Home > Uncategorized > Postmodern mumbo jumbo soup

Postmodern mumbo jumbo soup

from Lars Syll

MUMBO-JUMBO1The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Judith Butler

  1. November 28, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Not postmodern but post-structuralist mumbo jumbo. And ‘mumbo jumbo’ only for those who do not fluently speak the relevant academic post-whatever vernacular, which is admittedly grandiloquent, especially in the case of feminist ‘theorists’ who seem only to be trying to show how well they can subvert language.

    In this particular example, what Buttler is trying to say could actually make sense if disambiguated as follows. Capital is an abstraction, a hypothetical and essentially unreal totalisation of the system, and as such is given too much weight as a singular determinant of individual actions, an excuse to be a mere victim. What we should focus instead is how, the set of conditions which we now call capitalism, actively limits the scope of contingency (and therefore individual choice and action) by structuring the available normative contexts (of reason, truth, value). but so what… of why is that ‘bad’? Regrettably she does not analyse the problem deeply enough to ground her implicit value judgements.

    • November 28, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      M Kowalik—i think you got it totally right. This is why i don’t dismiss totally postmodern/poststructural mumbo jumbo. (If you read some physics and math people responses to Sokal’s hoax, they pointed out many of the most famous people in math/physics (eg Pauli, heisenberg, even einstein, wigner, and more) said some similar things. Its a different dialect.

      I’d try to write the paragraph by J Butler as a utility function—it would be no worse than the ones i’ve seen in basically advanced economic texts—its not Cobbs-Douglas, but similar but with all sorts of intertemporal discounting factors, alot of assumptions about elasticities so you get alot of exponents, liquidity, and endogeneity/nonlinearity. U(x+y)=/U(x)+U(y). U((x) might be = ln 1/x(beta). so from the statistical mechanics view you get p(x)= exp(-(lnU(x)). Boltzmann disribution/zipf/pareto law.

      i first saw this in a paper by badger (rochester ny) in some old book ‘math methods in social sciences’ edited by eliot montroll.

      judith butler did not analyze her implicit value judgements—she was in the english dept at U Cal Berkely.

  2. dmf
    November 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    she’s just saying that by reifying models (in this case ‘structures’) we lose sight of the on the ground particularities at play and fall into a kind of tyranny of our means, the mumbo jumbo is those who are bewitched by grammar into talking literally about such figures of speech as “markets” and the like as if they were discussing the kinds of objects and forces one could apply physics to.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s