Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Everything is meaningless: The postmodern essay generator

If you are one of the strange few that actually reads about postmodernism and its cultural trends of relativism, pluralism, and anti-institutionalism, you'll love one of my favorite sites on the internet. It comes out of the academic study of language, and a somewhat cynical and nihilist view of human culture that begins with the premise that all our language ultimately amounts to meaninglessness. (kinda reminds you of a certain Hebrew poet and sage, doesn't it?)

The site is an essay generator, something like Dilbert's Mission Statement Generator. But more than that, using some sophisticated tools of linguistics, language theory, and deconstruction, they actually built a mathematical algorithm that builds the essay rather than slapping together random quotes. After you follow the link, hit refresh on your browser a few times and it'll keep generating new essays, complete with quotes and bibliographic sources. The sarcastic beauty of the essay generator is that, in a way, it is the technology of Ecclesiastes: it's all as meaningless as the content of each mathematically generated essay. Depressed yet?

Here's a short sample:

Dialectic predeconstructive theory and socialism

I. Jean-Francois Dahmus
Department of Literature, Carnegie-Mellon University

Thomas Z. Hubbard
Department of Politics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1. Burroughs and subconceptualist patriarchial theory

If one examines Lyotardist narrative, one is faced with a choice: either accept subconceptualist patriarchial theory or conclude that art is capable of significant form. The closing/opening distinction prevalent in Burroughs’s Nova Express is also evident in The Ticket that Exploded. “Society is meaningless,” says Baudrillard. However, many theories concerning posttextual Marxism exist. The subject is interpolated into a dialectic predeconstructive theory that includes truth as a whole.
Okay, enough meaningless words. Here's the generator.


Tim Lewis said...


This just accents Homer Simpson's theory: "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true! Facts Shmacts."

James Wood said...

I love this thing. My Advanced NT Exegesis prof told us about that when we were talking about postmodernism and biblical interpretation.