Last week Kent asked AMV readers to consider what would make a Mormon theory of literature different. I could be wrong, but I’m assuming that his points of comparison–his different than–are general theories of literature as well as the theories of literature practiced in the Mormon Letters community. In response to Kent’s query, to the responses it received, and to some other things that have been written in the past two years or so about the relationship among Mormons, Mormonism, literature, and theory, I’m developing some ideas on this relationship and the ways it has been theorized by members of the Mormon letters community; as I develop them, I’ll further address some things that I think are vital to this relationship and how it functions as a critical apparatus. I offer the incipient thoughts that make up this post in earnest of the more thorough treatment I’m composing. My primary focus in this brief discussion is to outline the ways theory and Mormonism get talked about in Kent’s post and its thread of responses (at least those made up to Jonathan’s 2/10/14 reply).
I see reference to at least three kinds of theory in the discussion: theories of Mormon literature, theories of Mormons and literature, and Mormon theories of literature. While I plan to elaborate more on these kinds of theory as I develop a more extensive response, for now here’s how I distinguish among them: Continue reading “Thoughts Toward a More Thorough Treatment of Mormons, Mormonism, Literature, and Theory”
I threw a minor fit on Twitter the other evening over the New York Times article How Nonsense Sharpens the Mind, which reports on a study that claims that experiencing the uncanny, the weird, the absurd, the freaky “may prime the brain to sense patterns it would otherwise miss.” What provoked the outburst on my part was the revelation that the researchers rewrote a Kafka short story for use in their study. Here’s how the reporter Benedict Carey describes it:
In the most recent paper, published last month, Dr. Proulx and Dr. Heine described having 20 college students read an absurd short story based on “The Country Doctor,” by Franz Kafka. The doctor of the title has to make a house call on a boy with a terrible toothache. He makes the journey and finds that the boy has no teeth at all. The horses who have pulled his carriage begin to act up; the boy’s family becomes annoyed; then the doctor discovers the boy has teeth after all. And so on. The story is urgent, vivid and nonsensical — Kafkaesque.
“The Country Doctor” is my favorite Kafka short story and is the piece of literature I have spent the most time with as a critic. I read it and wrote about Continue reading “The many misuses of Kafka and insider knowledge”
I follow a number of self-publishing email lists, full of authors either trying to get their manuscript accepted by a publisher or trying to publish and sell the manuscript themselves. Despite the almost uniform lack of financial success among these authors, nearly every author is in the middle of writing a new manuscript.
Continue reading “If Not For Money, Then What?”