End of ADS-L Digest - 13 Jun 1996 to 14 Jun 1996 ************************************************ There are 5 messages totalling 216 lines in this issue. Topics of the day: 1. forward - Bad Writing Contest 2. forward - Bad Writing Contest -Reply 3. To drop a dime on someone (2) 4. Drop a Dime ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 19 Jun 1996 23:05:20 -0700 From: Kim & Rima McKinzey Subject: forward - Bad Writing Contest Perhaps it's just sadism on my part, but these were entirely too painful not to forward. Rima >Bad Writing Contest: Winners Announced > >We are pleased to announce winners of the second Bad Writing >Contest, sponsored by the journal Philosophy and Literature and its >internet discussion group, PHIL-LIT. > >The challenge of the Bad Writing Contest is to come up with the >ugliest, most stylistically awful single sentence-or string of no more >than three sentences-found in a published scholarly book or article. >Ordinary journalism, fiction, etc. not allowed, nor is translation from >other languages into English. Entries must be non-ironic, from actual >serious academic journals or books-parodies cannot be admitted in a >field where unintentional self-parody is so rampant. > >Note that much of the writing we would consider "bad" is not >necessarily incompetent. Graduate students and young scholars >please pay attention: many of the writers represented have worked >years to attain their styles and they have been rewarded with >publication in books and journal articles. In fact, if they weren't >published, we wouldn't have them for our contest. That these >passages constitute bad writing is merely our opinion; it is arguable >that anyone wanting to pursue an academic career should assiduously >imitate such styles as are represented here. These are your role >models. > >First prize goes to David Spurrett of the University of Natal in South >Africa. He found this marvelous sentence-yes, it's but one >sentence-in Roy Bhaskar's Plato etc: The Problems of Philosophy and >Their Resolution (Verso, 1994): > >"Indeed dialectical critical realism may be seen under the aspect of >Foucauldian strategic reversal-of the unholy trinity of >Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristotelean provenance; of the >Cartesian-Lockean-Humean-Kantian paradigm, of foundationalisms >(in practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalisms (in >practice, capricious exercises of the will-to-power or some other >ideologically and/or psycho-somatically buried source) new and old >alike; of the primordial failing of western philosophy, ontological >monovalence, and its close ally, the epistemic fallacy with its ontic >dual; of the analytic problematic laid down by Plato, which Hegel >served only to replicate in his actualist monovalent analytic >reinstatement in transfigurative reconciling dialectical connection, >while in his hubristic claims for absolute idealism he inaugurated the >Comtean, Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean eclipses of reason, >replicating the fundaments of positivism through its transmutation >route to the superidealism of a Baudrillard." > >It's a splendid bit of prose and I'm certain many of us will now >attempt to read it aloud without taking a breath. The jacket blurb, >incidentally, informs us that this is the author's "most accessible book >to date." > >Second Prize is won by Jennifer Harris of the University of Toronto. >She found a grand sentence in an essay by Stephen T. Tyman called >"Ricoeur and the Problem of Evil," in The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur, >edited, it says, by Lewis Edwin Hahn (Open Court, 1995): > >"With the last gasp of Romanticism, the quelling of its florid uprising >against the vapid formalism of one strain of the Enlightenment, the >dimming of its yearning for the imagined grandeur of the archaic, and >the dashing of its too sanguine hopes for a revitalized, fulfilled >humanity, the horror of its more lasting, more Gothic legacy has >settled in, distributed and diffused enough, to be sure, that >lugubriousness is recognizable only as languor, or as a certain >sardonic laconicism disguising itself in a new sanctification of the >destructive instincts, a new genius for displacing cultural reifications >in the interminable shell game of the analysis of the human psyche, >where nothing remains sacred." > >Speaking of shell games, see if you can figure out the subject of that >sentence. > >Third prize was such a problem that we decided to award more than >one. Exactly what the prizes will be is uncertain (the first three prizes >were to be books), but something nice will be found. (Perhaps: third >prize, an old copy of Glyph; fourth prize two old copies of Glyph.) > >Jack Kolb of UCLA found this sentence in Paul Fry's A Defense of >Poetry (Stanford University Press, 1995). Together with the previous >winners, it proves that 1995 was a vintage year bad prose. Fry writes: > >"It is the moment of non-construction, disclosing the absentation of >actuality from the concept in part through its invitation to emphasize, >in reading, the helplessness-rather than the will to power-of its fall >into conceptuality." > >Incidentally, Kolb is reviewing Fry's book for Philosophy and >Literature, and he generally respects it. > >Arthur J. Weitzman of Northeastern University has noted for us two >helpful sentences from The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory >and Criticism, edited by Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth >(JHUP, 1994). It is from Donald E. Pease's entry on Harold Bloom: > >"Previous exercises in influence study depended upon a topographical >model of reallocatable poetic images, distributed more or less equally >within 'canonical' poems, each part of which expressively totalized >the entelechy of the entire tradition. But Bloom now understood this >cognitive map of interchangeable organic wholes to be criticism's >repression of poetry's will to overcome time's anteriority." > >William Dolphin of San Francisco State University located this >elegant sentence in John Guillory's Cultural Capital: The Problem of >Literary Canon Formation (University of Chicago Press, 1993): > >"A politics presuming the ontological indifference of all minority >social identities as defining oppressed or dominated groups, a politics >in which differences are sublimated in the constitution of a minority >identity (the identity politics which is increasingly being questioned >within feminism itself) can recover the differences between social >identities only on the basis of common and therefore commensurable >experiences of marginalization, which experiences in turn yield a >political practice that consists largely of affirming the identities >specific to those experiences." > >Finally, the Canadian David Savory found this lucid sentence in the >essay by Robyn Wiegman and Linda Zwinger, in "Tonya's Bad Boot," >an essay in Women on Ice, edited by Cynthia Baughman (Routledge, >1995): > >"Punctuated by what became ubiquitous sound bites-Tonya dashing >after the tow truck, Nancy sailing the ice with one leg reaching for >heaven-this melodrama parsed the transgressive hybridity of >un-narrativized representative bodies back into recognizable >heterovisual codes." > >Thanks to all the entrants. The next round of the Bad Writing >Contest, prizes to be announced, is now open with a deadline of >September 30, 1996. There is an endless ocean of pretentious, turgid >academic prose being added to daily, and we'll continue to celebrate >it. Details of the new contest will appear on the internet discussion >group PHIL-LIT. > >*************** > >Philosophy and Literature, a scholarly journal from the Johns Hopkins >University Press, is soon to mark its twentieth anniversary. Editor: >Denis Dutton, University of Canterbury, New Zealand; Coeditor, >Patrick Henry, Whitman College, Washington. > >d.dutton[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]fina.canterbury.ac.nz > >Denis Dutton is past President and current Media Spokesbeing of the >New Zealand Skeptics. >