Clint: thanks for the anecdote. I completely agree regarding the desire to sift through others' opinions of literature in hopes of refining my own idea of it. Incidentally I'm taking a course on Ayn Rand right now, and apparently she was very adamant that she was, first and foremost, a novelist (creator of literature) as opposed to a philosopher. I'm sorry your date didn't inspire a second one. But do you think that this girl's aversion to Rand renders it not-literature in her mind? If so, I respectfully disagree: even prose that I hate (I'm looking at you, Alan Paton, Christa Wolf) has solid literary merit that I can't dispute. I can recognize the importance/relevance/meaning of a work while still bemoaning its godawful prose style or readability or lack of proper dialogue construction. There exist plenty of books that I absolutely loathed in high school, but that symbolize important moments in history or revolutionary ideas or whatever, and I know that. In fact, I think sometimes I enjoy/respect/appreciate books more after an in-class discussion reveals a deeper meaning or a bigger picture illustrated by the work (case in point: Wuthering Heights.) Has that ever happened to anyone else? I should obviously note that I'm not a legitimate critic, either. I'm a college student who is overly critical and who should probably read more but "doesn't have the time." I'm hoping this class will change that, though, truly. Essentially what I'm trying to say, however clumsily and elliptically, is that when it comes to literature, LIKING ≠ RESPECTING. See you tomorrow.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thoughts on Madonna and Rand, in too/many/slashes
Since I missed last Thursday's class due to food poisoning (thanks Whole Foods! I will probably return to you for dinner anyway, probably even within the next week or so,) I can't promise that anything I'm submitting will be original or even relevant. I don't know if Madonna's "She's Not Me" is literature or not. But I kind of doubt it. Terry Eagleton's ambiguous, even nonexistent, definition of literature doesn't help solidify this conclusion at all. Even at the very beginning, while reading it as a poem sans the faintest glimmer of recognition or "this sounds like nineties dance music," the prose style reeked of clichés and a lack of inspiration to me. I sound sort of critical, I guess, maybe inappropriately condescending, but the words and phrases didn't seem beautiful or real or vivid or any of the things I think literature should be (e.g., "when you were here/it's all so clear." I mean, come on.) I wonder if, after this semester, I'll change my mind? Is this literature?