What the FDU Website Says About Me

Academic vita

Awards and Honors

The Atlantic Journal of Communication

The Professors: Gary's Rock and Blues Band

Umberto Eco and Gary Radford, October 17, 2002

Selected Writings

Howard Radford, 1934-2007

Elsie May Radford, 1934-2013

Marion Hein, 1921-2028

"If only it were that easy. That's not 'reality.' You see: the deeper reality is made out of language."

Zeta said nothing.

"People don't understand this. And even if they say it, they sure as hell don't know what that means. It means there is no such thing as 'truth.' There's only language. There's no such thing as a 'fact.' There is no truth or falsehood, just dominant processes by which reality is socially constructed. In a world made out of language, nothing else is even possible."

Zeta searched in the dirt. She picked up a rusty nail. "Is this language?"

"Yep. That's a 'rusty nail,' as the conceptual entity called a 'rusty nail' is contructed under our cultural circumstances and in this moment in history."

"It feels real. It still gets my fingers all dirty."

"Zeta, listen to me. This part is really important. 'Even though her father loved her, the little girl died horribly because she stepped on the rusty nail.' That's language too."

Zeta's face crumpled in terror. She hastily flung the nail away into the darkness.

"There is no objective reality. There might be a world that has true reality. A world with genuine physics. But because we're in a world that's made out of language, we'll never, ever get to that place from here. There's no way out of a world that's made of language. We can never reach any bedrock reality. The only direction we can move is into different flavors of the dominant social discourse, or across the grain of the consensus narrative, or - and this is the worst part - into the Wittgenstein empty spaces where things can't be said, can't be spoken, can't even be thought . . . Don't ever go there, okay? You can never come out of there. It's a black hole."

"How come you know so much of this stuff, Dad?"

"I didn't use to know any of it. I was just living my life. I just liked to go live at the edge of the system, where things were breaking off and breaking down. It took me a long time to figure out what I was really doing, that I was always in some place where the big story was turning into little weird counterstories. But now I'm wising up to my situation, because I'm old now, and I know enough to get along in the world."

Starlitz sighed. "I don't know all that much, really. There are just a few people in the world who understand how reality works. Most of them don't speak English. They speak French. Because they're all language theorists. Semioticians, mostly, with some, uh, you know, structuralists and poststructuralists. . . Luce Iragaray. . . Roland Barthes. . . Julia Kristeva. . . Louis Althusser. . . These are the wisest people in the world, the only people with a real clue." Stalitz laughed morosely. "And does it help them? Hell, no! The poor bastards, they strangle their wives, they get run over by laundry trucks. . . And after Y2K their whole line of gab is gonna be permanently out of fashion. It'll be yesterday."

"How come they know so much?"

"I don't know how they know. But you can tell they know what's really going on, because when you read what they say, it sounds really cool and convincing, until you realize that even though you know it, you can't use that knowledge to change anything. If you can understand reality, then you can't do anything. If you're doing anything, it means that you don't understand reality. You never heard of any of those French people? I bet you never heard of any of them, right?"

Bruce Sterling (2000). Zeitgeist. New York, NY: Bantam Books, pp. 151-153.

Professor of Communication

Fairleigh Dickinson University
285 Madison Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940

ZEN, Room 251
Telephone: 973-443-8648
FAX: 973-443-8683
E-mail: gradford@fdu.edu

Welcome to my website. Please use the links on the left to explore this site and to learn more about me.

I joined Fairleigh Dickinson University in September 1999. I teach courses in communication theory and philosophy as part of the BA in Communication.

I am a founding editor and the current editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Journal of Communication.

You can get a sense of my interests and approach from my book entitled On the Philosophy of Communication, published in 2004 by Wadsworth Press.

On October 17, 2002, I had the enormous pleasure of meeting one of my all time heroes, Italian semiotician, Dr. Umberto Eco. Click here to read the full story!

My book on the thought and work of Eco is entitled On Eco (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003). Listen to the phone message that Umberto Eco left on my answering machine!

Extra Curricula Stuff

For fun I play a wailing lead guitar for a blues/rock band called The Professors; yes, we have a website! Check us out at www.theprofessors.net.

Learn about the band by watching this amazing documentary

The Professors' Project from Dan Elghossain on Vimeo.

The Professors are the only band I know that have had an article published in a blind reviewed scholarly journal. The citation to the article is below. You can read the article by clicking on the link.

Radford, G. P., Cooper, S. D., Kubey, R. W., McCurry, D. S., Millen, J. and Barrows, J. R. (2002). Collaborative musical expression and creativity among academics: When intellectualism meets twelve bar blues. American Communication Journal [Online], 6(1).

And finally, here's an original song I wrote inspired by Michel Foucault. It is called Discourse and was inspired by "The Discourse on Language" by Michel Foucault. My daughter Meg is singing lead vocal, and that's Meg on the album cover!

I hope you enjoy your visit to my site.


This page last updated October 28, 2021.