When I was in undergrad, during my methodology class, my professor (and advisor) was asked, "How do you keep your journal articles jargon-free?" and his answer was, "After a certain level, you simply cannot, and to do so would actually make your writing bad historical writing." He then went on to compare two different articles by the same author written in a journal where undergraduates can submit, and a journal where only phd. can submit.
The difference in language was subtle but noticeable, because there is an implicit understanding that the article is written for someone who has the necessary background on the subject. The writer was able to not have to explain every concept in a journal for phd., since the readers were supposed to bring a baseline of knowledge, or know how and where to go to be educated (or who to ask). This is despite the fact that both were available via jstor.
There will always be people having conversations about things that are beyond your understandig on the topic. I do not instantly understand nuclear physics or computer science or organic chemistry, but I give credentialed people that I know aren't cranks the benefit of doubt that they know what's going on. This respect is often not extended to humanities people talking about their work because "blue curtain is just blue" people think the high school education they mostly rejected puts them on the same field of discussion as people educated on the subject. Yet, these are the people who get mad when they find that rudely interjecting into a conversation where everyone else is on the same page and saying understanding the conversation is too hard in an extremely hostile manner gets a answered with hostility.
The bottom line is, you aren't entitled to understanding everything you come across instantly. If you do not understand the conversation, it is your job to either get educated on the subject if it seems interesting enough, or move on if it seems incomprehensible and is not something you'd care about. If you enter a conversation you are not ready for, that is on you, not people bewildered at your antics.
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Tina Weymouth and Grandmaster Flash photographed by Laura Levine in New York City, 1981.
I took this portrait for the cover of the New York Rocker in 1981. It was right about the time that the uptown and downtown music scenes were starting to discover each other and there was a magical musical cross-pollination in the air. Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz’s new band, Tom Tom Club, had just released their first album, which included rap and hip-hop beats. Tina and Flash had never met before, and they immediately hit it off, trading records, dancing and doing the bump as their boom boxes blared in front of a playground handball wall done by graffiti artist Lee Quinones (just a few blocks from where I grew up). Years later, Tina told me that after this session, she invited Flash back to the studio where Talking Heads were mixing their new album, Speaking in Tongues. Within months, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had done a cover of Tom Tom Club’s "Genius of Love” with their own hit version called "It’s Nasty (Genius of Love)." It’s a thrill to know that a musical connection came out of this shoot.
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