Levels of difficulty

I can’t say it was like clockwork, the usual three months or so that a typical manuscript takes to go through review, because it was way longer than that, not that I minded, really, because I had other stuff to do in the meanwhile, but, anyway, a text of mine came back from review. As expected, it was a rejection.

To be fair, I think it was, overall, a fair rejection. There wasn’t a whole lot the editor could say or do, aside the usual, don’t take this too personally and use the feedback constructively, as suggestions rather than as something that must be done. That’s alright. I also liked that the feedback from the editor wasn’t some copied and pasted polite response, accompanied by harsh criticism from the reviewers, which would have sent some really mixed messages.

I have my own way of handling feedback that I’ve adopted from Jan Blommaert. I highly recommend watching his Youtube videos, especially ‘Jan Blommaert on “writing an academic paper”’, in which he points out that, sadly, there’s certainly no shortage of bad reviewers. While he acknowledges the reasons for that, namely how it’s largely just unrewarding extra work, on top of your regular work (which, I’d say, may also be rather unrewarding, but’s that’s another story), the thing is that you tend to get superficial and more or less useless feedback. I totally agree. Anyway, the point he makes in the video is that it is what it is, as I like to point out in a lot of other contexts as well, that you just have to deal with it, that you will get unfairly and unjustly treated by people who aren’t even interested in your work or somehow manage to read it in some misdirected way. This is why he recommends dismissing a lot of feedback that you get. If it’s not good, feel free to dismiss it. I think it’s worth pointing out that he really emphasizes this point, that it is your prerogative to do so. Again, I totally agree.

My own approach is to take what I consider valuable and that’s it. If I disagree with someone and can explain why that is, why they are wrong about it, it’s my prerogative to dismiss that feedback. Like Blommaert points out, while the review process makes it look like that it’s a just process, so that the judgment is thought to be an indication of the quality of your work, the problem is that a lot of the judgments are “flawed, seriously flawed”. To be clear, it’s not that you won’t run into good reviewers, that’s not it, because you will, I for sure have. It’s great to get useful feedback. Importantly, they will not only point out to this or that problem, but they may also suggest how to solve it, as Blommaert also points out. That’s what I call constructive criticism. That’s helpful. What’s not helpful is to get feedback where it is pointed out that you have a problem, at least supposedly, only to be left hanging, without being given any indication as to how one would fix the problem. If you do that, you are just being an asshole as you have nothing to contribute.

But what is the secret sauce to publishing then? Well, I’d say perseverance. Sure, read the feedback. Pay attention to the cases where someone indicates a problem and also provides a possible solution to it. Check how the problems and the possible solutions to them are presented. If they are presented as commentary and suggestions, that is to say as something that you could consider, as opposed to something that you must do, then I’d make some notes on that and see if there’s something to it. If someone says that you must do something, yeah, that’s how you know. To really condense the main thing here, “feel free to … simply reject it as irrelevant”, as explained by Blommaert.

He also recommends pulling your paper from the system, if it takes too long, like months and months, like a lot of months, because, in his view, that’s also an indication that things aren’t going well. I have never done this, but, to be honest, I was starting to think that I should, before I got this feedback. It was just too long. I’m a kind of a no-nonsense person. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. No need to sugar coat it. And if you don’t have the time for it, or it will take you too long to deal with it because you aren’t familiar with what you need to deal with, just pass on it.

I like how Blommaert wraps up the process, how you write a paper and how you deal with publishing, by stating it is you who is in charge, not the reviewers. Like I’ve said before, and as he also says on the video, it’s your work, not theirs. To me that means that you get to do whatever you like with it. If you feel like this isn’t working for you, send your work elsewhere, as he also points out. It’s that simple, really. You get to choose and, as he points out, there’s a lot to choose from.

I used to write these boring ass papers, much to my chagrin, because I had little choice, not having the proper academic rank, if you will. That’s being disciplined for you, to weave in some Michel Foucault here. I wanted to do all kinds of things and I’m sure I got away with some of it, like being somewhat happily all over the place and what not, but there was always this expectation to conform, to do what I was expected to do, to write according to a template, which I’m sure you are familiar with if you’ve ever written an academic paper: introduction (including clear research questions), theory (including a literature review), materials and methods, analysis, discussion, conclusion. Boring!

There’s also this bit where Blommaert expresses his clear dislike of doing more of the same, just replicating what’s been done before, what I take to be according to some existing method. I agree. Boring! I’d say that this also applies to theory (which is, by the way, one of those words that I avoid using). In this context, why would I write a paper where I just replicate what has already been stated? Why would I start from, let’s say, a Marxist premise to landscape research? I mean I guess I could, but then I would have to point out how the premise is wrong, to correct it, for it to be an actual contribution, you know, for it to be interesting. So, when I start with a complex conceptual framework that I’m pretty sure most people are unfamiliar with, I’m doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing, something interesting, as opposed to just playing it safe, doing whatever it is that I’m expected to do.

I was happy to run into Blommaert’s commentary of this topic, what this essay is really about, about writing an academic paper. I love how he explains it. You just need an idea, that one thing, that nugget of gold, no less, no more, and then you work it into a paper in the form of a narrative, which is a telling of sorts that, in this case, didn’t go down too well with the Reviewer #3. I also love how he’s like … whatever you do … do not, I repeat, do not subscribe to the template, what he calls “the canonical structure”, and how he points out that if he sees that, he won’t waste a minute on it.

Blommaert makes another important point about a text. It’s not just that you have that idea and that narrative, but also that it’s like a piece of literature, that it has this aesthetic to it, what he also likens to a style or a voice. He really emphasizes this, noting that it’s so that if you were to read your own text, you’d take pleasure in it. That’s a good point. I mean if you don’t like what it is that you are doing, why are you even doing it? That’s just bananas! He also puts it in another way, noting that it’s about being captivating, drawing in your reader, which, I think, is like with literature. If it’s really good, you are sucked into it, or so to speak.

What I really love about what Blommaert has to say is the point about having no pressure to write what it is that you write about. It was exactly like that with this paper that got rejected. I was like okay, I’m gonna do this, and I did. I had something to say and I said it, like he recommends. All this propriety regarding articles, aka ‘published’ works (as if this isn’t ‘published’, because, haha, it is, as just by reading this will confirm it, unless I’m dead and you are reading a draft of this, as that’s what’s actually something that’s ‘unpublished’), is something that he finds “entirely academic”. To me, that’s another way of saying it doesn’t really matter. Instead, what matters is that it’s out there. It’s like you’ve already won. Getting it ‘published’ is just what the academic system expects you to do. Like he points out, “that’s only important for your statistics, your metrics”, which is exactly how it is. It’s like playing a game, as he puts it. You have to do it, unless, I guess, you manage to change the system. Then again, to have an impact on anyone’s life, yeah, some formal article is very unlikely going to do that. As he explains it, “you want to write to be read”, which, in my view, is like saying that a paper in a formal journal is likely going to be as unimportant to people as a paper in a drawer.

