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Ouch, Marxists.

"And, as we examine our collective historiographic conscience, we might take note of the Marxist and pseudo-Marxist attempts to read, sometimes perceptively but more often with self-defeating rigidity, the economic doctrines of Karl Marx into the still mysterious creative desires of humanity."

- "Art and Freedom in Quattrocento Florence", Frederick Hartt in Modern Perspectives in Western Art History

I found this amusing, as I have had to read a decent amount of Marxist stuff for the same class.

Name me a herd animal that hunts.

Well, this isn't "academic," exactly -- more like a book review of a pop philosopher. But, look, people, this community's too quiet.

So here's a fine squib thrown into the Thomas Friedman toilet bowl: "... this is like three pages into the book, and already the premise is totally fucked ...".

are children human?

From WAKSLER, Frances. C. (1986) Studying Children: Phenomenological Insights. Human Studies, 9, 71-82.

"An anonymous reviewer of Mandell's work (Mandell, 1984a) in a rather vituperative set of comments, saw her claims of children's competence as self-evidently erroneous and as evidence of her incompetence. The reviewer asserted, without substantiation, that "children ARE cognitively immature" and "do NOT yet possess the social skills appropriate for independent social living." Indeed this reviewer accused her of "anthropomorphising" children" (p.72).




too easy...

Somehow, finding snarky reviews is almost too easy. This one is quite nasty, though.

Genesis A, by A. N. Doane, reviewed by Edward B. Irving, Jr. in Speculum 55:1 (1980), pp. 104-106.

Unfortunately Professor Doane labors under the handicap of several major assumptions that consistently distort his presentation of this long biblical paraphrase. (...) Doane's philology, as far as it bears on his interpretation of the text, tends to be ruinously permissive, holding that Scribes Know Best. Like all narrowly dogmatic approaches to editing, this one as often ends with the editor sweating to defend silly readings as it ends in good sense. 
(...) 
But in many other passages we simply cannot tell from the text whether the poet was in truth implying such meanings. I think it would be best to say just that, but such a statement would never satisfy this editor, who resorts to strenuous overreadings, imaginary puns, and those ominous "must have knowns" and "almost certainly would have been familiar withs" that the Robertsonians have been afflicting us with for nearly three decades now – when in doubt, quote a very long Latin passage from Augustine in your note with a "cf.” to preface it; someone may be impressed, even if there is no demonstrable connection with anything in the Old English poem. 

Incidentally, does anyone have an opinion on that book or on other editions of Genesis A ?

Habermas on Heidegger, a classic

From The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, lecture VI:

Heidegger's critical judgments on "das Man," on the dictatorship of the public realm and the impotence of the private sphere, on technocracy and mass civilization, are without any originality whatsoever, because they belong to a repertoire of opinions typical of a certain generation of German mandarins. ... Heidegger misleadingly furnishes the metahistorical authority of a primordial force set temporarily aflow with the attribute of being an occurrence of truth. This step is so bereft of plausibility that it cannot be satisfactorily explained in terms of the internal motifs discussed up to this point. I suspect  that Heidegger could find his way to the temporalized Ursprungphilosophie of the later period only by way of his temporary identification with the National Socialist movement ... What is irritating is the unwillingness and inability of this philosopher, after the end of the Nazi regime, to admit his error with so much as one sentence--an error fraught with political consequences. Instead, Heidegger embraces the maxim that it is not the perpetrators but the victims themselves who are guilty.

First post - Ludwig the rapist

I hope it's ok to include an attack on a long-deceased person, as I could not resist musicologist Susan McClary's quote on Beethoven:

The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth is one of the most horrifying moments in music, as the carefully prepared cadence is frustrated, damming up energy which finally explodes in the throttling murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining release.

More info at Soccer Dad link. Reading more about her, it seems she is a very well-known musicologist and author of a collection of essays called Feminine Endings (so-called after the term used for pieces that do not end on a downbeat)

Of course she was bawled out from all directions, derided as a loony feminist, and toned down the sentence for a later edition, but I suspect there's something to her argument - I'm listening to the first movement of the Eighth Symphony and those weirdly accented triplets definitely remind me of something...;-)

A classic

'It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. (...) I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it.'

(J.R.R. Tolkien, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics")

Just plain dirty.

A quickie from Malise Ruthven's "The Mormons' Progress":

"In a subsequent theophany, on September 21, 1823, Joseph claimed to have been visted by an angel named Moroni (a name that Mormons tactfully refrain from rendering in its adjectival form.)"

