Figural Realism

I have long thought that the relationship between literary discourse (where writing is supposed to be free and even abandoned) and historical discourse (where factuality, realism, and rational commonsense are supposed to prevail) provides a microcosm of Western thought’s effort to relate imagination (the vision of what might be) and commonsense (the thought of what is the case, what goes without saying). In trying to show the literariness of historical writing and the realism of literary writing, I have sought to establish “mutual implicativeness” (Windelbrand’s term) of their respective techniques of composition, description, imitation, narration, and demonstration. Each in its way is an example of a distinctively Western practice, not so much of representation as of presentation, which is to say, production rather than reproduction or mimesis. (ix)

Hayden White’s concern with presentation and production rather than reproduction or simulation highlights much of what wanted to mark in my previous comparison of quotes from Klett, Dingus and Baudrillard. But there is an interesting inversion. While “theory” seems closer to the aims of “history,” the artistic discourse of Klett and Dingus seems far more presentational than reproductive — even though they are engaged in a careful exercise in imitation. Baudrillard, the “academic” is the literary one concerned with representation and simulation. This seems to be a profound pitfall; a self-conscious irony permeating historical (cultural) criticism.

Posted by Jeff at March 3, 2007 1:15 PM

March 2007 (1)