This is the normal difficulty level

If I had to summarize the issue with my work, regardless of the field or discipline that I deal with, is that it is some next level shit. The level of knowledge required to understand just the premise of it is ridiculous. Oh, and it’s not in a bad way ridiculous. That’s just the way it is, like mindboggling. It’s not like when you know the field or discipline, who’s who, what’s what, and what’s the latest thing. No. Not at all. It’s like when you start from all that and then work your way through what they’ve started from, and so on and so forth. You’ll eventually end up reading some really difficult stuff, which is only bound to make feel like you are going insane while at it. That’s philosophy for you. That’s when you start thinking of all kinds of presuppositions. That’s going to be very, very difficult and time consuming, which is why I reckon people don’t go there and why they are happy to do more of the same. I can acknowledge the work of others, the points they make and the things they express particularly well, kudos to them, even if I don’t agree with them or their presuppositions.

Now, I realize that saying that I deal with some next level shit is a bold claim to make. Yes. It is. It most certainly is, but I don’t mind saying it. The thing is, however, that I’m not content on doing more of the same. That’s awfully boring. I want to raise the bar, to go beyond, to make things interesting. That’s what I do and if you can’t handle that, I don’t know what to say, except, too bad, sucks to be you, I guess. I wouldn’t want to be you, no matter who you are, how much bank you make and how prestigious you are. That’s all just smoke and mirrors.

In this case the problem is that the people I end up having to deal with have a poor knowledge of semiotics. Come on! It’s not even that difficult! Okay, fair enough, it is pretty difficult, but what did you expect. To make sense of reality, without having to familiarize yourself with semiotics? Haha! I’m sorry, but that’s just laughable!

Now, to be fair, I may have too high expectations, probably because I do tend to push the envelope. I’m well aware that knowing what I know is not something that you typically learn by doing a degree and/or by doing research. It’s not like I run into a lot of fellow academics who have a clue of what it is that I’m doing, even if I explain it to them. Honestly, they are like … what in the world? So, yeah, maybe this just wasn’t a good match. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I reckon Baruch Spinoza would certainly agree and that’s plenty of consolation to me. He’d be like, well, not that you wanted it to be this way, because you didn’t, but it had to be this way as otherwise it wouldn’t be this way, followed by a cheeky wink, I presume.

So, to get somewhere with this essay, there were three reviewers. I’m tempted to argue that Reviewer #3 was you know who, the infamous Reviewer #2, but, to be fair, I don’t think the criticism was in bad faith. Instead, I think it was just misguided. I’ll go through most of it.

To comment on all of them first, what’s common with all of them is that, well, how to put it nicely, they just don’t seem to get it. To be fair, I’d say that Reviewer #1 did actually get it, but just wasn’t able to connect the dots, to understand how, in the end, it’s all about the function, that abstract machine. There’s this general commentary of it, of my Deleuze-Guattarian framework, how landscape or, rather, landscapity, is an abstract machine, but Reviewer #1 struggles to see how the example I’ve chosen exemplifies it, how it, landscapity, that abstract machine, and the landscape, the substance of expression in which a form of expression is manifested, as defined in relation to a form of content that is manifested in the substance of content, which in this case is simply the world.

Reviewer #2 also comments on this, but unlike Reviewer #1, doesn’t seem to get it. There’s this initial appreciation of it, like okay, okay, interesting, but then it seems like Reviewer #2 is left puzzled by it, like … wait what did I just read. To be fair, that’s Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari for you. I’d say that’s exactly what happens, and probably it’s by design. They try to make you think. It’s you who needs to do much of the hard work, not the writer, which in this case is me. It is you who must connect the dots. It does result in scratching your head like … what in the world … I know there’s something to this … which will then open up to you if you let it open up to you. Oh, and you need to let that happen. If your mentality is that I don’t get it, because I’m not given easy answers, then, well, what can I say, that’s on you as you aren’t, currently, capable of letting go of that.

What about Reviewer #3? Well, let’s say that Reviewer #1 gets it, but wants me to explain it all better, which is fair enough, and Reviewer #2 wants to get it, but there’s, I’d say, a general unwillingness to understand it when it comes to Reviewer #3. The commentary of Reviewer #3 is fairly similar to that of Reviewers #1 and #2 as there is this concern that the framework does not appear to be connected to the analysis. The difference between Reviewer #3 and Reviewers #1 and #2 is, however, in how the commentary is presented. Whereas Reviewers #1 and #2 acknowledge that they’ve been fairly critical in their commentary, if not at times harsh, Reviewer #3 doesn’t offer such courtesy. I don’t mind criticism, inasmuch as it is constructive, but, well, that’s the problem here with Reviewer #3. I won’t get tangled up on it here, because it is beside the point when it comes to summarizing the commonalities between the Reviewers.

The thing is that it’s all already there. If you’ve read the relevant section that explains the framework and understood it, the rest of the text makes sense to you. I’ve explained that. It’s explained in a fairly concise or summary form, yes, but it’s all there. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. It’s certainly a watershed moment.

Ramping up the difficulty

In the paper, I start out by explaining how it all works in semiotic terms, really, really, broadly speaking, how landscape isn’t a material thing, nor a semiotic thing, but an in-between the two. That’s sense for you. I then move on to explain how Deleuze and Guattari define it, not as a representation of reality, but as a construction of it. That’s the abstract machine of landscapity for you.

The beauty of it all, if you start from Louis Hjelmslev and work your way through Deleuze and Guattari, as I do, as I’ve done, is that once you get it, you get it. It’s like wow! Wow, wow, wow! It all makes sense now! Why? Well, to give some credit to Reviewer #3, you can indeed use this framework for literally anything. That’s exactly why it may seem so disconnected. Like why this example? Well, why not? It’s that applicable! Now you’re probably like, oh, oh really, is that so? And I’m like, oh, yeah! Yes, yes and yes!

My answer, having actually read Hjelmslev, not just Deleuze and Guattari’s take on his work, because isn’t that what you are supposed to do as a scholar, not just take someone’s word for it, it’s all about the function. Once you get that, that it’s all about the function, what Deleuze and Guattari call the abstract machine, you start to make sense of the world in terms of functions. Once you get to that point, it’s easy to apply that to, well, everything. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s Carl Bache’s (2573) take on this in ‘Hjelmslev’s Glossematics: A source of inspiration to Systemic Functional Linguistics?’:

“So there is a sense in which OSG/Prolegomena provides a brief introduction to the theory about everything.”

Sydney Lamb (181) makes similar remarks about Hjelmslev’s work in Herman Parret’s ‘Discussing Language’:

“But I would also hesitate to accept the notion that Hjelmslev’s view of language was closed, because he offers just a breathtakingly broad view at the end of the Prolegomena, in which language relates to practically everything.”

That’s also my reading of Hjelmslev. Why is it so applicable then? Well, I think that Lamb (179) expresses this particularly well:

“I kept being impressed by Hjelmslev’s view that the linguistic system is nothing but a system of relationships.”

This is also what makes it so, so difficult. It is really, really abstract. Why? Well, because it has to be. It has to be really, really abstract, so that it functions in just about any context. It is also loaded with concepts, which makes it even more difficult to comprehend. To give you an idea of that, Hjelmslev’s ‘Prolegomena to a Theory of Language’ is only 82 pages, but he (83-87) works with 106 definitions. That’s more than one per page. Plus, he is in the habit of defining some concepts, only to abandon them later on in favor of other concepts. I’m well aware how that’s not very reader friendly, but that’s how he operates. I don’t think Bache is wrong when he (2568) states that a lot of people consider that “a terminological nightmare.”

