I didn't want to go dormant so early in my blog's existence, and something I wanted to share did occur to me.
I've had trouble defining my own BLOG OF line, the one that describes whether the author cares about flyfishing, military engagement, all things grandkiddy, whatever. I still can't condense my key issues down to a tiny wordsplosion- I'm a fiction writer, not a poet, though I'm working on it- so I thought I'd post on what I care about and see if it helps me distill what's in my hot buckets of topic.
I'm reading The Rape of the Masters by Roger Kimball, and I love it. Its subtitle is How Political Correctness Sabotages Art, and it's a more literate argument than I could make. If neither facts nor experience can be said to make some meanings impossible and some more likely, then nothing means anything. And nihilism isn't a tremendously sustaining position for any creative enterprise. Much art and literature, especially in historical retrospect , CAN'T and DOESN'T mean what today's collectivist/feminist/oppression-focused interpretations argue, and Kimball is thorough in showing it. The widely published and acclaimed professors he excoriates, (one who interprets a child's painted mouth into a "wound" of an "ideology of sexual innocence"- huh?) are typical of the ones who taught me in art school. Though my decidedly non-relativist, pre-modern (?) convictions at the time weren't particularly insightful, they were unshakeable, and that brought me conflict I might have deserved. Smart enough to smell the crap is smart enough to duck it. Anyway, this is always of interest to me, and as Kimball says, the dangers to culture are twofold:
1) We elevate mediocrity in the form of art that has the right PC intent but little inherent aesthetic value or emotive power.
2) Through hyperanalysis and strained links of interpretation that consciously avoid discussing the art, we degrade the products, and thus our own enjoyment, of artistic mastery and genius.
In a similar vein, but regarding modern poetry, I found this column by Joan Houlihan, How Contemporary American Poets are Denaturing the Poem, Part IX. I'm enjoying it, too, so here's the link.