Currently Reading:

Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Behind the Blip

Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software
Matthew Fuller

Behind the Blip
I don’t doubt that somewhere out there, cowering in the basement of some academic building in some far-flung corner of some unfashionable university, there exists a “critical theorist” who both has really good ideas and can write with precision and clarity. And I also don’t doubt that if the other critical theorists ever find out about that person, they will be immediately beaten to death with laptop computers. It’s not that critical theory has nothing to say — it sometimes does — it’s just that the means by which authors attempt to say it makes it look as if they’re getting paid on the basis of maximizing some sort of word-to-idea ratio. With bonus pay for neologisms, especially if redundant. I mean, I guess there’s a certain skill involved in learning to talk like Jacques Derrida, but there’s also a certain skill involved in, say, removing someone’s spleen with a pair of safety scissors. That doesn’t mean that I want anybody to actually do such a thing, either to my spleen or the English language.
Anyway, Behind the Blip was such an experience for me. Every few pages, there was a small glimmer of insight. But I’m not even sure that the author himself could find them. It’s like doing a Search-A-Word without knowing in advance what the words are, or even if the words actually exist in the English language yet. “Decanivictualization? Yeah, I made that one up. I guess it means ‘dog vomit’.” I’m not sure whom to hold responsible for this. I could blame the author for turning five pages worth of interesting ideas into a hundred-odd page monologue on paper. I could blame the entire history of cultural studies for making that an OK thing to do. Or I could blame myself for not having any stomach for writing that would rather sound complex than actually be complex.
So yeah, I was an English major. And yeah, I have a master’s degree with a large critical theory component. And yeah, I was a teaching assistant for philosophy classes for a couple of years. And yeah, I’m glad that’s behind me for now.
Making things out of wood seems more interesting by the day.

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