Thursday, October 27, 2005

If you love to hate...

. . . pretentious critical theory, or bullcrap of any genre, then get thee to Richard Nokes and his Unlocked Wordhoard post on "Pierre Mourier: (S)call(ion)s of (D)is(se)nt."

Here's how Nokes began it all:

One day I was sitting around the office with my friend (and fellow PhD candidate) Mike, and we were grousing about the [listserv] theory flamewar currently going on. What we found especially annoying was that it was clear to anyone who had actually studied the theorists that the participants did not know what they were talking about, and were simply throwing around the names of the Theorists of the Week Club as buzzwords. That's when we came up with the idea for a prank.

We invented a fake theorist by the name of Pierre Mourier, and started a flamewar between the two of us regarding his work...

Initially, those with pretentions to knowing critical theory lurk silently, unsure how to respond. After a week, however, they join in with remarks like "Well, my reading of Mourier is . . ." and proceed to argue for their understanding of what the nonexistent Mourier meant, not realizing that he doesn't exist. Soon, those in on the joke invent other nonexistent theorists to argue about, whom the pretentious also pretend to have read.

Ah, those literary tricksters, Richard Nokes and his gang. Alan Sokol couldn't have done it any better.

Of course, all joking aside, Nokes and his ilk ignore the fact that Pierre Mourier does exist. So do all of the other putatively nonexistent theorist who appeared on that listserv. I have found each one of them by Googling the Library of Babel. Moreover, their existence is supported by David Lewis's many-worlds modal realism.

You, Mr. Nokes, should be ashamed of your ignorance of Pierre Mourier et al.


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