[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]


Dec 14, 1996 05:21 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

>I have attempted to read the article a few times now, without
>success. The writer constantly makes snide personal imprecations
>against Johnson in lieu of argument, and as one would expect
>from the title, he really does not care if the reader sees that
>this is mostly intended as a personal attack. While more
>restrained than some Theosophical polemics (e.g., Kingsland's
>"Was She a Charlatan?") the article does not seem to have much
>idea what tone is necessary for scholarly discussion and
>objective weighing of evidence. This rabidity makes the article
>virtually impenetrable for anyone whose concern is to discover
>the truth of the issues rather than to choose sides in a
>personal war. Were it boiled down to some one-fourth the size,
>so as to focus on its actual issues and express them concisely,
>then it might turn out to have something valuable to say; but
>after reading a couple of thousand words which said nothing
>more than "the Maharajah probably would not be riding a horse by
>himself, and Johnson is a jerk for not mentioning this", I had
>little interest in probing further.

There is certainly no denying the pejorative language in Daniel
Caldwell's study beginning, as you say, with the title.  I also
agree that it is a major weakness and will discourage those who
are sensitive to this language.  Unfortunately, sarcastic and
pejorative language seems to be present even in refereed articles
these days.  My present situation requires that I'm daily reading
journal articles in rhetoric and literary criticism, and find
that pejorative and sarcastic language (though more or less
controlled) is far from missing in these genres (especially when
the subject concerns any form of occultism).  Perhaps you are
used to reading in other fields where such narratives are more
disciplined.  But, based upon my own reading experience, I would
agree that Caldwell's article may have in a few cases gone beyond
the norms of literary criticism, but I would not agree that the
points Caldwell raised ought to be disregarded because they were
presented in a pejorative tone.  Beyond the tone of the essay, I
also see (in my reading of Caldwell's article) a systematic
analysis of the arguments raised in K. Paul Johnson's book that
required a very close reading of the text and considerable
independent research on Caldwell's part.  Further, I did not
detect a pejorative tone in David Reigle's appendix, which I also
found to be quite informative.  As a whole, I think Caldwell's
study further illuminates Johnson's book and creates food for
further discussion.  Are we reasonably to expect any more than

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application