Jane Dark has a very structured & programmatic way of addressing questions (in which one of my comments on the politics of poetics gets described as "absurd"). I can't say I've thought things through as systematically, but off the top of my head, responding:

in the outline she draws here of history & poetry, and Marxist criticism, she is careful not to predetermine any commitments that might be (falsely) assumed to follow from a Marxist-critical starting point. Nevertheless, she is at the same time careful to posit the basic underpinnings of the approach : 1) "history" determines the meaning of particulars (events) : ie. history is the primary & adequate frame of reference for interpretation; 2) consciousness is determined by social forces which also "make" history (consciously or not); and 3) if we identify "emergent poetics", we are bringing to awareness the mode of poetics which is aligned or at least recognizes the forces of changing contemporary history, as opposed to "residual" or backward-looking or traditionalist poetics.

The underlying assumption here is that history itself is determined by economics (ie. class struggle) : what we call the frame of history is colored by the struggle for economic dominion (ie. control of resources & means of production).

The absurd point(s) I was trying to make, and would like to reiterate, is that it seems to me that, first of all, history itself is producing a narrative which contradicts Marx in many respects; for example, the struggle between labor & capital does not seem to shape & define social relations & power structures in the determinist manner which Marx predicted. Social relations, social power, & social development are defined by communities which are not simply determined, in turn, solely by their status as bourgeoisie or working class. What this means is, that even if we choose "history" as the ultimate interpretive frame, history itself is not necessarily defined accurately in Marxist terms.

Secondly, it seems to follow from this that if we are imposing a false (let's say, "materialist") notion of historical causality, we will come up with a skewed image of literature. Rather than assent to a particular theory of history, which then colors our view of literary phenomena, I would argue that "history" is a human work-in-progress - an unresolved, intellectually improvisatory phenomenon, resulting from the interrelation of the workings of time & nature (a reality outside total human control) with human consciousness. We make & write history - and these activities change as new knowledge is gained (& in some cases old knowledge lost). In other words, we have no complete & authoritative version of either history or history-making which we can simply apply to our theory of literature or poetics.

& if this is the case, then it seems irrational to apply a theory of history - since it will be either false or incomplete - as a means toward the "explanation" of literature. It's a case of overburdening criticism with unexplained or unexplainable or inapplicable levels of abstraction.

Criticism & poetics is in the position of devising its own interpretive frameworks. As long as these are laid out clearly, the reader is enabled to recognize the assumptions & assertions undergirding these interpretations. The reader may or may not agree with the provisional outline of history or literature which the critic supplies; but the reader will be in a position to evaluate not only the preliminary assumptions, but their applications as part of the critic's (or the artist's) whole method & approach to specific works of art.

Thirdly, & finally, I would question the simple application of the category of history to the category literature. In a fundamental way, art interprets reality - shows it back to us - by means & methods, and with goals, which rival, & differ from, those used in the narrative/interpretive activity we call history.

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