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June 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 6 Jun 1995 10:00:42 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (36 lines)
on the vexed question of the unreadability of much academic criticism:
lamenting the loss of McDonald, Warshow, Agee, (even) Kael is useless and
beside the point . . . they all wrote in and for a more or less shared and
common culture . . . and even when they recognized the political implications
of their cultural views and activities [as common in PR] they thought of the
relationship between art and cultural as relatively stable
we can't do that any more
the opening up of the academy not only to outsiders who wanted to assimilate
this common culture and thus become insiders, but also and MORE IMPORTANTLY
to outsiders who cared about maintaining their own culture made the very
terms and  premises of the earlier ciriticism themselves the subject of the
new academic investigations . . . so that the best critics today can not
simply respond impressionisticaly to films (like Warshow and Kael) or even
thematize them politically (like McDonald) because those very critical
processes have become what academic ciritics are trying to understand and
either condemn, justify, or adjust
in short in an age with no or few shared cultural paradigms--an age, that is,
like ours--the most interesting discourse is inevitably meta-discourse . . .
and meta-discourse (like this message itself) ain't all that readable
which is not to say that it con't be done better or to pretend that most
academic elegant writers . . . in fact many of them write like plumbers . . .
but it may be the case that in an age which wants to examine the pipes that
deliver our cultural materials to us, plumbers are what is needed
mike frank
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