[ilds] baboonism

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Sat Jul 7 19:44:39 PDT 2007

I certainly have my biases.  Putting them out there is a way of testing 
them.  I am certainly not dismissing the classic procedure of asking 
questions and examining answers.  It is as old as the hills, and like 
most people I use it all the time.  But this postmodernism business 
advances by deceit.  It pretends it is dealing with the author or the 
book, when really it is promoting the critic into a figure of absolute 
authority, to the extent that neither the author nor the book are 
allowed anything to say, nothing, that is, that cannot be manipulated 
by the critic to say what the critic wants to say.

As for postcolonial theory it is not theory at all.  That too is part 
of the deceit.  It is a programme, previously devised, and produces the 
right answers on demand.

Of course a book can have effects independent of the author's 
intentions.  And there are books we read whose authors we do not know.  
But it is always right to set comment on a work within the context of 
an author's aims, his life, his times, and to use those conditions 
where one can as a test of one's argument and understanding.   But too 
often the author is stripped of his intentions, and the book is 
stripped of its author, for the self-aggrandising sake of the critic.  
The rationale behind these so-called theories and isms is to reduce the 
author and his book into something untrustworthy, unreliable, masked, 
unknown, the better to turn the critic into a divining high priest.  I 
find the whole thing a silly and dishonest enterprise.


On Sunday, July 8, 2007, at 03:02  am, James Gifford wrote:

> You do realize that your analysis repeats the classic questions of
> discourse analysis: what does it include or exclude; for what purpose;
> by whom; how.  Not every scholar asks those questions well, without
> bias, or in agreement with our biases, but I hardly think dismissing 
> the
> practice is a useful move.
>> My suggestion is that the
>> so-called theory is in fact a highly tendentious,
>> ideological and in fact extremely narrow-minded,
>> short-sighted and basically unlearned way of
>> looking at history and culture, not to mention
>> literature.
> Yes, but don't you say that for a reason, excluding or including 
> certain
> approaches, from a particular social position, and with your own bias?
> This comment is true of bad theory, but should we throw out the good
> stuff too?  I'd rather we were more specific about what is not useful,
> where, and when.
> Moreover, let's no forget that a book can have an effect independent of
> the author's intentions.  Analyzing those impacts is a viable as
> analyzing the author's intentions or contexts, though it certainly has
> a motivation.  Choosing to exclude those same things is equally driven
> by a motivation.
> Best,
> James
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