Postmodern essay generator - Moorish Society

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Postmodern Essay Generator - Slashdot

This paper looks at two recent text generators that are intended to raise questions about the style and substance of academic writing: Andrew Bulhak's "Postmodern Essay Generator" and Ian Bogost's "Latour Litanizer."

Bulhak created his generator in the wake of the Sokal hoax to mock the pretentious vocabularies of aspiring intellectuals who might hope to publish what he considered to be their relativistic and impenetrable nonsense in peer-reviewed scholarly journals in the humanities. The generator creates sentences like this each time the page is refreshed: "If one examines subtextual deconstructivism, one is faced with a choice: either accept dialectic materialism or conclude that the collective is responsible for class divisions, but only if sexuality is interchangeable with consciousness." Bulhak used the Dada Engine to create the verbiage in the essays his program generated. The actual program was written in what he called "inelegant" pb code that used protocol buffers "" a platform-neutral, language-neutral, extensible way of serializing structured data "" and recursive transition networks (or RTNs) to create a diagrammable grammar that Bulhak also retasked in a program for automatically writing adolescent poetry dominated by "i" statements.

In contrast, Bogost devised a much simpler javascript program that uses Wikipedia's random page API to generate lists of things and to provide brief poetic homages to the writing style of philosopher of science Bruno Latour, which frequently includes lists of seemingly disconnected objects. Bogost's program, which ends with the command to "litanize," has also been deployed in his larger critique of writing in the humanities, which is not only bad in his mind because it is obfuscatory but also because it is disconnected from the catalogues of things in everyday experience that he holds dear. A sample list created by the Latour Litanizer reads as follows: "Energy Tax Act, Linux Users of Victoria, Burton House, Fault line, NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship, USS Apache, Quinquagesima, Dbrowa, Wieliczka County, Karel Rychlík."

It could be argued that both Bulhak and Bogost use their generators somewhat disingenuously. Bulhak closely engages with the linguistic features of the poststructuralist vocabulary he appropriates and struggles to create grammatical sense by tweaking his program to accommodate such complex, multisyllabic words. Bogost incorporates Latourian litanies into his own diatribes against the digital humanities and the humanities more generally, but each item is carefully chosen in accord with his own writerly ear rather than machine-generated by his online gadget with its procedural poetics of chance.

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Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style (Penn Book Center)

Take a key segment, on paragraph to up to three pages, from your scholarly work; present the original and re-write in three styles, inspired by this book. Suggestion: make one as loaded with technical terms as possible while still remaining "faithful" to your ideas; make one as simple as possible, for a reader with no relevant background information; make on belle-lettrisitc (focussed on beautful, lyric language); make one reductive and schematic and polemic; translate into Basic English, etc. Try one round in line with Postmodern Essay Generator above. See also Tim Dean's critique of in Fall 2015 issues of Berlant and Edelman in (and their reply at end of response).
Optional: try to cast the segment as a comic strip: For example, is a review by of the graphic novel Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and also Nick Sousanis: and . Also: s.