Let’s state the obvious for a moment: A lot of our textbooks and course readers are hard to read. Texts are often filled with jargon and opaque, overly complex wording that drive non-experts, such as undergraduate college students, insane. We’re powerless to stop the madness, so why not have some fun with it? Which of the following quotes are from a class’s assigned reading, and which ones did we simply make up?
- “To locate the psyche within this signifying chain as the instability of all the iterability is not the same as claiming that it is inner core that is awaiting its full and liberatory expression.”
- “The gradual and integrative capacity of labels to consciously dictate behavior creates a phenomenon of de-idealization which complicates categorical imperatives. The result: segments of the population exist in a liminal period of social pathology.”
Answer: The first quotation is an excerpt from “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” by Judith Butler. The second is something incoherent that we made up. Props to you if you got that right.
- “Our experience of time and space is always mediated, understood through epistemic interpretations of external events. Quantifying events in time or space then becomes a synthetic tool — and an incoherent one at that — to undermine present complexities.”
- “The time of prognosis is a single moment of telling but also an extended, if not indefinite, period of negotiation and identification. During that period, past/present/future become jumbled, inchoate.”
Answer: The first quote is something we just made up. The second quote is pulled from Alison Kafer’s work “Feminist, Queer, Crip,” which is an excellent book!
- “The text literates and elaborates on a set of symbols and idealisms that dismantle normative conventions of thought. Slowly we come to realize what linguistic signifiers really are: glorified doppelgängers.”
- “It takes too many words to sum it all up except merely metaphorically, so sentence and paragraph length have served as inertial assurance of the elusiveness of the whole obviously elusively obvious standard whole thing. Part-whole articulateness has always been implicit in everything.”
Answer: The first quote is fake, while the second comes from Richard Meltzer’s “The Aesthetics of Rock.”
Clearly it’s often difficult to separate meaningful sentences from incoherent verbiage. Will things ever be easier to read? Maybe one day. When that time comes, maybe we’ll actually do the assigned readings.