frenchpony (frenchpony) wrote,

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From The World Of Academia

I am the happy camper on account of our colloquium yesterday. Usually, colloquium is massively dull. And this one sure didn't look interesting. It was on opera, and I've never been real keen on opera. The speaker was Martha Feldman from the University of Chicago, and she turned out to be just absolutely fascinating. Her talk was called "Opera, Festivity and Time," and it was about the function of opera in expressing and regulating the social order during festival/carnival/solstice times in 18th-century Italy. I have rarely been as fascinated by a colloquium as I was by this one.

In other news, I have decided that I am not now and never will be a postmodernist. I've been struggling valiantly through Fred Moten's In The Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. I'm 179 pages into a 250-page book, and I still have no idea what Moten is talking about. It's deceptive; it looks like it's written in English (which is my native language, and I'm pretty good at reading it), but then you start looking at it, and you encounter passages like this:

"He wants to transform the ensemble and its performance into an internally fragmented reenactment of an originary and tragic encounter that would parallel the dramatic content of recordings that animate his trajectory throughout the early sixties as a set of trasitions prefatory to an impossible return. Baraka's black and Heideggerian nationalism comes as response to European technicity's violent forgetting of spirit and origin. The thing is that the music, which would manifest the interinanimation of race, spirit, origin, and freedom along with the exemplary revolutionary ethics of the objectifying encounter with otherness (which is supposed to reverse the direction of fit both between lord and bondsman and within the im/possible consciousness of the bondsman alone), obliterates the ethical, ontological, and epistemological conceptual apparatuses upon which the manifestation of these complexes depends." (Moten 2003: 130 - 131)

It's almost funny. The whole book reads like this. This is why I haven't figured out what it's about yet. It's like I'm trying to read Urdu. I just don't get it. Do we have any lit crit people in the audience who want to take a crack at it?

I think I prefer writing that is clear and tries to communicate its ideas as simply as possible. I will keep this book as an object lesson in how not to write. And if I ever start writing like Fred Moten, or using the phrase "dominant-hegemonic cultural paradigm" with anything less than full irony, you have my permission to kidnap me and force me to listen to La forza del destino no less than seventeen times.
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