Marjorie Perloff’s blurb on the back cover of Mark Scroggins’ The Mathematical Sublime is an inadvertant description of exactly what bothers me about too much contemporary poetics and criticism. Why shouldn’t a critic be able to handle both langpo and formalism? Why does such eclecticism strike Perloff as so remarkably rare? Everyone outside Academia is exuberantly, unapologetically, and often instinctively eclectic.
I agree with her that Mark Scroggins is “unpredictably brilliant and persuasive.” I’m just annoyed because her blurb reminds me that everything she praises him for shouldn’t be so damn unusual. If you’re a cultural critic, you have one job: to range as widely and deeply as possible through human culture and send back reports of your remarkable discoveries. Perloff is praising the window frame when she should be admiring the view. And her blurb implies she doesn’t look out very many windows.