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
So what are those words and phrases? Here is a partial
"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
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
Go to it.
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