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masque wrote (edited )

I have more trouble with pseudo-academic "internet discourse" than I do with actual academic works. I think it's fine for highly-specific fields, be they mathematics or political philosophy, to naturally develop their own jargon suited to talking about ideas or distinctions that aren't concisely described in everyday speech.

What I don't understand is the online manifestos that read like prose poetry, where everything is expressed in metaphors and examples that seem to be united by a vibe rather than by a coherent argument.

EDIT: Making academic work accessible to people outside of the field is traditionally the domain of "popularizers" who specifically are good at expressing the debate in a way that doesn't require a background, and I think that's a reasonable division of labour in theory.


thelegendarybirdmonster wrote

alejandro de acosta has written an essay on this phenomenon of new words emerging in activist circles.


ruin wrote

The essay you’re referencing, if I recall correctly, opposed the overused margarine words and sloganeering in the anarchist vernacular and is critical of calls for more “common” language in theoretical discourse.


thelegendarybirdmonster wrote

yes, he distinguishes between:

  • acid words: "new words" meant to make people think, describing something new (or renewed). They're used by the (((nerds))) of anarchism. acid because they have a ting

  • butter words: often "old" acid words, that are used by everyone, without really knowing what they mean, and without much of their original meaning. They're dissolved and are can be slipped in anywhere to make discourse slick (hence butter).

His approach was mostly from an activist side, but I feel like there's a similar phenomenon in science (the only academia I know) where new words appear. for example, I feel like "AI", "ML" were once acid words in CS, but are now butter words in everyday life.

In physics I don't have examples of words who's meaning have been dissolved (except for quantum maybe lol), but more that new words appear to distinguish different cases of some phenomena.


ruin wrote

Cool. Thanks for the recap and posting the link. I’m definitely going to give it another read.


masque wrote

I feel like "AI", "ML" were once acid words in CS, but are now butter words in everyday life.

I think "AI" has definitely been diluted to the point of near-uselessness, but ML is still useful for referring to an identifiable class of tools and techniques.


masque wrote

Looks interesting so far, thanks. I might comment again once I've finished reading it.


inthedustofthisplanet wrote (edited )

I don't think all things can be explained in simple terms and nor should we try to do this all the time. People have their own unique ways of expressing themselves and I'm not sure if there is an academic rabbit-hole, so to speak.

Knowledge doesn't move in a single direction with a definite end-point and this should be obvious once you see how philosophers have drastically varying degrees of understanding among people.

Now when you get into fields like psychology which is intertwined with media, as well as the State and their desire to control bodies and the movement of thought these can be valid points to raise.

tl;dr I think making a blanket statement about any writing that doesn't conform to the desires of the reader at hand doesn't make any sense. We may as well react negatively against any new formulations of thought because it's all just a bunch of nonsense, right?


ruin wrote (edited )

Sometimes. I typically don’t bother engaging if I sense the writer is being willfully obscurantist.

Taking it further seems rather too close to anti-intellectualism. This line of thinking has been used by reactionaries as a tactic to repress radicals and anarchists since time immemorial.


milkweed wrote

People here are mostly anti-intellectual if you haven’t noticed. Ziq and the rest of these people would just like to burn everything and exit civilization. And they idealize the 100.000 years before civilization.


ziq OP wrote

What's anti-intellectual about burning everything? When a deadly force is suffocating you and everyone around you, the intellectual course of action would be to make sure you can breathe again, no?


catachresis wrote

As long as academia is written with academics as the target audience it will never become easier to understand for the normal person. This makes me wonder if language doesn’t exist to explain some topics in an understandable way because of how far abstracted the topic is from the real world, but at that point, why?


Kinshavo wrote

I think this point is very important. The instrumentalization of the language by the academia builds an actual intelectual hierarchy. This is very remnant of the bolshevism, the inteligentsia creates the words and concepts, and an hermetic theory distant from the average people.

I read a lot of critique of philosophersr like foucault and deleuze that appear to write obscure text just for the sake of writing hard.. an inverted poetry of sorts of you like.

