…is apparently a phrase uttered by Prince Charles. An interview with Eagleton was published in the NYT in January, but recently cropped up on C18-L. Conversation has ensued, although not so much about the issues Eagleton raises in the interview.
Eagleton misses the mark when he says that theorists aren’t addressing the “big questions” he wants them to address. On religion, for example, see The Puppet and the Dwarf : The Perverse Core of Christianity, On Belief (Thinking in Action)
, and The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? by Slavoj Zizek and Acts of Religion, by Jacques Derrida.
“The golden age of cultural theory is long past,” Mr.
Eagleton writes in his new book, “After Theory” (Basic
Books), to be published in the United States in January. In
this age of terrorism, he says, cultural theory has become
increasingly irrelevant, because theorists have failed to
address the big questions of morality, metaphysics, love,
religion, revolution, death and suffering.
Today graduate students and professors are bogged down in
relativism, writing about sex and the body instead of the
big issues. “On the wilder shores of academia,” he writes,
“an interest in French philosophy has given way to a
fascination with French kissing.”
His critique goes further. “The postmodern prejudice
against norms, unities and consensuses is a politically
catastrophic one,” he writes. Cultural theorists can no
longer “afford simply to keep recounting the same
narratives of class, race and gender, indispensable as
these topics are.”
What Mr. Eagleton, one of the few remaining Marxist
critics, wants now is a search for absolutes, for norms,
for answers to what he calls “fundamental questions of
truth and love in order to meet the urgencies of our global