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Firstly, let me just say that it’s getting a lot harder to write the kind of full-length posts that I actually prefer writing; so from now on you might find that The Folly of Human Conceits will have a lot of mini-posts about whatever the latest thing to catch my fancy is. And here’s what it is as of right now : The Postmodernism Generator! (available at the following site: http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/)

So, really quickly, here’s the thing: the word “postmodernism”, outside the limited context of architecture, doesn’t actually mean anything. Yes, you might hear it dropped quite often in certain intellectual circles, but these are generally the kind of intellectual circles in which the intellectuals have quotation marks around them, if you know what I mean. They’re the kind of intellectual circles in which passages of writing such as the following might actually be considered impressive, rather than ludicrous:

“We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author , and this multi-referential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysts. 

You might be tempted to think that postmodernist thought such as that is just a bunch of complete nonsense – and you would pretty much be right! The physicist Alan Sokal concocted gibberish like the above and sent it to the American journal Social Text in 1996And despite the fact that it was nothing more than a carefully crafted parody of postmodernist writing, the editors of the journal accepted the article and published it!

In the words of Richard Dawkins [in his essay “Postmodernism Disrobed”]:

“Sokal’s paper must have seemed a gift to the editors because this was a physicist saying all the right-on things they wanted to hear… They didn’t know that Sokal had also crammed his paper with egregious scientific howlers, of a kind that any referee with an undergraduate degree in physics would instantly have detected.”

Sokal later expressed regret at having failed to jam even more syntactically correct, but completely meaningless, sentences into the parody article he sent to Social Text. Apparently, he just didn’t have the knack for creating them. And now, finally, enter The Postmodernism Generator – a program that generates an entirely new postmodernist essay every time you visit the site! Every essay is grammatically correct, but complete nonsense! You have to try it to get it. Enjoy!

N.B.: You might also consider submitting one of these to a college professor whom you suspect never reads any of the essays you submit!

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