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05/15/2006

Comments

Jonathan Mayhew

Rorty's been influenced by Bloom too, in his notion of strong poets. I believe Rorty actually uses that phrase. Or is my memory playing trick on me?

Dan Green

You may be right, but I don't think Rorty uses the term to indicate those poets who have strongly misread their predecessors in the Oedipal struggle Bloom describes.

Jonathan Mayhew

It's in the book "Contingency, Irony, Solidarity." Yes, Rorty de-oedipalizes Bloom's notion of the strong poet, but the connection is with pragmatism. The strong poet is one who presents a powerful vision, but one that is contingent, not absolute. Bloom's pragmatic Emersonian poet is Rorty's liberal hero, who provides a powerful vision, but one that's aesthetic (or relative) and not religious (or absolute). Bloom himself has been struggling to find the boundary between the aesthetic and the theological. His recent readings of theology are aesthetic and of literary texts, quasi-theological.

Dan Green

I don't have access to my copy of that book at the moment, but as I recall, the burden of Rorty's argument about the value of literature and its "aesthetic" vision is that it allows us to see that our greatest failing is our cruelty to one another. It has a potentially ameliorating effect in this way. I'd have to say that Bloom's vision of the death struggle that goes on in the history of literary influence and in our own encounters with great poetry would hold Rorty's account to be rather tepid.

Jonathan Mayhew

Good point. Bloom's vision is a lot darker and more "agonistic" than Rorty's. Rorty's revision of the Bloomian concept falls back on some liberal pieties that Bloom would not accept, maybe.

Dan Green

And in this sense I would say that Rorty engages in a weak misreading of Bloom, in the same way Bloom has previously done a weak misreading of Rorty.

Kit Stolz

I wonder if this is what Borges meant, metaphorically, when he said that "The original is unfaithful to the translation."

-- On Henley's translation of Beckford's Vathek, 1943

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The Art of Disturbance--Available as Pdf and Kindle Ebook
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Literary Pragmatism--Available as a Pdf