Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A familiar set of reshuffled notes
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. A criticism that counts should, I think, help re-imagine the world and provide us with a plausible, doable, political feasible way of doing just that. Re-imagining the world requires action to effect the change. Re-description is precisely the problem with the Left in this country, which mistook the on-going circle jerk of language theory as a practical substitute for activism. The wan hope might have been that enough people might hack their way through the many books and monographs and learn, as a matter of habit , that their written and spoken responses to the world they navigate would be tempered so as not to privilege anything according to old hierarchies and that the a fairer existence would result. Literal or not, one needs to gauge the words in a sentence against the world the words are assigned to describe. Language, being a living activity that functions with a mind and consciousness that must adapt consciously to the constantly changing state of Nature, cannot contain meaning that is self-disclosing, absent at least a superficial gauging against the world. Even at the " most simple" levels, a reader constantly goes outside the words themselves to judge their veracity, their usefulness, and hence, interprets the words to come to what sentences mean, in their contexts and their subtler permutations. Interpretation isn't always the circuitous method of the academic, or the specialist: the activity is instinctual, I think, as we use language and change language to accommodate changing requirements and conditions.