The Following Essay Analyzes Two Articles Arguing For The Importance Of Literary Aestheticism As An Adjunct To Ideological Critique.

2253 words - 9 pages

While many people (the ingenuous) may argue that literature has no function whatsoever, and that it is only the product, like any other product, such as a Chia pet, music videos, and video games, meant solely for personal gratification, those reflective and erudite few who prefer lucubration to the mental masturbation (which video games and music videos engender) of the majority in society understand that the functions of literature and reasons for its production, and indeed everything in society that can be read as a "text", are multifarious and have a profound impact on those who "read" them. However, despite the agreement about the many functions that literature performs, there is striking dissension over the existence and degree of such things as overt and implicit ideological and political agendas, the value of literature as a product entirely free of such agendas, the qualities that constitute "literary greatness" (if there is such a thing), and whether literature is subjective, and meant for the individual, or inherently objective, either in implicit or explicit language, helping to form communal bonds through inter-subjectivity, or perhaps to use that same inter-subjectivity as a hostile take-over measure by indoctrinating unsuspecting masses with clandestine ideologies. The complications that literature, which extrinsically seems to be linguistic constructs signifying concepts, in the abstract, or constructs, in the concrete, that is literal, categorical, and ubiquitously accepted by both the hoi polloi and the literati alike pose for the sophisticated reader, regardless of whether such concerns are incontrovertible sooths or just the fiction of pedants, ideologues, hypochondriacs, and lunatics (Levine believes that they are certainly veracious) is that it blinds them to the, in recent years, much neglected aesthetic realm, precluding them from seeing the value of literature as literature and not an arena for the cacophonous din of authorial polemic or the surreptitious sibilance of the oppressed attempting to subvert a societal construct that they despise.A noted literary critic, Levine does not in any way discount the value of cultural studies, and sympathizes with those who seek to overcome oppressive political dominance. However, the possibility that aestheticism may be entirely eschewed in favor of extrinsic concerns frightens him, and he feels compelled to "rescue it from its potential disappearance into culture and politics" (380). Unfortunately, he fears that he may be derided or ostracized by his contemporaries for his defense of the aesthetic, for as he admits himself, " Many of those who have attempted to argue for literary value have clearly pandered to popular audiences through self-righteous and universalizing rhetoric that posits a generalized human nature and remains blind to its own provincialism" (381).Rather than remaining reticent, quashed by fear of others' reactions, Levine begins his apology for aesthetics as he...

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