Theory Is Hermeneutic – Possible Response to Raúl Sánchez?

If we theorize theories of writing as examples of writing, as Raúl Sánchez does, then we must acknowledge that theories function as hermeneutic collection systems, determining the focus of ongoing discourses by constraining the locus of language available to theorists.

Thus, to be a successful theorist, one must appropriately collect evidence from previous articulation a of theory (see also Van Den Eede).

This likely accounts for much of the skepticism of theory among creative writers.  To articulate theory is to impose language upon the theorized – and the privileged sources of theory may well be wholly ignorant of the social contexts within which the creative author is operating.  Theorists may then create or exacerbate Fricker’s hermeneutic injustice, per standpoint theory – this potentially robbing the creative (i.e. literary) author of voice and positionality (see also Bourdieu).  Although the recognition of a creative author by theorists may also lead to greater recognition of the creative author’s articulated reality (leading to a kind of “hermeneutic justice“), the positionality of the theorist as the ultimate arbiter of legitimacy is maintained.  Thus, one cannot tear down the house with the master’s tools (per Audre Lorde):

For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. … I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any …

So, short of affixing poems to the outside of a Molotov cocktail, what can the creative writer do to overcome or “outrun” theory?  Social media today offers unparalleled freedom and resources for self publication in the traditions of Ben Franklin and Martin Luther (see Standage).  However, the distribution is still limited by ones social contacts, access to skills, and availability hardware – all of which are strongly affected by socioeconomic status, which will no doubt be further engraved in future iteractions of the predictive technologies that allow Google and Facebook to decide what it is you think you’re looking for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight + eight =