Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: CHAT: Northrop Frye

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Friday, November 19, 1999, 14:33
Patrick Dunn wrote:

> Well, never read it in context. But I can't iimagine it as anything other > than a complaint -- unless he's rejoicing in the fact.
I don't remember exactly, but I believe it to be cheerful-but-slightly-sarcastic.
> Except, of course, much of it is completely arbitrary -- if llinguists > (his model) did what he did we'd have linguistic theories based off > astrology and the cabala.
Naturally. But linguistics is part of the order of things, not of words.
> That doesn't mean the ideas in AC didn't exist previously. My point was, > even in his most important work, he didn't show an inkling of anything in > AC.
It's been long enough since I read FS that I can't dispute this.
> Nor did he in his least important works, or any other damned work in > the world.
I think, on the contrary, that all of his work is much of a piece, and if _The Great Code_ (my personal favorite) is a schematism inconsistent in detail with AC, it is still a schematism. He specifically says in the "Polemical Introduction" that the specifics are so much scaffolding, to be removed when and as necessary. A friend of mine had been persuaded by too much half-baked Derrida-ism that No Literary Critics Can Think; I persuaded him to read the Polemical Intro, and eventually the whole book. He conceded that AC establishes that there can be rational critical theories, "though the set may in fact be empty". The rest of AC I think provides an existence proof.
> In fact, I have a theory that the Anatomy is actually an > elaborate prose poem joke -- look up his definition of "anatomy" in the > glossary some time.
Sure it is. The book has the qualities of Menippean satire, as he knew very well: encyclopedic, intellect-oriented, and funny. (IMHO.) But as for being a joke, I urge you to look at this entry from the _Hacker's Dictionary_/Jargon File: -- John Cowan Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies! / Schliess eurer Aug vor heiliger Schau Den er genoss vom Honig-Tau / Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)