Saturday, December 4, 2010
Why is the NEW YORK TIMES so anti-theory?
It's interesting that the New York Times has this article extolling quantitative analysis solely because it is not deconstruction--in other context the Times would cavil at including so many noncanonical figures, and I myself an mainly interesting in knowing what the important Victorians thought--and in another article today the Times, or its critic, seems to think there was a serious, large-scale interpretive structure for literature before theory--if there was, theory would not have been needed. It is always the tactic of the anti-theorist to act as if pre-theoretical criticism was better than it was--and Lord knows I wish it had been. But we might also ask why the Times takes such an anti-theory line? Is it to compensate for what are its left-wing politics in other areas, to make sure they do not go overboard? Or are they really more moderate or accommodationist in their politics and more overt about this when discussing theory? Do they object to any model of critical thought that stands in the way of a more directed consumer preference? Do they just wish all language to be on an easily comprehensible, journalistic plane? What is good about theory--and as I have said repeatedly, I am not a unilateral enthusiast about theory, particularly deconstruction--is that it foils such an understanding of language.