(9/27/02 6:56:40 pm)
| book on psychology of critics/reviewers/ judging stories|
I have been working on a book for some time now that is an overview of the psychology of critics and reviewers, mainly garnering and making a structural analyses of their psychological styles, psychological quirks, personal interplay of interests, their creative contributions, commenting on the usefulness of certain review and critique methods, and the seeming not- usefulness of certain other methods, and a little bit about which critics of our time stand out, and which for whatever reasons don't register on the cultural radar, and why. Also about gatekeeping which has, by many "big" critics sights, been blown to bits by the "democracy of the internet."
Here is my question: Do you know of stories in which a protagonist or a set of protagonists make judgement calls on others? With either useful partial/plenary positive outcome, or slightly to very negative outcome-- either is useful.
Just to share a bit for those who might be interested...just finished studying the useful reasons (by anecdotal account) that some give critique or review. Now studying the leitmotifs in stories in which the covert element in :judging" endeavors is not just judging or critiquing exactly, but rather some form of covert competition, based on the idea that only "one" can be "The One." (Even though in my ethnic background, the only one who can really be The One, is El Dio, that is God....(wry grin)) There is also a motif in many of the current stories of a particularly malignant form of unmediated envy...that is the desire to do harm to the others that one envies.
Have been studying King Solomon and the two women with one baby between them; the pronouncement of who is more fair in Snow White; The Atalanta story about who can run the fastest; and Arachne's story about who can weave the most beautifully; and the Middle Eastern story about the market mayor who weighs everyone's goods and assigns them a fixed value--regardless of their actual value. I am also studying some of the old religious texts with regard to lifting people up, bringing of water, light (lamps), food and other nourishing goods to others. Also looking at texts about bearing false witness. (I have Taslima's Nasrin's poetry stories for this.)
The whole study has led in interesting directions revealing a plethora of motives, some overt, some barely covert, as well as many kinds of perceptive abilities and translation capabilities, feuds, queues, desire to impress secret persons, attempting to establish status, attempting to hold status quo in one's job, and MORE, to be found in modern reviewers and critics. Nobody knew we were such a diverse group of tics and tocks (grin)
I am open to your suggestions
and will research them faithfully,
(9/27/02 7:29:18 pm)
| Like Meat Loves Salt|
My first reaction was the persecuted heroine variant in which the daughter is banished by her father, the king, when she explains she loves him as meat loves salt. The snap judgment and punishment always comes to mind when I see judgments made without full knowledge of the context of the situation. The king doesn't understand the comparison until his personal experience of eating unsalted meat gives him understanding. Think of a king finally being served a subpar meal for the first time in his life, perhaps his first taste of unsalted meat which he has always taken for granted! Ah, illumination at last! How can a reviewer review the emotional impact of a book, movie, song, painting, etc. if it is outside the realm of his experience? And most of the public is searching for an emotional reaction, not at how well the thing was technically crafted, when looking for a piece of "art" to read, watch, etc.
As a librarian who reads reviews almost daily in hopes of knowing where to spend limited library funds, I am always trying to read between the lines of professional and amateur reviews. I am grateful that Amazon.com allows amateur reviews to be posted. It helps me pick out books for young adults who would never agree with most of the reviews I read of the books I buy for the collection. What a hard, hard thing to do when I think about it too much. I am often disappointed with books that are highly touted and delighted with ones that are relatively ignored. I wish I knew the context and experience of the reviewer more often. I think that is one reason why I miss the team of Siskel and Ebert--their personalities were known to me and I could balance their opinions well enough to know 99% of the time if I would enjoy a movie after listening to their joint reviews. I personally look at every review I read as subjective and make my best decision at my own risk.
And then all of the other motivations you mentioned! Geesh, it makes me want to toss out all of my review magazines and just look at the book covers. They do just as much work to sell the book on our shelves as anything else. In fact, I usually do look at the covers before I order the books...
(9/27/02 8:37:19 pm)
| valuable experience of librarians|
that is helpful insight and commentary Heidi. Many people including booksellers have offered similar concerns about reading reviews in general. And several "have" mentioned the Amazon phenom of "anyone can say their piece," as being valuable for its transparency, and though not without agendas sometimes, but seeming with far less agenda in most cases. People tell me they find that refreshing.
