Summer is moving along – three panels of the fence came down in the straight-line wind on Monday night.
Is it a Crime? – JSTOR Daily G Stein. Modernist pulp fiction. Compare reading Stein with empathic reading.
The Current “Longest Strawman Argument Article” of 2022 is… Response to The Empathy Racket – by Alice Gribbin. I’m in there with Birchler: The argument for empathy is borrowed from 1950s didactic criticism, and more than shows its prescriptive years.
It’s Art Appreciation revisited. The pathetic fallacy re-woke. It’s in line with reader response criticism, but I’m not sure it offers much that is new. It seems to turn reader response towards the normative and “utilitarian,” and away from the ideosyncratic and functional – but I wonder if that’s a good thing. But response to art as a litmus test has been used for ever.
As Gribbin writes, “… the reasoning behind the default to empathy is … shallow and deadening.” It’s an extension of the psychology reasoning – the value of the work depends on the depth of the psyche – and, as she argues, it places a normative measure on the manner of reading. But that the insistence on reading empathically is made by those who are aesthetically stunted is too harsh and narrow. Normative positions are always narrow, based on half-understood ideas. But is empathic reading a racket, noise? 0r a Ponzi scheme a grift? Might be: The position certainly can be, and has been, used that way (Richardson, and some local poets come to mind). The position is riding on the idea that Virtue is Worn on the Sleeve These Days. But it is facile and adolescent; that is, didactic. Normative. Gribbin gets a little preachy and didactic when she’s framing her argument.
The idea that the empathic reading position is aligned with self-help books is interesting and worth considering, if only to widen it a bit. It’s a narrow connection. But the narrowness of the work at MIA’s Center for Empathy and Visual Arts (CEVA) needs a good kicking because there are more salient ways of thinking about art and social crises. It is the purpose of the museum to address social ills, but how is up for financial debate.
My response: Teach modernism. Make it new.
Slashdot Sentient AI. LaMDA is not sentient. And even the attempt to side-step argument by declaring belief isn’t going to change things.