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RE: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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