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I don’t know whether Glenn Dixon’s article (“Liberté, Egalité, Obscurité,” 3/12) was intended as a book review or an account of his own intellectual journey. The book (Fashionable Nonsense) makes a valid argument for clarity. Dixon’s own pronouncements on the subject are a little confused. What does it mean, for instance, to “tear
new assholes for Lacan, Deleuze,
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In fact, who is Lacan in the first place, and why is he so scandalous? What is postmodernism? Why was it said that Coleridge was the last person to know everything? What about Blake? Yeats? Einstein? Picasso? Didn’t they exceed their limits as well? And why does he include “sociolog[y], linguist[ic]s, psycholog[y]” in the realm of pseudoscience? Why is Lacan a “[p]oor, deluded child”? The debate that Dixon feels obliged to participate in has been responsible for “fuzziness,” largely because of a profusion of talking heads who don’t really know what they’re arguing about or whom they’re arguing against in the first place.
If Dixon has to throw around pronouncements like “The world has simply gotten too big for any one person to get his mind around it,” I think he should find something beyond personal experience to support that. And if he thinks he can define the limits of interdisciplinary discussion, scientific or otherwise, he should make it clear that he’s qualified to do so. Otherwise I have to say that he’s biting off more than he can chew. Bricmont and Sokal, I am sure, would agree: If you’re venturing into dangerous territory, make sure you belong there. Or just stick to the book.
via the Internet