Friday, August 05, 2005

The Sexed Up Uber-Equation

In Opinion Journal, James Seaton takes on Theory's Empire where today's academic theorists do not limit themselves to deconstructing, say, Jane Austen. They practice a broader sort of "theory" or, better, Theory. (One needs a capital letter to do justice to the ambition of the project.) Under the rubric of "cultural studies," theorists claim to possess the key to understanding all sorts of human activity, from crime to colonialism.

Here's a particularly hilarious discussion:

For most people outside the academy what is most striking--and most puzzling--about Theory is the prose in which it is couched. To take an example offered by contributor D.G. Myers: Homi Bhaba, a major theorist, refers to "the desperate effort to 'normalize' formally the disturbance of a discourse of splitting that violates the rational, enlightened claims of its enunciatory modality." (Whatever that may mean.) The theorist Luce Irigaray asks more clearly, though not more cogently: "Is E=MC² a sexed equation? Perhaps it is. Let us make the hypothesis that it is insofar as it 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 use by nuclear weapons, rather it is having privileged what goes the fastest."

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