Paper of the month: Postmodernists on “doggy bio-politics” as exemplified by Obama’s Water Dog Bo

April 13, 2018 • 2:15 pm

You know what? I don’t care if the paper below was published is a predatory journal, or an obscure journal or whatever: it still gives scholars the opportunity go cite a publication on their curriculum vitae, thereby advancing their careers.

I have no idea how Organization rates among scholars, but Wikipedia does suggest that it doesn’t rate badly, having a decent impact factor:

The journal is abstracted and indexed in Scopus, and the Social Sciences Citation Index. According to the Journal Citation Reports, its 2013 impact factor is 2.354, ranking it 36th out of 172 journals in the category “Management”.

Click on the screenshot to go to the pdf. The subject is what can be trawled, via postmodernist jouer, from Obama’s pet water dog Bo. The abstract gives you a taste of the rest:

I struggled hard with excerpts of this paper, trying to find something in it worth saying or hearing, but what i got was this (an excerpt; my emphasis):

The direct interventions on Bo, rather than on the individual citizen, exemplifies how the rules of the game for self-crafting are reconfigured with both normative framings and an opening up of a less confined space, wherein individuals are activated to engage in dog-infused ethical decision making to be channelled anew (cf. Weiskopf and Willmott, 2013). Much akin to how Skinner (2013) describes the self-ethical process of becoming a ‘good farmer’ via the construction of the ‘organic’ within a community, but in our case without as direct enterprising bents. That is, Bo is not mainly offering us to become better at economic cost benefit analyses on how to ‘invest’ in certain practices to optimise ourselves as human capital (du Gay, 1996; Weiskopf and Munro, 2012), neither is Bo teamed up with instrumental self-quantification measures to regulate our intentions to enhance biospheric vitality (Chandler in Chandler and Reid, 2016: 27–49). Rather, Bo’s presence in the White House, in the media and in political debates extends the biopolitical self-regulative agenda to what we conceptualise as ‘doggy-biopolitics’, a power exercised in relation to the optimisation of dogs en masse.

Bo is an especially powerful instrument of doggy-biopolitics as he can fulfil the role of a humanlike person with a close personal relationship with the members of the First Family, whereas he can also be biologised when characteristics traditionally associated with dogs are needed: liveliness, loyalty and honesty. In contrast to previous First Dogs, Bo is not merely invoked as a rhetorical resource used to meet arguments in a conflict, but is construed as a person with a voice and feelings of his own, invoked by alternative voices to shape and scrutinise presidential subjectivity. As dogs are generally thought to be honest by nature, Bo can be said to be the perfect litmus test for truth.

All I can glean from this is that Bo alternated between the roles of “dog” and “anthropomorphized pet”, and that’s about it. The rest of the paper, which goes along similar lines, is at your disposal—and I suggest that literally.

When I read this, the thought came to mind, “Why, this obscurantist nonsense is just like religion!” And then I realized that that was indeed true: postmodernism is a sort of religion. It has its gods (Foucault, Derrida) whose behavior and scriptures are sacred;it cares not a whit for what is true, but rather is concerned with a twisted form of tribal bonding; it takes up space and wastes people’s time; it makes decent careers for people who are unsuited to do anything meaningful (viz., theologians), and it engages in arrant obscurantism, using a special and tortuous jargon to confound regular people. Indeed, its purpose is not to be understood by us regular Joes and Jills, but to speak to others in the faith, and, by saying the right things, join the tribe and “construct” a career.

Those of you who have the stomach to read the whole paper, and find its nugget of truth—if there is one—by all means weigh in below. But my quick reading convinces me that this is just like Feminist Glaciologyor racist white Pilates.

Well, at least the paper’s figures have pictures of Bo, so you can see a dog if you like canids. Here’s Figure 5:

h/t: Maarten, who wrote of the journal: “My dog could get published in there, and I don’t even have one!”

He added, in his cover email:

So when Bo Obama was fetching a football, the canine was in fact complicit in an evil plot to entrench the Foucauldian hegemony of the neo-liberal order. Or something to that effect.
Have fun!

52 thoughts on “Paper of the month: Postmodernists on “doggy bio-politics” as exemplified by Obama’s Water Dog Bo

    1. They ain’t makin’ respectable Republican cloth coats (or respectable Republicans) like they useta.

  1. When I read this, the thought came to mind, “Why, this obscurantist nonsense is just like religion!”

    I’ve been saying this for a number of years. I would bet there are a number of population overlaps between the two as well.

    E.g., people with autism are less likely to be religious than neurotypicals, so maybe the same holds true for autistic postmodernists (since autism affects men more than women, this might be one reason why women are more religious than men. The same might be true for postmodernism). Religious people are more likely to see patterns when no pattern exists, so maybe the same holds true for postmodernists. Religious nonsense activates a different portion of the brain than regular nonsense, so maybe the same thing happens with postmodern nonsense.

    And so on.

    1. I remember some research mentioning that religion and porn cause similar neuron pathways to fire (the “accept everything without question” part, I imagine).

      1. Way down at comment 20 are links with information about the first author. “Social science” would be the better description (with quotes within quotes around “science” probably more accurate).

        1. You are correct. She describes her own work:

          “Our department distinguishes itself in that we are sociologists who constantly tie in to technology. We teach the engineering students how people influence technology and social development.”

          Well, academic titles are only social constructions, aren’t they? A professor in technical physics doesn’t need not to know about physics and one can be a specialist in industrial technology without understanding technology.