However, one of mu premises in this book is that there are some very valuable things to be learned, I think, particularly from astute critics, in fact, some of them are like the cavalcade of stars in how well they teach others "the subtlties (dang, I cannot spell that word --it is the word 'subtle' with 'ties'---on the end--but it just doesn't look right that way either...awk. ) of the art they are reviewing whether it is theatre, dance, fillm, books, music, academe, politics, food, or other. It is astonishing really how many critiquers exist; almost makes you think we all come with some kind of "reviewer" gene that drives us.
And yes, I have heard comments like yours about men like Siskal and Ebert, and it makes me smile in agreement that if you know the 'tastes' of a reviewer, critiquer, and their motives, you find you can 'depend' on them as somewhat of an extension of your own psychological likes and aversions, and as a potential match to your temperament also.
Don't throw out your review journals; they are like a huge number of psychological profile studies all in and of themselvers (grin) and many reviewers will have motives similar to yours whom you can rely on. (I have heard from many who purchase books that one of the greatest frustrations with Kirkus and PW is the lack of signatures on their reviews, so buyers cannot follow certain personalites and their particular tastes. In this world of so precious little time to attend to SO many items of daily life, the buyers resist reading every review, seem to want more of a customized appraoch that you spoke of. i think actually, that is likely the future as more and more news material, for instnace from the NYT (New York Times) is sent to me daily by who I want to read, and by topics I wish to read. Although it does interrupt the "group" experience wherein we all more or less read the same thing, it also greatly develops my creative work and what I consider meaningful in my life. ONe person put it this way; "I know which clothing manufacturer's I like. PW and Kirkus cut the labels out of their clothing. I don't want to have to try on every thing in the store to know what works for me. I'd rather go elsewhere." And they do, for instance, to the very short "Book Sense" from the aba indies, and etc. ( I have an almost familial love for PW, for I used to read it like it was a movie magazine long before I was ever published. You now, the author interviews, the opinion pages, the 'editor and agent shuffle,' the new covers. It was like reading about the far away stars. I also know some of the folks who write for PW who are very brave in many ways with regard especially to first amendment rights and to basically decent human rights.)
I agree heidi, the cover seems to have a lot to do with the aura of the work, the sense projected. I love covers. I display books all over the house as art, so many of the covers are just the most splendid colors and figurals. The most recent on is that luscious yellow cover for Maria Tartar's work.
cpe--just remember I am one of the world's worst spellers. 'sic' is my password. (grin)
(9/27/02 8:54:26 pm)
| Must it be the protaganist?|
There are a number of stories, Oedipus v. the Sphinx for example,
where the protaganist is given an intellectual challenge (or other)
and overcomes where others have failed. My take on these stories
is that the critic - in this case the Sphinx- is making a pronouncement
or judgment regarding the intellectual capabilities, as opposed
to the physical capabilities, of the challenged hero. In these cases,
the challenger is often judge and executioner. I guess that is why
I thought it might apply to critics) . Another example is the greek
hero (was it Hercules) that was challenged to undue the great knot,
which he does by slicing it with a sword.
Does this help?
(9/27/02 9:05:07 pm)
| Amatuer reviews|
My husband, a former dot.comer (sigh), and I have often discussed the real impact of the internet and the democratization of information, i.e. information is readily available and relatively inexpesively. But this comes at a price, that being the source of information may not be known, and thus its credibility is suspect. Further, the internet gives one a varied level of knowledge. It can create informed ignorance (which I admit on occasion I feel as if I have on this board).
As this applies to Amazon reviews: one does not know the source of the review - is it biased, a friend of the author, etc. ? Despite indications to the contrary, it may not always be obvious until you read the book.
Knowledge and understanding is important regardless of one's profession. The professional critic knows his business - having survived the critics of his criticism. There is a learning curve to critiques as in every thing else. Only after reviewing for the sake of reviewing many times will someone really be "seasoned". The bias of reviewers is often known by his audience (I like David Kehr's movie reviews because his taste is similar to mine, but not Ebert's). He still serves an important purpose.
Am I still on thread?
(9/27/02 10:42:22 pm)
| critic/reviewer culture|
>>>>>>>>As this applies to Amazon reviews: one does not know the source of the review - is it biased, a friend of the author, etc. ? >>>>>>>>
one of the things I found Jess, taht you might find interesting, from researching by interviews, (having to promise anonymity) and by following the extensive "paper trail" of quite a few reviewers' and critics' social contacts, graduate schools, society notices, online/radio commentary appearance with other critics, book acknoweldgements, anthology mates, publishing mates, etc is this: There are definitely 'circles," of critic-reviewers that the general public probably senses exist behind the scenes, but does not know the hidden particulars of. The "circles" seem to be knit together by persons who have similar educational experiences; in some cases, had the same profs, who socialize together or correspond by phone, email, letter, etc., who sometimes share stages with one another, and who admire similar matters in culture and perhaps in each other, know the hardships of and the richness of their chosen profession— which others outside the circle will not know.
