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Re: VMs: postmodern cryptography: Foucault, Panopticon, and Voynich MS
Well, there are a lot of things to respond to, but I
will say that postmodern as a method or theory is
definitely not intellectually bankrupt. Many events
fit better a postmodern explanation than a
functionalist/structuralist explanation. While I
could provide some useful examples from contemporary
politics, I will refrain from doing so out of respect
for rules that may exist on the list.
On other matters though, postmodernism provides a new
approach to many fields, including Voynich studies.
Under modernist/positivist approaches, cryptology is
pursued as an act of construction and meaning. A
Foucaultian point of view, for example, that secret
codes are the challenge to control and power by a
sovereign can serve to set new research agendas.
To say that translation is not also deconstruction is
to dismiss one of the principle elements of
translation: the loss and addition of meaning outside
of the source text. Anyone who has translated poetry
from one language to another will know (or at least
read in the two texts) that translations are simulacra
of the original (if there even is an original, the
written poem being itself a simulacrum of the poem the
author meant to create). To say that there is one and
only one correct or true translation of a text not
demonstrates a misunderstanding of the process of
translation. Additionally, the assertion that there
can only be one true translation/reading of a text is
the root of many evils: religious wars, genocide,
racism, etc. One possibility is that the Voynich
manuscript is poetry, and that it is written in such a
way to convey double or triple meanings.
As for Sokal's article, others have responded to the
hoax by a scientist with too much free time on his
--- Milo Velimirovic <milov@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Postmodernism as a discipline is intellectually
> bankrupt. Those who
> espouse postmodernism have repeatedly absconded with
> terminology from
> other fields of study usually because said
> terminology represented the
> theorie du jour of well established and respected
> fields. The
> perpetrators of such theft, having little or no
> understanding of the
> fields they were pilfering from, created vacuous
> frameworks upon which
> they have built their castles using terminology and
> ascribed to others but fabricated from the cloth of
> the Emperor's
> I'll cease mixing my metaphors and suggest that
> anyone who's interested
> take a look at just how easy it is to fabricate what
> appears to be a
> postmodern treatise.
> e.g. "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a
> Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" available (look
> about midpage) from:
> On Oct 7, 2004, at 11:18 AM, Ronald Lorenzo wrote:
> > If anything, the project of cryptography is an act
> > deconstruction.
> It is nothing of the sort. It is an act of
> translation from one
> representation to another.
> > Given the failure of other approaches
> > to de(constructing/crypting) the Voynich
> Manuscript, I
> > see no reason for a postmodern approach.
> > was postmodern before there was postmodernism.
> > To say that there is "postmodern babble" is to
> fail to
> > grasp the project of postmodernism. Perhaps there
> > no truth, no knowledge. Not just in the Voynich
> > manuscript, but in other worldly texts. So-called
> > postmodern babble opens a new strategy at
> I'd agree wholeheartedly if the last word was
> changed to deception.
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