Thursday, June 30, 2005

Imaginary Books (2)

As promised, here are a few more entries. The first two are actually articles appearing the Journal of Applied Psychomathematics and Psychohistory, which you can find in the imaginary section of any adequate academic library.

The Computational Complexity of Making Shit Up: The Dark Friendship of Mathematics and Politics in America.

Capriciousness: Knowledge of Other Minds Modulo a Random Variable.

The Unocal Bid: China's First Open Feint in the Struggle for Energy.

Feudalism in America.

This tract is an intriguing (if somewhat dry) chronicle of the United States in the early twenty-first century. As we all know by now, while liberals tried valiantly to rally against creeping reactionary fascism, the elements of the modern feudal state took root. This is that story, in awe-inspiring detail. Like many historians, the author demonstrates a truly perverse interest in unrelated statistics, particularly annual grain yields.

Ass Consciousness.

Simultaneously criticized as both prurient and anti-feminist, this little book was based on the author's many years as an educator. He spends much of his effort describing in some detail the denuded state of his female students, reflecting particularly on the skin-tight fashions, which inspired the "fear and trembling of a poor teacher, striving desperately, and not always successfully, not to be 'creepy.'" I had some trouble gleaning just what wisdom he wanted to bestow on us all, but my sense of it is that he wanted to say something like the following: "sexual liberation by all means, self expression by all means, but at some point, you do look like a fool." He does seem to lack sympathy for his female students situation, but I hesitate to place him in the same category with those 'conservative' commentators responsible for such gems as "Girls: If it's not for sale, don't advertise." Indeed, I think his basic desire was for a notion of professionalism among his students, and this interpretation is born out in his short but blistering chapter on his male students fashion sense. The descriptions are nice.

The Quest for True Statements

A dithering assault on the timeless and noble quest for truth: the author dismisses this notion as essentialist and incoherent, and submits as an alternative program a more pedestrian "quest for true statements." I don't feel qualified to critique this work, but the thesis does seem to limit one's vision. On the other hand, "vision," unfortunately, is both susceptible to illusion and easy to fake.