Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

This article is taken from PN Review 48, Volume 12 Number 4, March - April 1986.

Extra-Terrestrial Dudley Young

Rather strange this thing we are after does not have a name. In the old days it was called structuralism, which had to do with the patterns that become discernible as you move further and further away from an object; remember that photograph taken from some rocket or other?

In the hands of such able rocketeers as Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan (ah, Toronto!) the trip was fruitfully disturbing some of the time: 'I never thought of putting this beside that, of seeing this as that' we said, brandishing another cubist insight.

But they weren't in-sights, they were out-sights, even oversights: and the price we paid for such zippy authority was a loss of foreground, pace McLuhan a loss of touch, a loss, in the end, of ground. By pursuing the illusion of an abstract cosmic objectivity, we were losing the subject, man's image and his cry.

Which was, after all, the point (of both the structuralism and the rocketry). The cool elegance of that photograph of Mother Earth shows only geology, no human mess. It suggests that Armageddon may not be a significant problem.

Since then (ah, the 1960s!) strictly downhill. After the slightly post-human brilliance of Foucault and Lévi-Strauss came the despairing Frog lefties and their Angloid clones, imploding with non-negotiable rage and seeking to cauterize their vestigal human desires by abolishing the imaginative use of shapes and sounds, art no less, all that can recall us ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image