David Dumville

The following excerpts are from a book review by David Dumville of Kim McCone and Katharine Simms (ed) Progress in Medieval Irish studies. The review is in Peritia 11 and most of the review is attacks so it is worth reading the whole thing. I can only give excepts here.

The book in question is based on the conference, and right off the bat, Dumville is mocking the conference.

To judge by the book under review, the conference must have been a rather strange event, organised on the basis of a somewhat distorted perception of what constitutes mediaeval Irish studies and devoted in substantial part to the jeremiads of a jaded coterie of the like-minded, lamenting the quality of almost all work, past and present, in this subject, except that of the founding fathers and (of course) the authors themselves.

However, Dumville goes on to, I think, but those initial attacks to shame.

The overall impression offered by McCone's history of the study of Irish language is that he and a few friends, the heirs of the fathers of the subject, are the only scholars producing  excellent work in this area...Every subject deemed worthy of discussion is attended by a publication by McCone...
    Reading this chapter I found myself irresistibly reminded of a passage in The wind in the willows by Kenneth Grahame.
...Toad hurried to the writing-table. A fine idea had occurred to him while he was talking. He would write the invitations; and he would take care to mention the leading part he had taken in the fight, and how he had laid the Chief Weasel flat; and he would hint at his adventures, and what a career of triumph he had to tell about; and on the flyleaf he would give a sort of programme of entertainment for the evening--something like this, as he sketched it out in his head
SPEECH...................................BY TOAD
    (There will be other speeches by TOAD during the evening.)
ADDRESS................................BY TOAD
SYNOPSIS--Our Prison System--The Waterways of Old England--Horse dealing, and how to deal--Property, its rights and its duties--Back to the Land--A Typical English Squire
SONG........................................BY TOAD
    (Composed by himself)
OTHER COMPOSITIONS......BY TOAD
    will be sung in the coure of the evening by the........COMPOSER
The idea pleased him mightily, and he worked very hard...
In the book under review there is, however, more than one candidate for the role of Toad of Toad Hall:  'For some edited texts ... see Breatnach ... Breatnach ... and Breatnach ....' (71)

Later on he transitions into a new paragraph with this snark:
Passing over some confused remarks about vikings, where Etchingham seems to have had difficulty in deciding exactly what constitutes trendy revisionism (135-6), I turn to his treatment of ecclesiastical history, on which his doctoral work and subsequent papers give him some claim to expertise.

And he gets in further digs by offering a more positive comparison for the books.
Damian McManus' fine chaper on 'Classical Modern Irish' (166-87) is well written while yet highly technical, conveys enthusiasm for his subject, and presents a balance, informative account of an extraordinary phase of Irish linguistic (and literary) history. By the time I reached p 180 I was ready to sign up for Dr McManus's classes! His chapter isthe closest to a normal academic article which the book contains, while yet meeting the advertised function of survey and prospectus.

There's more, but I will rap it up here.

Terry Eagleton v Martin Amis.

I think my favourite example of Academics going on the offensive was when Professor Terry Eagleton revised the preface for Ideology: An Introduction and stuck the knife firmly into Kingsley Amis's corpse and into Martin Amis's chest.

'A racist, anti-semitic boor, a drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and liberals. Amis fils has clearly learned more from [him] than how to turn a shapely phrase'

It unleashed a war of words right across the press with everyone and his/her mother getting in on the act and culminating with Amis writng open letters in the Guardian:

'I was not "advocating" anything. I was conversationally describing an urge ... that soon wore off. And I hereby declare that "harassing the Muslim community in Britain" would be neither moral nor efficacious. Prof Eagleton is making a habit of this kind of thing ... He has submitted to an unworthy combination of venom and sloth. Can I ask him, in a collegial spirit, to shut up about it?'

Summary of the debacle

The first time I read the preface, my jaw dropped at the venom dripping from every single word, and nine months later, I still cannot get over it.

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attackademia
When Academics Attack! Quotes and marginalia.

One rule to ring them all.

Only one rule: post only quotations from published material or amusing glosses - do not attempt to start fresh, UNPUBLISHED fights with each other in the comments while attempting to justify, explain, or temporize for, an attackademic in your field.

Anything that starts to look serious or pedantic will be deleted on the grounds that it will threaten to turn things deadly dull. WWF-style (or similar) rooting only. If you want to colloq, TAKE IT OUTSIDE OF THE THUNDERDOME.

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