Larn Yersel Semiotics

by Mark Pinder

This sign on the A6079 through the village of Wall in Northumberland always makes me smile whenever I see it.

I know you are

For any students of post-modernist theory that might be reading this post, (no pun intended), the following could prove useful:

In 1996 Andrew Bulhak of Monash University in Australia, wrote ‘The Postmodernism Generator‘, a programme for writing meaningless parodies of essays dealing in critical theory using something called the ‘Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars’. In plainer English, it was a programme for writing seemingly plausible looking bullshit.

For example: ‘In a sense, Marx promotes the use of neocultural desublimation to attack class divisions. Lacanist obscurity holds that consciousness is capable of intent’.

Or: ‘The Paradigm Of Context And Subdialectic Theory,
 “Class is part of the futility of sexuality,” says Baudrillard. It could be said that the subject is interpolated into a capitalist precultural theory that includes truth as a whole. Marx suggests the use of the textual paradigm of consensus to modify society.’ etc, etc.

In 1996, Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University successfully submitted a paper written by the PoMo generator to an academic journal for publication. Predictably, this resulted in a lot of red faces when Sokal revealed his hoax, and sales of Gauloise plummeted overnight.

There used to be a version of the PoMo generator around the web where users could input their own terms, thus leaving themselves more time for getting down the pub to explore the finer points of theoretical and practical nihilism, (and make plagiarism harder to prove), but I can’t find a link to this anymore. Perhaps it became a victim of it’s own success, or only ever existed as an idealised construct within my own fevered imagination?

I must confess to having quite a lot of affection for  the Situationists though!!