The Bad Writing Contest
It’s unfortunate the Bad Writing Contest lived only three years, from 1996 – 1998. Pointing out nonsense is a civil service, like showing children that the monster in their room is nothing but a shadow. Philosopher Denis Duton stopped too soon.
The winner of 1998 is a delight: Miss Judith Butler, of contemporary fame thanks to her associations with gender theory a and a brilliant Onion parody. Her too-smart-for-you winning sentence goes:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Duton writes, “To ask what this means is to miss the point. This sentence beats readers into submission and instructs them that they are in the presence of a great and deep mind. Actual communication has nothing to do with it.”
This stifling garbage scatters academic writing like flies on shit.
But it’s also simmering in everyday writer’s prose as well. In an effort to appear as educated as that Master’s Degree warrants, bloggers and journalists have adopted an esoteric language that’s more occult than real. It’s worst offense—and one I can hardly stand—is the ol’ reference-language-game, in which you make upturned nose references to obscure writings to appear to be in-the-know.
“Yes, you are very smart.”
Maybe I should have a section on the site dedicated to abominations that should have been aborted long before the keyboard’s clacks. Stay tuned.
South Sea Company
If you think hype-scamming is a recent phenomenon, think again. The cryptocurrency world should have studied the past before taking out loans to invest in Altcoin 2.0:
The South Sea Company (officially The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of fishing) was a British joint-stock company founded in 1711, created as a public-private partnership to consolidate and reduce the cost of national debt. The company was also granted a monopoly to trade with South America and nearby islands, hence its name (the modern use of the term “South Seas” to refer to the entire South Pacific was unknown in England at the time). When the company was created, Britain was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession and Spain controlled South America. There was no realistic prospect that trade would take place, and the company never realised any significant profit from its monopoly. Company stock rose greatly in value as it expanded its operations dealing in government debt, peaking in 1720 before collapsing to little above its original flotation price; the economic bubble became known as the South Sea Bubble.
Bubbles rise and POP. And no matter how many contributions you make to physics there’s no guarantee you won’t fall for the scam, i.e. Isaac Newton was no exception.
The lesson? Do your damn homework instead of copying the kid wearing glass with scotch tape on the left temple. It’s likely they know less than you do, or nothing at all.
Flaunt your wealth
What better way to go as viral as herpes than to spill out of a car with your daddy’s wealth all over the floor?
Chinese millionaire children—with little else to do than hunt for likes from Mongols—pretend to collapse, while their Gucci bags, lipsticks, and iPhones spread out in front of them (plural because you know, rich). Funny, how the spread is so organized. I guess chaos does create order.
Thank you, China for the scientific lesson.