As the summer months drew to a close, Sir Hudibras began to feel a certain chill in the air, and in his bones. The time was drawing near when he would have to return, not to the flashy Castle Indigo, not to the baroque Palace of Art, but to the stark, spartan edifice of his quiet youth–the ivory tower.
The road was long and winding, strewn with obstacles and dangers, labyrinths and puzzles, byzantine bureaucracies and steep registration tolls. And worst of all, the path to the ivory tower was flanked by tomes, not tombs, mind you, but gigantic, heavy tomes.
Although a born philistine, Sir Hudibras was constitutionally incapable of resisting a good tome. As such, his trek down the path to the ivory tower was always much delayed. This year was no exception; the first tome he came across was heavier than most, denser than most and, consequently, more irresistible to poor Sir Hudibras.
The tome began “Those trained in literary critical habits of thought are usually enamoured of ‘concrete illustration’; but since I reject the idea that ‘theory’ is acceptable if and only if it performs the role of humble handmaiden to the aesthetic work, I have tried to frustrate this expectation as far as possible by remaining for the most part resolutely silent about particular artifacts.” Having established that Terry-Eagleton-don’t-play-second-fiddle-to-nobody, the author went on to establish his theoretical work as akin to “the symbolist poem, [which] generates itself up entirely out of its own substance, projects its own referent out of its formal devices, escapes in its absolute self-groundedness the slightest taint of external determination, and takes itself as its own origin, cause and end.” This gave Sir Hudibras pause; was Eagleton admitting that he was making up his philosophy as he went along? He had always felt terribly highbrow while reading philosophy but, if it was entirely made up, in addition to having no objective referent, then what pragmatic use could it possibly have? In other words: what the hell was he reading it for?
His question was answered in the next page when Eagleton turned his razor sharp pen on Schopenhauer, calling him “crotchety, arrogant, and cantankerous, a scathing Juvenilian satirist who professes to believe that the Germans need their long words because it gives their slow minds more time to think.” Oh yes, thought Hudibras, I remember now; I read it for the cat-fights.
With that thought tucked into his back pocket Sir Hudibras continued down the path to the ivory tower content to know that, once within its walls, he wouldn’t be the only one suffering from constant humiliation; perhaps he and Schopenhauer could even commiserate over an existenz-verzweifelnd cup of kaffee.