Sunday, February 19, 2006


You have questions. Adorno has answers.

Dear Adorno;
What's up with the vexed relationship between pedagogical theory and its practical application ? I mean, the more progressive composition theory I study, the harder it is for me to actually teach freshman comp. Is this situation inherently problematic or is it just me?

-- A Little Nostalgic for the Days of the Five Paragraph Essay

Dear A Little;
Please, call me Weisengrund. First of all, quit it with the nostalgia. I assure you, it won't get you where you need to go. But do consider this:

"Valid [composition] today is polarized into, on the one hand, an unassuaged and inconsolable expressivity that rejects every last trace of conciliation and becomes autonomous construction; and, on the other, the expressionlessness of construction that expresses the dawning powerlessness of expression."

That is to say that within the university, I think that the revolution wished by composition theory cannot possibly find praxis. Its political means are fetishized as ends, thereby disguising that the process takes place within oppressive labor relations determined, ultimately, by a kind of bourgeois solipsism. Remember:

"The violence done to the material imitates the violence that issued from the material and that endures in its resistance to form. The subjective domination of the act of forming is not imposed on irrelevant materials but is read out of them...."

I'm with Walter on this; the crisis of composition instruction may be partially assuaged by avant-garde documentary studies, to the extent that documentary studies likewise experiences these violences and takes part in the bringing about of the crisis.

Hope this helps!

(p.s. the quotations are from pages 43 and 50 of my text _Aesthetic Theory_)


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