Anyway, burn the academia, Social Theory is dead, Political Theory is dead, burn the social science libraries. The life is on the Streets, not in dead ink on dead paper. [Now you can throw a brick at me for the edgy remark]


milkweed wrote

Yeah burn everything... that’s gonna help a ton


Kinshavo wrote (edited )

Poetic license my dear.

I really need to make myself transparent to you?



snack wrote (edited )


But also: I really think it depends - not only on the field, or the academic (person), but on the actual text itself. Now i can't talk for every field, but if i were to compare all the papers i've ever read, i don't know, they're all really different from each other. There's some that are really easy to understand, and others that take you forever - and it has nothing to do with their quality. I've read good ones that were easy, shit ones that were hard and vice versa.

that being said, academia definitely has huge problems with its communications - accessibility for one. Even if you were to understand everything, it's of no use to you if you don't have access. There's this argument in the open science movement, which demands that the public should have access to scientific research, because they are the ones paying for it.

edit: typo


CaptainACAB wrote

The only reason I was able to read as much of The Ego and Its own as I did was because I really enjoyed Stirner's criticisms of secular humanism, Protestantism, and Liberalism. The points after that were a bit of slog; I remember having to reread a bunch because I either glazed over or couldn't really understand what was being said; eventually, I just stopped reading it. I haven't read Wolfi's re-translation, so I don't know if it's just a case of a bad translation or not. I think I've pretty much gotten what I needed from Stirner anyway.

But everyone struggles with that, I think. It's just a matter of whether or not you think it's worth it. And you can tell that it's worth it when you really want to understand.


ruin wrote

Might not be worth a full reread, but I can attest that the Landstreicher translation is a marked improvement.


_caspar_ wrote

it helped tremendously once I started reading more background on the ideas of Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx (although I had read Marx in school much earlier than being introduced to Stirner), and even Nietzsche. I actually think The Unique.. is pretty enjoyable to read if you have Wolfi's version (whose intro and footnotes are great).


arv wrote (edited )

Frankly, life is too short to read people like Delueze and Spivak. I have a job I enjoy, friends I like to talk to, political volunteering I need to do, and fiction I like to read. I mostly read a lot of "readers" and secondary sources for that reason.

EDIT: to expand on this I think there is a reason academics use some of the jargon they use and it's useful in communicating with other academics. some works just aren't meant for people who don't have phds in the subject.

also i saw an interesting opinion in r/CriticalTheory:

Judith Butler's 'A Bad Writer' Bites Back' addresses this.
Zizek's well known quote: “We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.” is another way of articulating the need for new language and concepts as well.
I think bad writing can tend to be jargon heavy but that's a condemnation of presentation/style rather than the jargon itself.


Hibiscus_Syrup wrote

I struggle often, but when I do the payoff is sometimes really good. With some good work, its important to be hard and tangled, because the struggle to understand what is really being said is the same as the process of coming to understand something outside of common sense. Regular ways of using language often reproduces the values of the world as it is, and challenging fundamental ways we understand words and meaning and being is often done pretty well by forcing people to engage with texts as tough texts.

Plenty writing is obtuse and bullshit for no good reason though, I assume.


tabby wrote (edited )

I think you're too charitable. It's obscurantist bullshit, and it's not even worth trying to understand or engage with.

Edit: I don't mean to say that anything above my comprehension level is obscurantist. Sometimes, I have to admit that I'm not someone's intended audience or I lack the necessary foundational knowledge or raw intellect to understand an advanced concept.


rot wrote

if they use uncommon words or use words in an obscure alternate meaning and don't bother to define the terms then I won't even bother with reading the whole work most of the time


isvarahparamahkrsnah wrote

I speak in simple language and expect others to do the same.
I don't want to read through their linguistic gymnastics trying to figure out what the hell they meant.

Language was meant to convey points across, in a straightforward manner. Not make the audience spend an hour trying to decipher what in the fuck you just said.