What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content. The chances are that you would produce something like the following: We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously. In the second place, singularities possess a process of auto-unification, always mobile and displaced to the extent that a paradoxical element traverses the series and makes them resonate, enveloping the corresponding singular points in a single aleatory point and all the emissions, all dice throws, in a single cast.

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Sokal and Bricmont: Is this the beginning of the end of the dark ages in the humanities? London: Profile Books, When I was a boy, I was friendly with a lad who lived a few doors away. We used to take bicycle rides together and have gunfights on the waste land and light fires and play scratch cricket.

Our ways parted as our interests evolved in different directions. There were no hard feelings and, indeed, much residual good will. Roger this is not his true name, which I shall withhold for the sake of his family did not share any of my own developing intellectual interests and I felt none of his love for sailing.

I felt that I had misjudged him and wondered whether, after all, we did have more in common than I had thought. My ignorance was genuine, rather than assumed. To our embarrassment, we both discovered that Roger, too, was ignorant about the nature of cybernetics. For him, it was just a word.

It had something to do with science and technology and the future and seemed rather glamorous and was much talked-about then. It was clearly just the thing to impress the readers of a provincial newspaper. The last I heard of him, he was doing well as an estate agent.

This was hard luck. Even more unjustly, he was not awarded a tenure-track post in humanities on the strength of his allusion to cybernetics, or a Chair in the Systems of Thought at the University of Paris. Like Roger, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Jean Baudrillard and Gilles Deleuze have the habit of using terms of which they have not the faintest understanding, in order to impress the impressionable.

Unlike Roger, they did not grow out of it and, also unlike Roger, they were rewarded not with obscurity but with international fame and the adulation of seemingly intelligent academics the world over. For many years, Lacan, Derrida, Kristeva et al got away with murder, confident that their readers would have only the slightest acquaintance with the areas of knowledge they expropriated to prop up their ideas and their reputation for scholarship, indeed for omniscience.

Eventually the postmodern Theorists started to attract the attention of experts in the disciplines into which they had strayed. Linguists looked at their linguistics and found it littered with elementary errors. Derrida, for example, repeatedly confused the sign as a whole with the signifier and so have his many hundreds of thousands of obedient disciples.

This error is one of the cornerstones of his work. Names that should fit into one of his periods are awkwardly active in others and disciplines that transcend his periods prove to be more numerous than he had thought. It is interesting how contempt for facts goes hand in hand with a propensity for fabricating evidence.

Perhaps there is a kind of consistency in combining hatred of truth -- and the very notion of truth -- with a love of error. Surely, then, the game should have been up a long time ago. This has been suggested by Terry Eagleton. To judge from his recently acquired hostility to postmodernist Theory, he has sensed that the clever money is moving on, and that now might be the time to switch from fellow travelling and collaboration to resistance.

He has not, however, withdrawn his uncritical but lucrative Literary Theory. In a favourable review of M. Times Literary Supplement, 2 January , p.

The laboured irony ill-befits one who has done very well financially and otherwise out of postmodern Theory. At any rate, it is true that there is, indeed, always a risk that out there there might be a reader of the Liverpool Echo who will take notice and ask you what cybernetics is or wonder about your credentials for talking about it. So is the game is up? The appalling truth is that all the damaging revelations about the incompetence of the postmodern theorists have caused little or no damage to the major players or, indeed, to the industry itself.

The continuing dissemination of postmodern Theory and its increasingly powerful grip on the humanities almost beggars belief: there can be few liberal arts students who do not encounter Theory in their courses and for many of them, such as those studying literature, it lies like an incubus over the entire curriculum.

How can this be possible? The protection built into Theory and its web of affiliated schools, weatherproofing it against criticism, is very thick indeed: it is composed of layer on layer of ignorance.

