Poetics, science, and bafflegab

‘Poetics’, for instance, is (or, are) among these sciences, but in the absence of real languages and real poetry it becomes the kind of gummy wool and bafflegab that is taught in our universities today. Like all the other sciences it is essentially applied. If there is nothing to which it can be applied, then it is tosh some tenured fool is putting over. ‘Literary theory’ is almost all like that: done by people who could not read with attention to save their lives.

—David Warren, ‘On Science’

Calvin and Hobbes on writing

Hat tip to Malcolm the Cynic.

Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin: 'I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?' Hobbes, reading aloud: 'The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in DICK AND JANE: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes.' Calvin: 'Academia, here I come!'

There are two kinds of people involved in this game, whether as writers, readers, or what have you: Those who agree with Calvin, and those who wish to use writing as an actual means of communication. Which is as much as to say that there are parasites, and there are hosts.

Speaking of Malcolm the Cynic, he has an interesting piece up on Superversive SF: ‘Fixing the Abrams Star Trek Movies’. Very much in the vein of what I did with elements of the Star Wars prequels in ‘Creative discomfort and Star Wars’. I like his take on the Abrams Trek reboot very much.

One definition of knowledge

The way the word knowledge is used by many intellectuals often arbitrarily limits what verified information is to be considered knowledge. This arbitrary limitation of the scope of the word was expressed in a parody verse about Benjamin Jowett, master of Balliol College at Oxford University:

First come I; my name is Jowett.
There’s no knowledge but I know it.
I am master of this college:
What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.

—Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society

(The ‘parody verse’ is generally attributed to Henry Beeching. I have here substituted the original for Sowell’s paraphrase, because the original scans better.)

English as she is spoke

Academic, n. One who, lacking the gift of natural stupidity, has attained stupidity by degrees.