Thursday, December 1, 2011

"An epic unfavorable book review: Primate Visions"

From Improbable Research:

This is what Evgeny Morozov wrote (we have merely added some links to pertinent parts of it, and some images):
The first paragraph of Matt Cartmill [pictured here]’s review of Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions book. It appeared in the International Journal of Primatology (Vol. 12, No. 1, 1991)

This is a book that contradicts itself a hundred times; but that is not a criticism of it, because its author thinks contradictions are a sign of intellectual ferment and vitality. This is a book that systematically distorts and selects historical evidence; but that is not a criticism, because its author thinks that all interpretations are biased, and she regards it as her duty to pick and choose her facts to favor her own brand of politics.

This is a book full of vaporous, French-intellectual prose that makes Teilhard de Chardin sound like Ernest Hemingway by comparison; but that is not a criticism, because the author likes that sort of prose and has taken lessons in how to write it, and she thinks that plain, homely speech is part of a conspiracy to oppress the poor....MORE
And that's the nice part of the review.

I am reminded of the quote ascribed to Oscar Wilde when the poet Lewis Morris spoke to Wilde about his recently published book of verse:

Morris: “There is a conspiracy of silence against my book, Oscar. What should I do?”
Wilde:   “Join it,”

Quote Investigator has the details.