- Grilled ham and cheese sandwich
- Sugar cookies
So take that! Not a real vegetable in the group! I like to think that by Thursday I'm under significant enough duress to wear really ugly, ill-fitting clothes, flat shoes, eat horrible food and generally hermitize myself by staying in the office all day. I have to be here for FOURTEEN HOURS. So, by God, I'm gonna be comfortable and well fed. I might have a baked potato with chili on it for dinner. Then I might take a nap.
Or not. I would kinda like to live to see tomorrow and all.
New addiction of the day: Facebook! If you're a member, lemme know and I'll add you. If you'd like to exchange last names away from ye olde blog, e-mail me at trippingtowardlucidity (at) yahoo (dot) com.
But that's really beside the point. I come to you today with a rant. A book rant (there went half the blog readers right there...*waves bye-bye*).
A while back, I watched an interview with Harold Bloom on BookTV, and while I was completely rapt--neverendingly interested in this squat, rotund man's point of view--he also angered me a little. Well, perhaps angered isn't the right word...perturbed? Ruffled? Whatever, he threw me into at least 15 minutes of serious reflection.
And I should mention, for those not familiar with Sir Bloom, he's a professor at Yale and NYU who advocates an aesthetic approach to literary interpretion, as opposed to all those "isms" and "ists": Feminist, Marxist, etc.
In part, Bloom discussed his ideas on the state of reading and literary study today by going on about the tragedy that is multi-culturalism. Bloomy thinks it's ridiculous that intellectuals study various cultures in literature for the sake of culture. That is, he's pissed that people are interested in Mexican literature or African American literature or Slavic literature because he claims that those individuals are more interested in the culture than the literature itself. As a result, he says, people will study any old crap in the name of their preferred "ism."
Now, I have to tell you, and I'm sure you won't be surprised to know, that I am NOT a traditionalist when it comes to...anything, really. That's not to say that I don't enjoy tradition or that I don't appreciate books that are traditionally included in the Western literary canon, I just don't get all crazy about it. And I get MORE than a little excited about all things literarily contemporary. For God's sake, I focused 98% of my Master's degree on Children's Literature and Graphic Narrative (comics). Not so much with the traditional, yes?
Bloomy says, "Take Dante as your textbook." And he ripped it off from someone, but I'm not at home to watch the show and see who he was talking about (and I'm entirely too lazy to Google it). In any event, Bloomy thinks we've forsaken the "greats." The greats, he concludes, are Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and he doesn't list many others, although I'm sure they're plentiful and very, very dead. I know he likes Cormac McCarthy, but that's as contemporary as he happened to mention in that particular interview.
Rambling? Yes! I realize. Hang with me...
I find it a disturbing thought, and quite a tired sentiment to think that multi-culturalism and other fields of cultural study are destroying literature and literary study. Bloom strikes me as one who is ridiculously brilliant and also significantly resistant to change. I personally chose to study Children's Lit and Graphic Narrative because 1) I enjoy them 2) they are challenging 3) they suit my interests and proclivity for visual narratives...a hangover from my art school days 4) they're hot and sexy in today's academic market. They've always been around (for the most part, anyway), they just haven't been studied much up to this point. They've been underappreciated and underexamined. And, like it or not, they are a cultural mirror.
So, I guess, at the end of the day, I just wish Bloomy would get his panties out of a twist. Essentially, I don't disagree with him, we should certainly take Dante as our textbook, but then we should move on to others with our abilities to think, analyze and reimagine and apply those skills to what's new and what's evolving.
Or maybe I'm just one of those evil multi-culturalist bastards out to kill literature. Who knows?
And for the hell of it, a very short list of my favorite old dead white guys (canonical, traditional) and some of my supa-contemporary favorites:
- Hamlet and Othello, Shakespeare
- Inferno, Dante
- Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
- Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
- Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser
- Lolita, Nabokov
- The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
- The Human Stain, Philip Roth
- The Road, Cormac McCarthy
- The Blindfold, Siri Hustvedt
- Beasts, Joyce Carol Oates
- Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
- American Born Chinese, Gene Yang