Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

Gerold Firl (
7 Oct 1996 19:30:23 GMT

In article <>, (Thomas L. Billings) writes:

|> In article <5318m0$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:

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

|> > |> could be worse -- "you could be in
|> > |> lit. instead of History!")
|> > |> .............................
|> > |> 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?

|> > 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?

|> > 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
|> > connections.

|> One key to the timing of that intense competiton for slots in the
|> disciplines affected by post-modernism may be the replcement phenomenon
|> that I and others have observed in U.S. universities.

True. That must contribute to the anti-science, anti-objectivity rancor
of so many pomos. They are uncomfortable with quantitative, analytical
thinking already; to have the funding ratio tilting over to the
sciences makes it even more threatening.

|> Three questions come to mind:
|> 1.) If the draft had not been re-started in 1947, would something like the
|> strategies we saw in the 1970s/80s post-modernism/multiculturalism have
|> been seen in the 1950s?

We saw a large increase in college enrollment after WWII; the GI Bill
is often cited as a contributor. It's not clear to me whether the draft
had the effectr of increasing, decreasing, or merely deferring the
ranks of the college-bound. A liberal education is a wonderful thing,
but what do you *do* with it afterward?

|> 2.) If the original form of the WW II draft had been put in, as Truman
|> wanted, with deferrments for ONLY Medicine, Math, "Hard Sciences", and
|> Engineering, as during WW II, would we have seen these trends before the
|> end of the 1940s? Would they have had time to develop outside of someone
|> like Foucalt and his followers?

To shift the question slightly, would pomo have ever developed at all
in the english speaking world? It really seems foreign to the anglo-
american tradition. The fact that it was able to take root is
significant, but I have my doubts about pomo developing indigenously in
the US.

Sartre is often cited as the intellectual godfather of pomo, but I
think that is a bum rap. Sartre deserves better. He was a great
playwrite, and a good novelist, and he could sort of *act* like a
philosopher, but I find it more illuminating to go back to bergson for
the real roots of pomo. Henri Bergson was all the rage in 1920's paris,
beating the drum of subjective irrationality, and he should be viewed
within the larger context of the french response to the great
biological discoveries of the 19th century. While darwinian evolution
immediately became a topic of heated discussion in britain, was
rapidly adopted in germany, and somewhat later in the US, france remained
aloof, maintaining something of an isolationist stance. The shock and
humiliation of french defeat in WWII, and shame over the widespread
collaboration with the nazis, was a major factor engendering the
popularity of pomo in france. The english speaking world had no such
advantages. %^)

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf