08 January 2007

The Pharisaic Hypocrisy Of Theory

    In a word:  Hallelujah.  If I still had any real reason to care about this sort of thing, I'd write a Dreiser-length supplement to it, but I don't so I won't.  (Me, snarky?  Neh-ver....)  I will, however, mark off this section for special consideration:
Until literature departments take into account that humans are not just cultural or textual phenomena but something more complex, English and related disciplines will continue to be the laughingstock of the academic world that they have been for years because of their obscurantist dogmatism and their coddled and preening pseudo-radicalism. Until they listen to searching criticism of their doctrine, rather than dismissing it as the language of the devil, literature will continue to be betrayed in academe, and academic literary departments will continue to lose students and to isolate themselves from the intellectual advances of our time.
In the immortal words of Jake Blues, "Yes!  Yes!  Jesus H. Tap-Dancin' Christ!"  Okay, he's no Reverend James, but this gets my hands clappin'.  Now if only I could do a cartwheel....

1 comment:

RK said...

He's right but he's wrong, and he's so long he's boring, which is worse than being right or wrong.
The enemy isn't Derrida, or Barthes, or Foucault. The enemy is, or was, the humourless Americans (and Brits) who used these essentially playful Frenchmen as bazookas in their own culture wars.
The enemy is, or was, academic Marxism and academic feminism. These were Father-killing devices for a long generation of intellectuals who, alas, taught another generation of graduate students that this was now the reigning orthodoxy without which there was no getting ahead.
American academics, raised in the German tradition, jargonise more. The pure distilled product is better seen in the Brits of the same period, who had less pudeur. Jonathan Dollimore's Political Shakespeare has stuck in my mind as the Real Thing. Studying Shakespeare, he claimed, was not just useless but actively harmful unless it was done in such a way as to make the Bard relevant to the true Cause: fighting Margaret Thatcher.
But. But. But. In spite of the fact that backward schools like one Dr J and I know well are still climbing on to Post-Colonialist and other such bandwagons, this is now, as they say in New York, 'so over'. Even some of the great Marxist gurus are now timidly coming out of the closet and admitting that they, well, actually like literature.
Boyd is kicking very hard at an open(ing) door. He is fighting armies of little people we should do much better just to forget. Clamour less, Boyd, and just teach. Students respond even better to enthusiasm than they do to orthodoxy.

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