William S. Lear rael at
Fri Dec 25 20:58:24 PST 1998

On Fri, December 25, 1998 at 23:30:20 (-0500) Doug Henwood writes:
>Hence the willed "ugliness" of modern music in general, as if, in this
>state of pathological hebetude and insensibility, only the painful remained
>as a spur to perception.
>The parallel with language is only too clear, and it is enough to evoke the
>fad for rapid reading and the habitual conscious or unconscious skimming of
>newspaper and advertising slogans, for us to understand the deeper social
>reasons for the stubborn insistence of modem poetry on the materiality and
>density of language, on words felt not as transparency but rather as things
>in themselves. So also in the realm of philosophy the bristling jargon of
>seemingly private languages is to be evaluated against the advertising
>copybook recommendations of "clarity" as the essence of "good writing":
>whereas the latter seeks to hurry the reader past his own received ideas,
>difficulty is inscribed in the former as the sign of the effort which must
>be made to think real thoughts.
> - Fredric Jameson, Marxism & Form, p. 24

Thus the jargon-infested defend themselves. Sure, sometimes you have to use four syllable words, but Jameson's facile equation of simple writing with shallow thinking, and opaque writing with deep thinking is preposterous.

I don't mind coming across something that is opaque, reading it, and not understanding it. When I do so, I usually blame myself for lack of effort and/or necessary background. When I do understand it, and it says nothing that could not have been said without loads of "bristling jargon", I usually get disgusted pretty fast.


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