Tuesday, May 22, 2007

back....but for how long? More musings on literature....

Well my computer apparently has an attitude problem. It hasn't turned on for over two months and just now I randomly hit the power key and here I am. But it's too late, this will be the last blog ever typed on this computer. Good riddance.

I am also now officially banned from a tiny computer store called HOUR COMPUTERS where they fix your computer in an hour. My Ass. I went there three times for a simple diagnostic (a.k.a. tell me what is wrong) and never got a clear answer despite forking out over 90 dollars for a can of compressed air and a laptop that won't turn on. I demanded my money back and asked the guy how he could seriously charge me 90 dollars for hitting the reset key (0.8 seconds) and cleaning the fan with air (2.2 seconds). He gave me my money back after some not-so-friendly "banter" back and forth and finally told me he never wanted to see me come in his shop again to which I willingly agreed.

So that is done.

On with bigger better things. I am loving my two month break from classes. I just finished reading a George Bush biography...it read a little too much like a long resume of self praise and self creation, but deep down I think his message was to show he's a sincere man who sticks to his guns and he's one rich s.o.b. Good stuff. I reread a Mark Haddon book the other day...A curious incident of the dog in the night....not so good the second time. Can't believe that won the Whitbread award. Read a book suggested to me by my wife..the Chrysalids by John Wyndam, I really enjoyed it and its a quick read. If you like Christianized science fiction check it out. Uh...wow not too much is new with me but new books. ah well, bear with me. Read an AMAZING book by Italo Calvino called If on a winter's night a traveler. I suggest anybody who wants to know how and why they read this is a book for you. It is frustrating because it follows a man trying to read the "new Calvino" and each time he is frustrated by some type of error in publishing or translating that leads him to a new work. So there is some crazy play between the fictional story and this man's constant interruptions into the text that connect in some cool ways. It definitely needs a reread, so i will return it to my friend and put it on my list of books i want to buy (or recieve as gifts).

Even more exciting I started a book I bought a long time ago but never sat down to read it. It's called The Christian Imagination and is an anthology of Christian aesthetic / literary theories. I just finished the first part yesterday and it has blown open my mind about how
Perhaps the most interesting part was Dorothy Sayer's belief that the creation of literature is Trinitarian. It starts with an IDEA which has relation to the overarching power of the FATHER. Than there is a CREATIVE force which takes this abstract idea (or ideas) and incarnates them into images, characters, settings, dialogues (the basic parts of literature) which is analogous to the work of the SON. Finally, this demands a RESPONSE from the reader, a phenomenon quite similar to the work of the SPIRIT in our lives. Now Rankin mentions that this may be extending Tolkien's idea/metaphor of sub-creation too far, but what if she is only getting at the beginning...what if we went even farther... I think we can in interesting ways.

If all literature (as Sayers argues) is sub-creation and not only Fantasy (as Tolkien argues) than each text we read from an author along with that particular author's entire corpus, constitutes a world. The author as sub-creator is a "god" of that work in the sense that he/she has created it (not ex nihilo...that is only the work of capital "G" God) out of the raw materials of art. Now while the potter uses clay, the painter uses paints and canvas, the material of literature is words and language to communicate something (than would finnegan's wake be fiction? I'm not sure on this yet myself). The abstract of ideas. However, unlike philosophy it does not lay it out in a logical framework; rather, its task is (to me at least) much more difficult since it has to give the idea flesh in a character. So where can we expand on this?

If literature is like a world that suggests one should also read the text as he/she reads the world? It seems that some of the problems that Philosophers like Wolterstorff, Kierkegaard, Kuyper, Dooyeweerd (I'm showing how limited my philosophy is to REdeemer curriculum..AHHH) have with reductionistic philosphical systems has translated almost wholesale into literary theory. Marx says that the world can be reduced to economical systems and the literary criticism deemed "Marxist" also attempts, quite wrongly, to reduce the components of literature to compteting economic systems. This holds true with Freudian Psychoanalysis and other theories - when we reduce the world we live in we tend to also reduce the worlds we write and read.

An awesome solution to these reductionistic tendencies is Dooyeweerd's Cosmonomic Philosophy. If his system of modalities is a viable and refreshing way to engage the pluriformity of the world God created (and I'm sure those with more sophisticated knowledge of Dooyeweerd would debunk this or, more positiviely, nuance it) than wouldn't Dooyeweerd's philosophy be translatable into a literary theory that enjoys the pluriformity of meanings in texts? I think it could work. We could enjoy the biology, the social structures, the economics, the theologies, etc. in the worlds of Tolkien, Dickens, Pullman, Woolf, the Pearl Poet, Bissoondath, Ondaatje, WHOEVER. and once we start to pull on various threads they lead us. They are, like Dooyeweerd's modes, anticipatory in the sense that they lead us to something, not an absence at the end of the road, but the mind of the author.

hmmm...well i had some more to say about the idea of reading from an Archimedean point, but i just decided to erase the whole paragraph and start over. If any reader has a suggestion of the archimedean point for reading i'm all ears. Well, honeymustard pork chops are on the grill and it is the American Idol finale.. Boo ya.

hmm. ok, this blog entry needs some work. \i'll be back on this later.



Rebecca said...

sweet. I was going to ask you to send me a reading list of quality books for the summer, and your blog just said it all. Thanks bro-
Do you want to start being called alias.nathanial crisp? or is that just a blog name?

You are weird

D. J. Sikkema said...

ree...alias means a false name. so you don't need to call me alias. unless you want, than call me alias brown.
and answer my blog question! you are one of the few who have read dooyeweerd!