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September 22, 2005

All About Eve

When I first came to Yale--not that I realized this at the time--I was trying to understand three questions: Why is poetry meaningful? Why is sex meaningful? Why is estrangement meaningful? Other people can talk about market economics or national security; I can only sketch how investigating these three questions led me away from left-wing subjectivism and into what you could call conservatism.

Read the rest here.

Posted by Albertus Testudo on September 22, 2005 at 10:58 PM | Permalink


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What particularly struck me about that piece was the latent stab it takes at Marxist criticism. At the moment, literary criticism has been swamped with various shades of Marxist theory, but essentially the argument goes like this: all human beings are a product of society; all works of art are human; therefore, all works of art are a product of society. What this means is that you no longer have to decipher the author's meaning (which might not be worth deciphering anyway). Instead, as Greenblatt argues, you trace a "cultural energy." You conjecture what it would mean for a society to read certain words given a historical background, and then you suggest that the meaning of those words is determined by society as a whole rather than an individual (or at least, if it is determined by the individual, it is only insofar as that individual's imagination has been defined by their society).

Eve's post retaliates and suggests that there are human attributes beyond social construct.

As I've said before, Marxist criticism makes for an interesting lesson plan or homework assignment, but it makes for a pretty miserable and ugly view of life.

Posted by: PeterTerp | Sep 23, 2005 8:25:34 AM

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