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April 9, 2007

Resistance is futile

A brief aside, first. I think I've finally started understanding why I've grown so angry with this text. I think I finally found why people such as Dave and myself have such negative reactions to these essays anymore. Its not even so much we disagree with their ideas and works, quite the opposite, but it has reached a point where the actual authors aggravate me to no end. What makes me say this? Look at the first page of Guetti's essay - she spends the entire time fluffing up and dancing around her fellow critics, especially de Man, and builds up the likes of Derrida. I've come to know that a few names carry some weight. Frye, Derrida, Hirsch, etc, all carry some serious weight around the lit-crit world.

Why do I bring it up? Because it angers me that she spent a large part of her time showing who she likes and why these people are right and this one is wrong. I can appreciate that on another level, don't get me wrong; the essence of Lit crit is either having an amazingly original idea or totally tearing down someone else's theory. This angers me, though. I see people doing this as nothing more than "the old boys club," or like the Stonecutters from the Simpsons.

Or on a level more to our liking, as Henry Rollins pointed out, it's more like poets who write poems for other poets. "Stuart, this is a revenge poem for your accusatory poem last week at the long beach Alcoholics Anonymous poetry slam night." To me, anyway, this is what reading this text is like. Guetti starts her essay by, essentially, sticking her tongue out, stuffing her thumbs in her ears and waggling her fingers at de Man. I appreciate taking the high road for insulting people sometimes, but it gets to a point when the road has become so high you're no longer in shooting range of the other person.

"Let's try to clarify this by going back once more to the poem, and to its especially rich opening lines; 'Thous still unravished bride of quietness,/ thou foster-child of silence and slow time'. It is remarkable that nearly all critics - among them, Burke, Empson and de Man - tend to leave these lines unread. This is especially surprising in view of the extraordinary weight of figural meaning they bear; why have such ingenious readers resisted such a rich load of interpretable ore?"

Now, let's consider what I said before. Here it is again, in full swing. Once again, I understand that she's doing her best to one-up these well known and respected critics, but each time she mentions one of their names, the words and phrases just drip with satiric commentary. Her commentary, however, in which she discusses Empson once more, helps show me why it falls into the post-structuralist chapter, rather than formalist or, truthfully...anywhere else. She adheres to the text, giving Empson's interpretation based on the text, then interjects with her own, as is the way of the post-structural critic.

Post-modernist? I'm not going to go along with that. She has the puffed-up sense of reverence for her contemporaries that the players in Gnocci's murder did for their beloved host, but that's about as far as I'm willing to tie the two together. Her claim continually presses itself as air-tight and correct. That's not post-modernism.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at April 9, 2007 11:29 PM


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