What does software engineering, writing HTML, and cyberspace generally have to do with good old-fashioned reading and writing? What does multimedia have to do with Alchemy? I don't know, but I'm working on it... From the perspective of literary theory, it seems possible to approach just about everything as if it were a text. A movie, a piece of music, a commercial, etc. may all be seen as texts. Whereas this methodology, at times, may be no more than a cover-up for the scholar's lack of knowledge of the topic in question, it does often prove to be illuminating as literary theory boasts many refined tools with which to grasp the issues at hand, drawing as it does upon a very long tradition. If literary theorists have today encroached upon the role of philosophers in former times, we may believe the situation somewhat akin to philosophers' discussions of disciplines outside philosophy. Think of Hegel's discussion of the fine arts, for instance; Hegel, who seldom if ever abandoned his way of thinking about things on thought's own terms, while acknowledging that thinking is vain that does not operate from within the object under scrutiny. Does Hegel's philosophy of art mean anything to an artist? The answer, I suppose, remains controversial. Today, we are not likely to think of works of art as taking part in the World Spirit; nevertheless, Hegel may have insights that are still valuable to us. Suffice it to say that Harold Bloom, the literary critic, cherishes Hegel's insight that Shakespearean characters are "free artists of themselves." If we have learned to bare with philosophers' misreading of things outside philosophy as if it were philosophy - if we will grant them this trope (this lie as Nietzsche would have said), then surely we must allow our contemporary literary theorists the licence of seeing texts where no text exists.
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