From: Damien Broderick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 00:21:52 MST
At 09:45 PM 2/25/02 -0500, someone wrote:
>eschaton? What's that?
Cat got your Google?
>Is it just me, or is this guy writing to impress people with his
>vocabulary and expressing his ideas as obliquely as possible to seem
Not so fast. If you haven't even bothered trying to find out what his
technical terminology means, why jump to the smug know-nothing conclusion
that it must be `oblique' (or wanky, or pretentious, or la-de-dah, or
pointy-headed, or any other convenient term to cover your insecurity by
projecting the fault on to him)?
Scientists and programmers communicate in a swarm of specialized jargon,
and so do surveyors and cardiac surgeons and trial lawyers and kindergarten
teachers for all I know. That's because specialized terminology is
*compressed*; it's shorthand, it can carry enormous sidebars of filiation
(exactly one of those terms: I mean the elaborate cultural background and
prior discussion it implies or connotes) that allow a painstaking or expert
domain reader to take in a vast amount of implied information, on a lot of
levels simultaneously, all in one hit. That's also what poetry does, too,
when it's working.
>If I understood those words that aren't in my dictionary, I could
>rewrite what he wrote in two sentences that a child could
Probably not. A complex conversation has been going on since the 1960s at
least, within which terms of art like eschaton and techné play a part like
`state reduction' in quantum theory or `gerund' in grammar or `sulcus' in
neuroanatomy. You could spell out some of these associations in less
specialized words, of course, but you'll be hard pressed to do it in two
paragraphs or two pages, let alone two sentences.
The final comment about trying to `seem "intellectual"' is unworthy of this
list, unless you think `intellectual' is a term of abuse (`Ya ya, he's
reading, ya ya, he's *thinking*, let's pelt the creep with stones and tear
up his book!') or, more likely, you are claiming that he must be just
*feigning* his intellectual culture. That would be a more compelling
argument if you'd taken the trouble to find out what he was saying, and
countering it with a reasoned retort.
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