Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Postmodernism-Tapeworm Analogy

EDIT 31/10/2013: I made a silly mistake; it's hookworms, not tapeworms, that are beneficial to humans. That being said, tapeworms are still not detrimental to humans.

I just saw an article at Patheos entitled "Many Post-Moderns Have the Intellectual Equivalent of a Tapeworm in their Minds," which was pretty much certain to get my click-through. Here's why: I'm sure the author means that postmodernism is an intellectual parasite, some kind of malefic being which devours cognitive sustenance before the thinker in question can digest it, so I was primed to disagree with the author's intent, but NOT with the title, because tapeworms aren't actually detrimental to human hosts. They're actively beneficial!

First, they don't consume enough of our nutrients to harm us; only anemic or severely malnourished individuals would suffer any harm from a tapeworm. Second, for reasons not yet fully known to science, people with tapeworms have no allergies. There's evidence to suggest that deliberately infecting oneself with tapeworms will cure you of allergies. This is because they aren't parasites but symbiotes; just as we've evolved to have a special relationship with dogs, we've also evolved to have a special relationship with tapeworms. Third, you'll have a permanent friend. About the only downside to hosting a tapeworm is that it's pretty gross when the tapeworm tries to leave your body (something it will only do if it is starving, and that will only happen if you are starving), and this can be easily avoided by encouraging it to remain in your body.

(Thanks to my brother for informing me of this; he's told people that they shouldn't accept food from him if they've complained of allergies, because he'll likely try to cure them with tapeworms.)

So! Yes, I agree. Postmodernism is a tapeworm in your brain! It makes you less allergic to things you'd otherwise react badly toward, and it does not prevent you from ingesting ideas whatsoever.

Disclaimer: I do not consider myself a postmodernist and I do not encourage others to be postmodernists. I do strongly encourage people to learn about postmodernism, to recognize its achievements and respect it for those achievements (eg. its role in anti-racist activism, cf bell hooks), and to adopt the better of the tools which postmodernism has given us (eg. deconstruction, the idea of culture). In a sense, house a little postmodernist!you in your mind to be one of the many philosophical angels on your shoulders.

And actually engaging with the article at all: I don't know what Mark Shea is talking about. Pretty much every postmodernist I know or have heard of is extremely well-educated, in both the senses of "erudite" and "good at thinking."

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