There are varying motives depending on who the circle is composed of, and what or who they serve, --especially the latter. Who the critic actually serves is probably the first most salient question. (Some have told me they serve their old teachers; some are wanting the favor of another critic or employer in power over them, some serve the paycheck, some serve the good of the culture, some serve the creative spirit, some serve the bar, that is trying to keep it high by thier own sights--the reasons are many. MANY.)
Again there are some fabulous critics that actually teach as they critique. I think this is profoundly valuable. It appears however, at least at 100% amongst my youngest informants, (ages 15 to 35) and at about 80% amongst my oldest informants (ages 60 to 80) that people no longer put stock in being told what to see, read, hear, buy-- the way they may have in the last half of the last century. I am not 100% clear about this yet--perhaps you have some thought on this-- but people seem to not only want to think for themselves, but no longer feel they want culture interpreted to them by someone else. They want to be independent, to live life, and see for themselves. At least that is how it looks so far. One hypothesis is that this may account for some of the what would once have been thought "out of bounds" forms of critique we sometimes see nowadays--such as on American Idol. If the carefuly crafted critique has lost its listenership/ readership then it may have already been replaced by entertainment-critique.
and to answer your questions at the end of your posts Jess, yes, your opinion is useful. And secondly, yes, I think you are on thread. And the ideas of the Sphinx and the Gordian Knot are good.
(9/28/02 3:12:24 am)
There's a wonderful Jewish story in which a king has his vizier and a Jew (sometimes a rabbi, sometimes a boy) have a contest by signs. The vizier, totally misinterpreting the Jew's signs, nevertheless declares him the winner.
I could probably find a copy for you.
(9/28/02 6:43:54 am)
| King Solomon|
There are lots of apocryphal folktales about King Solomon who makes wise judgements in difficult situations. One of my favorites, that I heard at a storytelling festival is the tale of King Solomon and the Baker.
There once was a baker, whose bread was so good, it was said that merely the smell of it could make a hungry man feel full...
This, of course, attracted many beggars to the baker's shop. The baker, tired of complaints from paying customers, sensed that perhaps he could profit from this phenomenon. So, he drags a beggar woman to court where he demands to be paid for the smell of his bread.
"Your honor," the woman says to the judge (King Solomon) "I am a poor woman and I only have two coppers to rub together in my purse. Believe me, if I had enough money to buy bread, I would."
The King/ Judge requests that she pour the contents of her purse on the table. Indeed, there are only two poor coins, which ring as they hit the table.
"That's all? Surely the smell of my bread is worth more than two coppers," says the Baker.
"Madam, put your coins back in your purse," says the king. "Baker, you were paid for the smell of your bread, by the sound of her coins."
This is only one of many clever Solomon tales that I have heard told. I have been wondering why these folktales are so predominant in the Jewish storytelling tradition.
According to the Biblical record, the Hebrew people were never supposed to have Kings. They were supposed to have judges, but rebelled against God's wishes by raising Saul to the status of King. David, perhaps the Old Testament's greatest king replaced Saul, and his son Solomon reigns over the Golden Age of Hebrew civilization, before the Hebrews are again subjected to slavery. There is very little Biblically about King Solomon, (the story of the women and the baby Solomon threatens cut in half is Biblical) but there is a vast treasure of Wise King Solomon stories that are part of the Hebrew tradition, and in these stories, Solomon acts less like a King and more like a Judge.
Judgement can be so many different things: the administering of justice, the solving of a difficult problem, or the discernment of the heart. In some ways, judgement, in its many different forms, is integral to moral development. Whether it is a child saying, "That's not fair!" to an adult having to make a difficult choice affecting the lives of others. I think it's interesting that this faculty is now applied to so many external and irrelevant objections, such as the judgement of the relative "goodness" or "badness" of movies, books, music. It is also interesting that we still rate these things on a scale that implies morality.
(9/28/02 6:55:57 am)
From a practical standpoint, critics can't be expert in all genres. It would be interesting in your book, to see which criticisms by the same reviewer hit the mark of excellence and which fail. . . genre frequently being a defining factor. And are certain styles of review more appropriate to certain genres?
