At 08:53 PM 9/2/97 -0400, Wes Britton wrote:
>Just read an August _Atlantic_ review of a book called _The Death
>of Literature_--the particulars I forget--which claims we're not
>teaching lit anymore in favor of political agendas, the usual
>whiteoppressionimperialisticracegenderclass diversion from the
>texts themselves. While other fads come and go, the book's author
>maintains, this school won't as the acedemy now discourges diverse
>opinions that don't toe the party line.
Honestly trying to respond helpfully -- maybe you will find out how
to write a happy continuation of this fine mess of misunderstanding!
Distribution is everything if you have a good tale to tell it might sell!
-- a new time has enabled persons to participate who have a heritage
of _less_ access in their family memory. They will make mistakes
as we all do. For now, the main mistake is color and gender coding
instead of ideas and universal emotions being illuminated.
Yet some cultures were simply more interested in conquest, and
literature has a civilizing purpose -- in the sense that people can
" be civil " -- respect one another's rights to fair play -- even while
the absorption goes on.
Mr. Mark Twain showed many times the universal nobility, or lack thereof,
which can be found in persons of any background. Yet he also despaired
of the human tendency to fail overall, to be kind enough for sustainably
future as the theater of life plays on. Can you write us part way out of
sad slippage? It will take miraculous passion and lucid love of the
Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" is an example of the human descent into
preoccupations with the past...and the "fad" you described goes a step
further by holding the innocent as guilty for a lifetime of persecution
by misapplications of the Laws of Truth, if we could find any such by
working backwards from the true causes of things.
>I thought of this reading recent posts here--remembering a joke
>article I wrote as a grad student--"Why Wait for the Text?:
>Secondary Sources as the New Belles Lettres." I envisioned a world
>in which scholars never have time to read actual fiction or verse,
>but rather are totally involved in reading each other, writing
>about each other, secondary sources of secondary sources re-re-
>evaluating secondary sources.
Perhaps you will have a unique ability to produce the opposite vision
too! It might be science fiction, of which Twain wrote a few great tales.
The value of these career-shaping
>projects--in lieu of pay--will be determined by whether or not the
>source cited YOU. I foresaw a day in which tenure committees will
>be less interested in the stuff we write as the lists of whom and
>which sources cite us. I see as a precedent modern reporting: when
>the press has milked a news story dry, they turn to coverage of the
>coverage of the story--the press covering the press.
The press has distribution...can they be persuaded to publish
new great works to light our path from the past to the new horizon?
>Is this a/the State of Mark Twain Studies?
Making a great movie of a Mark Twain work, such as _Capt. Stormfield's
Visit to Heaven_ would be beautiful....remember _Prospero's Books_?
That's a fine way to make a Mark Twain movie.
We struggle to make great new literature; we must also have good
distribution. We have the Soul of the Universe as cast, crew and audience.
Way to go, Wes!