Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ten Ways Literary Theory Can Improve Itself

1. By acknowledging that nothing is ever, nor has ever been finally proven by any literary theory, and it never can be.

2. By acknowledging that differing interpretations of the text are possible, so that each theorist can remove the six-foot iron stick lodged in his or her anus that dictates that their theory is the One, the Only One and the Best One.

3. By realizing, concurrent to #1, that there are topics that can never be proven on any level, whether by literary theory or not.

4. By acknowledging that, despite all the angst of each individual era, each individual theorist and each writer about the death of literature or the imminent nature of some threat to it, that good literature will continue on without perturbation.

5. By realizing that there is no objective definition of good, or critically appropriate, literature.

6. By abandoning the idea that there is or ever can be one definitive, critical literary theory.

7. By abandoning the idea that any literary theory is better, more correct, or easier to apply in a wholly subjective manner to any given text then any other theory.

8. By forcing theorists to write as simply and clearly as they know how, eschewing the formalized, impenetrable, impossibly obtuse language that seems to be a requirement for cranking out a great literary theory.

9. By abandoning the pretense that this sort of increasingly formalized, academic debate has any bearing on, or indeed any connection to, the real world and its events.

10. By acknowledging that it’s all unprovable sodding philosophy anyway.

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