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Adaya on postmodernism

February 21, 2006

November 16, 1998, in Sci-Cult SCIENCE-AS-CULTURE@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU

Re Review of "Fashionable Nonsense"

From Dov Henis:

Received this e-letter from my daughter, Adaya, and asked and received her permission to forward it :

I had just read that review in the NYTimes Book Review, the only part of the Sunday paper I actually read on Sunday, which is of course a workday for me. I don't know whether I'll ever read the book—probably not—but I did enjoy the review, for an odd reason: I've proofread and—horrors!—copyedited many postmodern writers' work. At first I would try to stretch the place where my mind should be, trying to figure out WHAT the hell they thought they were saying. Eventually I realized that they were doing the Humpty Dumpty thing, which I have quoted to you before: "Words mean what I choose them to mean; no more and no less." In other words, postmodernism is just a lot of self-important manure, I think. The postmodernists who use scientific or pseudoscientific jargon are the worst, I think, and that's why I enjoyed the review; these guys seem to be going to great lengths themselves to deconstruct the philosophy of Mr. Dumpty and his ilk.

Of course, I spent the rest of the day ironing out the anachronisms in a novelist's latest production, so who's wasting the most time? Doesn't bear thinking about. As I write, I'm printing out the next-to-last chapter of a book on Spanish crypto-Jews in New Mexico—not written from oral testimony, which is the usual, but rather constructed from original source documents dug up by the author (who is an anesthesiologist in regular life—now there's a day job!) in Mexico and the US. It's a bit dry, but fairly interesting.

Back to the salt mines; thanks for the review of the review.

Love, a.

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