On the Pomo Mess in Academia

In “On Loving Literature”, William Giraldi comments on the collective death of English Departments across academia, 45 years in the making:

All English professors, alas, are not created equal. To have studied under Lionel Trilling or F. R. Leavis is not identical to having studied under an obscurantist, deconstructionist academic who believes in his middling spirit and mind that, say, Homer is harmful to the morale of those who proudly make a profession of being offended. Trilling crafted incisive, agile, memorable sentences that corresponded perfectly to the undulations and contours of his thinking. And while it’s true that in England Leavis exerted a mafioso’s control over English departments, marshaling literature to perform an ethical scrutiny—tell him what books you love and he’ll tell you your moral coordinates—it’s also true that his insights, relayed in that donnishly charismatic prose, are capable of increasing our pleasure in and understanding of novels and poems. Derrida and de Man, meanwhile, are capable only of pleasure-death through their glutinous obfuscations in prose so clotted with plaque it practically begs for a blood thinner.

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