Why are we more excited by Facebook than by Google? I thought about this question a couple of weeks ago when the media ran stories about the rivalry between these two corporations.
The world is text. Mallarmé and Flaubert described this possibility at the end of the nineteenth century and Derrida proclaimed it again more recently. But now we can say that the world is literature. It is turning literary through the Internet.
In spite of the recent discussion of the topic in the New York Times, I realize there is something antiquarian about my urge to think aloud about the nature of literary criticism. The decline of that role in society probably matters only to a fairly small caste of humanistically inclined readers. The implications of the decline, however, should matter to everyone.
Since my last post I've been thinking about the validity of the idea and the practice of literary criticism in a culture that often looks elsewhere for interpretation—and even more, that values expression over interpretation.
Who wants more reality? Not the culture we live in, if we are to believe the current trends that made "Avatar" a hit and finances' fictitious dream-making our burden.
Who will read a literary criticism engaged with the real world?
In the past few years, I've noticed a surge of conversation about the growing irrelevance of literature in the academy.
Consider this a memo from a dying tribe.