Category Archives: academics

Old-fashioned Jew-hating talk and action on the Left

Dalrymple writes:

When Professor Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology dismissed two Israeli academics from the editorial board of two academic journals, the Translator and Translation Studies Abstracts, on the grounds that they were Israeli, not a peep of protest was heard from British academics.

He points out that

if she had dismissed the academics on the grounds that they were Syrian, Rwandan Hutu, or Muslim, a great fuss would have ensued.

Dalrymple notes that the Middle East conflict

has given respectability to old prejudices, especially in British academic circles.

He reports that 200 British academics, some eminent,

have selected Israel, of all the countries in the world, as the object of a total boycott, as if it were a uniquely evil state. While one can disagree strongly with the Israeli government’s policies without being anti-Semitic, the selection of Israel alone for a boycott in a world in which atrocity and suppression of freedom are routine must arouse suspicions of pre-existing animus—that is to say, of old-fashioned anti-Semitism.

There’s nothing like a good academic boycott

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 08.59.16It makes British academics, writes Dalrymple,

feel they are at the centre of things, important cogs in the motor of history.

And virtuous into the bargain,

for virtue these days is more a matter of making the right gestures and expressing the right opinions than of conforming one’s behavior to inconvenient ethical standards. It allows one to be a libertine on a Neronian scale and yet detect the odour of sanctity emanating powerfully from oneself.

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As flatulent and inconsequential as a Trump speech

Dalrymple on modern architectural prose, as demonstrated by the Yale architecture school

Dalrymple examines an invitation from the school to a symposium. The text — a word salad — has certain qualities that, he points out, apply to academics of one kind or another. It is

  • footling
  • pretentious
  • shallow
  • Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 09.39.25self-regarding
  • narcissistic
  • fraudulent
  • pseudo-intellectual
  • unintelligible
  • complacent
  • self-deceptive
  • trivial
  • time-wasting
  • self-satisfied
  • boastful
  • parasitic
  • pointless
  • irrelevant
  • inconsequential
  • bogus
  • fatuous
  • lazy
  • vacuous
  • vacant
  • vain
  • preening
  • smug
  • worthless
  • preposterous
  • idiotic
  • contentless
  • solemn
  • humourless
  • mind-numbing
  • boring
  • dull
  • insincere
  • inane
  • vapid
  • self-referential
  • fake
  • empty
  • hollow
  • phony
  • aimless
  • half-baked
  • strained
  • artificial
  • asinine
  • stupid
  • self-conscious
  • sententious
  • prim
  • priggish
  • self-congratulatory
  • sanctimonious
  • pious
  • condescending
  • conceited
  • supercilious
  • snobbish
  • superior
  • pompous
  • arrogant
  • unself-critical
  • shameless
  • feeble
  • trite
  • uninteresting
  • self-indulgent
  • dreary
  • insipid
  • tedious
  • lame
  • impoverished
  • futile
  • barren
  • idle
  • platitudinous
  • clichéd
  • wanton
  • capricious
  • trifling
  • superficial
  • self-important
  • pallid
  • prosaic
  • evasive
  • lifeless
  • prolix
  • dishonest
  • self-advertising
  • pussyfooting
  • cowardly
  • non-committal
  • slippery
  • slimy
  • turgid
  • affected
  • contrived
  • vainglorious
  • grandiose

And that, he says, is

only to begin with.

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A weed in the garden

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 08.19.30The soil that allows bogus peer review — a relatively new form of fraud — to flourish, writes Dalrymple, is

the pressure on academics to publish, irrespective of whether they have anything to say, either for the sake of promotion or even of mere continuance in post.

It is, he notes,

a modern variant on Gogol’s Dead Souls.

The secret vineyards of truth and knowledge

The grape English essayist: characterful, sometimes gratifyingly acidic, earthy, supremely well balanced

The grape English essayist: characterful, sometimes gratifyingly tart, earthy, supremely well balanced

Verbal phylloxera

There are two ways, Dalrymple points out,

for prose to impress more than it should: by portentousness and by incomprehensibility.

In another post, we looked at how Dalrymple views portentousness as exemplified by the contents of a Western news-magazine. In this post, it is the turn of incomprehensibility.

Prestige conferred by impenetrability

Picking up a criminological journal, Dalrymple comes across a representatively logorrhœic and polysyllabically incomprehensible passage:

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 08.21.40

The handiwork of vile sap-sucking verbal pests

We use this signifier, hypermodernity, instead of, say, postmodernity or high modernity, because the prefix hyper 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 strategisation….In this article, we have argued for an answer that will try to mobilise 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 fertilise the Othered margins of essentialised discourse.…Border-crossing criminology is a permanent process of de(re)construction of discursively constructed, essentialised 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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 08.11.11Humorously, the journal states that it is

committed to publishing only the highest quality of scholarship.

What, asks Dalrymple,

would lower levels of scholarship be like?

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Du fléau qui ravage nos vignes, délivrez-nous Seigneur

Intellectual aphids

That the kind of prose quoted is

not an aberration, a freak, but a manifestation of a widespread academic fashion or disease

is demonstrated by

(a) the fact that it is frequent in the journal, and

(b) the fact that the journal has an editorial board of 49 academics round the world, from Norway to Venezuela, from Poland to Japan.

Lutte contre le phylloxéra

Lutte contre le phylloxéra

Such prose, writes Dalrymple, is to academic life

what phylloxera was to vines in 19th-century France. Whether recovery will ever be possible must be doubtful.

Dalrymple writes that prestige in publications for academic intellectuals

is conferred by impenetrability, where truth and knowledge are kept as secret gardens that would be defiled by the presence of the uninitiated.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 08.59.05Large numbers of fifth-rate academics,

paid from public money, go a long way in polysyllabic incomprehensibility about subject matter that is describable in plain language.

Blight upon academic life

Blight upon academic life