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RE: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • Croft, Janet B
    I think it would be great. David Bratman started a discussion earlier this year by listing the qualities he looked for in a MFA nominee for scholarship, and
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 1, 2003
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      I think it would be great. David Bratman started a discussion earlier this
      year by listing the qualities he looked for in a MFA nominee for
      scholarship, and putting this together with the numinosity meter, the
      turgometer, and a few comments from The Revenge of the Dwems might give us a
      statement of critical philosophy useful for judging the awards, if nothing
      else. Heck, we could start our own critical school of
      post-post-modernism...

      Janet Croft

      -----Original Message-----
      From: MGscifi@... [mailto:MGscifi@...]
      Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 9:41 AM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual


      I think this is most assuredly a worthwhile endeavor. But should it be done
      as an addendum to the website, or a running joke? This is the real
      question...

      ~ Miriel Mardahin


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    • SusanPal@aol.com
      In a message dated 8/1/2003 8:50:39 AM Pacific Standard Time, jbcroft@ou.edu ... Which should be properly called the numinosometer, of course. ;-) Oh, and
      Message 2 of 13 , Aug 1, 2003
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        In a message dated 8/1/2003 8:50:39 AM Pacific Standard Time, jbcroft@...
        writes:

        > putting this together with the numinosity meter,

        Which should be properly called the numinosometer, of course. ;-)

        Oh, and Diamond -- even though of us who love the films can enjoy poking fun
        at them!

        Susan


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David S. Bratman
        ... But we don t all rank things by the same scale, or consider the scales of the same importance; that s the problem. I enjoyed appearing in The Revenge of
        Message 3 of 13 , Aug 1, 2003
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          At 08:33 AM 8/1/2003 , Janet wrote:
          >putting this together with the numinosity meter, the
          >turgometer, and a few comments from The Revenge of the Dwems might give us a
          >statement of critical philosophy useful for judging the awards, if nothing
          >else.

          But we don't all rank things by the same scale, or consider the scales of
          the same importance; that's the problem.

          I enjoyed appearing in "The Revenge of the Dwems," and was startled by how
          much a kick the audience got out of it, but I do not endorse all its
          opinions. I am not a post-modernist critic by any means, but I fancy that
          if one of them had actually written Post-Modernica's part, she'd have
          gotten a lot more solid licks in. The play's misunderstanding of what
          post-modernists actually stand for is strong enough to prove their point:
          reliable communication on subjective points is indeed impossible. The
          pizza metaphor (i.e. you expect the toppings you ordered from the pizza
          parlor, don't you?) was a most stinking red herring.

          - David Bratman
        • alexeik@aol.com
          In a message dated 8/1/3 4:33:48 PM, David Bratman wrote:
          Message 4 of 13 , Aug 1, 2003
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            In a message dated 8/1/3 4:33:48 PM, David Bratman wrote:

            <<I enjoyed appearing in "The Revenge of the Dwems," and was startled by how
            much a kick the audience got out of it, but I do not endorse all its
            opinions. I am not a post-modernist critic by any means, but I fancy that
            if one of them had actually written Post-Modernica's part, she'd have
            gotten a lot more solid licks in. The play's misunderstanding of what
            post-modernists actually stand for is strong enough to prove their point:
            reliable communication on subjective points is indeed impossible. The
            pizza metaphor (i.e. you expect the toppings you ordered from the pizza
            parlor, don't you?) was a most stinking red herring.
            >>

            I had very much the same impression. While I feel more natural kinship with
            Socrates and Erasmus, it certainly seemed to me that Post-Modernica was made to
            reflect only the most extreme and dubious aspects of post-modernist
            criticism, and was deliberately made to sound intellectually weaker than the other
            characters, so that the post-modernist position ended up being simply caricatured
            and dismissed rather than intelligently critiqued. When Wendell shouted "You
            go, girl!" in response to one of her stronger speeches, I completely agreed
            with the sentiment.
            Alexei
          • Stolzi@aol.com
            In a message dated 8/1/2003 10:55:18 AM Central Daylight Time, ... And (Janet) it s turgidometer, not turgometer. Accent on dom. As for Criteria, it was
            Message 5 of 13 , Aug 1, 2003
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              In a message dated 8/1/2003 10:55:18 AM Central Daylight Time,
              SusanPal@... writes:


              > Which should be properly called the numinosometer, of course. ;-)
              >

              And (Janet) it's "turgidometer," not "turgometer." Accent on "dom."

