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March 26, 2012



Wolin's 'The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism' is very interesting.


I left a long comment here and it's completely disappeared. Odd.

Mick H

I certainly didn't delete it.


OK, I'll try again. I posted a long comment I found on the Net from the famous linguist Professor Larry Trask ripping to shreds a book Kristeva had published on his specialised subject. Here it is:

"Among those followers is the egregious Julia Kristeva, Bulgaria's revenge on France for some ancient defeat at football. Kristeva is among the French dimbulbs targeted by Sokal and Bricmont in their celebrated book.

About ten minutes after defending her PhD, she was awarded a chair of linguistics in Paris. I guess academic progression works differently in France. Having received that chair, she then foolishly attempted to write about linguistics. Big mistake.

Among her attempts is a volume purporting to be a textbook of linguistics and entitled 'Le langage, cet inconnu'. Well, she certainly succeeds in demonstrating that the subject is unknown to her.

All of the minuscule linguistic content is copied out of other people's books, and from ancient books. The tiny bit of phonetics is copied from Saussure, for god's sake. The only phonology is an unintelligible scrap of American structuralist phonology, copied incomprehendingly from an appalling American book of 1953, and garnished with some confused falsehoods of Kristeva's own invention. There is no morphology. The syntax consists of two brief excerpts,the first on IC analysis and copied from an American book of the 1940s, and the second copied from Syntactic Structures -- which, dating from 1957, is the most recent source she uses.

There is no semantics. There is no pragmatics. There is no discourse. There is no psycholinguistics. There is no acquisition. There is no neurolinguistics or disability. There is no sociolinguistics. There is no cognitive linguistics. There is no computational linguistics. There is no sign language. There is no historical linguistics. There is no writing systems. There is no typology or universals. There is no grammatical categories. There is no languages of the world.

Most of the book consists of some haphazard remarks about the history of linguistics, some drivel on semiotics, and a long chapter on psychoanalysis -- a topic admittedly neglected in most textbooks of linguistics.

And somebody decided that this festering mess was worth translating into English. So, even if you can't read French, you too can enjoy Kristeva's discomfiture as she attempts to expound on a subject which is as familiar to her as the surface of Neptune."

Mick H

Well yes, he's not impressed, is he?

One of the best demolition jobs on French "theorrhoeists", I think, was Raymond Tallis's review of a book on Jacques Lacan, "The Shrink from Hell". - http://www.psychiatrie-und-ethik.de/infc/en/Shrink_from_Hell.htm


Heh. Got any more like that?

There was a bit of a fuss in France a few years ago when Roland Barthes' journal of his trip to Maoist China was finally published. It turned out to be embarrassingly banal. The thing that most outraged Barthes was the poor quality of the cuisine on his Air France flight. How piercingly anti-bourgeois.

Mick H

No more like that to hand, no.

Richard Powell

Mao's China and today's China of crony-capitalists have few positive features in common. But one of them is that neither would give house-room to a posturing ninny such as Kristeva.

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