When I first read the sad tale of Fairleigh Dickinson University adjunct professor Jacques Pluss, I thought he was a liar who’d been caught in his lie.
Pluss joined the Nationalist Socialist Party and, among other things, hosted a neo-Nazi Internet radio show. He then outed himself — using the timeless device of an anonymous letter — got fired, and now claims he did the whole thing in the name of Research.
It had all the plausibility of a john claiming that he wasn’t really soliciting prostitutes. He was just trying to understand what it was like to be a john. And get caught. And then, you know, like, write a book about it someday.
That was my takeaway after reading the account posted on Chronicle.com.
But now, after reading this piece by Paul Mulshine at the NJ Star-Ledger, I’ve changed my mind. This is just too perfect:
It now turns out Pluss is not a Nazi; he’s just a post-modernist. The other day, Pluss posted an article on the History News Network Web site (http://hnn.us/) titled “Now It Can Be Told: Why I Pretended to Be a Neo-Nazi.” The episode, he writes, was inspired by the great French deconstructionists Jacques Derrida and Michele Foucault, who had insisted on “the need for the historian to ‘become’ her or his subject.”
What is most telling is that when Pluss isn’t composing his thoughts for publication, he comes across as a tad bewildered. He is surprised that his ex-colleagues didn’t respond to his research experiment “academically” and “intellectually” (!) and reports that the “misfits” who were the subject of that research are now bothering him with death threats.
Question: What was he thinking?
Answer: That’s the problem! He was thinking!
On the other hand, he could get his book deal, and live happily ever after . . .
[tags] Jacques Pluss [/tags]