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Louis Menand, I am going to slap you

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This article is deplorable.  As far as i can tell, Menand’s argument is that creative writing should not be taught because:

-Moving the locus of writing from the individual to the university creates literary hivemind,
-Using fiction writing as therapy or to improve ones communication skills cheapens the form, and besides,
-You can’t teach somebody to write a great novel.

Failing to properly articulate his first two claims, Menand routinely falls back on the third- which is a tired and altogether meaningless claim, akin to saying there’s no point in playing baseball if you can’t join the majors.  What this clown does manage to do is come off snooty ponce with an ego the size of Galactus.  My favorite part is a parenthetical about Nabokov teaching the novel at Columbia- Menand, himself a Harvard professor, can’t help but mention that his Ivy Institution “once considered hiring Nabokov to teach literature [but] Roman Jakobson, then a professor of linguistics there, is supposed to have asked whether the university was also prepared to hire an elephant to teach zoology.”

Oh. Oh ho ho.  Quel drole.

The problems with the ever-irritating argument that creative writing should not be taught are too myriad to innumerate, but they all essentially fall under the umbrella of academic elitism.  Louis Menand can’t for the life of him imagine why anybody would even bother to pick up a pen if not to write the next Work That Changes Everything.  Or, you know, to talk shit about other people’s genuine efforts to express what’s inside of them.  Society needs that!!!

UPDATE: According to wikipedia, Menand wrote a book on Pragmatism, which, as a set of beliefs, is to Analytic Philosophy what Episcopalianism is to Catholicism: most of the same ideas, but not half as interesting.


Written by Peter Kelly

June 10, 2009 at 2:02 am

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