Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Angry and bemused Naipaul

thanks to Thom for this link.

V.S. Naipaul has produced a strange request, calling for all English departments in universities to be closed down, which would release some workforce. This is probably due to the problem of criticism that he receives from literature scholars, as suggested by Neelam Srivastava (Newcastle University). There is something worry about this and almost authoritarian, which suggests he just wants people to read and pay for his books without serious in-depth analysis. Read and Pay, but do not think or analyse it!

There is also another curious claim of Naipaul which says universities should only deal with '"measurable truth". This seems a dangerous path, and is set against the idea of intellectual freedom, creating a strategic research agenda working on the rules of exclusion. Never mind how contestable the concept of truth is!

Last there is the critique of jargon in academia, which he describes as "a way for one clown to tell the other that he is in the club". to a certain extent I would agree with this statement, but language always consists of jargon, and sometimes creating jargon helps the reader to think as it is creating something new, and maybe a new way of perceiving. While Naipaul may think the jargon is concealing vacuous thinking, the jargon can be beneficial and is not only created to hide behind. The solution is if you are unwilling to engage in the author's language game then don't bother reading them and getting upset!

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