(9/28/02 7:34:49 am)
cpe - I might be wandering far afield here, but one aspect of criticism I find interesting, and often irritating, is the tendency to criticize or make moral judgements about the artist or the reader who likes/hates the artist, as opposed to actually critiquing the work in a concrete way. When I read these types of reviews, I find the personal taste or agenda of the reviewer so overshadowing the review, I have a hard time gleaning what I need from it. It also makes me question their professional and/or personal motives for working as a reviewer. As a school librarain, I recognize there are books I might not like, but I can see that others might and can suggest them to appropriate readers. If someone asked my opinion of them, I would be honest but diplomatic. Never, however, would I sneer at the author who created them or at the reader who enjoyed them.
Anyway, just some wandering thoughts.
(9/28/02 8:10:45 am)
| More Internet thoughts|
Yes, I found that fascinating. I want to hear more about this topic.
When discussing Internet bias this morning, my husband made two points about reviews. His company, and others, that allow for customer reviews create a form of bias by placing positive reviews first. Let's say that there are 50 reviews, 10 positive, 40 negative. The 10 positive will come up first. That is because the websites want you to use the product or buy the products. I suppose if the reviews were wholly negative the product might get pulled or modified - good information for the company.
Also, some products/companies pay for placement on search engines, i.e. the search engine search isn't random. So, if the customer thinks he is getting the best product first, that first implicitly means better, he may be mistaken.
Another way to circumvent the old critic method was used by a mystery novelist who used his own money to advertise his books. There was a recent article on this in the Wall Street Journal. I can't remember the novelist's name, but he always uses nursery rhyme titles.
One other thought, with the explosion of reading materials - the number of books published - we have also seen the need for critiques rise. It seems that publishers were more critics in the old days, determining who would be published. Now, even an individual can self-publish if he wants. How does one sort through to even find what he is looking for?
A non-sequitor: Outside of fairy tales, you may wish to look at the old concept of trial by ordeal. Witches and others were tried to see if they could survive an impossible ordeal. I always loved the "drown the person and if they sink they were innocent" - a lot of good that does.
(9/28/02 9:48:39 am)
| name of teller?/ search engines/ kings and judges|
Dear Swood, when you were at storytelling festival and heard this charming tale, do you by any chance remember the person's name who performed it? In the tradition, we try to keep the original teller the story was heard from with the story--- for several reasons, to preserve the genealogy if we can, that is, who told who who then told whom. And because professional tellers have 'signature' stories that have been fashioned by themselves and are not public domain. And knowing the name of the teller of the story, often will reveal the holder of copyright if one were hoping to refence that particular variant, or literary story, or performance piece. Thank you for your insights, they are good ones.
Dear Jess: That was really interesting about the product/promo companies paying for placemen on search enines. I wonder if that includes Google. Many of us who do research heavily have found this one quirky thing on Google-- that what we are looking for is often buried pages in, when you would think becuase of its direct relationship to keyword results it would be right on the first page. If what you are saying is true of the major search engines, this then begins to make sense. It has become, I might mention, one of the banes of internet researching for those who used to find what they were looking at 'on top' rather than buried in the layers. BUT, perserverance is any researcher's forte...(grin)
One of the many odd and interesting things I discovered in my research thus far is that Kirkus Reviews has bought a contract with Amazon that Kirkus's reviews will always be listed first, over any others, (I guess such as Library Journal, PW, NewYorkTimes, etc.) on Amazon.
Dear Sarah: that is an interesting question about kings and judges; you were working out a lot of that while you were writing your message. It seems that every religious group that has holy writings also has rather profound contradictions, especially as civilization marches on and new ideas about what it means to be a fully sacralized human come to the surface... then certain of the old writings in any religious canon start looking slightly to a lot not so competent. Speaking of critics; there are many amongst all religious groups who are busy critiquing not only content, but the process whereby the scripture was gathered, edited, written over, etc., as well as certain of the important errors in translation. The story continues and continues, doesn't it?
(9/28/02 9:50:20 am)
| sarah and swood|
yes, I am knowing that you are the same. Just wanted you to know.
(9/28/02 10:14:07 am)
The king Solomon story (with the sound of the coins) is one of many variants of that story. I know an Arabic story where the sound of the courtesan's favors are paid for by the shadow of money, a Burmese story that has smell of bread paid for by rattle of coins, and several others of a similar nature. My new book FAIRY TALE FEASTS, has notes I could send (book not out for a year) on this story if needed.