              As for Criteria, it was pointed out at the same meeting that we have endless
              disagreements/discussions as to what exactly IS the "spirit of the Inklings,"
              our primary criterion of judgment. But I think we should leave it that way
              and not try to over-formulate or imprison it.

              As for REVENGE, since Don Wms (the author) plans if at all possible to be in
              Ann Arbor next year, I'd suggest we whomp up a panel for discussing such
              matters: "Was Post-Modernica right?"

              It seems to me that we can certainly say "what a person is, and the manner in
              which they are educated, strongly affects the way in which they will
              read/perceive any work of literature" - but that's about as far as I am ready to go
              with the post-modernists. However I am very ignorant in this field, I readily
              confess.

              Diamond Proudbrook


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Stolzi@aol.com
              I am passing on (with his permission) this msg from Don Williams, both to the List and to next year s Chair in case she s not reading here:
              Message 6 of 13 , Aug 2, 2003
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                I am passing on (with his permission) this msg from Don Williams, both to the
                List and to next year's Chair in case she's not reading here:

                =======================quoted material=========================

                I can sympathize with those who think Post Modernica is a Straw Person. If I
                didn't know way too much about this stuff I would think so too. But I repeat
                what I said in the intro: I have actually had PoMo scholars say to me (with
                a straight face) every word that came out of Post Modernica's mouth. That's
                why she was created. And the Brat Man's charge of red herring is itself one;
                PM ordered Pepperoni, not herring. Seriously, does he really think they can
                have it both ways? Language only refers to other language and never to an
                objective external reality, but it's supposed to refer to pizza too? Give me a
                break. We used to get into arguments on Merelewis about whether Derrida etc.
                actually mean what they say. I can tell you from experience that an awful lot
                of very serious people read them as saying exactly what PM was saying and fully
                agree with it, as many as those who (naively in my view) think they just mean
                we should be humble before the text. I remember a discussion I had in Oxford
                with one of the decostructionists who was turning all of reading into
                half-baked skeptical epistemology. "What has any of this got to do with a person
                curled up next to the fire with a good book?" I asked her. "How does any of it
                perform the function of criticism: to support and enhance such experiences?"
                "The reality of such experiences is one of the things Theory teaches us to
                question," she replied. I ought to have added that to PM's lines. If you think
                she sounded weak or extreme, try actually reading Derrida--or Jameson or
                Culler, etc.--sometime! Or just try to have a rational discussion with one of
                their disciples.

                I would love to be part of a panel to discuss this question next year, and if
                I were invited to do so it would confirm my plans to come. I have great
                respect for David Bratman as a scholar, so I would love to debate him on the
                question of whether I have actually misunderstood or misrepresented the
                Deconstructionist/Race-Gender-Class critics. No doubt we would both learn a thing or
                two.

                And you can feel free to post this response, by the way.

                From Mr. Tumnus' Library,

                Donald T. Williams, PhD
                Toccoa Falls College
                <A HREF="mailto:dtw@...">dtw@...</A>
                <A HREF="http://doulomen.tripod.com/">http://doulomen.tripod.com</A>

