Friday, February 17, 2006

No cavil 'ere

In everyday reading, I don't often come across totally unfamiliar words. T'other day, I found a new one - Charles Clarke in the Observer kept talking about having warned Gordon Brown about appearing to 'cavil' his cabinet colleagues. After spending my life without ever knowingly come across this word, I then found it again last night in How Mumbo Jumbo conquered the World by Francis Wheen, somewhere in chapter 4 'The Demolition Merchants of Reality'.

This is a profound chapter of an enormously entertaining book. It's all about the intellectual myth which is 'post modernism' and how it masquerades as serious philosophy. In reading it, I realise that when I was an undergraduate in the late 80s, I allowed myself to believe that somehow I must be wanting in the grey matter department, because whenever I stumbled
across any of this stuff, by the likes of Derrida or Foucault, I found it utterly incomprehensible. Maybe I'm not so dumb after all. It covers an hilarious 'hoax' on a (supposedly) academic journal by physicist Alan Sokal. I think he may have just become my second favourite physicist after Richard Feynman.


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