Something to read (February 2022 edition)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece by Mitch Therieau for the Chicago Review, called “Getting Personal”. It’s essentially a state-of-the-nation on the personal-critical essay, surveying where we’ve come since the latter part of the 20th century (starting with New Journalism) and bringing the reader to what might be termed “personal criticism”. Therieau’s piece defies easy summation (as you will see below), which is sort of the point, in a meta (though not conceited) way. Is there a crisis in the personal-critical essay? Yes, but it has less to do with the dominant style, which is ultimately downstream from the demands of the marketplace.

Along the way, Therieau makes use of indirect references to psychoanalysis, Marxism (neither of those in an overbearing way), feminist theory, as well as an overarching attempt to define where we’re at, which, to clumsily summarize, seems to be (here we go…) a pyretic hammering away with personal anecdote as a mimetic tool that risks exploiting the writer even though we know full-well that personal experience can only truly be secondary (and thus filtered) but what the hell let’s go out with a blaze of glory.

Anyways, it’s very good.