Hello Lit, in my book club we have one member who believes in critical theory, very much a postmodernist. Which makes it very hard to discuss books due to her using these arguments of critical theory. She is a lesbian and wants to look at every book through a lesbian, female or feminist viewpoint. What is the best arguments to take on critical theory and in particular, post modernism? Counter examples maybe? Or maybe a few philosophers have argued against it? Let me know the best way to attack as it is driving me mad....
you can 'do' critical theory without believing in its philosophical orientations. If she's making a strong case and the only thing you can do is strawman the boogyman of the postmodern, that's pretty childish.
you don't fight that kind of theory and intellectualizing with more theory
just say to her something along the lines of hey we're not in a classroom, maybe you could lay off the overly-academic stuff.
you could make an appeal to other people in the group if you wanted, like saying they aren't understanding her, or you can just say something like 'were more interested in the basic formal elements and we don't have time to cover too much more'
i dunno mate but seems to me like more of a human to human thing than something you should be fighting on an intellectual level
This, or tell her to fuck off. Postmodernist approach is basically whining without any interest of what might be beyond the surface; ironically only postmodernist art can be really put to postmodernist criticism to full effect. What is the point of analysing Hugo from a gender perspective apart from simply doing so because it's trendy lately? It doesn't really bring out anything new apart from 'hurdur muh sexism' and putting things out of context. hermeneutics 101
and by all means, if she's a bulldyke cunt tell her to fuck off and call her out on bringing unnecessary shit to the books you're reading- but given you're making a thread asking for advice i am assumign that's out of the quesiton
>The essential incompleteness of a system should necessitate an adherence, not in order to achieve a given end or be slaves to its course, but rather perchance to glimpse by proxy some hidden exteriority.
Carrot Chasing: The Ideology.
Postmodernism has more to do with phenomenology
Philosophy is dead. Phurrnomenology is just fancy language-game terms for psychology and cognitive science
Looks like you just want to debunk her arguments and just want to "win the argument". Forget about it. That is just turning the whole thing into a pissing contest.
Everyone is welcome to interpret a text based on their own agendas and draw their own concusions no matter how ridiculous that sounds to you. If you think it is stupid and irrelevant just ignore her.
The way I look at it is, one can derive any meaning from a work by utilising any kind of principles. The important thing is what you derive, that is your treasure, the thing that adds you something. Critical theory introduces certain principles to help guide people along this road. It is not scientific facts, it is just a road map left by those who have been there before you. It is no use parroting some philosopher to debunk other or render one's interpretation as useless. That is what people do on internet, you don't want that.
At best you can suggest her that some works lend themselves to certain theories better instead of the point of view she uses but it is in no way means there is a right way to look at a text.
If she is stubborn or she just want to push her agenda through every work by spouting bullshit, don't argue with her, ignore her or punch her in the face whenever a moment you find her alone.
Critical theories simply do not, generally, work - although theory-based criticism can sometimes open our eyes to facets of a work we might otherwise miss. The reason we (that is, the general reading public) read poetry or fiction, or watch drama, is to find, preferably enjoy, an image of the world we all inhabit. The image may be distorted; it may have a startlingly unfamiliar perspective; it may show us things we never suspected - but if it does not in some way relate to our experience it is unlikely to interest us.
To read only through the filter of a theory is to miss much of the individuality of an author or a work. Much better is to approach a text with an open mind, deploying as appropriate all one's own background knowledge (political, philosophical . . . etc.) as well as sharing any interesting perspectives others might have.
Why read in leg-irons when you might fly?
Usually you don't read a work in lingt of a certain theory, instead you apply different theories to enrich your understanding of a work after you read it. It is not neccessarily restricting yourself.
That is exaclty what I did, the philosopher's eye is implicit in every example, the you added second eye is irrelevant.
Your example misses the fundamental change which is the potential difference between the observers model of what they are observing and what they are observing.
great now I have to clean the sick out of my beard
I always thought 'Critical Theory' was very very modernist in that at its root it was all based on a marxist grand-narrative.
Am I missing something, but how can she do both critical theory and postmodernism as postmodernism is anti-marxist/post-marxist and anti-grand narrative? It seems like a real mess of ideas she'd be floating.
Is she a qt tho?
it is literally impossible to 'approach a text with an open mind' in late-capitalism friend. And using all 'one's own background knowledge' (you seem to imply individualism in terms of knowledge and ignore we're already 'interpelllated') is just other theories whether someone knows that name of them or not.
mark my words the next big trend is going to be Volkisch realism and un-pc new sincerity ie. not being afraid to say some races have lower IQ or point out that africans would still be living in dung huts if it wasnt for colonialism
The works I've seen like that are Houellebecq (and the varied works similar to his) and the varied related works, and I cant tell if he is being serious or not.
