Tag Archives: self-reference

Open letter to PM&C

The Australian Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet put out a horrible social media policy restricting what its employees could say. It’s so restrictive and open to nefarious interpretation, that I though that posting the policy via social media would actually violate itself. That’s the gist of this pedantic but hopefully absurd letter I’ve sent them below. I’ll upload their response when I get it. Continue reading Open letter to PM&C

Jamie’s graduation speech

I was given the chance — surprisingly — to give the student speech at my graduation ceremony on the 20th of December. I submitted a version of my speech for approval but couldn’t miss the opportunity to make some additional remarks on the day. I gave a plug for divesting from fossil fuels and I also thought it was worth mentioning the appalling decision by the ANU to threaten me and some other students with disciplinary action for a satirical piece in Woroni earlier in the year (see my final contribution to Woroni or just Google any combo of: ANU, Islam, censorship, Koran, Woroni, rape fantasies). My themes, were two of my favourites: scepticism and self-reference.

Below is the text of my speech (roughly accurate, I made some off the cuff changes too): Continue reading Jamie’s graduation speech

You Can’t Review That: This Review

Beginning with this sentence, the titular piece fails to engage on any level, unless you’re a particular fan of self-reference and recursion. The piece is typographically conventional, with only mild deViaTions from form or convention which (just like this parenthetical comment) arguably contribute little to its overall thrust.

The second paragraph opens with what initially seems to be the first gag all over again — and indeed this passage proves it to be the case. It does, however, act as a pretty good model for correct punctuation; this sentence and the last includes the following marks: a colon, a few legitimate commas, a semicolon, an em-dash and an unnecessary hyphen.

The review originally intended a much larger scope. It was set-up as a review to review all reviews (and only those reviews) that do not review themselves. Unfortunately, this obviously leads to something approaching Russell’s paradox, as it then becomes unclear as to whether this review violates the very premise it operates under, right in the middle of the review, merely by either following or not following that selfsame premise. If it did review itself it would not fit into that category, yet if it didn’t it would need to be put back into it. Ultimately, this piece fails to resolve this rather donnish piece of intellectual frippery, but does waste one hundred and eighteen words discussing it.

The closing simile makes about as much sense as a simile comparing something to itself, and the awkward rhetorical question following it seems redundant. Does it not? Most of the words used here are short, sharp and one beat long — they don’t seem to have much flair, much like this last word, which is just made up of two es and a tee.

Saved by its interest to fans of Douglas Hofstadter, it gets however many stars it says it does and is also notable for its meta-structure of having a beginning, middle and an end marked by the words beginning, middle and end.

This article originally appeared in Woroni in 2011.