My Post (“Teaching Literature”) & Reassigned Time

Dear readers,

In a little while, I’ll put up a link to a new Valve post on literature and class, in response to a heated ongoing discussion with Dr. Crazy and some of her readers. However, since, if you go to her blog, you will find two follow-up posts (one and two) expressing her extreme frustration with me, I thought it important to put in a word here about our disagreement.

I wrote that I found her post “odd,” and not particularly “sensible.” That doesn’t mean that Dr. Crazy, as a person, is odd or clueless, and it frustrates me that she would characterize my reaction that way. She’s a hugely respected blogger, and from what I can tell, she deserves it.

I have been involved in several blog wars, as opposed to what could perhaps be called “online debates,” and I hate them. But it’s hard for me to see how I could have handled this matter differently. I felt as driven to respond to her initial post, given my disagreements with her, as she did when she read mine.

Of course, I could have written a post just about why I teach literature, without responding at all to what she wrote. But I see that as a lack of engagement. Furthermore, I think there’s something at stake here, about which people actually can be right or wrong. The fact that Dr. Crazy is angry — hell, the fact that I was angry after reading her post — I consider partial proof of those stakes.

If Diablo Cody read Dr. Crazy’s post on Juno, it’s hard to imagine that she would be very pleased. What Crazy finds emblematic in the film, Cody could call specific to that story — in this case, Jennifer Garner happens to be a better person than Jason Bateman, but your mileage may vary, I admit it, stop criticizing my movie. In fact, Cody put the film out there, and Crazy responded critically in a way I found utterly sympathetic. Similarly, Crazy published her post, and I saw it because it got re-posted admiringly in lots of places. It made some good points and started a wonderful meme, but that’s nothing I haven’t already said over at the Valve.

Although the nature of my blogging has changed somewhat since I began blogging under my own name, I assert (with apologies to The Weblog) the moral right to be identified as the author of my posts. I believe in what I’m writing, which is why I’m willing to enter into debates even though I don’t find them all that pleasurable. Dr. Crazy writes that she and I might belong to “different galaxies,” but that’s far from being true — we are American academics at a moment when the humanities seem to be experiencing both an identity crisis and a dearth of galvanizing new ideas.