Methods of Literary Criticism

I have discovered some tools for the methodology of literary criticism. They are:
a) Philosophical Etymology
b) Cultural Anatomy
c) Psychological Pharmacology
d) Ontological Nebula

 
Philosophical Etymology
What is philosophical Etymology? Philosophical etymology is a cross examination of literary and cultural meanings in the light of Philosophy. It seeks to give newer shades of meaning to older thoughts. Let’s look at some examples. The school of structuralism coined that all language is made up of signs. A sign consists of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is a visual tangible thing and the signified is an idea. Let’s use an example: I blossomed in her garden. Here blossomed is figurative and an idea and hence it is the signified. Garden forms the signifier.

 
Postmodern Philosopher Derrida developed the idea of Binary Divide. A Binary Divide is a text that privileges some and marginalizes others. Let’s look at an example. It is said in an advert: Wanted only Native Speakers to Teach English. This narrative privileges Native Speakers over English spoken by the colonized people. Using the Binary Divide we can deconstruct texts.

 
From Derrida I have developed an idea called Binary Fusion. Binary fusion is a text that promotes equality. Let’s look at an advert. We do not discriminate people on the basis of gender, color or orientation. This text contains a Binary Fusion. Let’s look at another example. Black Culture, Black Gospel, Jazz and Blues are universally epitomized binary fusions of culture. A literary interpreter can analyze texts and bring out notions of marginalization and privilege and also write a narrative of Binary Fusion.

 
Then comes Kristeva’s texts of the semiotic and the symbolic. A semiotic text omits grammar and punctuation. Such a kind of text can be found in streams of consciousness narratives, in drama, film and music. A symbolic text on the other hand adheres to the strict conventions of language. Doing a literary analysis we can classify texts into semiotic and symbolic elements.

 
Form a Marxian point of view we can analyze texts by looking at class values like the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Do texts privilege the Blue Blood or monitor the interests of the working class. Does the text promote the interests of the Capitalist society? What is the dialectic materialism embedded in the text. This refers to political and historical problems created by Social tremors. The narrator can find out how various social institutions have contributed to the writing of literature.

 
Philosophical Etymology also takes a look at Feminist Theology. Do social, cultural, political and historical institutions promote gender equality and support Feminism. How are the roles of a working mother enacted in s society? Does the intrusion of masculinity affect the reading of texts? To what levels of subversion are meanings of the feminine in a text?

 
Psychological Pharmacology
Psychological Pharmacology looks at the theories of Freud, Lacan and Jung. From Freud we have the three states: ID (passion and the libido), Ego (language and culture assimilated from parents) and Super Ego (the laws of the society). While doing textual interpretation the author can find out how these mechanisms are working in a text. Texts can also be phallic and vaginal that is texts promoting the language of the feminine and the masculine. Is the language of the text phallic or vaginal?
Next I would like to take the theories of Lacan into consideration. Prominent are the Mirror Stage and the Gaze. The Mirror stage consists of the child’s entry into Language. Mirror stage can be a psychoanalytic tool to gauge level of subversion in a text. It’s an analysis of psychological symptoms in a work of literature. Gaze for Lacan has sexual connotations. What kind of gaze is present in a text? Gazes can be feminine, masculine and gay.
Next I would like to take Jung’s theories into account. Jung has classified the psyche into archetypes (personality types). Some archetypes are the Wizard, the Witch, the lover and many more. We can analyze how and why and for what these archetypes are created.

 
Ontological Nebula
Ontology a study of being comes from Existential Philosophy. Here I take the traditional ontology and the ontology created by me into consideration. Traditional Ontology, the one espoused by Sartre and Camus is destructive as it condemns life to be absurd and chaotic. Constructive Ontology created by me states that meaning of being lies in Valueblization (from Value and Realization). We can analyze texts and examine whether texts are favoring destructive ontology or constructive ontology.


Cultural Anatomy

What Cultural Functions does a text serve? For who is the narrative intended? Which cultural institutions are prominent? Is there a culture clash or a culture divide?

Philosophies which have fascinated me

I have been an avid reader of Philosophy and Literary theory. Here I would like to explicate some philosophies which have fascinated me.

I am fond of Plato especially his theory of forms. There is a dark cave and in it lot of people and they can see light emanating from a wall obstructing the cave. What Plato meant was there was an ideal world apart from the physical world.

Next is the Philosopher Hegel who said there is a thesis, synthesis and antithesis. Let’s use an example to illustrate his idea. The end of World War I brought the harsh treaty of Versailles on Germany a thesis and this gave rise to the rise of Nazi rule in Germany an antithesis and brought forth the persecution of Jews synthesis.

