- why aren't we doing the tasks of just one or the other?
- Why can't we stay at the level of the text and read, or go elsewhere and think and be philosophers?
Going into a literature or philosophy classroom and engaging people as a critical theorist immediately produces a sort of crisis (especially in the latter). You see people asking themselves,
- "what does this abstraction have to do with literature?" or
- "what does this particular reading have to do with philosophy?"
- It would be better if we simply went away, wouldn't it?
It might even make our work more rigorous: you see, many among us love that crisis just for the sake of it being a crisis--we tend to be a little ostentatious in our thinking, in our reading, because we cite both of you. So you say, thinking needs to be done by thinkers, reading by readers.
- But can thinking ever completely distinguish itself from reading?
We aren't asking this question: you ask it.
And not just by answering it in the negative. Critical theory is not a discipline founded only on the premise that there are no differences between thinking and reading. It doesn't just open up in the hole in your discipline, in the problem you have yet to resolve. If this were the case, what legitimacy could you have as a discipline if you could have let this question be posed, if you could have let us exist? We are not just composed of you two. We are more than just you (we are also history, various cultural studies, law, economics, and other disciplines). Nor are we just interdisciplinarity itself. We don't rise and fall with any discipline--only, perhaps, with the people in them.
You can't believe this. In fact, you protest against this almost every day. You come to us and ask these questions and then go behind our backs and say that you answered them yourself. You say, you can illustrate this thought merely as a philosopher, or read this text merely as a literary critic. But what remains undeniable is that you have retained a trace of us. You are us when you think or when you read. So to wish us to go away is to wish yourself to go away, to renounce reading if you are a literary critic or reader, to renounce thinking if you are a philosopher or thinker. Thinking needs to be done by thinkers, reading by readers, you say. But if you say this more than just to protest, if you actually enact it and think or read according to its rule, you have given up on your respective task. Posted by Mike at 6:27 PM What is written about: Critical Theory, Literary criticism, Philosophy 1 comments: Mike said... P.S. I am not "we," here. -MJ December 4, 2007 11:14 PM Post a Comment