Nor, not infrequently, will their teachers or the teachers who taught them. The bibliographies that are dished out to support the postmodernist history of philosophy will often exclude the works of Plato, Descartes or even Heidegger. Those and I include myself among them who imagined that demonstrating the factual errors, empirical inadequacy, logical inconsistency and explanatory failures of postmodern Theory would be sufficient to raze the card castle to the ground had not taken account of this multi-layered insulation of the theorists.

We made the same mistake as General Haig before the battle of the Somme when he anticipated that, after a week of continuous bombardment and a million shells, the Germans would allow the British soldiers simply to walk over the lines. The Germans had only two years to dig in before the Somme; the postmodern Theorists have been building their trenches and tunnels and bunkers for thirty years. Nor had we reckoned with another tactic: silence. One can minimise the impact of valid dissent by denying it the publicity involved in rebuttal.

Or with a third tactic: argumentum ad hominem of such ferocity as to deter others from popping their heads over the parapet. Those who criticised Theory were diagnosed, classified, stereotyped, mocked and sent away to lick their wounds. The additional advantage of this pugilistic approach was that debate was obscured in a smokescreen of scandal; in the ensuing darkness all arguments, good and bad, looked pretty well the same and the whole thing could be presented as a punch-up between the revolutionaries and the conservatives, or between the old fogeys and the young Turks.

Derrida is on a thousand curricula; critical examinations of his work do not figure in a handful. Those who teach Theory are not foolish enough to draw attention to critiques of Theory: no place on the reading lists for them. Only academics committed to truly critical thought and the disinterested pursuit of truth that superannuated category would be foolish enough to shoot themselves through the foot by drawing attention to dissenting voices. For all of these reasons, the publication of Intellectual Impostures is an event of first importance for the future of the humanities.

Apart from its very great intrinsic merits, it has, on the back of the brilliant Sokal Hoax, attracted enormous publicity both within and beyond academe. Never before has a critique of the Lords and Ladies of Intellectual Misrule been carried out so thoroughly or with such magisterial authority. And yet their patient, quiet examination has implications, and will have effects, that go far beyond their specific remit. It may even be that students will at last be aware of a universe of discourse outside of the dogma of their Theory-besotted teachers, that they will give the dissenting voices a fair hearing, and the game will truly be up.

They investigate with scrupulous care the things that Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Latour, Baudrillard, Deleuze, Guattari, Virilio, and others have had to say about mathematics, physical science, and technology, and more particularly the use they have made of concepts borrowed from mathematics and the physical sciences in their writings about language, literature, the human psyche, feminism, contemporary culture etc.

Their writings are littered with, and the apparent force of their arguments is heavily dependent upon, terms and concepts of which they have not the faintest understanding. So Kristeva uses terms lifted from mathematical logic and set theory, Lacan mobilises mathematical logic and topology, Irigaray broods on solid and fluid mechanics, Deleuze and Guattari plunder differential and integral calculus and quantum mechanics, Baudrillard uses Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries, and so on.

But the appearance of erudition is entirely deceptive. No resources are spared: existing theories of logic are invoked and, at one point, quantum mechanics p. The rest of us might have some reservations. Lacking the knowledge to check the validity of the terminology and its incorporation into the argument, and out of something between modesty and pusillanimity, we would hesitate to classify it as CMTP colonic material of a taurine provenance.

It is only now that we can say that our instincts were justified. For the first time, scholars with the necessary credentials to judge the claims of Kristeva -- and others like her who mobilise the advanced mathematics etc or the outer surface of it to back up their global assertions about language, literature, the self etc. And what they have found is that her concept-dropping cf name-dropping is totally inappropriate and betrays what are, to them, elementary confusions and misunderstandings.

For instance, the use of the Axiom of Choice has no relevance whatsoever in linguistics and cannot help to elucidate poetic language. The introduction of this axiom in mathematical set theory is motivated by the study of infinite sets, or of infinite collections of sets. Where does one find such sets in poetry? Their criticism moreover is linked to a luminously clear explanation of terms that are misused -- or at least the more fundamental concepts from transfinite set theory and mathematical logic.

