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From: Alex David Groce <Alex_Groce@gs246.sp.cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Mo/Po-mo
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 12:13:15 

Maybe the best distinction is one of underlying epistemology/ontology, as it
applies to non-literary things that can be labeled modernist or post-modernist
as well.  Modernists belive that things (stories, whatever) exist and have a
real nature, but that this nature may be only approximated by any method of
telling about the things:  Joyce is does not doubt Dublin, but can only show it
by a collection of perspectives, styles, voices, allusions, and even then does
not capture the real thing.  Post-modernists go beyond doubt that we can 
capture the nature of the things to doubt that the things have real, unitary
natures, or even, for that matter, exist apart from the (doomed) attempts to
capture them.  It's essentially a universal agnosticism/atheism, applied to
things other than God (and the "author" often takes the place of God in 
criticisms structurally similar to those offered by other thinkers against
God).  Wolfe obviously falls into the modernist camp, and from this point
of view, ignoring the techniques, fits very snugly, and is quite different many
of his literary "parents"--Dickens, one suspects, did not consider, as Wolfe
clearly does, the impossibility of describing/constructing the "soul" of
a character to be an important element of attempting to describe a character.


By the way, I did like CASTLEVIEW, I just didn't "get it."  Unlike most Wolfe
works that remain fundamentally mysterious (like "The Ziggurat", his best 
shorter work in years), it left me puzzled rather than awed.  But it _was_ fun
to read.  On the other hand, if he'd only written it, I think our quest to
save him from the rubble-heap of history would be less worthy.  On the third(?)
hand, if he'd written only THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS or BOTNS, there would be
fodder for canonization.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32
Alex David Groce (agroce+@cs.cmu.edu)
Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University - Computer Science Department
8112 Wean Hall (412)-268-3066

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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