I acknowledge that Hjelmslev’s work is difficult. It is. I don’t think people doubt that. That said, I don’t think difficulty of someone’s work should mean that you can just ignore it. The way I see it, obstacles are meant to be overcome, problems are to be solved and questions are to be answered. If you can’t do that, you either give up or persist. Both are fine by me. If you aren’t interested in what I’m interested in, the way I do it, that’s fine by me. But if you are interested in what I’m interested in and your job is to judge it, you do have to persist. You can’t just give up and be like, well, I don’t like this because I don’t like it, which is pretty much tends to happen to Reviewers.

Lamb hits the nail in the head in ‘Epilegomena to a Theory of Language’, which is like a forty-page review of Hjelmslev’s best known work, the ‘Prolegomena to a Theory of Language’, when he (556) states that:

Prolegomena is not designed for bedtime reading.”

This is because it is a difficult book, only 82 pages, yes, but with 106 terms. The Danish original is some 112 pages, probably because of differences in the layout, but it doesn’t provide definitions for the relevant terms, only a list of them in the end. The English translation not only includes a list, but it also provides concise definitions, which may or may not help you, and indicates what you need to also understand in order to understand that definition. That’s what I meant by presuppositions earlier on. To make matters worse, it’s not like a term presupposes just the indicated presuppositions, because to understand them, you need to also take into account their presuppositions. Oh yeah, and according to Lamb (556-557), the total number of terms is not actually 106 but 111.

If you judge someone’s work and you don’t understand it, what it is based on, it’s your job to familiarize yourself with what they build on. In this case, before you even get to Deleuze and Guattari, who, in turn, build on Hjelmslev’s work, and their take on landscape or, rather, landscapity, you need to get through the first two paragraphs. They are difficult paragraphs, that’s for sure, there being like 11 terms thrown at you. I do, however, proceed in a logical order, so that you aren’t left wondering what’s what. Moreover, I not only indicate the source or sources that each sentence builds on, like what you’d expect, really, but I also provide the page numbers. I’m well aware that I’m not even expected to provide the page numbers in academic texts unless I quote verbatim, but I generally do that for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a matter of transparency. Don’t trust me? Well, as I’m clearly indicating where it’s from, you can have a look. It’s that easy. Secondly, it not only helps the reader to the source, but it also narrows down where you can find more information on what it is that I’m dealing with it. So, yeah, to go back to Lamb’s (556) point, my Reviewers must have been expecting some light bedtime reading, which they for sure didn’t get. Now that shouldn’t have been a problem, because, well, it wasn’t, because I was kind enough to even provide page numbers.

Can’t be arsed

While the feedback from Reviewers #1 and #2 was largely constructive, it is worth noting that Reviewer #3 really didn’t have anything noteworthy to contribute. It’s like … this could be better. Thanks?

For some reason Reviewer #3 wasn’t happy with the way I presented things. I don’t know how you, Reviewer #3, can assert that I present the ideas of others as my own. What. The. Actual. Fuck? I. Do. Not. It is all clearly documented. I even provide the page numbers. Why would I go through all that effort, when I don’t even have to do that? That makes no sense. This is just bananas. Oh, and you do realize that you did accuse me of plagiarism?

There’s something really bizarre about this. Reviewer #3, you explicitly acknowledge that the Deleuzo-Guattarian framework is a synthesis. To be clear, you do realize that I can’t claim the ideas to be mine if it is clear from the get-go that I acknowledge their work, that it’s based on their work, that the framework is Deleuzo-Guattarian. That’s just illogical. A synthesis is always a synthesis of something, something that already exists.

I’m gonna let that slide, all those unfounded claims of plagiarism, because Reviewer #3 clearly doesn’t know how academic writing works. As the reference style of the journal is an endnote-based system, all you need to do is check the number and find the corresponding number in the end of the text. That’s all you need. That’s how the endnote-based reference system works. It’s also noteworthy that the other reviewers, Reviewer #2 and Reviewer #3 had nothing to say about this.

I think it’s worth emphasizing that the relevant section that you, Reviewer #3, consider to be the problem contains over 40 citations. They are clearly marked. I followed the journal reference style to the letter. If you think that the reference style that the journal uses isn’t good, that’s not my problem.

Reviewer #3, you also clearly acknowledge that you can find the relevant information in the end of the text, where it is all supposed to be according to the endnote-based reference system, yet you keep implying that this is not how you do it, that it is such a hassle to find the relevant citation in the endnotes, and indicate that the citations are imprecise, mere gestures. Firstly, how are they imprecise? Like I already pointed out, and as you could clearly see, the citations even include page numbers, which is something I’m not even expected to do, unless I quote verbatim. We clearly have different definitions when it comes to precision. Secondly, you complain about that. Why? It’s all there. If you doubt my sincerity, which you do, it is up to you, as a reviewer, to check on the cited works. It’s not my problem if you can’t be arsed to do something. That’s on you.

As my word is just my word, I’m going to be anal about this and, yes, you probably guessed it, cite someone. Let’s have a look at what John Swales has to say about this. He’s a linguist and specializes in genre analysis, so, yeah, he probably knows a thing or two about the conventions of this academic genre. In ‘Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings’, he (148) makes a basic distinction between two forms of citation, the integral citation and the non-integral citation. The former he (148) defines as the case where:

“[T]he name of the researcher occurs in the actual citing sentence as some sentence-element[.]”

The latter he (148) defines as the case where:

“[T]he researcher occurs either in parenthesis or is referred to elsewhere by a superscript number or via some other device.”

This is exactly how I was taught this as an undergrad and how it is that I teach it to undergrads. You probably didn’t expect that, that I am actually a language specialist, whose job it is to know this stuff, but that’s what you get when you have nothing to contribute and you start making things up to look like you’ve read the paper, that you’ve done your review. So, yeah, both are fine. Both get the job done as there’s a clear indication of authorship in each case. No confusion.

There is, of course, further distinction between the two. Swales and Christine Feak (77) comment in ‘Academic Writing for Graduate Students’ that using non-integral citations you focus on the content, i.e., the information, as opposed to the source of information, which is, conversely, of course, what you’ll be focusing on if you utilize integral citations.

What do other textbooks have to say about this? Well, at least Maggie Charles and Diane Pecorari agree with Swales and Feak. Charles and Pecorari (101-102) state in ‘Introducing English for Academic Purposes’ that non-integral citation stresses the importance of the findings, and that integral citation stresses the importance of the cited author. Moreover, they (102) add that non-integral citation gives the writer more flexibility than integral citation. As they (102) point out, it’s particularly handy because you can cite multiple works in each instance. It offers that compactness, as they (102) go on to add. On top of that, the frequent use of integral citations can make it look like you don’t know what you are talking about, as they (102) also point out. It’s like you are not committed to what it is that you are dealing with. That’s the upside of non-integral citations. It is you stating what it is that someone else has stated in their work, in agreement with it. As you are aligning yourself with someone else’s work, you are willing to take the flak for it. Integral citation gives you that extra leeway that allows you to distance yourself from someone else’s work. If you ask me, the dirty thing with integral citation is that you can state something, imply something with it, and if someone challenges you, you can point out that, well, it’s not, strictly speaking, me saying that, it’s the other person saying that, even though, clearly, it is you who is saying that, considering it is you who is the writer or the author, as that text would not exist otherwise.

