Which is a more accurate description of an omelette?
“This omelette reminds me of my father. It is yellow, and yellow was a popular color this week. It has cheese in it, and cheese comes from cows.”
“This omelette was evidently made with three eggs. They were cooked for about five minutes on a medium heat. Some salt was added.”
Which one is about “content”? Which one is about “form”?
I can't believe we're still having this discussion.
The interview with Hillis Miller I posted a while back says something very interesting. When he was at Harvard, there was a huge fashion for doing concordance research: producing them, using them, and so on. As he points out, Google has made all that stuff irrelevant. As he also points out, and this is true, Geoffrey Hartman's fresh readings are still fresh. They blew everyone away at the time as no one else was doing them.
In ten years or less some kind of search engine will be able to do all the “content” based, thematic readings you young whippersnappers think are cool. Your “research” will be irrelevant.
Most of that stuff is either already said, or just mind projection, or easily computable given the right kind of engine.
Does anyone actually want to do something original any more in Ph.D. research? To do so, you need either to burrow into a library, or do an incredible, fresh reading, or both.
In an age of advanced computation, there needs to be advanced imagining, and advanced reasoning, for freshness.
You want to do Ph.D work in English? Read a poem, as a poem. You want to study a movie? See that movie as a movie. You want to study a videogame? Talk about its physical and software architecture. Tell me about iambic pentameter, rhyme scheme, tropes.
So Alexander Regier and I were wondering whether to teach a class on that. My idea for a title was
How to Fucking Read a Fucking Poem
But rather more diplomatically Alexander suggested
The poem is splattered all over the page. What happened? Answering that is called Ph.D research.