All entries by this author

Richard Wollheim *

Nov 9th, 2003 | Filed by

The New York Times obituary.… Read the rest

We Happy Few

Nov 8th, 2003 8:17 pm | By

There is an interesting remark in this review of Terry Eagleton’s After Theory in the Telegraph. Actually there is more than one. Noel Malcolm points out that ‘Cultural Studies’ is a discipline that has some difficulties and ironies considered from a left-wing point of view:

If you open these books and try reading a page or two, you will probably notice one more thing: most of them are unreadable…These are clever people who have spent years mastering bodies of theory and styles of argument, to the point where they can produce new quantities of the same. But the overwhelming impression they give is that they are writing to impress one another, not to enlighten you or me. You do not

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Dalrymple on Furedi *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Agrees on the whole, though he points out that therapy can be useful.… Read the rest

Right Here, That’s Where! *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

Where is the Left when you need them to criticise Postmodernism? All around, actually.… Read the rest

How Much Homework is Too Much? *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

US children aren’t doing more, their parents only think they are.… Read the rest

Strings in 11 Dimensions *

Nov 8th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Perhaps…the theory’s very unproveability means it should actually be seen as philosophy.’… Read the rest

Other Projects

Nov 7th, 2003 7:44 pm | By

I posted two links in News the other day about the irksomeness of compulsory child-bearing. Is it any wonder that a teasing name gays like to give straights is ‘breeders’?! Anyone would think we were all living in Augustan Rome, where the dear Emperor passed laws that penalized naughty people who refused to get married, much to the disgust of women and men who preferred not to. Is child-bearing likely to die out soon? Is all this social pressure necessary for some dire reason that has escaped my attention? Yes I know Italy has a very low birth rate and that there are worries about pensions and so on, but still, if you look at the planet as a whole, … Read the rest

Interview with a Physicist *

Nov 7th, 2003 | Filed by

How strings do the job, and ‘Great science belongs to everybody.’… Read the rest

Yes But Ask Me to Name All Six ‘Friends’! *

Nov 7th, 2003 | Filed by

Most Americans can’t name even one Cabinet department.… Read the rest

Is Chinese Medicine Scientific or ‘Alternative’? *

Nov 7th, 2003 | Filed by

And if it is scientific, does it belong to China, or can anyone anywhere test it?… Read the rest

Still Bad

Nov 6th, 2003 5:29 pm | By

The ‘bad writing’ discussion continues. A reader wonders in the Guestbook if ‘bad’ is the best word to use.

OB, very ascerbic, very plain and right on, on the Bad Writing theme. But I think the very the phrase itself needs a housecleaning (or maybe a whole renovation), since “bad” can mean a splay of things: bad-ass, bad-as-evil, bad quality, bad as in WRONG, bad as in naughty … I think YOU mean “bad” as in convoluted, arrogant, obfuscatory, and Wizard-of-Oz academic, no?

Yes. Good point, FK. But I still like the word ‘bad’ for the purpose, and I think the possible other meanings are eliminated by the context. Even the headline on the In Focus makes explicit what kind … Read the rest

Honour Killing Foiled *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Man tries to hire hitman to kill his son-in-law.… Read the rest

Just a Question *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

But why isn’t it called ‘Husband Swap’? … Read the rest

David Aaronovitch on the Two Erics *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Orwell knew and Hobsbawm knows how to face facts.… Read the rest

Boys in School *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

Noise and bravado unhelpful, so have them study in professional football clubs. Eh?… Read the rest

Hobsbawm on History for a Broad Public *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

It can be good and readable without talking down to the readers.… Read the rest

Bogus Egalitarianism in Action *

Nov 6th, 2003 | Filed by

The ludicrously rich eat hot dogs, therefore inequality is just fine.… Read the rest

And Another

Nov 5th, 2003 6:25 pm | By

Want more? Want more bad writing combined with bad thinking? Right then.

This is from a review by Azfar Hussain of Dis/locating Cultures/Identitites, Traditions, and Third World Feminism by Uma Narayan.

Narayan’s preoccupations with the problematics of the representations of sati in Western feminist discourse indeed remain intimately connected to other representationalist discursive areas, namely dowry-murders in India and domestic violence-murders in the United States — issues that she takes up in the third chapter of her book. Narayan takes a hard, critical look at the ways in which dowry-murders in India are framed, focused, and even formulated in US academic feminist discourse, while pointing up the dangerous problems kept alive by Western culturalist epistemological approaches to Third-World subjects, identities,

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So It’s a Sample You Want?

Nov 5th, 2003 5:03 pm | By

A reader of ours seems to think I haven’t actually read any bad writing. He’s wrong about that. He tells me to quote some that’s recently published. Very well. Mind you, I wouldn’t do it just to please him, but I’ve been meaning to anyway, when I got around to it, so I’ll get around to it now.

This is from a book published this very year, 2003. It is called, elegantly, The Futures of American Studies, and is edited by Donald E. Pease and Robyn Wiegman. Here is a sample – highly representative, I assure you – from the Introduction:

Like most founding gestures, this one gave monumental status to an origin retrospectively invoked, thereby giving the past

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Neglecting One’s Social Duty *

Nov 5th, 2003 | Filed by

When was child-bearing made compulsory?… Read the rest