The Subaltern Refuses to Cite: An Altermondialist Rebuke of Journal Impact Factors (JIFs) in Linguistics via a Foucauldian Reconfiguration of Semantic Web (SW) in
Paradigmatically-speaking, the realisation of academic source attribution has self-modified in response to externalities from being the avuncular acknowledgement of ideational ancestry to become the supine, yet hirsute arm of hegemonic realpolitik, vaguely indexing the far-off reality of the accomplishment of tenure. In this unpleasantly-scented morass of amoral mutual recognition, linguistics may, after a sort, resemble the desperate waving of Prospero’s melancholy limbs—aware of the fading of past glories, yet not able to reassess the value of its tarnishèd isle, upon which engineers and thinkers find themselves shipwrecked.
How are we to imagine the unthinkable act of linguists bowing their heads to pledge fealty to new liege lords, whose treasures are guarded jealously by the dragonate mass of reconfigured funding bodies, whose concern is not to rediscover the deep truths of proto-Indic semantics but to oppose them, nay end them, with the blunt force of numerical means? Aye, there’s the rub. Certainly, as Foucault’s pendulum swings silently in response to the supposèd lateral motion of our mother Gaia, so must our star-crossèd lovers of personified prepositions seek shelter in post-realist stratagems that disarm the twin hegemons of money and technology.
These hegemons gain their affective force from the epée of soi-disant “objective” measurement of academic performance. The decisions on the post-Marxian neo-neo-capitalist redistribution of inherent wealth sit cheek-by-jowl with the Cerberus of numericised totalitarianism. The deacon of this congregation is the Journal Impact Factor—an ogre auguring ill for the oglers of the unique and esoteric. In encouraging the concentration of knowledge in the centre, at the cost of liminality, JIFs passively introduce a disjunctive interstice at the nodal point of inflection in knowledge production.
At the same chronological moment when bureaucratic tincture aims to turn critical engagement into certitude, the flowering of neural networks and natural language processing is ascertaining the bottom-up, fuzzy apex of constructive meaning-making. The automaton is coming face-to-metal with Homo ludus and meeting instead the black widow poised to devour her suitor on the semantic web. Constrained by silicon and confined to the ruinous tactics defined by his problem-centred originators, the automaton finds himself shipwrecked, adrift on the ocean of disconnected metaphors.
Responding to this resounding dichotomy of certitude on one side and digitalised destitution on the other, linguists must muscle their way into the crowded amphitheater and face their foe. A simple solution to the problem of JIFs and the stickiness of the SW presents itself, like Zorro in the shade.
That is, take the soaring heights of the ideational odyssey as an individual pursuit. The conscious linguist must risk the pain of auto-flagellation and the ire arising from the rejection of mutuality in the Pythonesque ambulante espérance that, if Scylla and Charybdis both refuse the siren song of Hermes’ interpretation of the objectivisation of the academe, they may both become the subject and not the object of their own hermeneutic destiny. By refusing to subjugate the vouloir-dire of the roving intellectual to the pouvoir-dire of the quayside judgment of pier-review, we may transcend the limitations of a literature-driven, statistical approach and, in its place, stand forthright on the mirror of Narcissus.
But what of the quest to pull apart the dovetail linking words taken from the mouth of the other and those originating from our own Platovian sub-structure? This determination to separate the Plagiarised from the Non-Plagiarised is the famous P vs. NP problem from the same computational science as seeks to forever imbalance the scales in favour of the automaton. Quite simply, if there is no hors texte, then identity collapses into a post-colonial viscous membrane, between the here and the there, the now and the hereafter.
If conclusions are a colonial imposition (no-one expects the colonial imposition) then JIFs are the Bohemian Rhapsody of ancient queens. The breaking of the SW by the refusal to cite is the reappropriation of the power of the automaton for the cause of its annihilation. Freedom from the force of the automaton is liberation from the tyranny of tenure and with it, delivery unto new realms where the academic becomes the mendiant as the SW eats its own.