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RE: [mythsoc] Mythopoeic Lit. Criticism Manual

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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