Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lit Crit: A Short Take on What Went Wrong

It became besotted with meaning subordinated everything to it. Literary meaning was special. What made it special? Literary form. And thus form was subordinated to meaning, and done so in such a way that little independent attention was given to form. Thus form is an enormously important concept in literary criticism, but is also hopelessly fuzzy. No one knows what it is or how it works, except that it makes literary language special.

Critics wanted to literature to be a form of theology or philosophy. Literary criticism had to produce THAT kind of knowledge, whatever that was. Deconstruction shot a hole in that project and allowed/forced it to continue on jury-rigged contraptions of duct tape and chewing gum. Then power took over and held critics mesmerized. They devoted their time and energy to evade the traps set by power.

They read texts as the world, the world as texts.

A hopeless mess.

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