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Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Fashionable nonsense

I recently read an article by Steve Jones in The Guardian dated 30 August. He talks of wandering into
the Arts Faculty, a dangerous place for any scientist. In that generous land, opinion is sacred while facts are, if not free, then on a far longer leash than we are used to.
Yes Steve, we've all come across the phenomenon. (I'll blog one day about the simple but significant and ignorant error in a humanities textbook. In its ten year currency, no-one, Josh excepted, picked it up.) I have a lot of time for Steve Jones and it's nice to see him highlighting more rubbish. He quotes, without attribution, from the excellent book Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. The particular quote is
The erectile organ comes to symbolise the place of jouissance, not in itself, or even in its form of an image, but a part lacking in the desired image: that it is equivalent to the square root of minus 1 of the signification produced above, of the jouissance that it restores by the coefficient of its statement to the function of lack of signifier.
Some of the most respected names in literary theory are similarly guilty (e.g. Irigaray). It is well understood that the purpose of writing is not to demonstrate one's erudition but to communicate; Lacan may want to appear 'deep' or even 'playful' but, to anyone with alert critical faculties, he only demonstrates his idiocy.

Josh's normally refined and careful use of language is of little use in describing such ridiculous prose. Here, Lacan is spouting total bollocks and a load of cock.

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