Our dependency on computers is destroying our ability to ‘deep read’
Robert Fisk writing in The Independent, Saturday, 25 April 2009
The foundation of the book isn't bad: that Westerners and Arabs think in different ways. The author uses four precious pages to describe the strengths of Arabic – the language is easier to spell than English; words for commonly used objects rarely overlap; it has a remarkable capacity for brevity; its verbal roots allow Arabic to coin new terms – but the book is buried in quotations from Nietzsche. "Negation of Negating Entities" is another chapter subtitle. The book almost has "Do Not Read" printed on the cover.
But the hi-tech anthropological language now infects even lecture invitations. Not long ago, I received a letter from the "conference co-ordinator" of a major Canadian university which shall remain nameless. (A rich province of that great nation will be my only clue.) I was asked to give a 45-minute presentation to the meeting whose aim was "to challenge the mainstream hegemonic and ethnocentric discourse about radicalism and extremism ... in order to gain a better understanding of the multidimensionality of the problem". Needless to say, I let that one go by.