I started graduate school a few years before the Sokal hoax, when what was still transgressive and sexy about literary theory was fighting it out with the sheer ay, caramba factor of such pronouncements as "E=MC2 is a sexed equation." By the time I exited grad school, the feeling of an era being over—however meretricious in some of its particulars the era might have been—was unmistakable. These days, no think tank pundit would bother to denounce literary theory; its biggest stars, by way of generating some final headlines, have publicly disowned it; and no fresh cohort of terrifying intellectual charismatics has crossed the Atlantic to revive it.How many hours of your precious life did you throw away trying to get your mind around literary theory? What else did you fritter away your undergrad years studying and what intellectual pursuit would have been a better use of your time? What ideas did you take seriously then that seem so worthless now?
November 18, 2005
Stephen Metcalf has a nice piece in Slate about the decline of "the English professor as con man." NYU physics prof Alan Sokal plays the central heroic role, with his hoax article explaining why "an external world obedient to invariable physical laws was an Enlightenment fiction." Here's Metcalf:
Posted by Ann Althouse at 7:14 AM