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9941RE: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • bowring
    Aug 7, 2003
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      (I am having trouble with my email, so I am not sure if this email originally
      got sent out. Here it is, perhaps for the second time--if so, apologies to
      everyone.)

      >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?

      I think you may underestimate the degree of unacknowledged--perhaps
      deliberately so--irrationality or even anti-rationality at play in these
      "language games". Very often, perhaps more often than not, there are
      "political" agendas at work. Another anecdote: We had been reading some
      article or other by Foucault in
      which, in good Nietzschean fashion, he had reduced reason to power. I got into
      an argument with another student, who happened to be a rather ardent feminist,
      who thought that Foucault's position was useful in undermining the
      "phallocentricity" of reason. So I asked her whether there wasn't something
      reasonable about her claims--moral claims as well as political--about the
      equality of women. If it is really only a question of power and who holds it,
      the distinction between her position and that of, as I said at the time,
      David Duke's was simply reducible to that of "whoever holds the means of power
      determines what is right." She adamantly agreed: reasonableness and morality,
      etc., were not at issue; obtaining the power necessary to enforce your
      position was.

      Is this a position that one can hold consistently and coherently? I don't
      think so.
      Is it one that can be held insistently and in the face of any possible
      evidence to the contrary? I am afraid it can.
      Indeed, whatever evidence there may be to the contrary can with surprizing
      ease be read out of court in accordance with whatever ideological structure
      one adheres to.
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