The general thing with citations is that there isn’t a right or a wrong way of doing it, as it’s really a matter of “your own style and the flow of your work”, as Richard Pears and Graham Shields (7) state in ‘Cite Them Right: The Essential Referencing Guide’. The crucial thing, the only thing that matters, is that when you cite someone else’s work “you must ensure that you do not change the original meaning”, as Pears and Shields (15) point out. In other words, if you build on someone else’s work, not only must you cite that someone else’s work and reference it, so that it’s clear where it’s all from, but you must also be sure that whatever it is that you express can be found in that work that you cite and refer to. While Pears and Shields (15) only state this in the context of paraphrasing, I’d say that it also applies to summarizing. I mean, if you summarize someone else’s work in a way that just isn’t the case, then you are doing it wrong.

How do you know that people stay true to the works they build on? The simple answer is that you don’t, unless you know the works well or dedicate the time to checking on those things, which is possible if the author has provided you the page numbers. I’d say that this is to some extent also a matter of interpretation. If you ask me, when you are dealing with paraphrasing and summarizing, there is always going to be some difficulty involved. You can basically only check if what the author states is in line with the work or works cited and that’s about it. Oh, and you are pretty much out of luck if someone cites something specific from a 500-page tome without giving you the page numbers, which you can do as typically you are only expected to indicate page numbers when quoting verbatim. I don’t like it, because it’s not transparent then, like who is going to try to find it in that 500-page tome, but, again, I don’t make the rules.

There’s a good article on this topic by David Henige: ‘Discouraging Verification: Citation Practices Across Disciplines’. In summary, Henige laments the common practice of not giving a damn about page numbers when citing others. That’s the gist of it. He (105) makes note of how people may cite articles and books, which would make sense if it is just to contextualize one’s own work in relation to their work, but, apparently, it’s more common for people to do that in the context of “addressing specific information and arguments.” He (111) also makes note of the absurdity of it, how, somehow, someone can make a specific claim, while citing four works, of which a couple are two volumes, so it’s actually six works, all of them books, some 3000 pages in total. Yeah, what do you reckon? Is someone going to check on that? They are not. I realize that in many cases you are not required to indicate the page, but I reckon that not only is it potentially dishonest, but it also hinders further research.

Which one should you utilize then? Well, that’s not for me to decide, but I’d go with both, with emphasis on the non-integral citation as that’s how you retain your voice. It’s your work, so you get to have a voice. It also helps you to keep things compact, which is always a problem with articles. It was also the case with this article. You got to make room and you have to make tough decisions. Style is often one of the things that you just have to let go off first as what really matters is that you get the point across, without claiming that the idea is yours, as indicated by the citation. The integral citation is for cases where you want to either spice things up, to make the text less monotonous or to maintain a certain distance to the work you are citing. It can work great, here and there, but it doesn’t look good if it’s there a lot of it as the distancing it provides takes away from your own voice.

So, if I am to analyze my own approach in the section that Reviewer #3 deemed to be problematic, I start out strong, expressing how I understand landscape in semiotic terms. I utilize a non-integral citation, Hjelmslev’s ‘Prolegomena to a Theory of Language’, with relevant page numbers. It is followed by a similar sentence, that connects to the first sentence, with a connector ‘therefore’. It signals to the reader that this expands on the previous sentence, which implies that these sentences should be understood together, the first one providing you a brief definition, followed by further elaboration. I provide a bit of my own commentary here, clearly marked by the use of i.e., which is Latin for ‘that is’. It indicates that it is added commentary. This second sentence is then tied to a third sentence that connects itself to the second one by the connector ‘instead’, which functions as a point of contrast. Here you get two additional non-integral citations. The following sentence, the fourth one, adds to these sentences, by linking to them with ‘moreover’. A non-integral citation is provided. The fifth sentence contains my commentary as it explains the same thing, my understanding of Hjelmslev’s views in other words. This is clearly signaled to the reader with ‘this simply means’. Sixth sentence then connects to it, explaining it ‘in other words’, providing further commentary to it, followed by a non-integral citation. The paragraph is then broken up by the diagrammatic illustration of this, the point being to help the reader to understand that. It is then further elaborated in the following long sentence that contains yet another non-integral citation.

Why did I opt for non-integral citations in this paragraph? Well, it’s on purpose. If you are familiar with Deleuze and Guattari’s work, you know that you won’t find them explaining landscape like that. They don’t package it that neatly. You have to piece it together, bit by bit. That’s what I’ve done. I can take credit for that. What I can’t take credit for is the ideas themselves, which are clearly indicated as traceable to the works of others. There’s no foul play here.

Also, to be clear, I actually have read Hjelmslev’s work. I’m familiar with it, so, yeah, I don’t need your permission to explain it. This is the same with Deleuze and Guattari. I mean, if you’ve seen these essays, I don’t think you wanna challenge me on that. Again, even if that weren’t the case, even if I didn’t know what I’m talking about, I do provide the necessary citations. I don’t claim to have invented those concepts. To be honest, like most people, I don’t think I’ve ever invented anything and it is only very likely that I never will. A synthesis is currently the best I can do and it’s not that there isn’t value to synthesis, as there most certainly is, as it’s like pulling all the strands together, making sense of it all, but no, I’m under no illusion that I’ve invented anything.

I also got flak for the same thing from Reviewer #3 when I clarified my own position, in opposition of representationalism. I give a reason for this, noting that the issue I take with representationalism is tied to how difference is subordinated to identity, followed by a non-integral citation of Deleuze’s ‘Difference and Repetition’ and of Guattari’s ‘Machinic Unconscious: Essays in Schizoanalysis’. The idea is introduced in the former, which means that is not my idea. It’s Deleuze’s. There’s no confusion about that (except, perhaps, that it might actually be Friedrich Nietzsche’s idea). The idea is further discussed in the latter, which also supports my own stance. Again, nowhere do I claim that subordination of difference to identity is somehow my idea.

I took the liberty of looking up a couple of random referencing guides that pertain to footnotes and endnotes. For example, Murdoch University’s ‘Footnote – Referencing Guide: Citing in the Text’ indicates that “[i]t is not necessary to mention either the author(s) or the date of the reference unless it is relevant to your text” as the same thing can be done with many ways, nor to indicate the reference otherwise except in superscriptx. There’s even case where it’s indicated that it’s fine to include a sentence, such as “For example, see[x].” The UNSW Sydney, aka University of New South Wales, gets to the point in ‘The Footnote / Bibliography Referencing System’, noting that the ‘notes’ styles include a note, aka reference, which is indicated in superscriptx. Morling College’s ‘Chicago Style Rules’ indicate the same, so that it’s as simple as marking what’s from where with the superscriptx. To include something that isn’t from Australia, Purdue University ‘Footnotes and Endnotes’ guide indicate the same: use superscriptx. Now, of course, each style has it’s own quirks, but, in general, that’s all there is to say. It works the same as the author-date system, but the text just isn’t as cluttered by the (author-date, p/pp) or (date, p/pp).

To be clear, I’m not a big fan of any endnote-based reference system. The advantage is that it makes the text easier to read, as the reference is not there, within text. The disadvantage is that it is not as explicit what’s from where. This is not really an issue though. The necessary information is still there. It’s just in a format that’s inconvenient if you want to find sources and look things up. That’s not my problem though. I have no idea why you, Reviewer #3, thought I’m responsible for the reference system that I haven’t chosen, but that I have to work with in order for it to be even considered for review.

