Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Gerold Firl (
3 Oct 1996 20:45:52 GMT

In article <empty-0210962219160001@>, (CU Student) writes:

|> Just a little perspective from across the pond: in a (London) TLS article,
|> say Spring of '93 (just as a friend was doing the U.S. tenure track job
|> hunt -- I sent him a copy, saying it could be worse -- "you could be in
|> lit. instead of History!"), the author reported on the MLA convention and
|> the dreariness of PM -- something, the author, a UK English lit academic,
|> stated was a fashion mostly absent from the emerald island. Somehow common
|> sense has held on more
|> strongly there. (The palisades of falsificationism? Perhaps: Popper still sells
|> popularly over there, as do his allies llike E. M. Gombrich, and Ernest
|> Gellner.)
|> Which raises the question: if PM first (and foremostly) came to the
|> English speaking world via the U.S. -- not England -- what sociologically
|> distinguishes
|> U.S. academy from its British counterparts?

The rise of pomo is an interesting study in cultural evolution; check
it out, before it checks-in with the dinosaurs. %^)

One factor which complicates the matter is the fact that pomo is
largely a political pose adopted to enhance employability. American lit
departments are furiously competitive, with lots of claiments vieing
for a small number of spots. What better way for lit majors to compete
than to invent a complex jargon behind which they can play their
backbiting games of clique and counterclique?

I don't want to give the impression that all the pomos are completely
cynical posers; some do seem to take it more seriously. In their case,
however, there tends to be an aspect of mental instability involved.
People who are more comfortable in make-believe land find that pomo is
a useful smokescreen to obscure their tenuous grip on reality.

It may be that US universities are subject to more competition for jobs
than in the UK; that may have something to do with higher levels of
cutthroat deconstruction in american english departments.

Another question is why france has proven to be such a spawning
ground for pomo. That makes for some very interesting historical

- gerold