[ilds] Lit. of Pop Culture

Panaiotis Gerontopoulos pan.gero at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 25 06:02:59 PDT 2016

Dear List
I feel embarassed to return once more to the same old story, but this discussion on Pop Culture,  Durrell's "Minor Mytologies" , modernism and post-modernism, obliges me to return to my paper presented at the advice of James Gifford and Beatrice Scordili at OMG XIII held in Rhodes: " The myth of Pope Joan, Emmanuel Roidis and Lawrence Durrell" . That paper contained sufficent information showing that Durrell's Pope Joan is a carbon-black copy of a botched English translation printed in Athens in 1935 by the Greek immigrant in San Francisco T. D. Kriton art name of Timoleon Dimitriou Kourcoulakis. This assertion is comfortably demonstrated considering the systematic repetition by Durrell of unthinkable Kriton's blunders.  
A couple of years ago I came back to the argument on this List reacting to Richard Pine's comment including Pope Joan among the "Minor Mythologies" of Lawrence Durrell. At that time I thougt that the notion was due to Richard Pine. Now I discover that it was Durrell's stuff, published in the 1999-2000 issue of DEUS LOCI. Can anybody in the List e-mail me a scan?
As of the popular italian saying traduttore-traditore Roidis' "Papissa Ioanna, A Medieval Study"  and  Durrell's "Pope Joan" are two quite different books hardly known by the Anglosaxons. 
A symptom of the confusion reigning on this subject is the presentation of Durrell's book in the on-line Durrell's Bibliography of ZOTERO Project.  Namely: Author Lawrence Durrell, Title "The Curious History of Pope Joan", Place London, Publisher Derek Veschoyle, Date 1954. 
It's all wrong.  Durrell is a sui generis translator and not the author. The title of the book published in 1954 by Derek Verschoyle was "Pope Joan, a Romantic Biography,  translated from the original Greek by Lawrence Durrell" . 
The title "The Curious History of Pope Joan" belongs to the first version of Durrell's translation published in London in 1947 by RODNEY PHILLIPS & GREEN. This book quite different from the Verschoyle 1954 edition was never circulated due to the bankruptcy of the editors
Useless to say Durrell's mess  with Roidis book does not affect the Author of the Alexandrian Quartet but should help understanding his writings and his autodefinitio Supreme Trickster.
Thanks for the attention and Happy Easter for the Catholics
Panayotis Gerontopoulos 

From: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2016 19:40:06 -0700
To: james.d.gifford at gmail.com; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
CC: bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Subject: [ilds] Lit. of Pop Culture

Most interesting.  Thanks for the philosophical background on the treatment of popular culture in today’s academy.  Re Durrell (whose preferred term was probably “metaphysics”), he was eager to experiment and dabble, especially in esoterica and the “operations of the individual mind,” as you say.  Ken Gammage likes to bring in science fiction, and that’s surely relevant to Durrell’s interests.  I’ll repeat that I see Durrell as a novelist in the tradition of the European “novel of ideas.” Which means, of course, that we as readers should discuss “ideas,” Durrell’s ideas, overt or latent, and not something as nebulous as feelings about the “pleasure of the text,” however that’s done.  How do we discuss Durrell’s ideas?  Well, Beatrice Skordili in her excellent article, “The Author and the Demiurge:  Gnostic Dualism and The Alexandria Quartet” (2004), does a good job at just that.

On Mar 24, 2016, at 4:59 PM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:Hi Bruce,

On 2016-03-24 10:34 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
he was probably ahead of
his time when he talks about giving equal
weight to the popular literature of the time.
My sense is that academics are currently mining
that very topic, if in somewhat abstruse
fashion, that is, buttressed by a lot of
Continental “theory.”

Indeed, Durrell was ahead of his time, but he's not alone in it, and some of the "big" movements precede his essay (Adorno & Horkheimer, Löwnthal, etc and the "critical theory" group meaning Frankfurt School).  Even Oxford UP's venerable /Year's Work in English Studies/ now has a section devoted to comics scholarship, which has been a strong area of work in Europe for some time now.  I, for one, think some of it is excellent.

One of the fascinating tensions, for me at least, is that so much of the foundational work on popular culture was Marxist in orientation (coming from the Frankfurt School and Birmingham School), which means it tends to look at cultural products as symptomatic of the material circumstances or the organization of a society.  This means that the genuine aesthetic of much pop culture is left out, which is precisely what fan cultures are often looking for.  The third area is identity politics or the politics of representation -- three areas with competing interests shaping how folks talk about this field, and none of it really overlaps with Old D.

I think of it sometimes like 3 groups in a classroom: (1) a fuzzy prof (or maybe a fuzzy student) interested largely in how the historical tensions of a particular moment are manifested in the mainstream cultural artefacts, (2) a large group of students interested in book /XYZ/ because it's just so incredibly cool, and then (3) that small group there because the text spoke them in their often marginalized position in society...  Durrell strikes me as looking for a fourth to add -- how does the popular appeal explain something about the operations of the individual mind, hence his references to Jung and archetypes.

As for the academic work on popular culture, it tends to follow those 3 groupings: the "somewhat abstruse" materialist group, the fan-culture crossover works, and investigations of representation.  Three representative works might be (1) Fredric Jameson on science fiction, (2) almost anything from McFarland & Co. publishers, and (3) Constance Penley on the Kirk/Spock phenomenon (about which I'm sure Durrell would have been delighted).

All best,
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