04 April 2007

Creaky Fryeday

Just some pointless points, assembled for no reason whatsoever:
  • FryeGlancing again over some of the fragments from the Northrop Frye notebooks, I'm reminded how eminently quotable the man was even when he wasn't trying to be. Here's one I'd love to see splattered all over the ALDaily or Chronicle pages:
    The 'publish or perish' syndrome created a variety of prefabricated formulas for enabling sterile scholars to become productive: they were aided by a recrudescence of the old myth-as-lie syndrome.
    One of these days, I'll publish (here, probably, where I have editorial control) the template for a publishable paper in the humanities. There are only three reasons why I haven't yet: 1) I'd have to put it into legible form, heaven forfend; 2) after releasing it, I'd likely be picked up and sent with the Simpsons and Patrick McGoohan to a mysterious island where I'd be drugged up daily with all the wrong bloody drugs; and 3) Dave Barry probably did a better job years ago than I ever would when he pithily remarked that the job of an English student is to prove that Moby-Dick is really about the Republic of Ireland. My template would spill the beans more methodically, but the end result's about the same.

  • SiteMeter, among many other odd things, tells me that (by far) the most popular single entry on this blog is this one on Emily Dickinson. Every day for the past three or four weeks, I've been getting at least five visitors a day just for that very, very old post, and always without referrers (Google, &c.). Truly odd, and wish I knew why, though I have heard that apparently it has been quoted in at least one undergrad paper on Emily D. Go figure. I have the sneaking suspicion I may be the subject of some ridicule on a mailing list out there--- which is fine with me, since even I'd admit that post's a mental-mess. *shrug*

  • Also from Frye:
    I think social feminism, genuine social & intellectuality between men & women, a centrally important issue. Feminist literary criticism is mostly heifer-shit. Women frustrated by the lack of outlet for their abilities turn to pedantic nagging, and the nagging pedantry of most feminist writing is a reflection of frustration unaccompanied by any vision of transcending it. As Newman resignedly said of English literature, it will always have been Protestant. Perhaps female (not feminist) writing has a great future, but that doesn't make its effort to rewrite the past any less futile.
    Ouch. (Or, as the Net-kind say: Ewwww, SNAP!!) I would probably agree with this, but I'm contractually barred from doing so publicly. But now you know why grad students read Frye like Soviets used to read Solzhenitsyn: under their bed-covers with a flashlight. Big Sister, after all, is watching, Big Brother long shut into permanent quietude, and Big Mama having ceased to care about such trifle years ago.

  • Frye might not have had the chance to cameo in Annie Hall, but this guest appearance is funny. Especially since the illustrators obviously had no idea what Norrie looked like.

  • The photographer here has one hell of an eye. Shot in question recalls some of those Catherine Deneuve-Nastassja Kinski pics that still look magnificent. The stunning young lass, of course, has nothing to do with it, even though she bears a striking resemblance to one of my exes.

  • I wonder if I'm thinking so much about Frye because I've been bothered a bit lately by the lingering itch of a book in me. Not a dissertation, alas, but a book, though one more like Frye's Spiritus Mundi or Barthes' Mythologies than a sustained project. But writing always seems pointless, as I know all too well I'd inevitably rip the work asunder and toss the shreds into the dustbin. So many unwritten pieces, but none of them more than ├ętudes. Meh.


Pious Labours said...

May interest you to know that there's a Frye conference here at U of Ottawa on May 4-6. I'm busy at the time, but i will stay for at least a couple of papers and perhaps volunteer. This is one of the few recent conferences in Ontario that actually interests me.

And yes, Frye was very prescient and dead on.

j said...

Do write a book , liven up the scene !

RK said...

Interesting to reread your post on Dickinson - which I realised I remembered. You're a better man than I am, or at least a braver. Your hesitation as to what to say about her does not impede you from transcending it, whereas mine was, and is, terminal. To me she is one of the very few absolute poets, about whom I refuse ever to write a critical syllable. Lines, and poems, of hers reverberate in the belfry of my head, disturbing the bats and chiming an insistent if unorthodox angelus.

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