Daily Archives: October 17, 2009

Re: Big Picture


Responding to Michael Sinding’s post:

There are many points that one could engage with in Michael Sinding’s post; I plan to come back to some of them in relation to Michael Happy’s response. For the present, a few random comments: I enjoyed and largely agree with the assessment of “the brilliant, the wrong, and the batty.” Eve Sedgwick is undoubtedly important, but her prose is off-putting: Susan Gubar noted in a review of Epistemology of the Closet that she turns English into a foreign language with her critical jargon, arcane vocabulary, and elaborate qualifications. As for Michael Berube’s blog, having gone through quite a few posts at random, he seems to have missed his true calling as a political commentator. Though I agree that he is a good writer, as well as something of a satirist. I also see he is a candidate for the MLA presidency.

Regarding the Cornel West quotation, with its reference to Zora Neale Hurston’s Republican affiliation: John Dos Passos is another example of an American writer with a problematically complex political identity, beginning as a radical leftist, and moving to support of Barry Goldwater and writing for the National Review. The case has been made that underlying the shift of allegiance was a commitment to the individual and to ideas of liberty and democracy; on the other hand, few people seem to read the later works of Dos Passos (and I am not among them, and so cannot comment personally on them). Perhaps there’s somewhat of a parallel with Wordsworth – in relation to whom T. S. Eliot wrote (with some self-reference?) “when a man takes politics and social affairs seriously the difference between revolution and reaction may be by the breadth of a hair, and … Wordsworth may possibly have been no renegade but a man who thought, so far as he thought at all, for himself.”

“The desiring self is Northrop Frye”


Re: Cheryl’s reading of Frye, that is something I had forgotten.  Thanks, Bob, for reminding me of this exchange from David Lodge’s Small World:

“You’re never telling me that those are your own ideas about romance and the sentimental novel and the desiring self?”
“The desiring self is Northrop Frye,” she admitted.
You have read Northrop Frye?” his voice rose in pitch like a jet engine.
“Well, not read, exactly. Somebody told me about it.”