Next I would like to take up the Philosophy of Marx. Marxian theory follows upon the modality of dialectical materialism. Everything starts from production and in a society there is the proletariat or the working class who form the base of the society and then there is the bourgeoisie the capitalists and the various ideological apparatuses like police, govt., law media etc. Workers are exploited class and one day by revolution they will seize the reins of power and establish a got based on equality and justice. However Marxism is a failed theory.

Next I would like to meander into literary theory and I would like to take up the Philosopher Derrida and his idea of deconstruction. Texts privilege some and marginalize others. Through a process of deconstructive reading we attain an interpretative mode of how privilege and marginalization occur.

Next I would like to take plunge into existentialism and the ideas of John Paul Sartre. Sartre introduces the concept of angst and he also introduces a notion of being which occurs in three processes, being in itself, being for itself and being for others. All this he assimilates as ego states. Being for in itself is a state of primary consciousness. Being for itself is an experiential context of being where the being traverses between angst, ecstasy and catharsis. Being for others is an eleemosynary state of being where the being is being empathetic.

Next I would like to explain Julia Kristeva’s semiotic and the symbolic realm. The semiotic realm is a structure of language where there is absence of grammar and punctuation. The semiotic realm occurs in streams of consciousness narratives, in music and dance. The symbolic realm is a structure where texts contain a coherent ideological structure of language. Medicinal and legal texts are symbolic structures. Literary texts contain both semiotic and symbolic realms.

Next I would like to explain the thought of the structuralists. Structuralism divides the language into signs. A sign is made up of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is a visual tangible thing belonging to the realm of the senses. The signified is an idea. For example if I say Rose is Passion: Rose is the signifier and passion the signified.

Next I would like to make intrusions into Freudian theory. Freudian theory proposes the ID the Ego and the Super Ego. The ID is the primary seat of passion, the Ego the language and culture that is assimilated and the Super Ego the laws of the society. An individual has to do a tight-rope-walking between these three states to hold life in equilibrium. Next I would like to explain the Oedipus complex where a child develops a love towards the mother and hatred and desire to kill the father. Freud is mistaken in his view and it is only at the onset of puberty that sexuality awakens. Emotional and empathetic bonding will make childhood into a wholesome being.

Next I would like to take up the Lacanian gaze and the mirror stage. The mirror stage is a stage of childhood where the child attains the maturity of gazing upon oneself as a mirror. Here language enters into the realm of consciousness of the child and world of the child traverses from plenitude to lack. The mirror stage has been used in film studies and critical theory. Next I would like to introduce the concept of the gaze. The gaze has strong sexual connotations. Feminists have developed the concept feminine gaze. And there in today’s word there exists lesbian and gay gaze.

I would like to take up some ideas of the Philosopher Camus. Camus says that we should authenticate our existence and we should avoid suicide. For Camus life is meaningless and absurd. In his book the myth of the Sisyphus, man is condemned to roll a boulder uphill only to find that it is pushed down by the Gods and he has to roll it up all the away. Camus is famous for atheistic nihilism.

Next I would like to explain Nietzsche’s theory of ART. For Nietzsche art was the combination of the Dionysian and the Apollonian. The Dionysian includes rhythm and beat and the apollonian includes melody and harmony. When the Dionysian and the Apollonian elements merge there occurs art. The Dionysian element stands for altered states and ecstasy and Apollonian element stands for catharsis and angst.

It was the Philosopher Aristotle who introduced the idea of Catharsis by which he meant the purification of the soul while watching tragedy. All art is made up of Catharsis, Angst and Ecstasy. Life is a celebration of these three states of being.

Misreading Freud and Lacan

freud

Lacan

I have read vastly into Freud and Lacan who are all time popular psycho-analysts and whose theories are popular as jargon in the field of literary theory. It was when I started reading the Bible, I began to have second thoughts about them and I wanted reinterpret their theories with the light of Christian Apologetics.

First of all I would like to take the Freudian concepts of the ID, EGO and SUPEREGO. The ID according to Freud is the primary seat of passion and the stronghold of the libido. The EGO refers to the culture and language assimilated from the family. The SUPEREGO refers to the laws imposed by the society. What Freud has failed, is his efforts to integrate these concepts. It’s still a mystery to this day about how language is learnt by humans. The theories of language are rather vague and hazy. From a Freudian point of view we have to be an acrobat and tight-rope-walk on the ID, EGO and SUPEREEGO. Any loss of balance would be insanity and thus we have psychopaths and sociopaths who are not able to adjust these three states. From a Christian perspective, Christ made creation as a wholesome being. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve our psychological states became fragmented. After the entry of Christ and his shedding of blood on the cross and his offering of salvation, we are made whole beings once again. Such a type of consciousness, I would like to define as a neologism: CHRISTANONSCIOUSNESS or Christ plus consciousness. The Freudian fragmentation of consciousness is considerably reduced and we become parts of Christ as his brides.

