We already know Lee Siegel, the author of a terrific essay in today's Wall Street Journal. He was one of the early thinkers / writers who raised red flags and shouted from the roof tops that there might just be negative impact from all this new digital culture stuff. His bono fides were amply proved in Against the Machine. Anyway, about the terrific essay....
Who Ruined the Humanities? is all about how it might be very silly to teach literature in college. I think (hope) the author is just being provocative. Mr. Siegel is very smart and makes a very good case for his thesis. And his article is heartfelt. Siegel's evidence includes that most literature (well, especially the novel) weren't meant to be taken seriously, orginally. Books were the television of their day. Siegel goes on to take a shot at Theory and presents it as evidence of what happens when professors and graduate students start to take themselves too seriously.
I think (hope) Mr. Siegel's tongue is planted in his cheek.
I highly recommend the article because Siegel writes so beautifully about the joy and transcendence of reading. Try this:
Literary art's sudden, startling truth and beauty make us feel, in the most solitary part of us, that we are not alone, and that there are meanings that cannot be bought, sold or traded, that do not decay and die. This socially and economically worthless experience is called transcendence, and you cannot assign a paper, or a grade, or an academic rank, on that. Literature is too sacred to be taught. It needs only to be read.
Siegel's article deeply moved me and, if you like to read or ever had a favorite book, you really ought to read what he has to say.