As far as non-fiction, nothing. It feels like any of this a-religious reaction to the curious movements towards multicultural inclusion comes from Breitbart etc, or from people like Huntington and Fukuyama who are much more historical pessimists than true reactionaries.
Would be interested if you have any examples.
Are you saying that critique and textual consideration requires a frame of reference.
yes of course but, perhaps /lit/izens frame of reference is just 'loneliness, failure, alienation' and they just luckily have some slightly serious books that are considered non-pleb written in their frame of reference.
>impossible to 'approach a text with an open mind' in late-capitalism
sure you can. the key is to ignore any work that is not in itself and Ur-text, and work your way forward from the beginning of whatever movement you want to study
Literally all-girl clubs that do the female equivalent of shitposting (gossip), discussing anything but the book. Pretty much /lit/ IRL with girls. If they try to stay on topic the discussion is vapid and you get dykes going on about their dyke interpretation.
men like to say stuff that sounds smart in a group. women don't seem to like that.
haven't you all had that weird feeling in a seminar or book club where everyone is just saying ideas about a book for maybe an hour and there is not point to it and you start feeling some kind of disassociation like you're in a dream?
the eye I drew was the philosophers eye, does your brain not work or do you choose not to use it.
The dot is the theologian looking at their subject of thought, the arrow is the modernist philosopher looking at their subject of thought, the eye (representing the modernist philosopher) is looking at what appears to them to be an arrow but from another perspective is not represents the post-modernist philosophers subject, WHICH INCLUDES THE PHILOSOPHER AS REPRESENTED BY THE EYE!
Trying to take postmodernism as a grand unified theory and slapping it on everything you read is to completely misunderstand the point. I would hit her with the idealogue label like other people have been saying. Tell her if she really wants to be critical she should examine why she has such a strong bias towards slapping these labels on the books you're reading
Generally, these are great :
But maybe we could help you even better if you would be more exact.
>lesbian, female or feminist viewpoint.
Is pretty common and usually nothing special. Just one of many "lenses" . At least the female/feminist part, the lesbian less so.
Critical theory and /or PoMo are not necessary to have a feminist reading of a work.
Instead of having us (or at least me) jump to assumptions some examples would be nice.
i'd say Patrick Süskind's Parfume would fit into the "man vs author" category, its basicly a post-modern circlejerk starring a seemingly autistic character, but it only makes sense if you read him as someone who has intentionally been constructed by the author as unfeeling and tries to break out of it.
Man vs reality? Maybe PKD's Valis
Tell her this is the most boring way to read if every book is going to be pigeonholed into the same critical theory then you're never going to get anywhere understanding versatility of texts and get sick of reading eventually.
critical theory deals with social structures. it's not meant to analize individual phenomena like particular books, so whatever ideological reading you have of one you'll have of any other.
it's pointless to analyze particular books, because as products of our time and social structure, they all have the same ideological purpose and discourse.
society reproduces its structure and inequalities in every cultural product it creates, so going about the particulars in every case is pointless: you will always, every time, find injustice and oppression when you look for it.
critical theory is about changing society, not about writing articles or having eternal discussions about privilege.
if you only use it to argue about how this or that book or movie or anime or opinion reproduces inequialities, not only are you missing the point of critical theory, you are actually helping the current oppresive, unequal and unjust society reproduce itself by removing one of the persons who is actually concerned by injustice - you - from the list of people doing something about it - because making arguments in spaces where everyone is privileged, like a university, amounts to nothing other than beating dead horses.
'Author' and 'reality' can be synonymous in postmodern texts - something like Alain Robbe-Grillet's The Voyeur is a good example. The narrator presents the constantly-changing alibis of a possible murderer as all being perfectly true, such that the novel's 'reality' is subject to retroactively change if the murderer or another character begins to notice something contradictory in the story. A location described as being in disrepair in one chapter is specified as being in working order in the next; symbols pointing to a hanging are presented simultaneously alongside symbols pointing to death by fall, etc.
Sounds gimmicky, but it is genuinely unsettling in parts, especially because the narrator is presented as third person and omniscient.
>"it's pointless to analyze particular books, because as products of our time and social structure, they all have the same ideological purpose and discourse."
this is beyond Althusser in terms of pessimism. I love it. We don't even need to analyze anything because we already know what we of course as marxists already know. Thank you for pointing this out.
Going as far as saying even the critic, the one who points out the superstructure is where reproduction now occurs (gramsci/althusser and some others pointed this out) is now itself functionary.
The only way to debate with someone that employs postmodern frameworks of analysis is to engage them in their own terms, which proves to be very difficult since most of this lines of thought are very labirintine and self-contained in nature. The result is, in my experience, very unilateral exchanges: neither of you will understand or debunk each others points.