    1. I appreciate you specifying post modern humanities. Not all humanities are like this, and not all of us in the general field write or think as in the paper above.

  2. How bad, how incomprehensible does it have to be to be good. I think this phrase says it all – Subjectification of the first dog gives the president transparency.

  3. Those last two sentences of the abstract are so preciously stupid. I mean that. I cherish their stupidity.

    By the way, what about postanimal life? I feel the authors’ neglect of animals’ postfunctionality existence reflects the oppressive dynamics of the humanonormative kyriarchy. Surely, scholars so prominent and accomplished in Foucauldian dialectical ethics should know better than to erase the experiences of postanimative nonhuman beings.

    Oh well, everyone is problematic in their own way.

    1. Did you mean their mention of “posthuman life”? Either way it makes as much sense. I haven’t a clue what “post life” even means except death. It seems to me neither dead dogs nor dead humans contribute much to politics.

      Unless these idjits are religious and are referring to an afterlife?

      1. No, I meant that they included posthuman life in their analysis, while ignoring the equally critical postanimal life. DUH!

          1. The fact that you didn’t know about this is just another reflection of the system of interconnected oppressions that hides animal bodies from toxic males like you.

      2. I can see how the opening sentence of that paragraph didn’t make it completely clear that I was addressing their inclusion of posthuman life while failing to include postanimal life. I assume “post-x life” does mean death.

        My “DUH” was obviously (I hope) sarcastic.

          1. You posted your response so fast I didn’t get to see it before I made that followup.

            That pomo generator is awesome! I can’t believe just how well it works. Shows just how expendable and easy this shit really is.

    1. So *that’s* where “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” came from!

      I’ve often heard the phrase and guessed it referred to some magician’s assistant** but I never knew its origin.

      **So I got the meaning roughly correct


  4. Is it really supposed to be serious? It looks like a satire. Maybe the authors are a just some dadaists who make fun of everything.

    1. I’ve thought/hoped that when reading many other papers on postmodernist crap. It’s entirely possible, but the fact that one often cannot tell is an indictment of the infected fields in itself.

    2. Prose such as these are beyond parody or satire — they render parody and satire deader as disco — they can be but hoaxed.

  5. If you look for something long enough and hard enough you *will* find it – whether it exists or not.

    Science will not sway your views, or other religions, or different politics.

  6. That someone who writes this incoherently can get a job at a university (not a bad one either) bodes ill for the future.

  7. … via postmodernist jouer

    That’s right, Jerry, the play’s the thing in postmodernism, but it should give jouissance, and outside the field of belles-lettres literature, postmodernism doesn’t.

    1. I suspect so too, but I looked at the site of the first author, and now I am not so sure. It certainly seems like a parody, and the constant use of Obama’s first name only looks like a tip off.

  8. Dogs are terrific “people”, and they bring different people together into a highly positive and agreeable atmosphere to pet the dog, and to ask if the dog is a ‘good girl/boy’.
    If that is not the point of this paper, then it is a better point than whateverthehell this paper was trying to make.

  9. The real tragedy is not the silly/stupid people who go in for the postmodern BS, but the people who would otherwise have had productive academic careers adding to the body of knowledge and end up running in theological circles.

    1. That’s what I thought. Specially when I saw the bit about ‘nonhuman and posthuman life’.

      But it’s impossible to tell.

      The pomo publishers of Sokal’s hoax didn’t notice it was a hoax *even though Sokal deliberately sprinkled it with absurd statements*. Sans that, I submit it is impossible to determine whether a pomo effusion such as this is ‘genuine’ or a satire. How do you satirise a lunatic asylum?

      Richard Dawkins’ review of Sokal & Bricmont’s book is relevant and an entertaining read (could be why some of the left hate Dawkins)


  10. “unlike other first dogs..” — As I recall it, W’s dog Barney was enlisted in a pantomime “search for weapons of mass destruction” in the Oval Office..

    Perhaps other First Dogs, going back to FDR’s Fala, were pre-semiotic mutts.

    1. Do you suppose that the real reason Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t run for re-election was the public outcry after he lifted his First Beagle, Him, off the ground by his (the beagle’s! although LBJ had quite a pair)ears?

      Now that would make a great SJW/POMO/SPCA article: abused First Dog changes American history.

  11. This is so strange that I feel I need to ask an obvious question. Is there any chance this is a Poe? Or in other words, is it possible this is a fake paper?

    On the subject of postmodernism being a religion, you’ll find even more examples of the similarity if you look at postmodern inspired feminism. At this point these 2, postmodernism and feminism, pretty much go hand in hand, and I’ve yet to see something that emulates religion so closely, but not technically be a religion, besides feminism.

    1. Just congenially curious – do you think “masculinism” (if I may call it that) has existed and exists?

  12. After all my initial reactions of outrage, impulse to ridicule, and desire to simply ignore, my ultimate response to this sort of stuff is depression. It’s just miserable that this is the state of intellectual inquiry and the quest for understanding.
    Just as depressing is the realization that this also leads to the reactionary, anti-intellectual drivel of things like, say, Prager “University,” where everything is black-and-white, simplistic, and ever so clear.

  13. To be slightly fair, Foucault himself seems to have been much more reasonable than Derrida. The Foucault-Chomsky debate is interesting, and he seems to be concerned with evidence to some degree (he just loses the track enough times to be dangerous to unwitting students). Derrida as far as I can tell was just a charlatan (like Heidegger, but unlike Heidegger was not a charlatan-for-an-evil-cause, except insofar as teaching disrespect for evidence and clear thinking is evil).

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