Books, culture

Decompress your verbage

I just wanted to share a little gem from Embattled Avant-Gardes which I am wading through at the moment.

“… this practice reflected nothing more than the typical experience of individuals living in modern conditions of space-time compression, in which personal identity become a precarious project of continuous negotiation rather than a received form that is lived out.”

It’s on page 14 if you happen to have a copy yourself.

Now I do understand what this quote means, I understand that it is a relatively compact way of talking about about a very complex topic. In fact I even like the rhythm and composition of the sentence. However… did the author really think that anyone was going to read that sentence with any enthusiasm or enjoyment? Instead it reads like the kind of dense, wordy and pretentious piece of academic barrier raising that it is. “Space-time compression”? Does the author honestly believe that the invention of the radio and telegraph actually compressed space-time? Probably not, it is probably just a yowie zowie way of describing the increasing quick transmission of ideas in the early 20th Century. It was probably also intended to establish the writer’s credentials. I expect English translations of Derrida to read like this quote but not histories of cultural movements.

The book is not as terrible as the quote above makes it sound. If you skip the introduction and the first chapter the historical element of the book seems perfectly serviceable.


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