I always wonder about the authors of literary theory or criticism: who do they think they’re writing for?

Unfortunately, in many cases the answer seems to be: themselves. Or rather, people exactly like them.

Fellows readers of academic writing, you  know what this is like.

As required by my major and my department, I’ve read my share of literary theory; many of the “classics,” as it were. Pieces by Foucault, Bahktin, Greenblatt, Butler, Freud, Jung, countless others. (Don’t even get me started on the craziness of some: my critical theory grad seminar spent a whole class trying to picture exactly what the hell a rhizome is really supposed to look like; we ended up being someone around a garden potato.) And generally speaking, they are all pretty brilliant in one way or another – even if that way means you can only tell that at some point in life, the writer had a brilliant idea, and stopped there.

But there are some pieces that are so wrapped up in their own “brilliant” way of thinking, that you’re left with only two options: 1, that the work is so wonderful and smart that the only reason you can’t understand it is becasue you are not as wonderful and/or smart; and 2, that it’s a piece of crap, the author knows it’s a piece of crap, and therefore decides to write using the most-confusing logic available, that may/may not have made sense to them or their editor at some point.

[If you’re still following me after that paragraph, you must have been in this situation before.]

Which brings me to this question: Does critical work need to be complicated to be respected?

I’ve never had a teacher that didn’t want their students to write concisely, so where are these writers coming from? (I’m not sure where, but I’m sure you’re not supposed to ask.) Then again, I’ve had teachers comment that sometimes being too logical is a negative, making your argument too predictable.

I digress. But what causes this whole issue to pop up (yet again) was a book I’m reading for my thesis which cited a large paragraph of French without giving a translation.

I wonder: Is this inconsiderate of the author, or just an error on my part? Perhaps, in their mind, I am expected to be able to read Old English, Middle English, Latin, and French (and two out off the list just doesn’t cut it).

Yeah…..I’ll get back to them on that one.

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Oh, politics these days. 

Watching Friday’s presidential debate was…interesting. And I kept noticing some things. For some reason, McCain would not look at Obama while Obama was speaking, and he wouldn’t look at the camera during his own responses. Obama was engaged with not only the moderator, but the people at home. I felt like he was more respectful to his opponent, and he looked at McCain thoughtfully. It was like McCain was afraid that looking at his opponent might lower him to the level that he was actually considering what Obama said.

And, I’m sorry, but it seems like McCain only really cares about certain groups of people. When Obama stated how it was terrible that veterans didn’t have enough coverage to get therapy for PTSD, McCain responded by saying that he would take care of the vets because he ‘loves’ them. But when Obama also said that it was deplorable that the average American citizen was unisured, that children and parents were unisured, McCain said nothing. It was as if he only cared about the vets. Liberal or not, the plight of the unisured is inexusable. And it remains that if we elect a Republican their focus will be more on America’s internation affairs and containing terrorism rather than the conditions within this country. And I’m sorry, but while foreign policy and security is very important, a country must be aware of what ails the average good citizen. And with the economy going the way that it is, ailments are on the rise. If nothing here changes, what exactly are we working (and spending) to protect? And we MUST work to end our dependance on foreign oil. People have known for decades that the oil supply would run out eventually, but we put it off, and now it’s our problem, and it has to be be solved sooner than later.

And Sarah Palin. What can I say about her? She offends me on about 27 different levels, which I won’t go into. But mainly she is not qualified to be in the white house, and she is not a proper representetive for the people of the United States. I’m not sure who she represents exactly, but I don’t think she’s the kind who gets invited back to political conferences.

Speaking of American oddities, the Vampire seems to be gaining some kind of revival. I admit, I didn’t really think I would like Twilight, but I loved it, and I wasn’t planning to watch True Blood, the new HBO series, but I did, and I’m kind of hooked. True Blood is like Twilifght grown up, with more nudity and gore – HBO style. It’s an odd show really, but I’m actually looking forwarfd to watching it tonight.

So why has the Vampire come back now? Since Interview with the Vampire, there hasn’t really been a mainstream vampire movement, except in poorly made horror flicks. What is it about our culture that is allowing the trend to resurface? Is it that we feel we are being sucked dry by some mysterious force that has blended in and, on the surface, looks just like everyone else? And vampires are always connected to sexuality, so is that somehow related to the pop-culture sex industry? There’s a clear separation in these kind of societies, where one group has most of the power and lives off the other group. Now, where do I see that….maybe how the rich keep getting richer while the middle class is being drained? And, just like in True Blood, being bitten does not necessarily make you one of them – and certainly being used by the upper hands of this country does not make you better off.

I’m not sure,  but, at this point, I think it might be more fun to be violated by a smoldering vampire than the American economy, or the gas pump. True Blood agrees.

So look out for my Master’s of English dissertation: the relationship between the emergence of Vampire literature and political/economic culture.

Just kidding – though, wouldn’t that be fun?