Big Planet

Posts Tagged ‘sublime’

Note on “smart” people

In critique on June 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm

If we observe these young people whom they say are well-versed in critical intellectual discourse, we would see that they are post-adolescent young adults, usually in the liberal arts who can talk endlessly about the relativity of truth, social construction of reality, patriarchy & postmodernism using the jargons they learned in class, spouting ideas they got from Xerox copies of their professors’ lecture materials, and echoing quotes from Marx, Derrida or Irigaray. Their favorite word is “subvert”, and for them a thing is not beautiful unless it “subverts” the hegemony. They praise anything they like as “postmodern”, as though postmodernity is a badge or laurel. They use the word “mind fuck” to characterize something positive, profound, beautiful and sublime. They believe that “reality is subjective”, that “there is no absolute truth”, that “everything is relative” — so they hate such things as “dogma” and “tradition” and pose themselves as the “radical” intellectual elite. They uniformly like the surrealists, and passionately call themselves “nihilists” who find life and the world meaningless. But if we study their rhetoric, speech habits, and word choices (“subvert”, “mind fuck”, “anti-dogma”, “anti-tradition”, “radical”), we may realize why they are so attracted to critical theory. I think that’s because they are a bunch of disturbed, delinquent & dissident teenagers or young adults who can’t get past their adolescent issues. They are nothing but the equivalent of angsty nerds. Their vocabulary is not the vocabulary of genius. It is the register and rhetoric of the rebellious for rebelliousness’ sake. That’s why they like Marx, Derrida, and the whole line-up of critical theorists. Misunderstanding these thinkers is beside the point; they only like the angsty interpretation of Marxism, feminism or deconstruction. They are mere sublimated forms of their adolescent selves, dying to question authority, to offend the law, and to assert their half-baked ideas of utopia. They are dogmatic in their radicalism, and are more orthodox than the orthodoxy in their florid celebration of unorthodoxy. Their existence is a big contradiction.