Transgressing the Boundaries: An Afterword

Transgressing the Boundaries: An Afterword

Alas, the editors of Social Text have discovered that my article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” which appeared in Social Text #46/47, is a parody. In view of the important intellectual and political issues raised by this episode, I have written this (nonparodic) Afterword, in which I explain my motives and my true views.’ One of my goals is to make a small contribution toward a dialogue on the left between humanists and natural scientists—” two cultures” that contrary to some optimistic pronouncements (mostly by the former group) are probably farther apart in mentality than at any time in the past fifty years.

Like the genre it is meant to satirize— myriad exemplars of which can be found in my reference list—my article is a mélange of truths, half-truths, quarter-truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs, and syntactically correct sentences that have no meaning whatsoever. (Sadly, there are only a handful of the latter: I tried hard to produce them, but I found that, save for rare bursts of inspiration, I just didn’t have the knack.) I also employed some other strategies that are well established (albeit sometimes inadvertently) in the genre: appeals to authority in lieu of logic, speculative theories passed off as established science, strained and even absurd analogies, rhetoric that sounds good but whose meaning is ambiguous, and confusion between the technical and everyday senses of English words.’ (N.B. All works cited in my article are real, and all quotations are rigorously accurate; none are invented.)

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