March 31st, 2010

b/g - in the library

neologisms, ontology, and the vocabulary of the poststructuralist academic

Anyone know anywhere I can get a primer on academic words? I don't know if it was simply that I've spent the last couple of nights up till 2 reading for my classes or what, but this afternoon it seemed like every word out of my professors mouth was a set of vocabulary that I still don't understand.  And my most horrifying secret:  even after using the following word in my own work (or variations of), i am still not precisely clear on what it means.

ontology.  ontological.  defined as:
The science or study of being; that department of metaphysics which relates to the being or essence of things, or to being in the abstract.
The branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being.

So what does it mean to talk about an author who is trying to be ontological?  Or proposing a new ontology?  (ok, the second one I can do, but the first one?)

and since I'm looking up words, neologism:
a newly invented word or phrase / newly discovered term or meaning

We were talking about Philip Dick's The Man In The High Castle and William Gibson's Neuromancer, and while I'm certainly willing to get on the high horse right along with everyone who suggests we can't dismiss either one of these words as simply pulp novels not worth the paper they're printed on, the ability to deploy this kind of vocabulary?  I've lost it.  Sometimes I'm fairly certain that I'd never had it. 

Now, don't get me wrong.  I think one of the most fascinating things about cyberpunk is that it does cram a whole lot of new meanings into half recognizable words.  And frankly, now that I've looked up what neologism means, I'm willing to say they're creating them all the time.  But its as if I missed a class somewhere, where they handed out the sheet that contained all of this terminology. I can talk sign / signifier / referent, I can talk proletariat / bourgeois (at least to a certain degree), I can talk subject / Other..... why, then, do I feel like a babe in the woods everytime someone opens their mouths in this class?

Oh well, no time for worrying.  I have a Japanese test tomorrow instead.