Jonathon Sturgeon at The Baffler:
LITERATURE IS NOT LITERATURE UNTIL SOMEONE hates it on principle. Homer and Hesiod weren’t poets, in the way we’ve come to understand the word, until Xenophanes and Heraclitus and Plato attacked poetry’s governing credentials, its pipeline to the Gods. The last of these, speaking through Socrates, displaced poetry’s authority, itself drawn from the Muses, by banishing it from the well-ordered city; poetry’s tendency to arouse madness, its toleration of clashing voices, and its foundational place in the educational curriculum made it the enemy of an imagined republic where all positions were accounted for, where all discourse was to be phlegmatically compassed toward the truth. Paradoxically, though, this exile came to define poetry. Until their banishment, Hesiod and Homer were more like perennial Teachers of the Year or cool, dead popes—but universal. We don’t have a contemporary analogue.
This is the thesis, or a thesis, of William Marx’s The Hatred of Literature, another in a line of books, following Ben Lerner’s Hatred of Poetry, that defines literature through its strongest negative, hatred of it.