Yes - I want to be a "Postmodern Intellectual"!

Paul V. Hartman

      If you always wanted to be taken seriously at a social gathering of some college's junior faculty, but you never had a way with words, why then YOU can be a postmodernist!

      First you have to do a little reading of/on the avatars of the subject. Not a whole lot, since you will get the flavor straight away: certain words and phrases appear with regularity, yet seem to have no meaning. This is actually internally consistent, since the overarching principal of postmodernism is that "texts" have no discernable meaning and there is no such thing as Truth. Therefore if a non-postmodernist says a statement from a postmodernist is cryptic, bewildering, or nonsensical, why then That-Proves-the-Point!

      So what are those words and phrases? Here is a partial inventory:

     "binary"  "oppositional"   "discursive"      "constructs"    "normative"
     "hermetic"  "non-contingent"  "contextual"   "valorization"  
     "aesthetic complexity"  "bourgeois cosmos"   "destructuring structuration"
     "political epidemiology"  "contested construction of knowledge"
     "epistomological"     "social production of subjectivities"   "metadiscourse"
     "social topology"   "biopolitics"

      What is next needed is for you to construct long, bewildering sentences, generously sprinkled with the phrases above or any new phrases-du-jour, and you've got it. Remember, what is stated must appear "deep", abstruse, but must make absolutely no sense whatever. If it does make sense, real postmodernists will know you as a parvenue or a fraud. By the way, it is considered especially good form if the phrases themselves are intrinsically oxymoronic.

      Here is an example of a sentence that could be plucked from the keynote address of any postmodern national conference, or for that matter any university course description in "Lit. Crit." or "Feminist Studies":

      "The oppositional binary constructs of non-linear epistemological subjectivities erase the normative contextual values-influence of otherwise eclectic non-contingent metadiscourse."

      Notice here that any re-arrangement of the words above will still result in a seemingly recondite but perplexing statement. When you can spout such stuff on the fly, then submit your faculty application - you have arrived.

     A final note: postmodernism is nothing if not metamorphotic, ergo its argot should be expected to be transmutational. As soon as hoi polloi start using this jargon, the vocabulary will change. Don't be left behind! Be inventive or adaptive! There are two words in this paragraph alone which have not been co-opted by the movement.
Go to it.

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