Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bitter Lemons: The Fruit of Post-Modernism

In a well-written, but somewhat flawed article a YU student named Daniel Goldmintz makes the cogent observation that Barack Obama will become the first Post-Modern President. There is much that is post-modern in what little we know of Obama. He is a creation of the media. He is short on substance and brilliantly long in the use and the manipulation of words. Despite his best efforts to hide his tracks, he was raised and bred in bosom of the American New Left. He blithely denies that the West has enemies (other than its 'corrupt self', as he really appears to believe that America's economic woes will be solved by a resort to socialism. (My political response to Goldmintz was posted on site.)

I was much taken by this insight, because over the challenge of post-modernism has been much on my mind the past few days.

1) Caroline Glick, in a real tour de force, highlighted the Orwellian abuse of language that the Israeli elites use to direct public discourse and deflect serious public discussion of vital issues, in order to advance the ideology of the Left. (Along the way, he confirms my assertion that our seriously deluded Minister of Education, Yuli Tamir, is such an orthodox multi-culturalist, that she defends the practice of Female Circumcision in deference to those who practice it.)

2) In the introductory lecture to my course on Judaism and Other Religions, I had occasion to note that proper historico-anthropological method requires one to respect the stated beliefs of historical actors (unless otherwise proven). To reduce a person's beliefs to underlying interests is both patronizing and deceptive. In that context, I mentioned that such an approach was eminently NOT Post-Modern. The students did not know the difference. So, I spent most of the time explaining what differentiates Modern from Post-Modern discourse, the impact of Deconstruction upon the contemporary use (and abuse) of language, the impact of PM on historiography (admitting, en passant, that I am a neo-positivist), and so on. The students, with one exception, were totally unaware of any of this, nor had they any clue as to the unseen forces and assumptions that direct and control their actions and thoughts. PM really is insidious. I would say that Baudrillard knew that, but he was preceded by Socrates (who I should have cited) that 'that the life which is unexamined is not worth living .'

3) In a similar vein, I am preparing a long Hebrew (and a shorter English) version of my talk on Srugim. Increasingly, I've come to the conclusion that here too, the issue is Post-Modernism.

4) Finally, I am taking comfort in the always insightful, exquisitely written and stunningly argued critique of Post Modern Secularism by Elie Schweid.

We will, I fear, pay a terrible price for our self-serving, self-worshipping delusions.


YMedad said...

"the impact of PM on hitoriography"?

that was Freudian, yes?

YMedad said...

My post

eric said...

what do you think of tamar ross, then?

Anonymous said...

You wrote in your comment to the article in The Commentator that "after thirty five years of research, I do not think Islam or Muslims are bad."

One can get the incorrect impression that you have spent the past three-and-a-half-decades researching Islam or Muslims. Perhaps you should clarify this point, as well as provide any citations for articles -- academic or other -- that you have written on the topic.

Anonymous said...

you know, you wrote about yuli tamirs article regarding female genital mutilation before on this blog, and i believe you retracted or modified your harsh comments since you exaggerated her position as one of extreme lunacy. by repeating your misjudgement you do a disservice to yuli tamir, but more importantly to your integrity.

YMedad said...

Yuli Tamir. Integrity?

Jeffrey said...

1) I've been studying Islam and its attitudes to Judaism since 1974, when I was a student of Prof. Virginia Deangelis at Boston University. Subsequently, I audited Professor Muhsin Mehdi at Harvard, in addition to the relevant research I undertook under Professor Isadore Twersky z"l. In the interim, I read extensively on the subject (including collections of Hadith). I was especially influenced by Bernard Lewis, Fouad Ajami, Daniel Pipes, Hava Lazarus-Yaffe, and others. So you're right. I've only been involved in the subject for 34 years, not 35 (yet).

2) Yuli Tamir is an egregious example of thoughtless post-modern, multi-cultural orthodoxy. She is intellectually shallow, intellectually dishonest and reminds me more of Mikhail Suslov than a professor at an open Israeli university.

I reluctantly modified my interepretation of her forgiving attitude on cliterodectomy. In light of the fact that my reading was confirmed by Caroline Glick (and others with whom I've spoken), led me to return to my original interpretation.

Furthermore, as a doctrinnaire Post-modernist, who's to say if she aid what you say or what I say.
If it speaks to interpretation, obviously integrity is not the point at issue.