Thanks for the suggestion -- I'm definitely interested to look into it. As for the topic of opinion presented as fact in journalism... I don't feel terribly qualified to comment as I've been relatively avoidant of journalism up until now (besides, this topic is getting a bit far from the topic of T.S. Eliot). But there certainly is a lot at stake. On some level, it seems that fake news is quite distinct from the expression of subjective opinion, but I can see how the two shade into one another -- how anti-intellectualism and a tendency to grab onto the most appealing rhetoric may (and has) cause(d) the popularization of poorly substantiated opinions, which become raised to the level of fact, with deleterious consequences.


On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 4:40 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
P. S. to Didi,

Eliot is interested in difference, but not much in the way I think you are. You might want to read "Notes towards the Definition of Culture" if the topic interests you.

On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 7:19 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear Didi,

I very much appreciate your response. And I think if you wrote this for a non-scholar audience, it worked. I also do not wish, in any way, to exclude subjectivity; I am very aware that I my own responses have that as an element. My concern was with the limitations of doing it simply as a very individual experience of inclusion of exclusion. I know I wrote on Dido in part because her story is powerful in a way that affects me. But that was not my argument about her: the argument was about what she seemed to reveal in Eliot. And even that had to do with my sense of what "love" means in Virgil and in Eliot's poetry.

But I was writing for an academic--and specialist--audience. So your points are very valid. More, you make a fine case for thinking about audience and purpose.

I responded as I did on an assumption (because it was posted here as a text to read) that it was meant as a contribution to academic interpretation. My error. But I wonder how you think about the larger point that increasingly in the USA people seem to assert what they "feel" or what is their "opinion" and expect that to be as valid as fact or logic. Have you seen CNN's ad with an apple and a banana?

Your comments are insightful and a pleasure the hear from a journalist. Thanks,


On Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 3:40 PM, Didi Chang-Park <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Hi Nancy (and everyone else involved in this thread),

Somebody just emailed me to notify me about this discussion and suggested I take a look. I'm glad to see that my article has provoked interaction, and would just like to clarify a few things:

First of all, I think it important to note that the piece I wrote is not a paper in any academic sense, so it doesn't purport to have scholarly aims. Which isn't to say this forecloses rigorous thinking, but that the amount of space and intended audience for the piece limited the degree to which I could include a thorough and well-substantiated argument regarding the texts in question. I would have liked to include more quotes from "The Three Voices" -- for instance, your point on whether or not Eliot is interested in difference is one which I could have supported better had I the space to quote Eliot at greater length. Then again, I am not an Eliot specialist or scholar by any means and leave room for disagreement on this point.

I am surely tapping into the symptom, which you observe, of "evaluating a text (or anything) based on how it makes one feel" as rhetorical device, in order to speak to an audience which I assume is not necessarily interested in Eliot's work. This is perhaps a misapprehension on my part, considering the amount of attention the article has received from close readers of T.S. Eliot. So I would like to emphasize that this emphasis on my subjective position is essentially a journalistic and rhetorical device which I employed quite self-consciously. I rarely observe, in my own writing or in that of others, significant use of subjective or emotive positioning in academic papers or in class discussion. I hope this somewhat allays any concerns you might have about young students of literature resorting to subjective positions in academic work.

Perhaps the question at heart is whether or not journalistic articles like this one, which tread the line between academic inquiry and op-ed, or personal commentary, should be aligned more with personal viewpoint, or more with scholarly distance. I've only just started writing for the Daily so I will consider this issue going forward. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Didi (he/him)

Didi Chang-Park
Stanford University 2019
Comparative Literature, Art Practice
909-662-2786 |