Footnote-based systems are better in this regard as you get the relevant information on the relevant page and not in the end of the text. Then again, if there are a lot of citations, as there can be, it’s going to fill the page from the bottom up and defeats the purpose. It works when you have only a bit of extra commentary, here and there, but otherwise I’m not a big fan of either of these systems.

Moving from the unfounded claims of plagiarism, the thing that I notice from the comments provided by Reviewer #3 is that they consist of mere criticism. In other words, there’s nothing constructive about them. I get these useless indications that I’m missing something, but Reviewer #3 apparently just couldn’t be bothered to indicate the works in question. It’s like saying something is better explained elsewhere, only to not say where and when. Someone asks for clarification, but you indicate that they should know it. Thanks for nothing. I mean you take issue with the way I present things, even though I actually do provide the relevant citations, to back it all up, but you can’t be arsed to do that yourself, to actually provide the relevant citations for your own arguments. Yeah, I have feeling that Reviewer #3 got so hung up on some thing and then just didn’t think my paper was worth it.

What is it about? Well, long story short, my initial remarks about my stance, which I only included for the sake of transparency. Reviewer #3 clearly struggles to understand crux of the argument when I state that my job is to explain why landscape matters by elaborating how it functions. This is the underlying machinism of it.

In my view, two things get conflated by Reviewer #3: my voice and the voice of others. So, to be clear, when I state that it is not my intention to give primacy to any views, to be discussed once I get there, to the analysis, it doesn’t mean that I can’t have a voice. It simply means that I can’t speak for others, nor make decisions for them. I analyze the situation, that is to say break it down to smaller components, which is not the same as telling how it all is, not to mention how it all should be. I don’t think I somehow uncover any hidden truth. Oh, and I totally get to say that I’m all for non-representational landscape and against representational landscape. I don’t get to speak for others, but neither do you, Reviewer #3, get to say that I can’t have my voice. If you argue that I can’t say this and/or that, to express my views, then it is you who is speaking for me, that is to say for others.

My criticism pertains to how landscape functions. That’s why I get to say that I consider it to be problematic. Notice how it is the functionality of it that I am critical of, how it pertains to the production of some identities that are deemed desirable and other identities that, in negation, are deemed undesirable, and how this creates a pressure to conform. It has nothing to do with me, the author, somehow being all-knowing and you, the reader, in this case Reviewer #3, not knowing anything.

To be candid, you are nothing to me, not because I have anything against you, Reviewer #3, despite your unfounded claims of plagiarism, but because I don’t cater to a specific audience. You conjure this imaginary standard reader, who, if you’ve read Jacques Derrida’s ‘Limited inc’ or ‘The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond’, could be well be anyone. Sure, one can always imagine an intended audience, but that’s not how texts work. As anyone can read a text, it’s pointless to try to cater to a specific audience. No matter what you do, you’ll end up either expecting too much or too little. There’s always that possibility that a text comes across as ‘patronizing’, a word used by Reviewer #3, and as ‘mansplaining’, a word also used by Reviewer #3.

Oh, and I thought that was pretty ironic. You, Reviewer 3#, use those exact words against me, claiming that I’m lecturing the reader, while you do that yourself in your review. It is fine to indicate that something is, perhaps, missing, that you might want to familiarize yourself with this and/or that. The thing is, however, that you, Reviewer #3, did that only to not indicate what it is that I should familiarize myself with. You ended up telling me what I should read and who I should cite, albeit being really unhelpful about it, not telling me what it is what you want me to read. By the end, you go as far as telling me that it is something I should have already done. It is you who is telling me how to conduct research, the way you want it to be conducted. It is you who is telling me how live my life, while telling me that I’m doing that. Oh, and what was the deal with questioning my gender in the same context?

Also, if you are wondering why I am so adamant about this issue, why I wish to emphasize that I do not claim, nor wish speak for others, only for myself, it is because there’s no shortage of people who do the exact opposite. Guattari explains this particularly well in ‘Deleuze and Guattari Fight Back…’, when he (217) argues that one should be wary of people who claim to speak for others:

“Given the right conditions, the masses express a revolutionary will. Their desires clear away all obstacles and open up new horizons. But the last to realize it are the organizations and leaders who are supposed to represent them. Clearly!”

He (217) further specifies this by adding that we shouldn’t treat theory as something that is only for the specialists, for them to know, and to then to dumb down for the masses. Why? Well, as he (217) points out, such attitude elevates the specialists or experts above other people. That then gives them license to speak for others. The problem with that is then that people who take it upon themselves to speak for others tend to be the ones to betray the people they claim to speak for, as he (216-217) points out. Why? Well, my take is that they want to cling to being that specialist or expert, that leader of the masses, because it is a sweet, sweet gig, like I’ve pointed out in my previous essays.

Now, you could be like, wow-wow-wow, but didn’t you just state you are a specialist? Yes, I did. I am a specialist. I am an expert. There’s no denying that. Yet, yet, I think it is highly important that I do not speak for others. Why? Because I don’t think there’s anything special about me, anything that somehow, supposedly, gives me exclusive access to specialist or expert knowledge. As I’ve pointed out in a previous essay, anyone can become a specialist or an expert. All it takes is effort. I’m more than happy to share my knowledge, for free, and people can then do whatever they like with it. This kind of specialist or expert is very different from what we are used to, something which really annoys the kind of specialists or experts that we are used to as it threatens their positions, their sweet gigs. If you bring this kind of stuff up, they just can’t have that because what you are saying is that anyone can be like them, a specialist, an expert, to rival them. Nay, no, they can’t have that. They can’t have the riffraff ruin a system that works well for them.

I would have loved to get some suggestions for further reading. Did I get any? I did not. Reviewer #3 had nothing to contribute in this regard. Reviewer #2 was equally unhelpful. Reviewer #1 was the only one who included some suggestions. I actually have read those, so it didn’t really do anything for me, but at least Reviewer #1 was productive in the commentary. Reviewer #3 indicated that there is existing work that’s similar to what I’ve done with Deleuze and Guattari when it comes to landscapes, but only to not indicate what those are, nor how they are similar. To my knowledge, no one beside me has ever approached landscape this way, in any field or discipline, building on the works of Deleuze and Guattari. I have searched high and low for a Deleuzo-Guattarian take on landscape, as presented in my paper, but I cannot find one. So, if you do know one, why not do me a solid and tell me where to find it? I would love to read it! Okay, Reviewer #3 does indicate that such works (that aren’t mentioned) are similar, i.e., not the same. That’s an important distinction. Fair enough. Then again, I go with Deleuze and Guattari exactly for that reason, because while others are similar, they aren’t the same. They don’t even come close to it. They don’t explain things as well as Deleuze and Guattari. Even if they come close to them in some regard, like, I’d say Richard Schein’s works does, as mentioned in the article, they don’t cut it in other regards, as they aren’t able to capture the complixity involved. Simply put, while they do have their merits and I can acknowledge that, their underlying frameworks have their limitations, which is why I don’t build on them. I feel like there’s always something missing. They are good, but I want something better. It’s that simple. That’s why I build on Deleuze and Guattari. The Deleuzo-Guattarian framework that I work with provides such flexibility and applicability that you don’t run into the same issues that other frameworks run into.

Anyway, this is exactly why I reckon that the best course of action is to just start from scratch. To me, the best way to cater to the reader, no, not to some imaginary standard reader, but to any reader is to lay it all out. Deleuze (129) explains this well in ‘Difference and Repetition’ when he addresses what he calls the image of thought, what I call the representational mode of thought in the introduction:

“[F]or beginning means eliminating all presuppositions.”