(9/28/02 10:24:48 am)
No, I'm sorry I don't have a specific geneology for that tale. I heard it at a Fall storytelling festival in Concord, Massachusetts between 1995-2000. I am relatively new to becoming anything more than a passive listener, but if it is any help, there was also a woman at the festival who told the story of the Boy Who Whistled at the Wind. (Also, at the festival, an eight year old boy told the story of the Odyssey at an open mike, not realizing what it was. "I don't remember where I heard this story," he said, "or what it's called, but it's about a sailor named Odysseus.")
I will pay more attention to these things in the future, especially as we have entered the storytelling season.
Your thoughts on the changing stories of cultures/ religions as they grow in change is an excellent explanation for the contradictions in stories and faiths. Your point about the difficult path through which such stories become established is also well taken. I was raised in a very fundamentalist Christian family. The Bible was the absolute and final Word of God. The political pathways through which such a book becomes established were ignored, and quite a shock to me once I finally found out.
(9/28/02 11:26:05 am)
| more on review/critique plus personal ethic|
Just wanted to mention that modern critique is a much more dense form than the modern review form, both in length and layering; that it has many sub-forms. MANY. That those who teach literary criticism, for instance, come from many different "schools" of thought that are further shaped by each teacher's personality development, relational needs, etc. This area is one I am just coming back to (...the underlying structure of personality in literary criticism. It has been an intense area to study, for it is filled with much tension between its participants for various reasons.)
Reviewing is another art altogether, although the two are definitely related... in underlying psychological temperament, motives, overt desires and loves.
People tend to idenitfy themselves by one title or the other, (reviewer/scholar or critiquer/critic/scholar), and sometimes a follower of one form is hostile to the intents or purposes of persons following the other. I am studying this split mainly to try to understand why and how such tensions exist in a culture wherein so much freedom "to be large" is offered. I am interested in how and why the psyche quite often perceives and acts in ways much smaller than its huge capacity to hold all; how and why it tries to wall off various and for what purposes. In the midst of this research it looks like walling off into compartments of who and what is good/bad, right/wrong, real/not real, truthful/misleading, deep/shallow, smart/dumbed down, insightful/missing the mark, worthy/unworthy (these word oppositions all being the inferences or actual statements of many who are critiquers or reviewers.)
It appears that embracing a larger life picture or wallling off into a smaller life's view picture, is driven partly by the kind of psycho-social development a person has had thus far, and by the factors we have been discussing previously, such as desire for "protection," to give service, to maintain/prove loyalty to a group, to belong to a 'protected' group, to further a loved school of thought, to preserve what one believes is a saving grace, to cement affiliation with certian others, to earn a living, to make a 'name' for oneself, and so on.
I think this is why LAURA MC's comments are poignant and I have heard many comments similar quite often. There has been a big upheaval in criticism and review in the last twenty years especially. As some might say, rather than just researching and stating your opinion, "forms" have grown up, that some demand be filled with various proofs, citations, evidentiaries, before a person can make a statement from their mind and soul about how they see it all.
And CHRIS, your question--" And are certain styles of review more appropriate to certain genres?" Tell us what you think? As a reviewer who also is writing criticque, I have my own 'druthers' about how I want to approach a subject--but in my mind it would apply to all genres, although as you are properly inferring, there might be something more or different if one was approaching a religious tract versus, say, a humor book, or a certain genre of novel. But, if it is helpful, my over-all and largest structural philosophy is this: that First we see what was the intent of the author, artist to cover in this work? Did they meet it? How?-- through what means? With what motivation? What kind of reader would find benefit or find a desire fulfilled here? What contribution does this work make to the body of work previous or breaking new ground entirely? How did it hold together? What must I stretch myself around in order to take this work in? What might the reader remember, love, hope for, find relevant here.
As you can see, my own motive is to bring the readers to the works that will enrich them in any number of ways, not by my say-so, but by what I know about human nature from my decades as a psychoanalyst and activist, and by what I hear on the road when I listen literally to hundreds of peope at a time through Q and A periods after my speeches or performances. I have, in my own ethic, refused for years to review books I did not a) like, b) understand. I think it is unfair for the most part to the tremendous hard work an author/artist pours into their project. However, if I intensely disagree with the philosophy of a book, it is more likely going to be because I think the author/artist is busy pouring poison into the world. Rather than review their book, the turn I would more likely take is through social justice activism. Most recently, I published several writings explaining and giving accurate information about pedophilia. The several books that exist about it saying what a good thing it is for little children, are thereby answered in part by blasting the truth that pedophiles unequivocally harm children. (sorry if this is too intense a set of comments for where we started.)
