Mankind's only alternative 21   SEP.   18  
Mankind's only alternative
Vlad's Daily Gloat - The eXile Blog
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review April 17, 2003
 
Islamic Studies: Faculty Only
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 
In Halliday's view, civilians see only appearances, while the initiates of his IR guild pierce the veil to discover reality: for example, the Iranian revolution was "...eminently intelligible to anyone aware of what is involved in the establishment of a new state power." In other words, IR academics have found a way to fit the Iranian revolution into their schematic framework. This is not much of a claim; any quack pyschic can do as much, explaining historical events in hindsight as the product of astrological alignments.

Yet of such underwhelming, negative conclusions is this book constructed. After finishing Halliday's first two chapters, I had learned that:

*The Middle East isn't unique; and

*The Iranian Revolution wasn't really so different from other revolutions.

Two negative assertions; that seemed a rather poor return on my very considerable investment in reading 70-odd pages of doughy academic prose.

Halliday's preference for negative structures extends from bigger figures of speech like antithesis right down to sentence-level. Within each sentence, negations pile up on each other, until the browbeaten reader retains only the admonitory word "not."

Here's a very typical Halliday passage. As you read it, note how the sequence of negations, and negated negations, makes it harder and harder to grasp anything beyond the forbidding, warning tone:

"Yet the [Iranian] Revolution was not a chance event; it defeated not a decayed autocracy but a state that had appeared to be one of the stronger and more decisive of Third World regimes, and one, moreover, that had enjoyed considerable support from abroad. Although it is necessary, in light of subsequent events, to revise the picture of the Shah's regime as at the zenith of its power, it would be a mistake to underestimate the combined force of revolutionary pressures which were necessary to overthrow the established Iranian state."

This is the sort of prose which makes "academic writing" a pejorative term. Think back to the grim hours you spent in an airless undergraduate library, studying for a Poli Sci exam. Remember how stupid you felt, how hard it was to stay focused on the page, how you found yourself reading the same paragraph three or four times without comprehension, and how you counted the pages you still had to read?

No doubt you thought it was your own fault. Ha! That was only our little trick, I'm afraid. In fact, academic writing like Halliday's is designed to discourage outsiders, to bluff them into believing IR is a real, even difficult discipline.

Look at the passage quoted here, and you'll see that Halliday has gone to considerable trouble to avoid any simple assertions. The condensed version of this passage would go, "The not-random revolution defeated a not-decayed state not at its peak but not helpless either."

He picks a negative every time-because negatives are both harder to comprehend and more forbidding. Instead of saying that the Iranian Revolution was inevitable, he says it was "not a chance event"; instead of saying that it overthrew a strong regime, he manages a double negative, saying it "defeated not a decayed autocracy." But those negations are easy-peasy compared with what comes next: the hopelessly mangled sentence beginning, "Although it is necessary...." This sentence manages to do nearly everything possible to confuse the reader, from a missing agent to a pair of double negatives jammed together. This is a structure designed to defeat even the most dogged reader. And all to make a ridiculously bland assertion, something to the effect that the Revolution overthrew a fairly powerful regime.

You can call this bad writing-if you're the trusting type. I consider it premeditated obfuscation. I say Halliday wrote this badly because he wanted to intimidate readers out of trying to understand the Middle East, leaving the task to the phony diviners of the IR Guild. In essence, then, this book is written in the worst sort of bad faith.


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Afghan Gore
Afghan Warfare Just Got Real : Our man in Afghanistan loses two friends

Boyz In The Rayon : We interrupt this club review to remember Leha and visit Rayon.
War Nerd: The Siege
Nahr al Bared: A Squeamish Siege : The art of the seige

“W” Nation: America Needs Thorazine! :
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru