Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for February 26th, 2023

Texas groundsel and phlox

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On February 17th we drove 80 minutes south to Gonzales. Several miles north of the town, on the east side of US 183, we encountered a good colony of phlox, as depicted last week. Rising above the supersaturated red and hot pink flowers of what was presumably Phlox drummondii stood scattered Texas groundsel plants, Senecio ampullaceus, that had already budded and in some cases flowered.


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That moment haunts me as I begin my final semester before retirement—not only because faculty on the state payroll have deliberately crossed the critical line from pursuing the truth to professing The Way, but also because the Enlightenment sensibility that finds such mission creep objectionable seems to be passing from the scene. The “deconstructive turn”—as the critic Christopher Norris once called it—is nothing more than a verbal sleight-of-hand. It invites us to tease out secondary and tertiary senses of words to show how a text contradicts what it seems to be saying, free-associate our way to philosophical banalities or outright non-sequiturs, and finally glaze the mishmash with a layer of impenetrable jargon. If a reader is foolish enough to attempt to make sense of what is being said, he’ll get bogged down before he can figure out nothing is being said at all.


To find out what “that moment” was, and to learn more about “The Approaching Disintegration of Academia,” you can read Mark Goldblatt’s full February 7th Quillette article, whose subtitle is “Universities cannot withstand the assault on objective truth.”


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2023 at 4:27 AM

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