I appreciate everyone's thoughts very much here, and JANE dear girl, if you can just find me a title and/or author on that story I will research it faithfully. I seem to recall a kind of story, where, someone jewish waves in the air about the sacred beliefs and rituals of the Jews, and the guard or king or non-Jewish person, thinks they are agreeing, and someshow it all works out alright and no one is killed. It is a beautiful story you are right. Its almost like a Chelm story, but not quite so jokey I think.
Ay! this is too long again. Sorry. But, on the other hand, if YOU all want to go on long, please do. The longness here is only a result of my not having enough time to make it short. (grin)
(9/28/02 11:32:34 am)
| Will try|
Will look for the signs story.
(9/29/02 3:10:55 am)
Still looking. . .
(10/4/02 12:47:26 am)
| Critical Stories|
Maybe this is a little obvious, but I noticed that no one mentioned the Sibylline books yet. Also, since Solomon popped up, the story of his meeting with the Queen of Sheba might be useful- she has to acknowledge his wisdom as superior because he can answer all her riddles.
I kinda sorta touch on issues like this in the project I'm working
on now. As the years have gone by and I've become steadily more
and more corrupted by the academic "disease", I've come
to think more and more that literary criticism is a form of storytelling,
just as creative a process as writing poetry or a novel. You take
a particular assortment of motifs and ideas and you assemble them
in a way that is unique- you're writing a particular variant on
one particular story about cultural history. When you have a group
of first year university students many of them are anxious that
they will diminish their enjoyment of a text if they overanalyse
it, that we murder by dissection. There's the big question of the
"intentional fallacy"- that notion that the author has
buried one true meaning within the text and it is our task to dig
up that meaning, an idea which is widely discredited among most
literary academics and has been for some time. I don't think many
works of literary criticism start with the assumption that the critic
is omnipotent and omniscient and is able to sum up a work in its
entirety with a few nicely-honed phrases/paragraphs/chapters. We're
encouraged to embrace more of a historicist approach- you're not
writing about what may or may not have been in the author's head
as she wrote (how could you know such a thing!), but, rather, about
the particular cultural circumstances in which the text was composed,
how the text reflects those circumstances, how those circumstances
might affect the way that text was read and (sometimes) how that
text might be read differently in other periods and circumstances.
Of course, this probably isn't the approach that a lot of magazine and newspaper reviews take. I think it would be interesting to compare the differences in the critiques academics write in academic journals and the critiques they write when they are trundled out as experts in the Book Review section of the Saturday papers. Surely the audience, the expectations the audience might have of not only the book, but also the review as a piece of entertainment, is at issue here too?
Further to some of the things Jess has been talking about- I think the review section of Amazon is *fascinating*, but by no means are the reviewers without their own agendas. One of the best Amazon review debates I've seen- the customer reviews of Catherine Millet's The Sexual Life of Catherine M. Many of the reviewers don't just make judgements about the author, they make judgements about the sort of person whose view of the book would differ to their own. So the allegiances you do or don't make with certain texts to a large extent determines the sort of nebulous internet persona you're trying to project.
(10/4/02 5:51:20 am)
| the length gene|
>>The longness here is only a result of my not having enough time to make it short.
This, alas, is the story of my entire writing life.
(10/4/02 10:38:07 am)
| academic disease?|
Dear Judith, I know what you mean (grin) but also, there is another.... (When you write at the same book for a long time, it does not nec become shorter, but often indeed more dense, more intense.
Dear Karen, thank you for taking the time to put down your thoughts at length. I was wondering what is the underlying meaning of "the academic's disease" you mentioned? I am sorry, I am not familiar with the term. Athough maybe it is something like this: re analyses: In both art (I paint) and in psychoanalysis we have to constantly teach our students not to over-analyze, over-add. In the case of painting it makes for lack of focus; and in terms of color, it makes for mud. In psychoanalyses, it often causes a strange aberration, that the clutter of analyses often occludes rather than clarifies the vastness of the psyche.
I think that is an interesting idea of literary criticism as possible storytelling, though I may not realize what is and what is not storytelling for since I was a little child I thought everything was storytelling; little children playing, radio commercials, politician's reasonings, confessions by criminals, advertising on matchbook covers, billboards, legislative testimony (grin). The main difference i see is that some stories and some tellers are just much MORE compelling for some people and groups than others.
well, this two cents' worth is way long enough now.