Tag Archives: Critical Thinking

What are you reading?

“If you are…from a dominant cultural group (white, male, wealthy, etc.), we will of course still consider your work…”

How exactly is this determined based on the writing?

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Posturing

“…we’re especially interested in poems, short stories, or essays that throw shade at the institutions that have whitewashed our literature and history, be they laws or events or texts authored by dead old cisgender white supremacist misogynistic homophobes.”

“The death of the author, proclaimed by Foucault, Barthes, and many clones after them, is another anticanonical myth, similar to the battle cry of resentment that would dismiss ‘all of the dead, white European males’—that is to say, for a baker’s dozen, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne, Milton, Goethe, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Kafka, and Proust. Livelier than you are, whoever you are, these authors were indubitably male, and I suppose ‘white.’ But they are not dead, compared to any living author whomsoever.” (Harold Bloom)

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A Little Learning

“I never read a book before reviewing it; it prejudices a man so.”

–Sydney Smith

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“Students are refreshing. Andrea said that she is writing a thesis on architecture and music. In the course of our conversation (we were painting side by side) I discovered that she had never heard of Mahler, Stravinsky, or Vivaldi. To name but three, I suppose. There’s a whole generation in college now that has heard of nothing.”

                                                                                                      –Guy Davenport

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“How pleasant it is to respect people! When I read books I am not concerned with how the authors loved or played cards. I see only their marvelous works.”

                                                                                                             –Chekhov

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Minatory, Repressive

“Either the person confesses and he is proved guilty from his own confession, or he does not confess and is equally guilty on the evidence of witnesses. If a person confesses the whole of what he is accused of, he is unquestionably guilty of the whole; but if he confesses only a part, he ought still to be regarded as guilty of the whole since what he has confessed proves him to be capable of guilt as to the other points of the accusation….”

                                                                                            –Book of the Dead

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him.”

                                                                                             –Jonathan Swift

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“We appreciate the chance to read your work…”

“Those brought up on the passive pleasures of films and television find the act of reading anything at all difficult and unrewarding.”

                                                                                                 –Gore Vidal

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All the bells say: too late.

“A country which is supposed to be built on dissent, built on the value of the individual, now distrusts dissent at least as much as any totalitarian government can and debases the individual in many ways because it places security and money above the individual; and when these things are cultivated and honored in the country, no matter what else it may have, it is in danger of perishing, because no country can survive, it cannot survive, without a patient, active responsibility for all its citizens.

We have begun to see what happens to a country when it is run according to the rules of a popularity contest; we have begun to see that we ourselves are for more dangerous for ourselves than Khrushchev or Castro.”

                                      –James Baldwin, “What Price Freedom?” (1964)

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Rejection Slips

“As readers, we remain in the nursery stage as long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like, this I don’t like.”

                                                                                                 –W. H. Auden

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Contributor Notes

“Writers are, in the first place, readers. I tell every writer I’ve ever known, either they are deep readers or they cannot become real writers. Read only the best and most challenging and traditional. And reread it.” –Harold Bloom

“Everybody should advertise while they are alive.” –Elbert Hubbard

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Ready, Set

“On the opposite side of the discussion, the phrase ‘right to life’ is an excellent example of a ‘buzzword,’ designed to inflame rather than illuminate. There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time (with a few rare exceptions, such as among the Jains of India). We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; hunt deer and elk for sport, leopards for their pelts, and whales for dog food; entwine dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; and club seal pups to death for ‘population management.’ All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we. What is protected in many human societies is not life, but human life. And even with this protection, we wage ‘modern’ wars on civilian populations with a toll so terrible we are, most of us, afraid to consider it very deeply. Often such mass murders are justified by racial or nationalistic redefinitions of our opponents as less than human.”

“Once intelligent beings achieve technology and the capacity for self-destruction of their species, the selective advantage of intelligence becomes more uncertain.”

                                                                                           –Carl Sagan

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