The Translations are a Nice Touch

A stupid book that I have seen enthusiastically recommended by non-stupid white females with college educations (and graduate school ones at that) gets a brutal but deserved review.

It's quite hard throughout, but running the academic jargon through Google Translate was a punishing move.
DiAngelo’s writing style is pure pain. The lexicon favored by intersectional theorists of this type is built around the same principles as Orwell’s Newspeak: it banishes ambiguity, nuance, and feeling and structures itself around sterile word pairs, like racist and antiracist, platform and deplatform, center and silence, that reduce all thinking to a series of binary choices.... [they] make ugly verbs out of ugly nouns and ugly nouns out of ugly verbs (there are countless permutations on centering and privileging alone). In a world where only a few ideas are considered important, redundancy is encouraged, e.g. “To be less white is to break with white silence and white solidarity, to stop privileging the comfort of white people,” or “Ruth Frankenberg, a premier white scholar in the field of whiteness, describes whiteness as multidimensional…”

DiAngelo writes like a person who was put in timeout as a child for speaking clearly. “When there is disequilibrium in the habitus — when social cues are unfamiliar and/or when they challenge our capital — we use strategies to regain our balance,” she says (“People taken out of their comfort zones find ways to deal,” according to Google Translate).
This is a common flaw to a lot of these critical theories. You have to invest a lot of time and energy into learning the code, which is just a subset of the time and energy you have to spend learning the overarching system of interpretation. Along the way you probably have spent so much time and energy in just trying to learn the mode of interpretation that you have missed the fact that the problems the system alleges to uncover are actually baked into the mode of analysis.

Meanwhile, you've invested so much time and energy into it, it seems awful to just declare it dumb and walk away. But sunk costs are sunk, here as elsewhere. The wisest thing to do is to walk away rather than throwing good money after bad. Yet, here, there is so much social pressure; so much pressure to conform, to go along, to show that you are one of the good gals.

The courageous thing is to not.


ymarsakar said...

Yet, here, there is so much social pressure; so much pressure to conform, to go along, to show that you are one of the good gals.

Conformity is not one of my strong points, Grim. In fact, easiest way to get into a conflict with Y is to try to get Y to conform to something or to conform to what they perceive as Y's beliefs/positions.

Neither agreement nor disagreement is sought by the Heavens. They don't care whether I agree with fate or the Divine Plan. They care what I will choose now that I know, what I will do. This is a matter of graduation, not of opinion polls or intellectual agreement. The Divine Plan is grander and longer term than human imagination.

And it is not based on critical race theory or atheism or organized religion. It's not based on worshiping human written bible icons nor even the human written Constitution that is taken as Torah by American patriots.

Christopher B said...

I'm going to go with the 'Dilbert' interpretation of what's going on.

Learn to throw out a few buzz words, and you too can be an (instant) expert in racial relations. Especially if the buzz words make your own prejudice sounded learned. Throw them with enough venom and you can frighten the normies into silence.

Anonymous said...

One of my minor hobbies is historical linguistics ("How did that word get here, anyway, and why does it now mean that?"). I loved Roger Scruton's _Fools, Firebrands_ book about how academia wandered so far into the weeds, in part because he shows how the language used by academics got stranger and stranger as each "generation" tried to prove that it was even more, well, academic. Compared to modern writers and so-called philosophers, the original Frankfurt School writers were concise and clear. Then you get to Derrida and Sartre, and the jargon and cant turn almost impenetrable. Which was the point. Only the elite insiders know what it is supposed to mean.

That's the opposite of how most languages work, aside from those that have been isolated for centuries. Isolated languages grow more complex, while widely-used languages tend toward grammatical simplicity.