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Re: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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