Sendai Anonymous picks up the ball from where my post on “Smug Atheists” left off and draws some of the further implications. She kicks off her post with an illustration from recent intellectual history.
Many years ago, Alan Sokal epically owned stupid pomos* by submitting a ridiculous parody article* to their prized journal, Social Text. The article was titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. Its most characteristic features was that it was stupid, ridiculous and also completely idiotic as long as taken seriously.
When it was finally revealed that the article was a parody of pomo “thought”, all hell broke loose in the pomo virtual reality, and Sokal was criticised by the numerous disgruntled pomos, who were, naturally, wounded to the core***.
(By the way: I read Sokal’s Beyond the Hoax, but not his first book — yet. I too, thought he was rather full of himself. However:)Allow me to enlighten you: he pwned the pomos* epically. It was a one-in-a-hundred-years, Iliad-scale epic pwnage. Probably no one will get to pwn anybody like that for years, if ever. It was awesome. It was spectacular. It was effective.
Therefore, Sokal has a right to be smug.
In my own pomo days I remember reading a book that whined a great deal about the Sokal hoax without offering any substantive counter to the obvious inferences about what it meant about the credibility of postmodernism. Unfortunately it still took me a couple years to give up on that philosophical dead end anyway. There are some good and important things going on in the texts of Derrida and Foucault and some of the other postmodern giants from whom I have retained valuable influence. But ultimately I think whatever of value is there in their critical insights and in their critical example can be reformulated in less obfuscatory, more rigorous, more productive, and eminently less punkable ways.