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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Classic takedowns

I subscribed to the NYRB the other day. I used to have a sub long ago.  So I got access to all the archives. I have been revisiting the classic takedowns. Crews on Freud and Freudians.  Renata Adler on Pauline Kael. Helen Vendler's savaging of Gilbert and Gubar. Many articles by Charles Rosen. 

It made me think to of Chomsky v. Skinner. Of Edward Pechter and Richard Levin in the PMLA attacking New Historicism and similar tendencies, in the 1990s. Derrida defending himself in Critical Inquiry against people who had misinterpreted him on Apartheid. Perloff putting Eshleman in his place.  

The feature I most enjoy is the attempts at rebuttals by the aggrieved parties and their surrogates, and the masterful responses of the attackers. The aggrieved parties almost always take the tone of apolectic outrage, but typically the original critic is able to remain calm. 

One's own position comes into play in judging the merits of the arguments, but even if I were a Freudian I don't think I would say that Crews loses the debate against Freud's defenders. He is a better arguer. At times, I have to give up my own positions because the arguments on the side I initially defended are just not good ones, or i don't want to be defending things I don't really believe in. 

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Another take down: Searle on Culler.