In other news (that becoming-universal medium the mediocrity (and uncertain future) of which Benjamin described so well, in that essay, you know the one--it has to do with literature and politics), the tireless Michael Bérubé responds to the insomniac culture wars of the day with:
After all, at one point in our recent history, in certain contexts, virile, heterosexual masculinity was signified by lots of makeup, tousled hair, platform shoes, leather-studded body suits, and screaming, high-pitched vocals. It’s a wacky, multiaccentual world out there, in which a Nortel ad can quote Lennon’s “Come Together” and the BJP can quote Donna Haraway. Get used to it.
This sort of thing apparently gets him quite a lot of visitors.
(Certainly one can intuit easily enough why it is so fashionable and so tempting, and in this stolen age of regressive fundamentalisms especially, to adopt the Anglo-analytic approach, a toolkit ready-made for problems that must be solved. Unfortunately, I was long ago seduced by the the dark side (a wonderful consequence of that first necessary rupture, back in high school I think it was). What can I say? I was always more interested in reading, and the contradictions inherent to the problems themselves (not least of all the problem of 'reading'), than in their resolution onto some inevitably trivializing, and often violent and reductive plane. Perhaps the answers that were required seemed obvious enough not to warrant an infinite neutralization of the sort that followed from the meticulous logical faith in abstractions (there are places for this sort of rigor, but not in reading literature, and as a wise man once said, it's seriousness kills me). One could still debate moral relativism with Richard Rorty, I suppose (and he's right about the straw man the analytics constantly string up, of course). But far more interesting, more literary things have been going on in the meantime (not to mention the poetics of phenomenology). And to seek to diminish the role of literature in addressing itself to these questions, however indirectly, is to dismiss a great heritage. Those who would rather talk in circles than tackle the question of literature's relation to the history of philosophy (and there is ample good material on the subject) are simply irresponsible. Either that or they haven't read enough John Barth, or enough international modernist literature. Or enough German and then French (granted, though, they may be sometimes cute).
Clearly if something of value in "Theory" or "literary theory" is to survive (speaking in the pop-institutional idiom), "it" will have to confront/seek to avoid this complicity with, or easy cooptation/bastardization by advertising. Nothing new there. Then again, last time I checked, the real Theory was being done, as always, by people who still read. There is precious little real Theory out there, yes (but the alternative is just as frozen as it was in the 1950's, if you want to compare rotten apples, and so continue to ignore the barrel). Agamben seems to think, following a certain more-messianic-than-Marxist Benjamin and perhaps contra Zizek (to continue this somewhat obsequious chesstalk), that it must be a resistance taking place from within, to some degree. I'm not so sure.)
And wood s lot links to a rather timely article (soundtrack may be found here) on another faith-based villain (that special one conservatives are always invoking in their ill-planned preemptive strike on Godwin's Law (incorrectly attributed here.)) (The s lot (honestly, wherelse to get your daily blogpulse, dear reader?) -also links to some interesting essays on Derrida, Kant and the 'death of philosophy,' including a certain rather important one.) Sorry for the relative silence around here; no profound statements (especially not about boredom) intended. Sorry also, for the less than literary post. Fuck politics; back to books and politics shortly.