...idiots, madmen, faggots, grammarians, pastry chefs, anti-poets and positivists - basically anything Western. Artaud
Academic faggotry has nothing to do with homosexuality. Indeed the work of Genet and Mapplethorpe, not to mention Rimbaud and countless others, would not have been possible, or would not have taken the form it did without the background of a vigorous and self-aware homosexuality.
My use of “faggot” is closer to the slang term for “an ill-tempered woman, i.e., a ball-buster, a battleaxe, a shrew,” although this also is not entirely accurate since most, though not all, academic faggots are men. All the usual epithets of smug and self-satisfied certainly do apply to academic faggots, but there’s probably no single identifying trait. The humanities have more than their fair share of academic faggots, although they by no means have a monopoly. Sinclair Lewis’ novels are bursting with academic faggots of the scientific persuasion, although the Midwestern institutions he describes could hardly be called universities. Academic faggots mostly haven’t thought about things very much, least of all their chosen subjects. A few slogans and a knowing if deprecating smile when anyone else’s ideas are brought up helps cover that fact.
Who is an academic faggot? It is David Bevington farting contentedly in his professorial armchair. It is Lloyd James Austin assuring us that any crises Mallarmé may have had were simply the result of overwork. Academic faggotry is Stuart Gilbert assuring his kind reader that the Rev. Mr. James Joyce has absolutely no interest in exciting sexual passion, but must, like the Bible, depict the universe as she is, including the embarrassing behavior of the lower orders. Epigones make good academic faggots, so A.J. Ayer falls in that category, as does William Barrett. I don’t know what to make of Fred Hoyle. He probably wasn’t an academic faggot; he’s more like the George Custer of theoretical physics.
Faggots condemned Galileo and faggots banned the teaching of Catesianism in 1671. All of this gives an intriguing polyvalence to "faggot;" it makes one dream of the bundles of sticks used to burn innocent atheists. The post-Xtian world has tried to replace outright force with smugness and a cult of hearty stupidity. But coercion is still the hallmark of Mohammedan and Evangelical faggots.
I don’t like insulting people about things they can’t change (their “essential qualities” according to that notorious faggot, Alvin Plantinga). So race and sexual orientation are not fair targets for the wits and scribblers. After all, what is really so bad about someone’s race or sexual orientation that it needs to be singled out? Things that are in the control of the individual and can and should be changed, on the other hand, cry out for insult. Things like stupid opinions and unconsidered (probably all) party affiliation no matter what the subject of controversy.
Perhaps there is something to be gained by changing the meaning of insults so they reflect not a person’s non-elective qualities and focus on his gullibity, duplicity or imbecility. Thus “nigger” properly used refers not to a race, but to a black person who pusillanimously submits to a racial stereotype. Perhaps there is something to be gained, but I am probably kidding myself that anything would be gained. If we get too critical about what people say, sooner or later some faggoty Democrat is going to want to make intelligence illegal because it’s an insult to stupid people.