While I acknowledge how that is a ridiculously difficult task, you just have to do your best. Reviewer #3, you most certainly fail at this. You get offended by the idea that I, the author, do not presuppose that you, the reader, know whatever it is that a supposed standard geographer knows or is expected to know. This is exactly what Deleuze (129-131) objects to, when people argue their case by stating that “everybody knows ‘this’, that everybody recognizes this, or that nobody can deny it.” Who’s everybody? Knows what? Oh really?

So, to put it crudely, I try my best to not presuppose knowledge from the reader. I mean that person could be anyone. Like I point in the introduction, my approach is, first and foremost, educational. I don’t believe in this dichotomy between experts and ordinary people. I acknowledge that this is, in actuality, largely the case, that there are experts, people who know a lot, but there’s nothing inherently special about the experts. Anyone can be like them. You don’t need fancy degrees for such. Just put in the effort.

I think it’s worth it to also highlight that I do get to advocate for change, for non-representational landscape. If people want to cling to representational landscape, what I consider to be highly problematic, it is their prerogative. Knowing what I know, I wouldn’t. If people want to cling on to it, so be it. That’s on them, not on me. If they want to keep on repressing themselves, they get to do that.

The way I see it, the last sentence of the third paragraph of the introduction should explain it, what it is that I’m interested in. I am not interested in subjectivity, as such. To be clear, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t somehow entitled to their views. They are. They most certainly are. Instead, I’m interested in the collective production of subjectivity, i.e., how it is produced in a society.

That’s where landscape comes in, hence my interest in it. It is not the only thing, no, but it is what I’m focusing on. This is the point in the following paragraph. Again, I explain things very broadly, indicating how landscape pertains to the production of certain identities that are, in fact, mere images that one comes to identify with. Reviewer #3 thinks that I end up speaking for people, telling people who they and shouldn’t be, in terms of identities, because I create an expectation of criticizing certain identities. This is not supported by what’s included in the paragraphs.

The thing is that Reviewer #3 gets this all wrong, from the get-go. I clearly indicate that I do not intend to give primacy to any views. That means that no matter what the identity, it is just an identity, among other identities. The remaining two sentences of that paragraph do not hint to any actual identities. If you understand the framework discussed in the following section, you should realize that I’m not interested in the identities, whatever they may be, but in their production. I explicitly point out that any standard or norm is made up. There’s no ground for any identity, as such. When you get that, when you understand that it’s all about the functionality, it changes everything.

This is also clear in the text, once you move from the framework to the analysis. I indicate later on that this whole ordeal has many sides. I don’t side with any of the parties involved. Instead, I analyze their involvement in it, what they said they would do, as contrasted with what they did. This is classic discourse analysis, mixed with a bit of dispositive analysis. The former deals with taking a close look at statements, which I do. The latter deals with taking a close look at visibilities, in this case the relevant landscape features, while taking into account the statements, which I also do.

If anything I’d say that I come across as indifferent to it all. Why? Well, that’s landscapity for you. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the standard reference unit is, i.e., what this and/or that landscape should look like, because it’s still a standard. The system stays the same. You’re only tinkering with the variables of that system. So, as odd as it may seem, while results are interesting, what’s more interesting is what you can learn from this, how it all functions. Once you get that, you get why I state that the my approach is, first and foremost, educational. There is an English proverb that explains this beautifully:

“[I]f you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.”

This is from ‘Mrs. Dymond’ by Anna Thackeray Ritchie (185), but I’m pretty sure you’ve seen or heard it before, possibly in some other, slightly modified form. Now, obviously, this doesn’t only apply to me and the point really is that it is way more useful to teach people to understand how the system works, how landscapity is a function or an abstract machine which defines how we come to make sense of the world in terms of landscapes and what comes with it, than it is to write articles after articles, telling them what the situation is, right now, or rather, sometime in the past because research always takes forever to get published, accompanied by telling them how the world could be a better place if only one did this and/or that.

Marcel Proust also explains this really well in ‘Time Regained’ when he (265-266) addresses the role of the writer, what we’ve subsequently taken the habit to call the author, and the reader. As already noted, the reader can be anyone, as also acknowledged by Proust (266). That means that we can’t know who the reader is. This also means that we can’t know what the reader knows, which results in different readings, as also acknowledged by him (266). This may anger Reviewer #3, I bet it does, but as explained by him (266):

“[A] book may be too learned, too obscure for the simple reader, and thus be only offering [the reader] a blurred glass with which [the reader] cannot read.”

Oh, burn! Now, I reckon that there’s two ways to go about this. Either you leave it that way, so that what he (266) refers to as “the simple reader” won’t be able to get it, to understand the sense of it, what the writer or author is after, or change it for the reader, i.e., dumb it down. Now, I don’t know about others, but I would not go with the latter one. Why? Well, because if you dumb something down, you imply that the reader, who, mind you, can be anyone, really is dumb, even though we can’t even know who the reader is or is going to be. What I’m saying is that it’s a pointless endeavor to simplify things, just so that you cater to a certain audience. Sure, you can say things in different ways, approach it from multiple angles, in hopes of getting the point across better, but that’s about it. I think it’s counterproductive for the writer or the author to write in a certain way, according to the expectations of the reader, who, again, could be anyone, because of that, because the reader could be anyone. I think Proust explains this point wonderfully when he (266) states that:

“[T]he difference between two texts [is] often less attributable to the author than to the reader.”

Indeed, as also explained by Derrida in those two books, it’s all about the text, what’s been written, and the reader’s encounter with the text. The writer or the author has little control over the text, as odd as that may seem. Derrida (8) explains this machinism of texts in ‘Limited inc’, noting that:

“To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine which is productive in turn[.]”

To be clear, he (8) is not saying that a writer does not write the text. No, no. The writer does write the text. What he (8) is saying is that the text, what the writer has written is not, strictly speaking, attributable to the writer, but to the reader. In his (8) words:

“[M]y … disappearance will not, in prin­ciple, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten.”

This may seem odd, but, yeah, he (8) is right about this. He (8) goes on to specify that by disapperance he means nonpresence, which could be because he is dead, which he is, but wasn’t when he wrote that, or just because he isn’t there with you, next to you, to be consulted, when you read the text. The point he (8) makes is that a text will always work even in the absence of the writer or the author. Simply put, the writer or the author is not even important. You should always read a text just as a text. Why? Because it is, in fact, you, the reader who is projecting all kinds of things to the text. As explained by Derrida (8), the writer or the author, whatever you want to call it, is a figment of your imagination. That writer or the author could well be anyone, very much like the reader, as once you encounter a text, it is you, the reader who, for some reason, believe that it has been written by the person to whom it is attributed to, as he (8) points out. There’s nothing inherent about a text that should make you believe that. The writer or the author is by no means necessarily the same as the person whose name is attributed to it, as specified by him (8). It could well be that one person wrote the text and that it is signed by another person, in that person’s name, as he (8) points out. This is why (8) he says that:

“This essential drift … bearing on writing as an iterative structure, cut off from all absolute responsibility, from consciousness as the ultimate authority, orphaned and separated at birth from the assistance of its father, is precisely what Plato condemns in the Phaedrus.”

