Friday, February 5, 2010


Literature, by whatever definition we use, is the body of writing intended to deal with more complex storytelling in order to produce a response that can be articulated in a way that's as nuanced as the primary work, the factors that make for the "literary" we expect cannot be reducible to a single, intangible supposition. Use is a valuable defining factor, but the use of literature varies wildly reader-to-reader, group-to-group, culture-to-culture, and what it is within the work that resonates loudly as the extraordinary center that furnishes ultimate worth, varies wildly too; there are things that instigate this use, and they aren't one determinant, but several, I suspect. Literature happens to be those stories that are written that do something no more and no less crucial than helping us think about ourselves. The goal of literary criticism, ultimately, is not to create the terms that define greatness but to examine and understand what's already there, and to devise a useful, flexible framework for discussion. Ultimately, the interest in useful criticism is in how and why a body of work succeeds or fails in their operation, not establishing conditions that would exist before a book is written. One can find a respite from interpretation with a long vacation in the archive of post-structural hideaways from comprehension if one were a lazy academic belatedly coming to the discussion with more cant than enthusiasm.B ut laziness is a choice enforced by a trend, and trends fade, ultimately, leaving the task of real interpretative work still to be done.
 Poststructuralism denies the ability of any language used to address the world before us: bluntly, that is the sum of their position. I think language, and literature by extension, does have the capacity to say authoritative things about phenomena, hence my emphasis in the how and why this form of language, books, works in giving us representations of the experience of the world, psychological, spiritual, and material, that have a corresponding effect on a broad, generalized readership over time. This is not skittering into structuralism; this is seeking further comprehension of the human experience. This project originates with a bed-rock faith that language contains an absolute ability to make accurate statements about the world and life in it. There are many things that make language produce it's communicating effects, gestures, and nuances, none of it so supremely simple, none of it arbitrary. I tend to think that these things are innate, by the best arguments, and that the language attached to them is geared to cross-platform expression. The task in criticism is to comprehend how these matters work in their use, and from there devise a workable aesthetic that's meaningful beyond the current moment.

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