At one time, I thought about becoming a Rhetoric major here at Berkeley. That was when I thought that a modern college curriculum in rhetoric would be more in line with the more classical standards of the field: argumentation, logical analysis, etc. What I soon found upon taking several classes in the subject is that today, the Rhetoric department here at Berkeley (and in many places elsewhere) is the sheltered enclave of the worst post-modern claptrap the world has ever seen.

Post modernism has crept into all sorts of humanities disciplines, but the concentration and purity of stupidity is invariably strongest in Rhetoric, where the revered figures those such as Foucault, Barthes, Derrida and other such intellectual con-men. Rather than engaging in rigorous argumentative analysis, I was quickly told to dispense with the idea that there was such a thing as “logic” itself, since it was just a concept imposed by the dominant paradigm of Western capitalistic patriarchal society.

Are you retching yet? Good.

Apparently I should’ve been angling for Philosophy instead. In the Humanities you are likely to not find two departments more diametrically opposed to each other. For the most part, one can still find rigorous, mentally taxing study of truth and logic in many Philosopy departments around the country. For this reason, as disciplines, Rhetoric and Philosophy tend to severely dislike each other. I was once at the Berkeley Humane Society and one of the volunteers was a Philosophy grad student from Berkeley, and one of the other volunteers asked “Oh, do you know so-and-so? He’s in Rhetoric .” She shook her head rather vigorously and said, “Oh no, we don’t mix with them.”

The big cheese in the Berkeley Rhetoric department is a woman by the name of Judith Butler. I was forced to read her stuff in my handful of classes, and her nonsensical jabbering played no small part in my revelation mid-semester that post-modernism was all an academic scam.

Her specialty is “Gender Theory,” which basically means she focuses on trying to disprove everything we’ve known through common sense about boys and girls since Adam looked at Eve and said, “Hey, what happened to your thing?”

Butler’s main beef contends that all gender is socially constructed and does not flow from sexual differences. Any difference existing between men and women is a result of an oppressive system of domination by the patriarchal system. Now reasonable people can make arguments about certain aspects of what we consider “feminine” being socially influenced, but that’s not what Butler is saying. She claims that every social, psychological and mental difference between men and women is a result of this oppression. Indeed, she even says that the fact that we have man and woman rather than a completely fluid continuum of states between the two extremes is a socially imposed cage. Of course this isn’t really possible to argue without sounding nuts considering the very real physical differences that exist between the sexes (although much of the time she seems perfectly willing to sound nuts). And so, she even suggests that physical differences arise from this same social conditioning, or rather that humans are so blinded by their sexual ideological indoctrinization by the patriarchy that have been forced to think in terms that relegate the sexes to a single physical dichotomy, when really no such things exists.

Stop laughing . She’s serious.

It’s really not so funny when you’re forced to spend an entire semester reading it. More like infuriating.

And remember what I said about Philosophy and Rhetoric being a very unhappy couple? Philosphy and Literature has an annual bad writing contest in which they take the worst nonsensical gobbledygook of the year and award prizes for it. Last year, Judith Butler came in first place for the following sentence:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Now if you asked a Rhetoric professor or grad student why that is so hard to understand, they would say something along the lines of, “Well, the ideas are so complex and iconoclastic that in order to convey the real meaning the text itself must be accordingly labyrinthine.”

Ask any normal, intelligent person, and they will, after examining the passage for a while, say “Because it’s shit.”

The tone and style of most post-modern literature is about the same. It employs a mode of writing that is deliberately difficult to understand, peppered with horrible run-on sentences, sudden exclamations, uselessly complex abstract nouns, often used plurally in order to make them even more arcane-sounding (ie “temporalities”), and in general, a rambling, incoherent argumentative structure. Post-modern writers don’t want you to understand them, at least not right away. Because if they set out their ideas clearly and concisely, you would recognize immediately that what their ideas sound better suited to something you would hear a raving psychotic shouting on the street corner .

And recently, new scientific information won’t be helping them to overcome that whole psychotic thing anytime soon. It turns out that even non-hominid primates show the same sex-preferences for certain types of toys as human children do. I wonder what Butler would have to say to this?

Mostl likely something about the researchers’ inherent sexual and gender biases influencing their methodology and skewing their results, or perhaps she would even lament the oppressive social system that has inadvertantly been imposed upon the poor little monkeys by Mankind’s evil gender fascism.

Stop laughing. They’re serious

last update : 23-5-2018

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