As side note here, notice how he (8) appears to presuppose that you, the reader, which in this case is also me, that you’ve read Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’. How can he (8) do that? Isn’t he (8) contradicting himself? Didn’t he (8) just say that the reader could be anyone? Wouldn’t that mean that you can’t simply expect such? As I pointed out earlier on in this essay, I think it’s better not to assume anything, just start from the scratch and not rely on givens, like that your reader has read Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’. This is why my texts may well appear to be condescending or patronizing, much to the ire of Reviewer #3. This is also why I am in habit of creating these really long and, if limited by scope, super dense conceptual frameworks. I really agree with Alfred North Whitehead (20) who argues in ‘Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology’ that:

“The explanatory purpose of philosophy is often misunderstood. Its business is to explain the emergence of the more abstract things from the more concrete things. It is a complete mistake to ask how [a] concrete particular fact can be built up out of universals. The answer is, ‘In no way.’ The true philosophic question is, How can [a] concrete fact exhibit entities abstract from itself and yet participated in by its own nature?”

Indeed. It is the more concrete, what we might call the empirical, that is the starting point, not the more abstract, what we might call the theoretical. He (20) summarizes this:

“[P]hilosophy is explanatory of abstraction, and not of concreteness.”

I think Deleuze (vii) puts this even better in homage to Whitehead in the added preface to his and Claire Parnet’s ‘Dialogues’:

“[T]he abstract does not explain, but it must itself be explained.”

Which is exactly why, contrary to what all the Reviewers stated, I believe that I must first explain what landscape or, to be more accurate, landscapity is, even though that is less interesting than what it does. Okay, I could have, for example, written that I only deal with it, just so that I avoid this pitfall, so that I don’t work with some abstract that is, somehow, supposedly, explanatory of what’s concrete. Sure, I’ll do that next time. That makes sense, inasmuch I’m not restricted by the limitations of scope.

Then again, Derrida (8) also has a point here, which, I believe, is the same made by Proust (265-266). The writer or the author is not to blame here. It is you, the reader, who is to blame here. It is your job to be familiar with it, in this case Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’. You have no right to reprimand the writer or the author for your own lack of familiarity with whatever someone else is dealing with, in this case Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’. You are certainly free to write your own texts if existing texts aren’t to your liking.

Anyway, I get Derrida’s point, he (8) is right, but I think it’s still better not to expect anything of the reader, to just start from scratch and work from there, without presupposing all kinds of things from the reader. You sure don’t have to, fair enough, but I like to be reader friendly in that way, to explain each concept as best as I can, backed up by a citation, integral or non-integral, being as precise as possible, giving you even the page numbers, so that you can get more out of it. I want you to read the originals, hence the page numbers.

Now, to not leave you hanging, to give you context, because Derrida (8) sure doesn’t give it to you there, my take is that it’s, broadly speaking, about Plato’s influence in contemporary western societies, and how, for Plato, writing is connected to speech, or should be anyway, so that the writer is always actually a speaker, whereas for Derrida it’s clear that what the writer has written, writing or text, comes to act independent of the writer, unlike with speech where you need the presence of the speaker for there to be speech. You could, of course, object to that by noting that you can record speech, but I reckon that he’d counter that by pointing out that it is then like writing, a text, that operates independently of the speaker, so that the speaker is then the writer or the author.

Anyway, to return to Proust, I like the way he (265-266) defines a text as a lens through which we look at the world:

“The work of the writer is only a sort of optic instrument which [the writer] offers to the reader so that [the reader] may discern in the [work] what [the reader] would probably not have seen[.]”

He (265-266) directs this more to the inside, so that as a reader one may find out something about about oneself, but this applies to the outside as well, as Deleuze (208) points out in conversation with Foucault, in ‘Intellectuals and Power’, and as Proust (266) goes on to add:

“[T]he author must not take offence at that but must, on the contrary, leave the reader the greatest liberty and say to [the reader]: ‘Try whether you see better with this, with that, or with another glass.'”

This is exactly what I mean when I say that I get to have my voice, but not to speak for others. What I offer is a lens, as Proust (265-266) would put it, or a toolbox, as Deleuze would put it (208). I show that lens, how the world looks when you look through it. I provide you that toolbox and show you how to use tools, like in a tutorial video. I mean once you understand the framework that I provided, you don’t need me to exemplify it. You can then just use the tools, as you see fit, without asking me any permissions, for anything. The example, that tutorial, is there just to help you understand the framework, to facilitate the process and to get you to use those tools faster. As explained by Deleuze (208), no one needs tools that aren’t useful. The tutorial is therefore a showcase, to prove to you that the tools work, that they are indeed useful, not just something that exists for the sake of it, like stuff you keep in a showcase.

If you don’t like the lens, what you see, or if you don’t like my toolbox, you can leave them be and find something else, as pointed out by Deleuze (208). It’s that simple. I’m not telling you what you must do. I’m simply showing you, the reader, how the world appears to you once you approach it through this framework. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, then you don’t. Both are fine by me. I’m not the text that I produce, so, in the end, loving the text or hating it makes no difference to me, really. The funny thing about that is, of course, that your reaction is to your encounter with the text, not with its writer or its author, as that’s how texts work, as the writer or the author is simply a figment of your imagination, as explained by Derrida (8).

So, while I can’t be sure, what might have happened is that, following Derrida (8) and Proust (266), the text was simply ‘too learned’ for the ‘simple reader’, in this case for Reviewer #3, which then angered the person labelled as Reviewer #3. That’s an understandable reaction. No one like to realize that they are a bit simple. But that’s the thing, it’s the person’s encounter with the text as its reader, not with me as its writer or its author, that causes this sudden realization of one’s own limits in understanding. It’s like, damn, am I an idiot? Directing the ire at me, coming up with all kinds of accusations, including plagiarism, is merely a feint, diverting the attention away from oneself, from oneself’s own limitations, to someone else, in order to feel good about yourself. As I already pointed out, you either take it or leave it. You take it as it is and put in the effort to be able to understand the text, to make sense of it, or you just quit. What happened here is that the person didn’t quit, but didn’t put in the effort to be able to understand the text either.

The hardcore mode

I acknowledge that the Deleuzo-Guattarian conceptual framework is difficult to understand, because it is. It just is. It’s even more difficult to understand because it’s been condensed to like two pages. That alone is quite the achievement, if you ask me. Good luck trying to do the same. I don’t think there’s a single mistake in it. Could it be explained better? Yes. Sure. There are always more things that I’d like to elaborate. The thing is, however, that I need more pages for that. I’d be happy to squeeze in a bit more, like just a page, to explain this and that, to make it less dense, but, well, then something has got to go. Where do you make those cuts? Asking for more is fine, no problem, but then you have to indicate where you’d make the cuts.

To be positive, Reviewer #1 was clearly the cheery one of the three and seemed to like it. The problem for this reviewer was that the text wasn’t long enough. Wow! That’s a first one! I’ll gladly take that criticism. I mean there was that previous, 10 000-word version of this, which was simply better than this, because it just had more to it. If only I had no word limits. This is, in my view, also why it seems to be doing much in its current form, but just doesn’t manage to do it all. The suggestions are good and I’ll see what I can do with them, depending on the next word limit, of course. This is actually something that Reviewer #1 didn’t take into consideration. I was already at the limit, so it’ll be interesting to see what I can fit into the next version.

