Picard in his attack on Barthes says that using the language of a discipline without practicing this discipline is reducing this critical language to a set of metaphors (with reference to psychoanalysis). Is this not the entire problem with the edifice of literary theory? Starting with structuralist linguistics as the supposed basis of a scientific structuralism applied to literature.
We find this elsewhere too: any metaphorical, non-rigorous use of the terms of another discipline...
Similarly, any reference to "zen," to "relativity" used outside the contest of actual zen practice, actual physics...
So then what *is* appropriate to read with literature, or bring to bear upon it, or bring to it? I was taught that literature was the expression of history, that it was philosophical, that it was artistic. The people who said these things believed in literary history, philology, rhetoric, and stylistics, and I guess in the new criticism, but with respect for some of those new criticism was supposed to replace. Literariness was very important, René Wellek but also the idea of littérarité.
It's all fine, but Barthes is saying this is scientific and objective, and it's not. It's just another set of metaphors that may or may not be pertinent.
and if you don't understand the basis of the metaphor it is likely to be misleading.
This something Kuhn got right. Science is always science relative (!) to a paradigm. And a paradigm is constituted by something like 20-100 people using language (and other things) in the same way. If you're not actually letting your perceptions and your utterances be "disciplined" by a reasonably identifiable group of peers, you're not doing science. But you don't have to be doing science. Barthes certainly didn't.
I'm not sure "zen" is a good example of this, though. It seems to me there are too many legitimate interpretations of that notion to constitute a single discipline. Then again...Maybe this isn't a rhetorical question: Is a reference to "sin" outside the Christian faith merely "metaphorical"?
I should read Picard. I should spend more time reading theory, I've realized, it was always what made me happy (yes, I am perverse in that way). I wonder if quitting it was what got me so depressed that time.
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