A Further Comment From James May

Those drapes really bring the room together.
Those drapes really bring the room together.

James May replied to my post about his comment and then I replied in the comments to his comment, but part of the purpose of this blog was to repost longer comments from other blogs.

On a side not the Yangs and Khoms thing is from this (odd IMHO) episode of Star Trek rather than a place in Thailand (Ban Yang Khom – look it up!).

You can find JM’s comment back on the last post.

Continue reading “A Further Comment From James May”

A comment from James May


Thanks to Kate Paulk’s comments and even despite not linking directly (Straw Puppy is still crying about that) I have had some interesting visitors. One of whom is James May (no, not THAT James May, at least I hope not) a person who frequently pops up on Puppy blogs and posts strange comments about his research into feminisim. Anyway here is what he wrote:

To a savage, technology appears to be magic. Your devotion to lesbian post-structuralist linguistic gibberish about “performative” and Spivak pronouns but without understanding those origins reveals why my researched explanations seem like a rant to you. Like a Solomons islander who builds a bamboo F4F Grumman Wildcat in the hopes it will return, your Cargo Cult mindlessly chant lesbian liberation dogma like the Yangs chanted “E Plebneesta.” Like an incantation, you hope social justice will emerge if only there are enough Leckian SF novels about the “genderblindness” and androgyny Conan the Barbarian stole from noble women during the Hyborian Age, when he forbade incest and imposed “compulsory heterosexuality.” The funniest thing about my so-called “rants” is you are in effect accusing the mostly forgotten primordial ideology you worship like Dagon of being a series of delusional rants; I agree. Reading Judith Butler is like reading the Necronomicon and then going nuts.

hmmm. I have to say that could have been much worse! Anyways let’s go through as this will take some unpacking.

  • I don’t know if this is true as such but I have observed that even supposedly civilized people can be mystified by logic.
  • I am not devoted to lesbian post-structuralist gibberish. Secondly because May tends to use ‘lesbian’ in a negative sense and I suspect he has a low opinion of post-structuralism it isn’t clear how he intends each word there to modify the other. Is he talking about a specific subset of post-structuralism that is lesbian? Does he think post-structuralism is particularly lesbian? Does he think lesbianism is particularly post-structural? The key word here is ‘gibberish’. He isn’t really saying anything with ‘lesbian post-structuralist’ other than associating with a rhetorical hand wave the world of literary criticism and the world of feminism. Naturally not all lesbians are feminists* but he likes to use the two as synonyms. Anyway, to answer what I think May is trying to say: no, wrong branch of philosophy. You are thinking of me as belonging to the Continental tradition and all that literary criticism stuff. I’m not averse to it but this is Analytic Philosophy land around these parts. Of course that does mean I am interested in questions of meaning and language but not in the same way.
  • Spivak pronouns: um, no. I use singular ‘they’. That isn’t a spivak pronoun it is an English pronoun with usage that dates back past the start of modern English and which can be found in key defining documents of modern English such as the King James Bible. Hey! I just used the Bible as a source of authority! Wonders will never cease.
  • ” but without understanding those origins reveals why my researched explanations seem like a rant to you” no it seems like a rant because your arguments do not proceed RATIONALLY. Stringing a bunch of semi-relevant stuff together with vaguely (or overtly) disparaging remarks is not an effective mode of argument. You can start by considering the GENETIC FALLACY – it has nothing to do with genetics as such it just means that simply attacking the origin of something is not a wholly logical way of demonstrating why it is false.
  • He then has a digression about cargo-cults. Yes, we all know what cargo-cults are. Thanks.
  • “Like an incantation, you hope social justice will emerge if only there are enough Leckian SF novels about the “genderblindness”” No. I believe in social engineering and the redistribution of both wealth and power. Social inequality is the underlying problem in society. Changes around gender and language will happen anyway and they rise out of an increasingly urban and technological society. It is in an environment in which women have access to cheap, safe contraception, free-at-source medical care and accessible childcare that both children and women prosper. A side-effect of the social changes that occur as a consequence is improved tolerance for people of other sexualities and gender identities. This is why people who don’t want society to change so vehemently oppose things like cheap, safe contraception, free-at-source medical care and accessible childcare. Stuff like novels etc are just the wrinkles on the surface of a volume of change.
  • However it is notable that conservatives do treat such issues as Leckie’s novels as if they really are effective magical spells! Look at May’s rants and were he puts his own efforts. It is very much like they have to desperately stop some evil ritual from being stopped before a portal to hell (or maybe Amazonian or Lesbos or Lesbos Amazonian…) opens.

*[This is based on the Camestros Felapton axiom of human categories – 1. not everybody in A is also in B unless A and B are perfect synonyms]