Next I would like to take the Freudian concept of the Libido. Libido for Freud is the sexual drive. Here Freud fails to consider that we are humans and not animals. Incest is rare in society. Again Freud has misinterpreted the Libido to arise from birth. The libido begins only at the state of puberty. Parental relationship like, touch, sharing of emotions and care develops not the sexual organs but the mind. Freud was madly focused on the genitals which I think has been a red-herring. Love, emotions and care, I would like to say are responsible for the growth of psycho-emotivity of the person. A bad childhood can create psychological problems later on. Lack of development of psycho-emotivity can make individuals into psychos and sociopaths. It’s very interesting to observe how Christ treated mentally deranged people. He treated them with love, empathy and respect and healed their afflictions totally. Notable is the man from Gadarene. Cure for Christ was not altering the function of neuro-transmitters but wholesome.

Next I would like to raise all hue and cry against the preposterous theory of Freud called the Oedipus complex. It’s ironic to note that Freud made it from Legend. According to the legend, the play of Sophocles, Rex the king marries his mother and kills the father. For Freud the Oedipus complex meant the transference of the child from the breast of the mother to desire the father. I would blatantly ask Freud whether any child in the world will have sexual desires for the mother at such an early phase of development. We are not born into sex and sex develops later on in life. At this stage of life we are in a process known as Christomasy, a word coined from Christ and Geomancy (reading the earth through divination). Development at this phase of life is emotional and psychological rather than sexual. I would also like to use another term for the process of weaning and that would be the circumcision complex. The circumcision complex refers to the weaning of the child from the mother. And the child after weaning has to come to terms with the partial independence of the body.

Next I would like to deal with Freud’s most baffling theory—the castration complex. Castration complex closely related to the Oedipus complex is the reaction of threats put by the father to taboo the sexual activities of the child. The child comes to confront the laws of the society—that is prohibition against incest and murder. Its true when sexual feelings are opened at puberty, there might be a tendency to masturbate. It’s a part of nature after the Adamite sin. Here the parents can guide the activities of the child to recreational pursuits. Again Freudian sexuality is chauvinistic. It does not address the nature of feminine sexuality. Freud does not say that the female child desires the father and wishes to kill the mother.

Next I would like to take up the Freudian conceptuality of the Oral Anal and Phallic Phases. The Oral phase is marked by desire of the Mother’s breast and pleasure in oral simulation. Does the child connote it sexually? The answer is definitely no. The next Freudian phase is the Anal when there is a fascination for defecation. Shitting is more biological than sexual. I would beg to disagree with Freud by saying that sodomy is not learnt at this stage. I am sure that the child will not have fantasy for sodomy. The next stage is the phallic. Here the phallus for the child is more a biological tool rather than a sexual one. The genitals attain a connotation of sexuality only at a later stage of development that is puberty.

Next I would like to take Lacan’s concept of the gaze. For Lacan the gaze is sexual also termed by him as scopophilia or the pleasure of looking. Again I take this to be very chauvinistic. I would like to ask the question why males are fond of looking. The feminine on the other hand is stimulated by love, touch and care. I would like to call this as maternality. The Bible is very clear about the gaze. Christ has repeatedly emphasized that it is not enough that you don’t do adultery but lust not with your eyes. If your eyes are cloudy pluck them out. In reality this Christian ideal is very difficult to put into practice. What we can do only is to ask God for forgiveness.

Next of all Lacan’s controversial concepts is the Mirror stage. It is the stage that occurs from 6 to 18 months when the child learns to recognize the self as an image. This is an atrocious blasphemy. The sense of the self develops through language and cognition. Yes, the emotive concepts of the self have to be guaranteed by the mother with loving gestures, tender care and emotional speech. Only then can the child develop into a wholesome being.

Again Lacan the notorious French psychoanalyst has fragmented the ego into the real, imaginary and the symbolic realms. The real for Lacan is an ideal state of being before the development of language. The self of the child is looked after by the parents. This was originally the state of Adam and Eve in paradise. The next stage is the symbolic order where the child enters into the realm of language. The child’s reality from plenitude is desire and lack. Is that a problem? Not at all! For a child who has been well looked after it is not emotional or sexual problem. Deviancy occurs due to a bad childhood. The next stage is imaginary a stage for the development of narcissism. The person at this stage will have fantasy for herself or himself and also for celebrities. From Christian viewpoint it is better to be rooted in Christ and accept Christ as our ideal. Christ is loving celebrity who has to be coated with worship, honor and respect. After all we are made to do the same. Social, intellectual and physical bonding will help to reduce the self prophesied narcissism of Lacan.