In recent centuries we speakers of this lovely language have reduced the English verb almost entirely to the indicative mood. But beneath that specious and arrogant assumption of certainty all the ancient, cloudy, moody, powers and options of the subjunctive remain in force. The indicative points its bony finger at primary experiences, at the Things; but it is the subjunctive that joins them, with the bonds of analogy, possibility, probability, contingency, contiguity, memory, desire, fear, and hope: the narrative connection.
Ursula Le Guin, “Some Thoughts on Narrative”, Dancing at the Edge of the World, p. 44
Homeric allegoresis had come into existence as a defense of Homer against philosophy.
E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, p.205
This is still true, for few modern students of literature allow themselves to be simply readers; there is the fear which I below called the unliterary, which leads us into the temptation to read literature as a key to something else. This can be sociology, politics, psychology, etc. via the poem or book or painting or film. Those who are literary readers can be either aesthetic or antiaesthetic. An old fashioned (indeed, regarded as antediluvian by most) example of the former would be Harold Bloom, and the boa-deconstructionists of Deconstruction and Criticism (Geoffrey Hartmann, Paul de Man, J. Hillis Miller) are occasionally the latter. Most often they are allegorists manqué, and their allegory seeks to elucidate their god of the textual gaps. Continue reading →
Whenever I hear or read something along the lines of “well, that’s like saying …” uttered as a throwaway put-down, without exception I find myself silently responding “no it fucking well isn’t.” I have a huge problem with people using analogy in the realm of argument, because it seems to fundamentally misunderstand what analogy is for, and as a consequence it misapplies it. One problem here is that most assume all discourse takes place within the same logical realm. What this doesn’t allow is that the lines between rhetoric and philosophy are fluid, and accordingly their respective logics may mix though without attention being drawn to this. Continue reading →
I know it’s obscene in WordPress terms to include something that you wrote during your undergraduate days, but I may want to refer to this at some point, and I am too lazy to quote selectively, so I include something I did for my B.Phil. below: Continue reading →