                "To think well is to serve God in the interior court." -- Thomas Traherne


                > ----- Original Message -----
                > From: <A HREF="mailto:Stolzi@...">Stolzi@...</A>
                > To: <A HREF="mailto:dtw@...">dtw@...</A>
                > Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 5:16 PM
                > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual
                >
                >
                > In a message dated 8/1/2003 2:33:57 PM Central Daylight Time, <A HREF="mailto:alexeik@...">
                > alexeik@...</A> writes:
                >
                >
                > >>
                >> In a message dated 8/1/3 4:33:48 PM, David Bratman wrote:
                >>
                >> <<I how
                >> much a kick the audience got out of it, but I do not endorse all its
                >> opinions. I am not a post-modernist critic by any means, but I fancy that
                >> if one of them had actually written Post-Modernica's part, she'd have
                >> gotten a lot more solid licks in. The play's misunderstanding of what
                >> post-modernists actually stand for is strong enough to prove their point:
                >> reliable communication on subjective points is indeed impossible. The
                >> pizza metaphor (i.e. you expect the toppings you ordered from the pizza
                >> parlor, don't you?) was a most stinking red herring.
                >> >>
                >>
                >> I had very much the same impression. While I feel more natural kinship with
                >>
                >> Socrates and Erasmus, it certainly seemed to me that Post-Modernica was
                >> made to
                >> reflect only the most extreme and dubious aspects of post-modernist
                >> criticism, and was deliberately made to sound intellectually weaker than
                >> the other
                >> characters, so that the post-modernist position ended up being simply
                >> caricatured
                >> and dismissed rather than intelligently critiqued. When Wendell shouted
                >> "You
                >> go, girl!" in response to one of her stronger speeches, I completely agreed
                >>
                >> with the sentiment.
                >> Alexei
                >>
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Jay Hershberger
                Message 7 of 13 , Aug 4, 2003
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                  <<Don Williams: "How does any of it perform the function of criticism: to
                  support and enhance such experiences?" "The reality of such experiences is
                  one of the things Theory teaches us to question," she replied. I ought to
                  have added that to PM's lines. If you think she sounded weak or extreme,
                  try actually reading Derrida--or Jameson or
                  Culler, etc.--sometime! Or just try to have a rational discussion with one
                  of
                  their disciples.>>

                  JH: May I break in for a moment and ask a few questions? I am a musician
                  by training and profession, and not a linguist or a literary critic, so my
                  questions may seem thick; my apologies in advance.

                  I listened to an interview with Ralph Woods, a humanities scholar at Baylor.
                  When asked about JRRT's view of language, he responded by stating that for
                  Tolkien, modern language had decayed from earlier languages, where words
                  were "ontologically rooted in the nature of things," and that the modern
                  view [perhaps PoMo view?] that language was simply human invention--words
                  mean whatever we want them to mean--without reference to any reality from
                  which it might be derived. (sorry for the clunky syntax...ugh!)

                  So...Is Tolkien's view of language platonic? Does post-modernism reject
                  this? If so, does such a rejection accomplish a destruction of the platonic
                  view? Or does an "ontological rootage" of words continue (meaning reality)
                  despite such an assertion by post-modernists?

                  Thanks kindly for your help...

                  Cheers,

                  Jay Hershberger
                  Associate Professor of Music
                  Concordia College
                  Moorhead, MN
                • ginamarievick
                  So....for those of us who don t know....when and where is next year s Mythcon, anyway?? thanks, gina
                  Message 8 of 13 , Aug 4, 2003
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                    So....for those of us who don't know....when and where is next
                    year's Mythcon, anyway??


                    thanks,

                    gina
                  • bowring
                    ... Since I haven t seen the play, I cannot comment on that, but I am sympathetic to what Donald Williams is complaining of. One of my favorite moments while
                    Message 9 of 13 , Aug 4, 2003
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                      >I can sympathize with those who think Post Modernica is a Straw Person. If I
                      >didn't know way too much about this stuff I would think so too. But I repeat
                      >what I said in the intro: I have actually had PoMo scholars say to me (with
                      >a straight face) every word that came out of Post Modernica's mouth.

                      Since I haven't seen the play, I cannot comment on that, but I am sympathetic
                      to what Donald Williams is complaining of. 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!

                      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.

                      I am now finishing my dissertation in a Ph.D. program, but sadly I can't say
                      that these types of experiences have been untypical.

                      Kevin
                    • David S. Bratman
                      Date: July 30-August 2, 2004 Venue: sessions at the Michigan League building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; housing at the North Campus Holiday Inn Theme:
                      Message 10 of 13 , Aug 4, 2003
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                        Date: July 30-August 2, 2004
                        Venue: sessions at the Michigan League building, University of Michigan,
                        Ann Arbor; housing at the North Campus Holiday Inn
                        Theme: Bridges to Other Worlds: 35 Years of Mythopoeic Scholarship
                        Guests: Neil Gaiman and Charles A. Huttar
                        Membership: $50 for Mythopoeic Society members, $60 for non-members
                        Address: Marion Van Loo, Box 71, Napoleon MI 49261; checks to The
                        Mythopoeic Society
                        Website: info will be at www.mythsoc.org soon


                        At 10:30 AM 8/4/2003 , gina wrote:
                        >So....for those of us who don't know....when and where is next
                        >year's Mythcon, anyway??
                      • Jay Hershberger
                        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
                        Message 11 of 13 , 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
                        • bowring
                          (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
                          Message 12 of 13 , 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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