Saturday, 06 May 2006

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The Position; or, We Can All Go Home, Now... [Soon to be X-posted at the Valve. Would've been already but I didn't want to bump this beauty from its deserved position of prominence.] . . . that Stanley’s figured it out. Don’t get me wrong: I love reading Fish with a passion equal in intensity to the vehemence with which I disagree with him. But how can any intellectual brawler dislike a man whose very titles “betray” aggressive condescension? “Wrong Again,” opines the title of Fish’s 1973 article in the Texas Law Review. Still don’t understand? Stanley will say it again “One More Time” (CI 6.4). Is it any wonder the likes of Walter Davis suffer from an acute “Fear of Fish” (CI 10.2)? (If you think this fear related to his stature, a smiling Fish will enumerate the reasons “Why No One’s Afraid of Wolfgang Iser” [Diacritics 11.1].) I don’t mean to suggest that his prose never misfires. For example, the regular appearance of “my italics” in his parenthetical citations demonstrate—in direct opposition to the rationale behind the quotations themselves—how manipulative Fish is. Fortunately, his manipulation quickly becomes visual, what with every other word of the other fellow’s prose being italicized. That said, his 1972 omnibus review of “Recent Studies in the English Renaissance” is the only viscerally enjoyable example of the genre I’ve ever read. His deliciously causidical prose is worth its weight in bandwidth: I suspect that every writer of these omnibus reviews is at some point tempted to call for a moratorium. Of course, such a call would go unheeded, and in its place I would like to urge a more realizable course of action: publishers and those who advise publishers should be made more aware of their responsibility to a reader’s time and money. They should not, for instance, be a party to the making of a book like Burton Weber’s The Construction of Paradise Lost (Souther Illinois). First of all, I am nowhere cited. But then neither are John Shawcross, Dennis Burden, Jon Lawry, Michael Wilding, John Reesing, Irene Samuel (Dante and Milton), A.B. Giamatti, Wayne Shumaker, Davis Harding, John Steadman, John Peter, Christopher Ricks, Arthur Barker, Northrop Frye, Anne Ferry, Frank Kermode, Bernard Bergonzi, Thomas Greene, Patrick Murray, Douglas Knight, Roy Daniels, Louis Martz, James Simms, and Thomas Kranidas, to name only a few. The reasons for these omissions (and others) is simple: Weber’s bibliography stops in 1962 even though his preface was written in December of 1970. This is disturbing on its face; it is even more disturbing in the context of his intention, which is nothing less than to resolve the points of issue in the Milton controversy. As everyone knows, however, that controversy did not end in 1962, and since 1962 the focus of the debate has shifted away fom the narrow polarization which dictates the shape of Weber’s arguments. I do not know why he ignores a decade of criticism, but even in the context of things as they were in 1962 his is a very weak book...
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Tales from B.W.W.W. [The inspiration. The festivities start here.] When people talk about the role of gender in the blogosphere, my mind inevitably wanders back to the testosterone-soaked days of my adultolescence. See, I would spend hours each day war dialing (known outside of Baton Rouge as "demon dialing") various bulletin boards in order to have vigorous debates with other men about important topics like "gun control" and "abortion" and "whether Ronald Reagan can be held personally responsible for the AIDS epidemic." When our collective intelligence failed to solve the problem of world hunger in less than a month, everyone would get testy and head for the war boards. "War boards?" you say. To which I reply: "War boards. Forums whose sole purpose was to cultivate the rhetorical chops of those who frequented it via furious blind invective. Often times wars would descend into festivals of insults in which everyone's mother was transmogrified into someone who was so fat that when she sat around the house, she sat around the house. Some of us tried to elevate the form. I was among them. I preferred to humiliate my opponents by taking statements they had previously made and making them look like asses for mouthing them." Here is an example—procured from an archive which includes my first foray into the World of War Boarding—of a "challenge" levelled by a chap named "Zith": Date: 4:46 pm Sat Jun 11, 1992 From: Zith To: [Scott] Subj: Re: Oh, we're just dandy, aren't Stat: Normal I read very little of the post the reference number indicates. Let ME take control of this situation as is more apropriate, me being better et all. War for access to modemland. Dr.Luv's suggestion of MA is perfect. Five other [judges of the war]? Bishop, he can appreciate it. Loki would be considered biased, Tenedos is fine. That makes three. <just to help you keep up> Laz doesn't like me, and I don't know enough about him to tell wether that would effect his judement of not. Danmietster is a stranger. No strangers. Two more...hmm...Reverend Beverage. Jack Flash. Simple. Are you getting this? If these people are willing to put up with this idiocy for the two days it will take for the decisive victory to occur than it is fine. I give you one chance to backoff before I make you miserable. Think about it. And when you finally come to and soil your shorts in fear, only then will you realize the breadth of my superiority. And who needs a fucking topic [as opposed to a pure, unadulterated Festival of Insult] anyway? Whatever you are blabbering about is unimportant. I want to war you, not debate you. Get it? Think before you even reach for the R[eply] key. Turn off your mouth and turn on your brain. If you value anything at all in your life <which can't be much out of modemland> than you will back down, apologize, and then you will be able to sleep at night. You...

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