Pushing Back: Language, Truth, and Consequences

Pushing Back: Language, Truth, and Consequences

by John Fraser

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Pushing Back pushes back against GBTs (Great Big Theories) that confine literary discourse, especially poems, to zones where realworld truth-testing and value-judgments are told, "Keep Out; This Means You." Fraser steers between the Scylla of transcendent insights obtained courtesy of Metaphor, Image, and Symbol, Inc., and the Charybdis of literary language sucking its own pretensions down into the Void. A disrespecter of fixed categories and dichotomies himself, he shows by a variety of means how a functional looseness and local precisions, grounded in realworld experiences and the speaking voice, are a defence against implosion and collapse..

In an opening set of four articles, he looks, with an abundance of examples, at the workings of so-called ordinary language and the satisfiable hunger for plenitude, communality, and emotional substance. After which, the topics that he touches on include Mallarmé, Hopkins, Woolf ( kinesthetic richness), Stanley Fish and Northrop Frye (ungood), Yvor Winters and F.R. Leavis (good), Symbolism and Genius (proceed with caution), Descartes and Swift (Enlightenment energies), and Gérard de Nerval (psychological brilliance, and "classical" clarity, as celebrated at a Martian conference).

In the last part of the book, going on from points in the Introduction, Fraser conducts a guerrilla campaign against old-world nihilism, whoopy-doopy Silicon futurism, and simplistic ideas of Truth, and reaffirms the importance of political engagement. Shakespeare, Borges, Pound, Fenollosa, the Glub, and sub-Saharan African art are among the guest appearances. Plus a few recollections about his dealings with theory as graduate-student 'zine editor and, years later, seminar-giver.

251 words

Product Details

BN ID: 2940150918948
Publisher: eBookIt.com
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

JOHN FRASER is the author of Violence in the Arts (1974), America and the Patterns of Chivalry (1982), and The Name of Action; Critical Essays (1985), all published by Cambridge University Press.

He was born in North London, went to a provincial grammar school, and has degrees from Oxford and the University of Minnesota, where he did a Philosophy minor, with classes from Wilfrid Sellars and Alan Donagan, and wrote the article on 20thc.American and British poetics, for the first edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry ad Poetics.

He taught for thirty years at Dalhousie University, and in 1990 gave the Alexander Lectures at the University of Toronto, on "Nihilism, Modernism, and Value." He was married to the artist Carol Hoorn Fraser (1930-1991).

Articles of his appeared in the Partisan Review, the Southern Review, Studio International and other journals. A reviewer of Violence in the Arts found it the product of "an extremely agile and incessantly active mind which illuminates almost every subject it touches" (Spectator) His website, www.jottings.ca includes the major revisionist anthology A New Book of Verse.

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