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904Re: [biopoet] Eagleton

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  • JT Velikovsky
    Dec 12, 2013
      Hi Mike,

      Just a few thoughts: (3, actually...)

      So - I really don't know Eagleton's work; I've read 2 articles on him.
      One is: a Wikipedia entry on him (LOL), and the other is a Guardian review of `After Theory'.
      ie - Not exactly: detailed research. (Ahem...)

      (But - also that Guardian review was written by an academic, and I got the sneaking suspicion, he wanted Terry to like him/was being very generous.
      ie - Being a skeptic - any time you read a review - of anything - you of course have to ask: "How can I be sure this really is an `objective' review? Maybe the reviewer is using this review as a political move, to befriend the author of the book that they're reviewing?" etc)
      ie How often do we know, what's really going on, behind the scenes...? (Answer: Never.)

      Thought #1 - Anyway - so, given how little I know about him, this Eagleton seems like a schmuck to me.
      By that I mean, first of all: he's a Catholic theologian, so - if I was to listen to anything he ever said - first of all, I would take a deep, annoyed, exhausted sigh, and know that: anything he's about to say, probably is: informed, by all that nonsense. (I also note - he apparently criticizes Dawkins a lot.)
      So - he's probably going to waste my precious time, by: talking a whole lot of complete nonsense. And, I will get frustrated and angered by that. (ie - Time is precious, etc.)

      ie - Science and Religion don't mix. Darwin of course realized that - and in Origin and Descent, he obviously has a lot to say about it. 
      Dawkins (and, the New Atheists) also realize that; and, all you need do is look at the history of: The Church vs Science to realize that.
      Religion can only hinder Science; it just: gets in its way. (see: Galileo - and countless other examples)

      Thought #2 - Marxism (eg - Eagleton?), Structuralism, Postmodernism, Freudianism, and all those other schools of thought, as far as I can see, are all deeply flawed.
      There are at least 4 x very good (ie totally convincing) analyses of, exactly why:

      (1) Joe Carroll's Evolution and Literary Theory (1995)
      (2) The Intro (first 10 pages or so) of Graphing Jane Austen (2012)
      (3) Some sections in Evolution, Literature and Film (2010)
      (4) Gottschall's Literature, Science, and a New Humanities (2008)

      I currently can't see any better paradigms that Literary Darwinism to examine literature & art (novels, films, art, etc) if we do want to extract any (scientific) lessons about `What Does It Mean To Be Human?'
      And in Literary Darwinism, I include: evolutionary psychology (Pinker, Dutton etc), and biocultural evolution (Wilson etc).

      When I did my undergrad degree (91-93) it was a whole lot of: Derrida, Foucault, Freudian Lacanianism, semiotics (Barthes, Metz) etc, and the whole time, I found my stunned self asking: "Are these guys utterly insane? - Are they just joking-? Surely, they can't be serious? This stuff is complete nonsense!"
      And it wasn't because I didn't understand it. (I got HD's... I was able to regurgitate that nonsense, just as well as the next faker.)
      ie - I totally understood it.
      - It's just that: it's nonsense, and, it's wrong.
      (It's not a comprehensive, bio-psycho-socio-cultoro-politico-cosmic view.)

      So, any Marxist analyses (of: anything) that (say) Eagleton is going to come up with - in my view - is going to miss a whole lot of reality.
      eg - Marxism assumes we're `blank slates', and that we have no Biology informing our culture. (- Ahem...! Please look downwards, and notice: you have a body.)

      Thought #3 -  Like I say - I certainly haven't read After Theory (I assume - it would drive me insane with frustration on every page, given: he's not only a Catholic but a Marxist... there is going to be way too much propaganda and nonsense flying.)
      But - just on the face of it, (and sorry if I have misunderstood, or have missed something here) it also seems a totally-ridiculous question he's asking: 

      "Eagleton, for example, thinks it v. hard (in After Theory) to explain why realism is the dominant and ever persistent form of literature."

      ie - Can you (easily/briefly) summarize for me, why he actually thinks that?

      ie - I am not sure what he defines as `realism'...
      But - given my own understanding of `realism' in literature (meaning: literature that isn't: stylized/surrealist, etc) sure, a lot of the best-sellers are realist.
      eg The Millennium trilogy is realist. As is 50 Shades of Gray, etc.
      But - wait a minute, what about Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Twilight saga, Stephen King novels (supernatural/sci fi), shows like Buffy, Under The Dome, etc. Movies like Avatar and Star Wars, are sci fi/fantasy.

      So - I would suggest he's completely wrong anyway...?
      The dominant (best-selling) literature is: *not* realist.
      It's mostly fantasy, and supernatural.

      Check the lists of the best-selling books, both right now - and over history.
      In films, its mostly those two (fantasy/supernatural), and, sci-fi as well. 
      Also - even if he's being a snob about it, and calling `literature' only `the academic canon of literature', like say Bloom's canon:
      Then, within that, he's ignoring: Kafka, Beckett (Godot = stylized, theatre of the absurd), Borges, Dickens (the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, etc), Neruda's surrealism, etc
       (and there are others besides Bloom's short-list).
      eg - Bronte (Wuthering Heights = supernatural) etc

      But even so - even if, what he asserts was true, (which I seriously doubt, given all the above evidence) -
      - Isn't it still pretty obvious, why: realism is `a' persistent form, anyway?
      ie - It's just easier to understand. - If it's easier to understand, then it can become: a more viral meme.
      (ie - The ease of penetration/perception is greater. ie - There are then less `barriers' to it: becoming dominant.) 

      So, to me, this Eagleton sure seems a schmuck...?
      Nothing I have seen him say (eg every quote - or idea of his - that I've read so far, and admittedly, those are very few) is actually right...?
      ...He seems to me like, some kind of a machine that spurts out nonsense..?

      - Or, have I missed/misunderstood something..?

      Also -  a question - in After Theory, does he pay any attention to literary Darwinism?
      And - if not, is that perhaps: totally and utterly deliberate, on his part? :)
      (ie - If he is going to criticize `postmodernism', he really should also acknowledge: Why Darwinian lit-crit has provided a much more useful alternative to it...)



      PS - I know Wikipedia is mostly garbage/nonsense too - but sometimes - by random chance - it happens to be right, about some stuff.

      PPS - Oh, just re: this point: "Wedon't have a body of descriptive work in our domain that is comparable to that available to Darwin in biology. So we've got to create that body of work"

      These journals would represent a body of work: (ie - i got this list from Muses and Measures by Willie van Peer)



      Discourse Process

      Empirical Studies of the Arts

      Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media

      Language and Literature


      Poetics Today

      Reading Research Quarterly

      Research in the teaching of English


      Social Sciences Journals

      American Psychologist

      Child Development

      Developmental Psychology

      European Journal of Social Psychology

      Imagination, Cognition and Personality

      Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

      Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

      Psychological Science

      And - there are a few literature reviews of literary Darwinism...

      eg: (got this from:

      Wells, RH & McFadden, J (2006), Human Nature: Fact and Fiction, Continuum International Pub. Group, New York, NY.

      Surveys of Literary Darwinism literature:


      ‘For surveys of this literature see Harold Fromm `The New Darwinism in the Humanities: From Plato to Pinker’ Hudson Review 56 (2003), pp 89-99; Harold Fromm `The New Darwinism in the Humanities: Back to Nature’ Hudson Review 56 (2003), pp 315-27; Joseph Carroll Literary Darwinism, pp 11-22; Joseph Carroll `Evolutionary Psychology and Literary Study’ in David Buss (ed.) Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (2005); Gottschall and Sloan Wilson (eds.) The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative (2005)’

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