Re: Big Picture

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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.”

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