Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The Death of the Critic




A point among many is that postmodern writing has been around long enough -- since after WW ll, I believe-- for a useful literary criteria to arise around it. The re-making and the re-re-making of those values are generally extensions, elaborations or, more radically, severe disagreements with standards that formed around a work while in nascent form. Modernism, as an aesthetic movement, among scads of others in history, had it's propagandists in it's early time, critics whose views remain bed rock, the base from which reformations are made. Postmodern criticism went wrong when the discipline mistook itself for philosophers, or linguists, or cultural anthropologists. The result of this detour has been a mess of unreadable prose whose authors aim to disguise the fact that they've nothing to say. I am for postmodern literature, but I am aghast at postmodern literary criticism. Now, I think, is the time to convene a new project, a better way of dealing with the huge body of work by an interesting population of writers. It's time for a re-making, and re-re-making after that. Every man ,or woman, a critic, fine, but critics without a malleable framework are talking only to themselves, finally. The value of criticism is in how it deepens the reading: an ideal criticism, I think, ought to be the sieve through which the variety is taken in and studied.