Literary Rigor–Re-blogged from Josh Blog (7 Nov ’12)

Scholars say that an author – usually of a philosophical text with literary dimensions – ‘invites’ us to do this or that, think of this or that, when they wish to treat the text as possessed of a sort of rigor, but also to avoid having to show how this rigor is essentially a matter of the literary dimensions of the text. This is like receiving an invitation, not accepting it, but passing it on to someone else.

‘We’ve been invited!’

‘Oh, how nice. Are you going?’

‘Well you’ve been invited! We all have!’

‘But what about you?’

I would like to say that this can’t be done halfway. To acknowledge the text’s rigor is to accept the invitation. The troublesome question should be, can it be accepted at all if one’s response is any less literary than the original? And more troublesome: how will one make one’s response just as literary, without loss of rigor?


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