Re: Autonomous subjects

Fred Kemp (
Wed, 25 Oct 1995 11:08:00 -0500

Sorry, but I want it to be clear. I do not say that there aren't 'rules,'
but that when such rules drive the pedagogy, the pedagogy distances itself
from what writing is and does. A piece of writing must do something, not
simply be judged on its formal characteristics independent of a readership.
I have found (or believe I have found) that one of the most deadening
things occurring in the teaching of writing is a gradual movement in many
teachers from writing as action to writing as artifact, and this arises
from their own personal distance from the act of writing itself.

Now, am I wrong?

Fred Kemp

(BTW, rants, tirades, venting, and exasperated outbursts are long-term and,
by some, much-beloved characteristics of MBU. Ranting back is equally
honored, and experienced Megabunnies simply enjoy or at least tolerate the
process and hold no grudges. The rhetorical yin and yang of the list keeps
it generally in bounds, but one shouldn't assume that some 'elite' have the
right to rant, are somehow invulnerable to counter-rant, and others aren't
allowed it. To my mine the openness of MBU, which celebrates the
subjectifying of emotion, is one of its most endearing aspects. That is
not to say that one can't occasionally feel like a fool for getting a bit
too hot. But in such cases the ranter suffers more profoundly than the
rantee, as many of us have learned from experience.)

>I have been troubled to see how the thread Fred began quickly assumed
>that there is "authentic" and "inauthentic" writing. The notion of
>writers writing "independently" of the rules is like the belief in
>consumers choosing "freely" what they will consume.
>All the talk about those who write within the official system and those
>who do not seems to me to continue the mystification of this reality:
>Most all of us write within the same system that teaches us to believe we
>are autonomous subjects. This raises two questions I am interested in:
> 1) Whose interests does it serve for us to continue to believe
>that we are "free to choose" because we live in a "free society"?
> 2) Is it possible for any kind of writing (whether Fred's or
>those he criticized) to begin to build alternative societies and senses
>of self?
> Why is it, I also wonder, that this question seems seldom to
>sustain interest as long as this perennial question about rules and grammar?
>Houston Wood
>UH Manoa, Hawai`i
>Honolulu, HI 96822 (808) 956-3059