The only thing I disagreed with Reviewer #1 was the suggestion or, I think it was more of a thought, sort of an implied suggestion, to frame it terms of ideology. While I acknowledge that, and the work done from the Marxist perspective, ideology just doesn’t mesh well with my Deleuzo-Guattarian framework. As Deleuze and Guattari (68) point out in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’ when they state that content and expression cannot be reduced to basesuperstructure. To be more specific, as they (68) first state that:

“Form of content and form of expression involve two parallel formalizations in presupposition: it is obvious that their segments constantly intertwine, embed themselves in one another; but this is accomplished by the abstract machine from which the two forms derive, and by machinic assemblages that regulate their relations.”

Now, to make sense of that, you need to know what’s what in their terminology, i.e., having read they’ve written or what they’ve read, in this case the works of Ferdinand de Saussure and Hjelmslev. You need to be at least familiar with Hjelmslev’s net. If you are not, it’s all downhill from there, or so to speak. Anyway, to get to the point, they (68) add that:

“If this parallelism is replaced by a pyramidal image, then content (including its form) becomes an economic base of production displaying all of the characteristics of the Abstract; the assemblages become the first story of a superstructure that, as such, is necessarily situated within a State apparatus; the regimes of signs and forms of expression become the second story of the superstructure, defined by ideology.”

In other words, going the Marxist route just doesn’t work for them because content is then reduced to base, which it isn’t, assemblages are reduced to state institutions, which they aren’t, and expression is reduced to ideology, which it isn’t. They (68-69) have four objections to this. Firstly, this reduces language to being merely communicational, to a vehicle of delivering information, which it isn’t. Instead, for them (68) language is performative. Secondly, the forms of expression, what they (68) also refer to as regimes of signs, end up being reduced to ideology, which, supposedly, function as the expression of content. In other words, while you always need content for an expression, you can’t have content without an expression either, as these two presuppose one another, as they (68) point out. Thirdly, it puts power into the hands of the state and its institutions. This is not, strictly speaking wrong, as state and its institutions do exercise power over people. The problem is, however, that it is a too limited view. As they (69) point out, you find power everywhere. I think Michel Foucault would agree with that. Fourthly, content is not merely economic, like base.

To summarize their opposition of ideology, and why I don’t use it, why I, in fact, avoid it like the plague, they (68) state rather bluntly that:

“[I]deology is a most execrable concept obscuring all of the effectively operating social machine[.]”

Yeah, so, that’s why. It sure simplifies things, there’s that, but that’s exactly the problem. We aren’t getting anywhere with that.

Right, so, what I like about Reviewer #1 is that the feedback consists of comments, as well as suggestions. It’s an actual contribution.

Reviewer #2 is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s mostly good, that is to say constructive criticism. I don’t agree with all of the feedback, but even when I disagree, it’s more like a agree to disagree case. For example, Reviewer #2 jumped to the driver’s seat for a moment, to argue that, for a driver, a pedestrian crossing is a matter of road safety and not a matter of social order. Ah, but see, you do realize that road safety is, in Foucauldian parlance, a discursive formation, what we may also call a form of expression, to explain that in Hjelmslev inspired Deleuzo-Guattarian parlance, and that a pedestrian crossing is one of its manifestations, materializations or incarnations, to explain that, once more, in Hjelmslevian and Deleuzo-Guattarian terms, a non-discursive formation or a form of content, to explain that in Foucauldian and Deleuzo-Guattarian terms respectively. This is what what makes it a matter of social order.

Now, to be productive about that comment, we can, of course, take these discursive formations or forms of expression and assess them in relation to the non-discursive formations or forms of content. We can make case for road safety, which I did, only to find no data that would suggest that road safety was endangered or, rather, might have been endangered, as speficied in law as the criterion for endangering road safety. The police made that up. They had no data, whatsoever and they ended up having to admit that, on record. We can then contrast that with discursive formation pertaining to sexuality, and its manifestation, which we can, broadly speaking, refer to as the non-discursive formation or the form of content, even though, of course, processually, there and then, when we look at it, it’s a substance of expression, a manifestation of the discursive formation or the form of expression, overlaying the substance of content, which is, materially speaking, the manifestation of the form of content as the formations or forms that we speak of appear to us only as manifested in the substances, as formed matter, which always anchors us in the material world, regardless of how abstract it may seem. I did this. I also did comment how this has been handled in the US context. They also had no data on it.

I also contrasted road safety with another discursive formation, as manifested in another area of the city, which you, Reviewer #2, aptly noted to be what is known as authorized heritage discourse. It was implied, but, yeah will add that term to the text. Thanks for that. I also need to do a bit of rewording, because what I meant in that context that, visually speaking, you can’t see why things are the way they are in that context. You need to know that. You need to be aware of that discursive formation, to see it manifested there, which explains why you don’t see the road safety discursive formation manifested there. But yeah, my bad. Easy to fix though.

So, in summary, what I argued was that the discursive formation of road safety was used against discursive formation of sexuality, as manifested in the landscape, as that specific landscape feature, but not against, for example, that authorized heritage discourse. Why is that? Well, we both, me and you, Reviewer #2, know the answer to that. It’s the established social order, which defines what is acceptable and what is not. Bluntly put, bourgeoisie morality, i.e., that conservative heteronormativity that you, Reviewer #2, mentioned, is so dominant in the Finnish society that the police ends up going on the record to claim something, the potential endangement of road safety, without any data to back it up, as noted in the text, and then just ignoring the other cases, which, according to their own logic, they should pursue, because that’s their job.

Like I point out in the section that explains the framework and also in the conclusion, this is exactly how landscapes function. They are great indicators of normality and any change to them, like a bit of paint on asphalt, can trigger a major outrage. People who aren’t even affected by it come out of the woodwork to do their best to protect the reigning social order. That’s how it works, regardless of what it is that is deemed unaccetable. The case that I present in the text is a very, very good example of it.

Also, I don’t think my analysis suffers from some trivial examples. They are all well argued for. To be more specific, I didn’t like how Reviewer #2 argued that I relied on opinions. For Reviewer #2, I presented things in a certain light that was favorable to one side, but not another, due to the way how the discursive formation of road safety aligned with state authorities, as represented by the police, and the discursive formation of sexuality aligned with sexual minorities who were, somewhat paradoxically, also represented by authorities, albeit by municipal authorities. The results of the analysis indicated that the state authorities didn’t have any data to back up their claims that road safety might have been endangered. That was made up, an opinion, if you will. I’m aware how that will look. It does make those aligned with the opposing side look good. But, hey, that’s not my problem. Reviewer #2 also takes side in the commentary by presupposing the primacy of road safety over other concerns. That’s your opinion. I also did explicitly mention that road safety is a valid concern, backed up with a citation, and noted that this could have been done better, in a more salient manner, as backed up by the same citation. So, in fact, sided with your opinion in that matter. What I did not agree with, however, was with how the matter was handled, which you didn’t agree with, for some reason, despite there being no evidence to support the claims that were made and the clearly selective enforcement of all law, which, to be clear, the police should never do, unless you think that all cases shouldn’t be handled according to the same laws that apply to them, as explained, in painstaking detail in the paper by yours truly. Oh, how did you miss that I was also critical of the other side? I mean, that was basically half the story.

That said, some of the suggestions could find their way into the next version, especially the ones that overlaps with the suggestions of Reviewer #1.


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