no offense to harold bloom

1
So after making like Brett Favre for a while1 I finally dropped the grad class I was in. And I dropped it for probably the only reason that made complete sense to me:

My heart simply isn’t in it.

I could go on and on about this reason and that reason and my instincts on the matter and all, but essentially I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Partially I don’t really care for or about the whole grad-school gig, but largely I think this was due to the course material.

Literary theory and criticism.

I’m all for learning as much as one can from a text. I’m all for using ideas from other fields2 to elucidate a text and maybe learn things that weren’t intended or even overtly present.

For other people.

That sort of thing isn’t really for me. I’m interested in language and how it works to create a story or a poem. I’m interested in the overall effect and appeal of a text. I’m interested in how the text and I interact to create that effect, that appeal.

But I’m not interested in tearing it apart.

And that’s what theory and criticism feels like. It feels like contorting the text to mean whatever the hell I want it to mean. It feels like a bunch of bullshit made up and applied by people who want to use art to aggrandize themselves.

Some might say I’m wrong or that I’m selling the whole thing short. Maybe that’s true, maybe not. But it’s just not for me, that’s all this comes down to.


  1. Harold Bloom being the person I blame for setting up the literary canon, including the divisive and desperate need to theory-and-criticism the shit out of everything.
  2. W/r/t his waffling on retirement. Not w/r/t how he treated some the women involved with the Jets organization. I like to take girls out to dinner before sexting.
  3. Philosophy, psychology and social anthropology mostly.
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One comment on “no offense to harold bloom

  1. You might appreciate Helen Vendler. She’s precisely interested in the details of structure that make a poem work.

    But personally, I agree with Bloom. Like the novel, criticism is its own literary form. Reading, for example, A C Bradley’s Shakespeare lectures has as much aesthetic pay-off as A Tale of Two Cities.

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