But while we came to enjoy being the new bully, we of course, and conveniently so, blunted our capacity to criticize power structures, partially due to the momentum of defending our ascent as emancipative enlightenment, digging in to fortify what previously still could have been seen as defense against persecution, but by now is clearly, to those not blinded by scientistic ideology, stabilization of establishment.
Largely below our radar, literary criticism, that mere sophisticated blah blah we thought we had successfully discredited, developed into quite an interesting field, into what is today ‘contemporary literary theory’, and it is now one of the bearers of the brighter torches that still cast a critical light onto the ugly spots of ridiculous rationalizations of corrupt power structures like those in the scientific community. And indeed, literary theory can and should, because after all, in a mature postmodern perspective, physics is, and I do not write “is just”, a particularly strictly formalized form of poetry.
It is one thing to be proud to master that art form and produce mathematical language, scientific theories, sonnets of beauty in spite and because of their obedience to some metrical structure, however, it is quite another to fool yourself about thus having discovered the true god and salvation.
After having fought this very holy war for so many years, I now come to be able to perceive the spectacle from the point of view of the other side, where the scientists appear as the narrow minded brutes we are, looked down upon for our uninformed bourgeois engineering mindsets, our pride for belonging somewhere into a hierarchy that selects for little more than the mere fitting-in somewhere, blinded by judging all else through its filters, mistaking them for their absence.
New Historicism and post structuralism, at once materialistic and deconstructing, is where literary theory as a critical acid leaves also those academics surviving in philosophy departments by doing mere history of philosophy and repackaging of the most trivial into socially acceptable, publishable units, trying to outdo each other in sucking up to science in an attempt at proving their own relevance, squarely in the dust. What proves my point is that those fighting for science reject this description as reactionary anti-science.
What they do not understand or perhaps anyway refuse is that I have nothing much against science being in power; even science as that perverse social structure that it is, does constitute a known and perhaps least evil, certainly as far as I as a scientist care. However, it may be time for the ultimate in enlightenment, or at least a deeper recognition of ‘new enlightenment’ among us: To admit that yes indeed, our power is our power, and that alone justifies it; our power does not derive from any divine or absolute fundament - only despotic and vulnerable power needs to hide behind such deceptions like “truth”.
What has been variously called ‘language games’ (Wittgenstein/Sellars), ‘mere conversations’ (Rorty), and which has been stressed by literary theory via “there is only discourse”, we can also bring back to a more Nitzschean version: War of words - and humans enjoy warfare. If you don’t get this, however much you understand science, you have not yet seen through it.
The question thus is: How many of us are like all good priests also atheists, maintaining the act not only out of personal convenience, but out of a conviction about that keeping up the facade may be ethically a superior choice given the state and volatility of the masses?