Sokal Squared is Satire

Sokal Squared is Satire

It is a joke.

I agree that the Sokal Squared project is ambitious in its scope to the point of being mean-spirited. Their findings are easy fodder for alt-right assholes. One wonders about their stated beneficent motivation despite a report somewhere claiming that two of the three authors self-identify as the type of left-wing liberal who in other contexts would celebrate the identity politics challenged by the very project. They are trying for reform–they are from Portland for fucks sake–or maybe they are jerks. I don’t know. Or care. Its funny shit.

I think we miss a sarcastic and maybe therapeutic opportunity if we ignore the comic potentials of this faux-scholarship. Extremists in the left and the right take themselves too seriously. Neither the left nor the right can laugh at themselves and the backlash to this proves that the left doesn’t have the funny bone it could have to be able to learn from its excesses. All fundamentalisms are equally dualistic, asinine, and pretentious. And while I think the right’s golden calves are more odorous than the left’s, our inability to objectify our subjectivity—and take the piss out of it—puts us in the equally problematic space as being the righteous arbiters of morality as the right and its conservatism. We are the inventors and champions of moral relativism—at least those of us in anthropology—and we would do well to have a sense of humour about what that might mean if taken to extremes. Sokal Squared reflects back, in an ironic and scopophilic format—in our very own academic platforms so that we cannot look away—what extreme (and fake) versions of identity politics looks like. I am all for the radicalism and because it is so…radical…it can be easily lampooned. I may be sadistic but seen in the satirical traditions of Voltaire, Swift, Tracey Ullman, South Park, and Portlandia, this stuff is pretty funny. The titles are hilarious, the methods laughable, the mistakes made by the presses deliciously cringeworthy.

With George Carlin dead and Bill Maher reviled by the left, show me where the left laughs at itself in a truly dangerous way and I’ll show you the future of the left.

Enough of my humourlessness for now…

Adam Fish is cultural anthropologist, video producer, and senior lecturer in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University. He employs ethnographic and creative methods to investigate how media technology and political power interconnect. Using theories from political economy and new materialism, he examines digital industries and digital activists. His book Technoliberalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) describes his ethnographic research on the politics of internet video in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. His co-authored book After the Internet (Polity, 2017) reimagines the internet from the perspective of grassroots activists and citizens on the margins of political and economic power. He is presently working on a book about hacktivist prosecution called Hacker States and a book and experimental video called System Earth Cable about “elemental media”–atmospheric and undersea information infrastructures in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Iceland, and Indonesia.

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