[ilds] baboonism

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sat Jul 7 16:29:17 PDT 2007

On 7/7/2007 11:36 AM, william godshalk wrote:

>> These days I think it safer and smarter to leave those old terms 
>> behind, back in the 1990s.  Look more closely.  Then look again.   
>> Discrimination, in the Paterian sense, is needed.  And then more 
>> laughter.
>> writes Charles.
>         Well, yes, but still and at the same time, we need categories
>         to organize our thinking. We need terms in order to
>         discriminate. Without categories we could not discriminate
>         between "literature" and "trees." See Women, Fire, and
>         Dangerous Things.

Yes, Bill.  Of course.  Categories that actually work and that are 
clearly defined serve a purpose.  I do not deny that I am in the Western 

Note that I declared that I feel comfortable with what I call Paterian 
discrimination.  I have a sound idea of what kind of process that 
involves--as Pater sets out his program in the 'Preface' to /The 
Renaissance/, the reader/viewer avoids abstraction and generalization, 
turning instead to the object and his own experience of it, asking: 
'What is this work to me?  Why?  What particular features make it 
effective for me?  How do those features relate to its time, it history, 
and the longer tradition?"   

When I say I shrug off pm as a useful term I am specifically talking 
about the hazy buzz of pm.  I worked all the way through that in those 
old quaint days of the 1990s.  I found one best critic for me who could 
use primary texts (re Bruce's note) as well as all of the strong 
statements about what was being called pm.  Brian McHale.  Tel Aviv 
University.  McHale knows his literature first.  He rarely makes a 
declaration without strong evidence at hand.  Most critics however fail 
to discriminate between the many pretend pms--what is called pm in 
France does not work so well in the US; what is called pm in Mixed Media 
does not work so well with literary works; &c.  Too many slapdash 
applications of the word.

Thus the need to discriminate, to look more closely, which for me and 
for an increasing number of critics means leaving that old term behind.  
It does smell of Routledge overstock and remainder bins, eh?


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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