Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Golden Smack Down

Germaine Greer has administered the smack down to the Plain English Campaign, which awarded her the 'Golden Bull' award this year. Ideally, the award goes to those writers who use pointlessly confusing jargon. The Campaign is pushing for 'crystal clear English'. They had a problem with the following sentence by Greer:
'The first attribute of the art object is that it creates a discontinuity between itself and the unsynthesised manifold.'
They claim not to know what the unsynthesised manifold is, which is altogether likely, and blame Greer for being needlessly confusing. Greer's response is, basically, "look it up, dummies!" The concept of the unsynthesised manifold is commonplace in aesthetic criticism, and besides, there's no way to talk about the unsynthesised manifold and call it something else in plain English. As with a lot of Kant's ideas, once you absorb what he's talking about, you get why he's actually being as clear as possible. In other words, you can't just call it "the big shabang!"

So, her response is pretty amusing, and I think there is a big difference between pushing people to express their thoughts more clearly and pushing them to stick to thinking simpler things.

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