Jargon Central



The (London) Times Literary Supplement likes to hold up gobbledygook for contempt. Here are some of examples. First, an incomprehensible selection from Hamid Dabashi’s book The World of Persian Literary Humanism published by Harvard University Press, no less.

The heteroglossia that results from the historical dialectic between the context and the text translates into the hybridity (polyglossia) of literary utterances that makes up a literary tradition. In such utterances, Sa’di’s words are always already animated by the emerging intentions of their readers. This is how, in Sa’di’s case, the mind of the moralist was at once literary in its disposition and moralizing in the collective consciousness of the people, who in loving and quoting and procreating him in effect celebrated their own aspirations and thus collectively enacted a non-prophetic, self-revelatory act of prophecy, which in turn ipso facto detranscendentalized the sense of the sacred.

Then, how about this final exam essay assignment from New York University:

Mindful of Michael Warner’s caution that “you can reduce religion to sex only if you don’t especially believe in either one” (Tongues United), consider the relationship—even the “analogies” (to use a loaded term)—between religion and sex, and/or between religious and sexual identities. How might such analogies disrupt conventional oppositions between religion and sex (and in particular between conservative religion and gay gay sex) and/or admit the possibility of both rupture and continuity in narratives of personal identity?

Yes, “gay gay sex” is what the text actually says.

Then, this, from the introduction to Registration and Recognition: Documenting the person in world history, edited by Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter:

Thus, in conformity with its central, age-old function of providing the service of mutual recognition, the act of registration has an ireducible performative and dialectical element to it, which has less scope–or is almost entirely lacking–where enumeration is concerned. Negotiation and performativity are almost ubiquitously part of the processes of human interaction, deposition and enquiry, which comprise the primary activity, whereby an act of registration occurs–and is agreed to have occurred–by the parties involved in recording it.

Finally, for pithy opacity, consider this offering from the journal Telos. It is part of the introduction to the latest issue, “Politics after Metaphysics”:

Succinctly put, then, politics after metaphysics is the movement beyond idealism and realism, a multi-faceted strategy of de-idealization that counters the paralyzing force of the Real, with its nagging insistence on the absence of alternatives.