas, don’t worry about it. It happens to everyone from time to time. Also, it is OK to cry.
    To prove this, I will dazzle you with psychobabble based on the crazed scribblings of a lunatic you never heard of and therefore cannot criticise, and in an attempt to hide the fact that I am merely staing the obvious, I will veil it in a veritable avalanche of made-up words and pretend I am asking a serious question about the nature of being

  104.  

    Steve — That is all women care about.

  105.  

    I will give it a go Bock.
    Translation,
    “I saw The Da Vinci Code last weekend I will be asking your opinion when I get to Limerick”

  106.  

    Bock.. What’s with the sweeping statements against women? :) That’s not all we care about. We care about big wallets too.

  107.  

    Bock, Good afternoon.
    My translation is this ” Everyones Gay, Get on with it, Get over it and Get busy with it”

    Men want to be women and men want to be women- Life sucks, bla, bla, bla, women don’t get treated fairly in politics bla bla bla, men don’t get to run in the Dublin City Marathon, bla, bla, bla, that should even everything out right???

    I want to be the proud winner of a T-shirt, but don’t think I put the intillectual know-how into it like some of the previous posters.

  108.  

    Got this invite today. Take a look at the use of English in the second paragraph.

    1. OFF-SITE: Six Memos presents Species of Space, a free seminar at Limerick School of Art & Design, Wednesday 12 May 2010, 10am-5pm

    Please note that places are limited. Booking is advised artgalleryeducation@limerickcity.ie | 061-310633 ext.3

    Six Memos presents Species of Space, a day of talks at the Limerick School of Art & Design, LIT, Clare Street campus on Wednesday 12 May 2010, facilitated by Mary Conlon, Shinnors Scholar, LCGA.

    The title of the seminar is taken from the book Espèces D’Espaces by Georges Perec, a leading figure of the OuLiPo literary movement that found creative freedom within the formal structures of language. Through the collection of observations on his surroundings and the topographical enumeration of their contents, he conveyed both the multiplicity of spatial relationships and the individual’s unique experience of spaces as a set of modular components. His systematic approach to writing evoked an acute awareness of the network of connections between people and things.

  109.  

    Facinating BFH..
    So this guy spent his time numbering the contents of his surroundings.. “Through the collection of observations on his surroundings and the topographical enumeration of their contents”.. and somehow his writing of this “evoked an acute awareness of the network of connections between people and things”.. It would only evokes an acute awareness in me of how this sort of thing bores me to death.

    ” leading figure of the OuLiPo literary movement that found creative freedom within the formal structures of language”.. I’d stick with the formal, as it’s just gibberish.

  110.  

    BFH — In fairness to those guys, they genuinely are taking the piss.

  111.  

    Bock- I detect a note of Cynicism there.

  112.  

    Confident lady seeks diffident male companion with view.

  113.  

    A lot of what troubles people with these sorts of passages is that their vocabulary is so limited they fail to understand. Why should everyone’s expression be used words only found in a grade 6 class’ dictionary?

    That said, there is no doubt strings of babble produced without a clear meaning; but not all of the latter are only caused by the writer.

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