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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Uncollegial

Just by believing that the quality of criticism I was promoting was superior, and acting on the belief, I ran the risk of seeming ungrateful, petulant, arrogant, and uncollegial. A jerk. I could repress my true beliefs, or express them, or some combination of both (as it happened). Both the expression and the repression had psychic costs, took their toll on me, as I wavered between those two positions. You can suffer in silence, or suffer more loudly and be thought a jerk.

I was told I shouldn't care so much about APD's dominance of the field, that I shouldn't be so resentful and petty. After all, there were plenty of other critics who weren't beholden to him. I was exaggerating his importance, etc... But the same people would tell me, by implication, that my field was virtually worthless (except for me, presumably!).

Even now, I feel I shouldn't be airing this controversy. Nevertheless, there are some wounds that remain fresh, something here is unresolved. I still need to remain collegial, but also correct some major issues lingering from that dark period.

2 comments:

profacero said...

Well, you know, one is supposed to be deferential and middle of road and that is the culture that produced APD.

One rule of thumb for that kind of work is, don't think hard, just have an intuition or a conviction, make an assertion, and temper it with a "perhaps."

Thomas said...

I'm wondering how this line of thinking is going to develop. My experience is more about the psychic and social costs of expression. I have a feeling you found a better balance than I did. One has to find place in the culture, after all.

What was it Leonard Cohen said? "Poetry is not a vocation it is a verdict."

Well, scholarship actually is a vocation, and we do well to remember that there can be no social life without repression.