Saturday, April 14, 2012

Episode 1300: Shifting Ideas...

So I've just found out that my conference paper needs to last for 20 minutes, which translates to around 2500 words. Definitely can write that within a week! I've started reading, and even have a serviceable opening sentence in mind. Started reading Bloom's book, but the more I got through it, the more I became convinced that my supervisor's suggestion at our last meeting to take those portions of Bloom's theory that suit my purposes instead of just rejecting it wholesale isn't going to work out. The reason is that the theory advanced in The Anxiety Of Influence appears to me to be precisely the sort of totalising framework that Ross Forman was warning me against trying to impose on my readings of the poems in Reflecting On The Merlion, and as such, to extract bits of Bloom's theory seems to be a wilful distortion of his ideas. More and more, I'm starting to think that a return to Eliot's essay 'Tradition And The Individual Talent' would prove more clarifying. There is even a helpful connection within Bloom's book, where he refers to the sixth (and most advanced) revisionary ratio as 'the return of the dead', even if the sense in which he means it isn't as benign as Eliot's. I think what I'm struggling with is wanting a critical vocabulary that conveys antagonism, yet increasingly realising that while the various Merlion poems do have a tendency to critique their antecedents, only Lee Tzu Pheng's 'The Merlion To Ulysses' is openly and unambivalently hostile to Thumboo's original poem. All the other poets are either critiquing the Merlion as an icon (rather than Thumboo's poem and its intentions) or expressing a level of hesitancy or self-doubt about themselves.

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