earl jackson, jr
on Belief, Reality,
The main conversation begins
On this page, Earl is focusing on particular points in Roberto’s discussion.
Those points are given here in aquamarine
type, and Earl’s responses are in white
Roberto Freeman: It is not to
say that I believe that this is the defining characteristic for the genre.
techno-babble often found in the texts we are reading i perceive as
having been designed to add an enigmatic
quality to the constructions that hover above the theme (i.e., „pyre“,
(for lack of a better phrase)
Earl: Your use of the categoryscientific/futuristic
techno babble is
a rhetorical strategy you might want to rethink- you undermine yourself
here. „Technobabble“ is definitely a derogatory term, yet you are taking
the texts and the language within the texts, and the image
resevoir of the texts (in particular The Stars My Destination)
very seriously. This is the real cognitive
dissonance – internal to your comment, and it will confuse the reader
who takes the cues on the writer’s attitudes to the topic from the writer’s
choice of terms. For example, an „objective“ report on a political candidate
that characterizes her or him as „sly“ gives a very different picture of
that candidate than another „objective“ report characterizing the same
candidate and presumably the same tendencies as „clever.“
„Babble“ is a pejorative term
for pretentious utterances that have the appearance of profundity but are
in fact meaningless. In your very interesting description of the function
of the techno-scientific gestures in the sf texts, your recognition of
and importance, means that these rhetorical maneuvers
are NOT „babble“ .
Let me illustrate my point with another example.
Recently I received several anonymous reader’s reports on a book proposal
I had sent to a Press. In one the reports the anonymous reader wrote: „[in
spite of] his nearly pathological
use of jargon, Jackson is one of
the few who at least knows
what he is doing.“ In my response I pointed out a double-jointed
paradox. How could I suffer from a „pathological
use of jargon“
AND know what I am doing? Furthemore, if I have saturated my work in jargon
to this extent, how can the anonymous reader determine my competence?
Am I an idiot savant? I presume that my „knowing what
[I’m] doing“ means that the anonymous reader finds either my general construction
of arguments or my conclusions somehow coherent or cogent. Do I arrive
at those conclusions through some sort of self-induced
manic trance? Or does „knowing what I’m doing“ extend to the „nearly
use of jargon?
But the deliberate use of jargon would make me a
charletan, and if I know what I’m doing critically why would I need
a smokescreen of jargon to hide my lack of whatever it is that jargon is
of covering up.
By categorizing my language „jargon“
the anonymous reader is also admitting that he or she could not fully understand
what I was doing theoretically
and critically. This makes his or her endorsement more puzzling than
reassuring. The anonymous reader’s use of the term „jargon“
is similar to your use of the term „babble“
although the anonymous reader’s term is chosen and deployed for a specific
type of professional delegitimizing gesture. Yet the mixed message there
to me suggests an ambivalence on the reader’s part regarding even the critical
language she or he condemns [I’m using „condemns“ here to mean „suspect
something of having more meaning than is immediately apparent or readily
But since the anonymous reader stops at the deadend his
or her own unidirectional reading protocol drove him or her to [indeed
anyone would who relies on defensive tactics of this sort must] I
am stranded at the same deadend, which I’ll redub in my pathological jargon,
I am left with a sketch of a person reading my work convinced I know what
I’m doing but who proclaims that the language with which I do what I do
renders the results esoteric if not autistic.
But I am not the one who has already definitively withdrawn
from this one-sided communication. I’ll just address others who may be
interested in engaging. And in doing so I salvage the engima the anonymous
reader left me, by transforming it into an ethical guideline. I take pains
to distinguish my
use of language from „jargon“ for a very simple, and not at all selfless
reason: „jargon“ would not express my theoretical speculations, nor would
it advance my discoveries but
rather obscure them.
Earl: – You twist the same rhetorical/epistemological
pretzel here as the anonymous reader did above. – if the word grants access
to the text, it’s not ridiculous. See Lewis
Carroll. My recommendation
here is inspired by the problem you present, but it also resonates with
raised by the first story of the
course, „All Mimsy Were the Borogoves.“
Please consult the Guide to the First
Week and the Chaos Event Horizon
too. I think you should read Mark Burstein’s wonderful essay To
Stop A Bandersnatch.
Throughout my responses to you, I have used hyperlinks
strategically and hopefully helpfully. Some of the links have been online
dictionaries and glossaries. Such tools are of immense help in the most
mundane practical sense, but also and more importantly I think, in the
worldviews they reflect and make possible, the sense that language and
communication is a multiplex adventure, and not something to hide from
I list a few here for the sake of clarity and ease of
Ism Book. A wonderfully structured glossary/encyclopedia that breaks
its area down into -isms, and disciplines. It defines each field and discipline
and provides a focused glossary for each entry.
Dictionaries. Everything from Advertising to Water – with medicine,
law, etymology, e-commerce, metallurgy, physics, mathematics, cycling and
more in between.
of Art. A wonderful and dynamic glossary of modern and contemporary
critical terms from literary theory, psychoanalysis, cultural studies,
as well as art history. A must bookmark treasure.
An example of exploring terminology.
|And of course, the glossary
to the Jabberwocky.
Return to the
conversation in progress..
earl jackson, jr
A Conversation with
Tim Gilman on the relevance of Freud.
from the First Hysteria
and Paranoia Seminar.
Bauman resumed. And resumed.
Vera on the object