walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Christopher Ricks quote in _Every Book Its Reader_

Here is a quote from Basbanes _Every Book Its Reader_. He is quoting Christopher Ricks, a British critic at Boston University, from an interview on June 16, 2004.

"I mean the terrible thing about the phrase Dead White European Males was the opprobrium attached to the word 'dead.' Males? It's never been clear to me why being cloven instead of clustered necessarily makes you terrible. But Dead? The wonderful thing is to be in conversation with people who are dead, and it has many of the advantagess of conversation, while being free of the many disadvantages of conversations. It's got a wonderful disinterestedness to it."

We'll get to Ricks in a moment. Basbanes, peaceable storyteller that he is, takes off on the idea of conversing with the dead.

Back to Ricks. First, how could he completely ignore European and White from the phrase (DWEM) in question? As if Euro-centricity and Whiteness aren't even worth mentioning. Even he has a tough time ignoring accusations of sexism, but he's got a clever little phrase to distract one from his complete dismissal of accusations of sexism as possibly being an interesting source of objections to the texts used in colleges.

All right, so he's a sexist, racist, elitist pig, whatever. Let's look at that necrophilia thing he's got going on. Why does he like talking to dead people? Because it's kinda like having a conversation, but better. Dead people don't generally talk back, so apparently that's a disadvantage (or at least not an advantage) of a conversational partner. They don't interrupt, either. But it's the disinterestedness that caught my eye. Apparently, interacting with a real human being with real wants/preferences/needs/etc. (like, being seen, heard and cared about) is a huge downside in a conversational partner. Far better to have someone who is free of such things.

A dead person would, clearly, be ideal.

I have no idea what kind of a person Ricks is in general, but that's really a whopper of a quote to allow to see print. Then again, he's a huge Dylan fan, so I should not be surprised.
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