From Boring to Baffling

August 01, 2015



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We use this signifier, “€œhypermodernity,”€ instead of, say, “€œpostmodernity”€ or “€œhigh modernity”€ because the prefix “€œhyper”€ is probably better for conveying the strategic dimension of contemporary modernity. It is precisely this strategic dimension of the contemporary which is producing extreme levels of reflexivity and flexibility. These, in turn, (re)produce a process of socio-cultural hyperdifferentiation, and, as such, feedback into contemporary strategization.

By far the most admirable thing about this passage is that it was written by a man whose first language was not English. You may be said truly to have mastered a foreign language when you can produce grammatically correct verbiage in it.

Here is a second extract:

In this article, we have argued for an answer that will try to mobilize hypermodern energies of dislocation to debunk privileged discursively (re)produced Truths and foundations that inevitably block out the voices and hopes of multiple Others. Our answer lies in a radical politic that tries to fertilize the Othered margins of essentialized discourse…. Border-crossing criminology is a permanent process of de(re)construction of discursively constructed, essentialized borders. Border-crossing criminology is a reflexive and flexible (hypermodern) praxis: it evokes infinite Other voices of oppression/suppression, even those that are”€”inevitably”€”being silenced in and through specific border-crossing discursive moves.

The editorial statement of the journal states unequivocally that it, the journal, “€œis committed to publishing only [emphasis added] the highest quality of scholarship.”€ What, then, would lower levels of scholarship be like? That the kind of prose I have quoted is not an aberration, a freak, but rather a manifestation of a widespread academic fashion or disease is demonstrated by (a) the fact that it was frequent in the journal and (b) the fact that the journal had an editorial board of 49 academics round the world, from Norway to Venezuela, from Poland to Japan. Such prose, then, seems to be to academic life what phylloxera was to vines in 19th-century France. Whether recovery will now ever be possible must be doubtful.

There are two ways for prose to impress more than it should: by portentousness and by incomprehensibility. The former, if we must have one or the other, is preferable.


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