A betrayal of trust seems an egregious way to a chair, but they order things differently over there. It would be interesting to know who was on her appointment committee and how much they understood of set theory and mathematical logic. If it was shown that I had arrived at my present chair on the basis of what in my own sphere of clinical medicine would be regarded as fraud, I should feel obliged to resign, however many years ago the work was done.

Besides, Kristeva has moved out of her brand of quasi-mathematical poetics only to embrace the work of an out-and-out fraud, Jacques Lacan.

Lacan, whose groundless dogma on the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real Kristeva has advocated with uncritical passion over the last twenty years, borrowed, like Kristeva, concepts and terms from disciplines of which he had no real knowledge or understanding.

For over a decade before his death, he was obsessed by the notion that certain topological figures might cast light on psychiatric illness and the human mind. His disciples too, therefore, believed in the torus -- in the ever-deferred hope, perhaps, that belief might bring understanding.

Credo ut intelligam. At any rate, they listened in awe to his day-long seminars on such things as the Borromean knot and continued to do so even in his pathetic last years, when, as a result of multiple strokes, his speech was mangled by dysphasia and his cognitive functions were somewhat intermittent. By then even his silences, as dysphasia gave way to aphasia and his mind emptied, were attended to and subjected to lavish reverential interpretation.

It is not only empty glitter but also internally flawed. But he also makes elementary ones, as when he confuses irrational and imaginary numbers or the universal and the existential quantifier -- the latter the kind of mistake a first week student in mathematical logic would not perpetrate.

Nothing is more compact than a fault, assuming that the intersection of everything that is closed therein is accepted as existing over an infinite number of sets, the result being that the intersection implies this infinite number.

That is the very definition of compactness One wonders what they thought as they listened to this stuff for hours. So when Lacan argues that Structure is the aspherical concealed in the articulation of language. There are many others: order structure, vector-space structure, manifold structure etc. And the lack of relevance of the flaunted erudition is a constant finding in Intellectual Impostures: it is there merely to impress and terrorise.

The appearance of relevance is sometimes sustained by treating metaphors as if they were literal truths. This is particularly evident in the writings of Luce Irigaray. Irigaray, like Kristeva and Lacan, betrays a thorough misunderstanding of the science she exploits in her writings. Her conclusions are, to put it mildly, somewhat underdetermined by the science she invokes.

The reasons she gives for believing this are extraordinary. The equation privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us. What seems to me to indicate the possibly sexed nature of the equation is not directly its uses by nuclear weapons, rather its having privileged what goes the fastest The muddle here is so dense that it is probably not worth unpicking it.

To put this another way, if the equation is sexist, so is nature; if scientists are sexist in respect of this equation, it is because matter is. And if matter is sexist, so are women, who are made of matter though on that there is more to be said, as we shall see.



Malanris Is this the kind of reality Wood wants us to attribute to atoms? Amazon Renewed Refurbished products with a warranty. Proper reasoning is no longer called for — when in fact it is the first thing that should be called for. Nevertheless, that we can only approach the physical world via our representations of it does not mean that the physical world does not exist and has no laws independent of those representations. The discussion became polarized between impassioned supporters and equally impassioned opponents of Sokal [ The book has been criticized by post-modern philosophers and by scholars with some interest in continental philosophy.


Sokal and Bricmont: Is this the beginning of the end of the dark ages in the humanities?

Sokal and Bricmont: Is this the beginning of the end of the dark ages in the humanities? London: Profile Books, When I was a boy, I was friendly with a lad who lived a few doors away. We used to take bicycle rides together and have gunfights on the waste land and light fires and play scratch cricket. Our ways parted as our interests evolved in different directions. There were no hard feelings and, indeed, much residual good will. Roger this is not his true name, which I shall withhold for the sake of his family did not share any of my own developing intellectual interests and I felt none of his love for sailing.

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