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9925RE: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • Jay Hershberger
    Aug 5, 2003
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      K: One of my favorite moments while
      doing graduate work in Comparative Literature came when I asked the
      professor
      I was studying with whether he thought what a French Postmodernist was
      saying
      "was true": "Merely to ask such a question as that of 'truth'", he said,
      "shows that you are still caught up in the metaphysics of presence." Well,
      that certainly put me in my place: truth is not what we're after!

      K: The theory class with him was one of the strangest I had ever
      experienced: it
      was impossible to challenge any of the theorists by argument; many students
      raised questions about the validity and even intelligibility of the
      theories,
      but this professor would simply turn to one of the two students who had all
      the postmodern jargon down pat and solemnly call on them answer; we all soon
      discovered that this was his method of humiliating anyone who raised
      questions
      into compliance--or at least silence. There was a very definite "language
      game" being played.

      JH: Kevin, this is precisely the kind of anecdote that leads me to
      questions about the philosophy of language currently in vogue in academic
      circles. Of course, to motivate your theory professor into committing an
      act of humiliation on another person demonstrates that perhaps he is unable
      to live according to his own theories about the relevance of truth in
      literary matters. It seems to me, but remember that I am not a literary
      critic, only a layperson, if he really believes his position, then it would
      not matter to him one way or 'tother whether you would ask questions,
      comply, or be silent. His very act of humiliating students who asked
      questions destroys his position. He cannot escape from questions about
      validity, intelligibility, or truth. Or so it seems to me. Am I on track?
      Or do I suffer from the same malady that you and other questioning students
      suffer? :)

      Cheers,

      Jay Hershberger
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