Contemplative Wednesday

Only once did my passion for reading steer me in the wrong direction, and that was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school. There, I soon realized that my love for books was unshared by many of my classmates and professors. I found it hard to understand what they did love, exactly, and this gave me an anxious shiver that would later seem like a warning about what would happen to the teacing of literature over the decade or so after I dropped out of my Ph.D. program. That was when literary academia split into warring camps of deconstructionists, Marxists, feminists, and so forth, all battling for the right to tell students that they were reading “texts” in which ideas and politics trumped what the writer had actually written.

– Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer


8 Responses to Contemplative Wednesday

  1. eatsbugs says:

    Hindsight is 20/20, no?

  2. a lee says:

    yepper. i often think of Jackson Pollock’s line, when asked what his paintings “meant”:

    “It’s like looking at a bed of flowers. You don’t tear your hair out over what it means.”

  3. The Rebuker says:

    I am breathing deeply of this quote. *inhale, exhale*
    It’s so refreshing, especially after this first week’s round of classes. You know, I’m seriously thinking about switching to the MFA program. I don’t know if I can handle another god knows many more classes where I have to “read” a text in such an annoying and counterintuitive way.

  4. a lee says:


    I think you’ll all appreciate this one, then:

  5. firewings says:

    Indeed – counter-intuitive is a great way to describe it. What I would hesitate with a MFA is, beyond getting good advice from a teacher or two with a writing background, you’ll be sitting in many a touchy feely circle with twenty something chain-smokers that feel they have the right to explicitly take something you love apart and murder it…usually just because of style issues.

    That seems pointless as well somehow.

    Also, I about died from that link. I KNOW people like that.

    That said *cough* there is always the RPC program.

    *smiles wickedly*

  6. a lee says:


    *smiles politely*

  7. David Baird says:

    From what I’ve heard from a friend who went to St. John’s College (not St. John’s University), I’d recommend their program. First of all, the professors don’t tell you how to think. When reading, they recommend that you skip the foreword/commentary found at the beginnings of the books, because they don’t want you to be influenced by some outsider’s opinion. They want you to just read the raw, unadulterated literature and form your own ideas about it. Another part of the St. John’s is teaching you about logical reasoning skills. They don’t teach you what to reason – they show you *how* to reason for yourself. There is probably no way someone who doesn’t appreciate reading could stay in St. John’s. NMSU, OTOH, is probably not the best school for this.

  8. The Rebuker says:

    Oh, yeah. RPC, huh? I watched you slog miserably through two years of that crap. I’ll stay in my own intellectual rut, thank you.

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