[ilds] What has happened to the ilds list

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Wed Jan 26 12:16:19 PST 2011


It's been awhile.  I've missed your distinctive humor, but I see you have not missed some of my recent postings, which you've retained for future rebuttal and burlesque.  Important issues are at stake, so I'll discuss in detail.  Anyone bored by such talk, can hit the delete button now.  My responses are numbered.

On Jan 25, 2011, at 6:18 PM, James Gifford wrote:

> Well put, Bruce.  I think there have been ongoing worries about 
> "academic" and "lay" topics, and I for one don't think it's a real 
> issue.

1.  I do.

> Academics like to talk about academic issues, lay readers the 
> same, and then the vast majority vacillating in between.

2.  The issue is not what people "like to talk" about, rather about what they're willing to hear.  I like to think I'm open to everything and do not complain about someone else's hobby-horse, no matter how energetically expressed.

> The Australians, evidently, like to talk about wine...

3.  And so do the French, Italians, and Americans.  And so did Lawrence Durrell, who became the model for such talk about wine and its pleasures.  For a view of Durrellians at the wine table, see p. 8 of the ILDS Herald, 15 May 2010, and then read the captions to the photos.

> Regardless of our various and diverse interests, some of us will and 
> won't be interested in each others topics, but that's why the list is an 
> open forum in which people can dabble as they wish.  The variety of 
> interests is a good thing, not a bad, and lurkers are welcome too. 
> Folks are free to participate in whatever way suits them best.

4.  A slightly disingenuous characterization.  Seems to me the moderators are making too much effort to accommodate, as someone else put it, "the lowest common denominator."  I enjoy all kinds of contributions and discussions.  But all issues should be on the table, not simply those that put old LD in a good light and make him palpable to the masses.  And if that means getting into the nitty-gritty of scholarship and literary analysis, as I believe Bill Godshalk was on the verge of doing, then let's hear it and let's discuss it.  I find it very ironic that I, a non-academic, should be the one defending the Academy and its practices.

>> Nor do I see it as a cheering section for Lawrence
>> Durrell's life and work.
> My academic hat tells me to say "cheering" is beside the point,

5.  No.  Entirely the point.  See no. 4.

> but I suspect some would enjoy a cheer now and again (or the opposite), and I 
> don't think they should be silenced.  I just won't provide the pom poms.

6.  As you're doing now, it would be nice to have the moderators occasionally provide reasoned opinions, in addition to quips and citations.  Charles used to do this well.  No longer, sadly.

> I might also add, a good deal of answers are sent off-list, which I 
> believe has been the case for several recent academic queries.

7.  Which is a very big mistake.  Why aren't the answers to academic queries made public?  I'd like to see them.

On January 25, 2001, at 6:07 PM, James Gifford wrote:

Unless I'm mistaken, we're all out celebrating Virginia Woolf's birthday 
today rather than posting online...  ;)

> Is it no longer a forum for discussion, since that
> can lead to controversy

Personally, I'm just swimming through the chaos of the start of term. 
I'd imagine since there are a large number of academics, that's a 
significant factor -- we're relying on you to keep things afloat in the 
discussions for a while David!  We're all in the mid-year administrative 

8.  I praise the moderators for their time and effort.  No irony here.

So, to throw down a gauntlet, why Rank and not Groddeck?  And what of 
Jung, with whom LD briefly corresponded?  Graham Howe?  He wrote a good 
deal on two of them but didn't publish much on Rank, so why not take up 
Howe and Groddeck?

Or, perhaps I can stir the pot by going after Bruce's flagrantly dangled 
hook & bait:

> Like Chatwin and de Man, Durrell had a few
> things to expunge or expiate.

I might look sideways at Cleanth Brooks from time to time, but Bruce, I 
thought you had a good ol' New Criticism vein (or artery) running in 
you.  Surely this falls foul of some kind of intentional fallacy or 
conversation with dead people.  Barthes might ask about the reader too...

9.  Name-dropping is not an argument, James.  Bruce Chatwin and Paul de Man share similarities with Lawrence Durrell.  Chatwin had a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction, and de Man covered up some sordid behavior.  Both topics have been discussed on this List and in considerable detail.

Isn't some of the brilliance of LD's prose, and perhaps most of all the 
poetry, the fact that it is gorgeously ambiguous in the sense of Keats' 
Negative Capability?

10.  Keats's "Negative Capability" is hard to understand.  In his letter of 21 December 1817, Keats uses the term in the sense of "uncertainties, mysteries, doubts," but in his letter of 27 October 1818, he refines the idea to mean a poet's ability to negate his own self and to assume other identities.  Seems to me Keats's progression is from fuzzy intuition to a deeper understanding of a rather dark state of being.  So I would not call "Negative Capability" a paean to simple ambiguity.  Ambiguity in some examples of Durrell's prose and poetry comes from careless diction (Justine, AQ, 26), deliberate use of synesthesia (Bitter Lemons, p. 15), or some other literary device of the "dark crystal" variety (Prospero's Cell, 11, 133).  I'm interested in the why of Durrell's use of ambiguity — beyond the simple statement that we all live in a world with very few certainties.

Robert Duncan makes nice work of Durrell's 
ambiguous objects in Greek poems like "Carol on Corfu" in his "Ark for 
Lawrence Durrell," which strikes me as having a bit of the bite you're 
looking for without falling into the myopia of clear vision...  

11.  I'd like to learn more about "the myopia of clear vision."

If I think I've puzzled out what a poet really *meant*, then I second guess 
myself and wonder if my certainty is blinding me to the gloriously 
ambiguous that doesn't actually have a non-readerly resolution.

12. Hard to discuss this without specifics, but "what a poet really meant" and "the gloriously ambiguous" are not necessarily incompatible notions.  E.g., James's Turn of the Screw and Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  I would argue, again, that both stories are meant to be ambiguous.  But this is not your main point, surely.  You're emphasizing readers over authors, as Barthes famously spoke of the "death of the author," along with the impossibility to recover authorial intentions, as Bill likes to stress.  All this I largely disagree with, for the most part.  I see a text as mainly under the control of its author — but not everything in it.  Authors don't always know what they're doing.  Frank Kermode makes this point well in "Secrets and Narrative Sequence" (1980).

I'm also curious why "expiate" rather than "express" or "deal with"?  Is 
there a Catholic vein too, my eucharistic friend?

13.  There is a "Catholic vein" to my thought, being a lapsed Catholic.  If you accept the de Man analogy (which I expect you do not), then "expiate" is exactly the right word.


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