Friday, October 25, 2013

Criticism is inherently a downer of a word

IMG_4252Sept_Oct 2013demilletrunkortreat

So friends, I'm nearly halfway through my first of two semesters of studying theory and criticism.  It's a survey of "-isms," and while it is fascinating, it's also boorishly negative.  Philosophers and critics seems to all land on the "sadness is more credible than happiness" side of the line.  I'm following along and learning the nuances of their arguments and theories as best I can.  They are valuable and informative, truly.  But there's a fundamental assumption behind most of what I encounter here that I just don't believe in.  Especially as these guys (almost exclusively guys - we read maybe 1 female this semester) get more existential, they all seem to function under the assumption that the suffering in this world has more gravitas than the joy in it.  I don't think that's true.  I don't mean to sound flippant about the suffering, it's just that I think these "guys" are being flippant about the joy.  They treat it as fluffy, naive, and inconsequential while they give suffering tremendous weight, credit, and attention. It strikes me as a problematic (and largely male) prejudice.

IMG_4238Sept_Oct 2013demilletrunkortreat

What I think is that they didn't hold enough babies, these silly philosophers.  That sounds crazy-trite, but I mean it in a profound way.  In all but the most extreme poverty you can find terrifically happy people.  Equality and justice and an end to suffering are worthwhile goals, and certainly efforts should be made to move in their direction whenever possible.... BUT.   But also there is the possibility of being happy even in the midst of poverty and oppression.  There are relationships to treasure (even casual ones) and blessings to count.  There are human beings around you, and the possibility for interactions between humans to be blindingly joyful.  There is a choice there, and I feel like a lot of these somber men have ignored that point.  And I really truly wonder if they could have believed in their abysses if they'd spent 10 minutes with my kids.

IMG_4276Sept_Oct 2013demilletrunkortreat

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