Even though Denis Dutton discontinued his annual Bad Writing award (published in Philosophy and Literature) way back in 1999, it’s still fun to take a look at some of the worst sentences in academia from years past. Notable winners (?!) include Judith Butler and Frederic Jameson, but my favorite sample comes courtesy Professor Rob Wilson:
“If such a sublime cyborg would insinuate the future as post-Fordist subject, his palpably masochistic locations as ecstatic agent of the sublime superstate need to be decoded as the “now-all-but-unreadable DNA” of a fast deindustrializing Detroit, just as his Robocop-like strategy of carceral negotiation and street control remains the tirelessly American one of inflicting regeneration through violence upon the racially heteroglossic wilds and others of the inner city.”
With sentences like this, it’s no wonder that many people consider academics to be obscurantists, sophists who rely on the trickery of word play to cover up vacuous thoughts (in a candid moment, I might fess up to occasionally dabbling in such writing. OK. I admit it. I confess. Mea culpa. I’m guilty of thousands and thousands of bad sentences. So there.)
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at how hoaxes perpetrated by Alan Sokal and others have challenged the often-pseudoscientific field of post-modern cultural studies.