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November 06, 2005

evolving in “Literature”

Appropriations posting

toward a neo-Darwinist sense of archetypal criticism

Many years ago, I tried to imagine a kind of neoJungian / Heideggerian inquiry I called “literary anthropology.” But soon I showed the good sense of shelving the matter.

Nevertheless, I’ve set myself up over the years to be empathetic to the new “literary Darwinism” (which I’ll discuss in depth eventually), though that endeavor (as such) apparently fails to appreciate contemporary evolutionary thinking (e.g., the epigenetic/developmental turn that gives phenotypic niche construction intergenerational—“Lemarckian”— importance for genotypic outcomes); and the literary side of that endeavor fails to appreciate the archetypal tradition of literary theory (viz., Northrop Frye & Co.) that looks, in retrospect, to have preceded its proper time, before Analytical Psychology (which, in the 1980s, took a Piagetian turn in appreciation of biological backgrounding) could find its perfect partner in post-biologistic evolutionary psychology (which is just now appearing).

Yet, “literary Darwinism” may portend a profound turn in the humanities, not in its own incipient terms, but for a neoDarwinist validation of archetypal criticism which its Jungian beginnings (and the state of biology, mid-20th century) couldn’t provide. So, an examination of “literary Darwinism” will prove immensely useful for explicating what archetypal criticism can be.