It pains me to say this, given that I don’t just admire Bloom, but also find him a surprisingly endearing cultural icon, half Eeyore, half Falstaff. When he’s not going around all sad-eyed and plangent, he’s likely to be complaining that “there live not three good critics unhanged in all America, and one of them is fat, and grows old.” Besieged by ravening hordes of ideologues, Bloom has long proclaimed himself the last champion of aesthetic criticism. When Childe Harold to the Ivory Tower Came, he soon discovered that the barbarians of ideology and political correctness were within the gates. In years past, he duly fretted about “theory” and cultural studies, though more recently he has begun to worry that “visual culture will end imaginative literature.” In one splendid diatribe, Bloom derides the academy’s current flood of “comma counters, ‘cultural’ materialists, new and newer historicists, gender commissars, and all the other academic impostors, mock journalists, inchoate rhapsodes, and good spellers.” Against their advocacy of what he calls “the New Cynicism,” he now argues—like any good Augustinian—that love should be the basis for all worthwhile criticism.
more from Michael Dirda at The American Scholar here.