[ilds] Mr. Esposito

james Esposito giacomoesposito72 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 26 02:17:52 PDT 2016


What teacher employs a 'method'? My view of teaching literature does not
amount to a 'method'! It is a way of looking at texts without recourse to
the opinions and aesthetic perceptions of any except the teacher and
his/her students.
I do not argue with the view that a text can be explicated, teased out,
probed, but it is like a mine - you delve in to extract whatever ore you
can discover, not what a mineralogist tells you to discover. A good teacher
shows you the way - hands you a drill, even a stick of dynamite! but
essentially the relationship is you and the text.
When - many years ago! - I was a student our teacher presented us with
Eliot's The Waste Land and pointed us towards Jessie Weston's "From Ritual
to Romance" - why? because Eliot makes specific reference to her work, and
suddenly a whole world of the Grail Quest, the meaning of the Waste Land
and the Fisher King, was opened up to us. But Weston was an integral part
of the poem, not an external aid to comprehension. We needed nothing other
than what was on the page and what stood behind the page.
That same teacher offered us what he referred to as 'a medieval maxim','Man
by the exercise of his free will fulfils the pattern of his destiny'. I
have spent sixty years trying to find the source of that, and failing, but
I never cease to bless the man who provided it. (Does anyone know its
source?)
Of course we need to discuss what is 'meant' by the text. Keats's (and I
refer to the author of 'Ode to a Nightingale', not Durrell's character!)
'beauty is truth, truth beauty...' could occupy a reader delightfully for a
lifetime and never yield its meaning, but no amount of help from Messieurs
Derrida or Ricoeur can make an iota of difference to our own judgement. I
think many critics suffer from a lack of an ability to make judgements of
their own, and fall back vicariously on sources like les messieurs (for
whom I do have considerable respect) rather than make the big jump towards
shaping their own innate aesthetic.
James Esposito


On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 6:19 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>
wrote:

> I don't think your method will result in much enlightenment.
>
> Bruce
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Mar 25, 2016, at 9:08 AM, james Esposito <giacomoesposito72 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> I am very sorry indeed to learn that you disagree with the following
> statement:
> "Education surely exists to enlighten young minds (and older!) and to give
> them a better understanding of themselves and the world."
> James Esposito
>
> On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 5:55 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
> > wrote:
>
>> This whole approach seems to me a grossly oversimplified approach to the
>> appreciation and teaching of literature, which after all is not some
>> exercise in logical positivism.  Words are tricky and not reducible to pat
>> meanings, and how writers use words is even far more complex.  So I
>> disagree with all your statements.
>>
>> Bruce
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>> On Mar 25, 2016, at 1:58 AM, james Esposito <giacomoesposito72 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> By 'teaching their students how to enjoy texts' I meant that I see the
>> principal purpose of teaching as the widening of students' appreciation of
>> their chosen subject, be it literature, science or any other discipline.
>> Education surely exists to enlighten young minds (and older!) and to give
>> them a better understanding of themselves and the world. That may seem very
>> old-fashioned but I think such purposes are diminished by what Keats called
>> (paraphrase) unnecessary reaching out for reason - that is, the searching
>> for explanations of what, ultimately, cannot be explained - credo quia
>> absurdum. We owe it to ourselves and others (we, being teachers, writers
>> and readers) to focus primarily on what the texts say, not what they don't
>> say, or what a critic may think they say.
>> James Esposito
>>
>>
>> On Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 1:25 AM, Bruce Redwine <
>> bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>
>>> I wonder what it means “to enjoy texts?”  Isn’t that what we’re doing?
>>> I think James Gifford is on target.  And I, a non-academic, thank him for
>>> his insights, which increase my enjoyment.  Keep it up, James!
>>>
>>> Bruce
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> > On Mar 24, 2016, at 3:32 PM, james Esposito <
>>> giacomoesposito72 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> >
>>> > I perhaps did not make myself clear on the subject of Durrell's
>>> relationship to the modernists. Of course he was well aware of the Eliots,
>>> Huxleys, etc, but what I meant was that we should not necessarily assume
>>> 'the anxiety of influence' - the fact that there are echoes of Eliot etc in
>>> Durrell's work does not allow us to infer that he deliberately set out to
>>> imitate them or to make obvious references to them - merely that, as a
>>> (still) apprentice writer in the first 2 novels he was setting out his own
>>> stall, not theirs.
>>> > And as for Keats, if I remember correctly, he got killed.
>>> > As for the mud bricks, I think it's completely far-fetched to read
>>> political persuasions into the fact that Durrell referred to a basic
>>> building material. They were just mud-bricks, not political slogans.
>>> > I think there is far too much time and effort spent on trying to
>>> analyse what Durrell may or may not have ingested into his writer's
>>> subconscious. It may be an amusing pastime for academics, but they should
>>> be teaching their students how to enjoy texts and not how to tear them
>>> apart. It isn't 'hunting of the snark' territory.
>>> > James Esposito
>>> >
>>> >
>>>
>>>
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>>
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