the Butler did it

W. Kiernan WKiernan at
Wed Dec 23 20:36:34 PST 1998

Max Sawicky wrote:
> Feigele Bolotin (PHI) wrote:
> >
> > I expect that this passage is making people that much more excited
> > about the impending Judy fiesta. Reminder: we need people to
> > volunteer to do each chapter. Since it was Snit's idea, she is
> > obligated to take a chapter. Sweet Alec has already offered to do
> > one. I am now volunteering to do one. Max--you gonna take one?
> > Doug? How do people learn to write like this? Anyone willing to
> > take a stab at translating it?
> No, Snit is obliged to explain this shit to us.
> Seriously, I don't know if I'm up to this. I
> will probably be like those students who show
> up for the first class or two and then
> disappear.
> mbs

Well, I've gone and bought the book myself, and I have to say it's pretty damn forbidding. Frances asks, "How do people learn to write like this?"; I ask "As smart as Ms. Butler is, why couldn't she bother to learn to write compact and clean so others could understand it?"

But way back when the world was young, I was a math major at college for a while, thus I can't share the common prejudice against complex stuff that requires lots of painfully hard work to understand. In fact I may never understand J.B. myself, but that still doesn't mean I'd write her off as a nonsense-monger on that account, as those yahoos at the Journal of Philosophy and Literature seem to do.

Damn, I'm so sick of seeing one single lonely paragraph, specifically selected for opacity, extracted out from a scholarly work, and then the extractor exclaiming, "I cain't understan this-cheer paragraph, so the whole book is got to be a lot of nonsense!" (cf. Sokol & Bricmont, or rather their noisy rightwing fugelmen)

I volunteer to do no chapters whatsoever. Obviously I'm going to have to dig into Althusser myself as preparation, and by my glance at one of his books in the bookstore, he's pretty scary himself.

Yours WDK - WKiernan at

** Everything will pass, and the world will perish, but Beethoven's ** ** Ninth Symphony will remain. - that old fraud Bakunin **

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list