Philosopher Denis Dutton, editor of the excellent Arts and Letters Daily website who used to run the Bad Writing competition was interviewed for Australia's Radio National station on clarity in writing. You can listen to this streamed here, or read this transcript. He has some interesting things to say about difficult philosophy and difficult writing. He also quotes this amazing piece of obfuscation from Judith Butler as an example of writing that fails to communicate anything whatsoever (except, perhaps, as Dutton suggests, a desire that listeners fall down at her feet):
"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways, to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and the rearticulation, brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure, inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony, as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power".
Apparently, when this amazing sentence was held up for ridicule, defenders of Butler claimed that it did mean something, but then proceeded to argue at great length with each other about what it could possibly mean...
Dutton isn't against subjects that require difficult writing - he's spent much of his life reading Kant, Aristotle and Wittgenstein. These are thinkers who are struggling to be clear about subjects at the edge of human understanding. But what upsets him - quite rightly - are those who pretend to be deep by hiding behind obscurity.
For more examples of mangled prose read the Press Release for the Bad Writing Competition 1996-1998.
If you want to know where I stand on this subject, Stephen Law interviewed me on the topic of clarity on his weblog here.