The Corner

Re: Bad Writing is Good

Stan – Jacoby’s criticism is hilarious. I’ve been keenly interested in this topic ever since a friend of mine told me the story about his defense of his dissertation at an Ivy League school and all of the hardcore leftwingers on the committee kept telling him how “well-written” and “accessible” his writing was — and that everyone in the room understood that this was an insult and code for “not serious.”

Anyway, I chimed in on this topic a while back in an old G-File I’m still fond of, Orwell’s Orphans. Here’s the opening:

This guy gives a piece of matzoh to a blind man. The blind man says, “Who writes this stuff?”

Now if you don’t get that, it’s probably because you don’t know what matzoh is — it’s that flat, crackery unleavened bread my people first started eating when we had to blow out of Egypt in a rush. The blind guy thinks it’s Braille… get it?

Now, consider this:

If, for a while, the ruse of desire is calculable for the uses of discipline soon the repetition of guilt, justification, pseudo-scientific theories, superstition, spurious authorities and classifications can be seen as the desperate effort to “normalize” formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality.

If you don’t get that, it’s because you are a relatively smart and reasonable person.

Maybe I’m revealing too much about my middle-brow-ness, but I think the bumps on a piece of matzoh are more decipherable to a blind man than this passage.

Who wrote it? Well, Homi Bhabha of course. Who’s Homi Bhabha? Where’ve you been, buddy? Homi’s one of the hottest “post-colonial theorists” in the world — which is not unlike saying “the best Octoberfest in Orlando.”

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