Bloomin’ Genius

Joseph Epstein feels that puncturing the bloated balloon that is Harold Bloom is necessary to rejuvenate literary criticism:

Harold Bloom’s success is of a peculiarly American kind and yet not easily fathomed. As a critic, he is not all that accessible and is capable of producing sentences, paragraphs, lengthy stretches that are quite incomprehensible. (“Like Thoreau, Whitman has a touch of the Bhagavad-Gita, but the Hindu vision is mediated by Western hermeticism, with its Neoplatonic and Gnostic elements.” Yeah, sure, as the kids say, right!) He claims to be of the school of aesthetic critics, remarking that, in an ideological age, “I feel quite alone these days in defending the autonomy of the aesthetic.” Yet he himself doesn’t seem to have a clue about how to produce anything approaching the aesthetically pleasing in his own writing. In an interview in the Paris Review, he declared that he never revises his prose, and nothing in his work refutes this impressive claim. Any critic ready to avail himself of such gargoylesque words as “psychokabbalistic” and “pneumognostic,” who can refer to a passage in Montaigne as an “apotropaic talisman,” and can write about the cosmos having been “reperspectivized by Tolstoy,” may be many things, but he ain’t no aesthete. Hudson Review