Literature used to be the new religion, now …

To quote (again) Terry Eagleton quoting George Gordon, early Professor of English Literature at Oxford (in Chap. 2, “The Rise of English,” Literary Theory: An Introduction): “England is sick, and … English literature must save it. The Churches (as I understand) having failed, and social remedies being slow, English literature has now a triple function: still, I suppose, to delight and instruct us, but also, and above all, to save our souls and heal the State” (22).

What better remedial tool to “cultivate the philistine middle class, who have proved unable to underpin their political and economic power with a suitably rich and subtle ideology” (24).

Like religion, literature is “an extremely effective form of ideological control … [i]t is affective and experiential, entwining itself with the deepest unconscious roots of the human subject … capable of operating at every social level … [providing] an excellent social ‘cement’ … [with the] capacity to ‘materialize’ beliefs as practices … [and has] a pacifying influence, fostering meekness, self-sacrifice and the contemplative inner life” (23).

matthewarnold.jpgEagleton points to Matthew Arnold as the key figure in this project. Arnold believed that “the traditional style of the aristocracy … have something of the ideological wherewithal to lend a hand to their middle class masters. State-established schools, by linking the middle class to ‘the best culture of their nation,’ will confer on them ‘a greatness and a noble spirit, which the tone of these classes is not of itself at present adequate to impart'” (24).

So English as a subject “was first institutionalized not in the Universities, but in the Mechanics’ Institutes, working men’s colleges and extension lecturing circuits. English was literally the poor man’s Classics — a way of providing a cheapish ‘liberal’ education for those beyond the charmed circles of public schools and Oxbridge” (27).

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27 Comments on “Literature used to be the new religion, now …”

  1. hartqt Says:

    Writing For Me

    Writing—lucky for those who have made it to its industry and made millions out of their works, unfortunate for those who have not even seen their pen name published on a local tabloid. Seeing then, writers in this kind of world, where do I stand?

    Writing—a mundane activity, as we write, sign, draw, etch, record and the list goes on daily. I have always been fascinated by how people diversely do writing; however, I myself could not even make out why and for whom I am writing for.

    Writing—I have done it since prep, introduced myself on formal themes, built my opinion in speeches and expressed my part in crappy stories. Since then I have handshake with writing as my personality’s output. Bulls eye with the output.

    Writing—if I will talk about productivity, writing is my yield. I have worked for it the past 18 years of my life. Going through false prophets, classroom humiliation and constructive criticisms, I was then writing myself. My individuality read in ink and the people’s response to it, is how they see me.

    Writing—more than just an expression of one’s self, opinion and intelligence, it has been a process to know the people around me. I stand in the middle. I am a hypocrite if I say money and fame are of no worth. Important, yes they are. However, I believe that there are still few people who think beyond that. Prof. De Ungria once shared how glad he was seeing a reader scan through his book in a bookstore. With that, someday when I’d become good at my genre and establish my own point of view and I’d see a reader scan through my book, I’d be more glad to hear his opinion rather than think of how many copies will he buy or if he’ll recognize me.

    I write to know my world.

  2. saikow Says:


    writing is a vain act; an attempt to become IMMORTAL through entertainment and/or guidance…

    short term, i use it to make panties moist…

  3. Sandrock Hart Says:


    writing is all about having fun(able to invent things, create characters and “brainchilding” quotes!) but at the same time making sense.

    OR maybe (for the people in despair) writing is a product of a person who is in a dismal state but at the same time making sense.

    “Relax, we are not Involved”

  4. i never thought of literature or writing as a separate entity in this world. it’s part of the flow of the world. it is art. it is part of art. art is the world. art is part of the world. ewan.

    in short, i don’t try to define it personally.

    the moment i define it, it loses its meaning.

    (or tamad lang tingali co.)

    paramdam lang sir.

  5. ¼Achilles Says:


    I write because I have the opportunity to. And like most others, I write because of a certain thought that wouldnt like to stay in the comforts of my consciousness and would like to make its way into paper. It is not all about what you can or what you are ought to write. Its letting lose of my own demons. To write them into paper, so as I can feed it to my trash can…

    “walay tambal pra sa mga insecure”

  6. joy Says:

    For me, writing is not merely putting words and ideas in a piece of paper or tying it in the keyboard of computer, it is about putting life in a paper and giving life to it.

    It is an effective way to release emotions and ideas, despite of its, somehow, difficult process. Of course, it doesn’t end by just putting them in a peice or pieces of paper. It DEMANDS PATIENCE and DEDICATION; patience to wait my mind to have a better concept, and dedication in editing and revising it.

  7. (raps+er Says:

    OK, writing…

    it is something that — help! Yes, like someone here, I can’t really tell it what it is. (Parenthetically and plainly, it is a process of thinking — then writing, getting hold of a pen and scribbling something into the paper.)

    This inability to define writing is no exaggeration for a third year (or second year, if you plead) Bachelor of Arts in English major in Creative Writing student. It would take time for me to do it, that is if I could (hopefully). And to define would require showing. And if time comes I could show in my writings that I know what writing is, then, I could tell it. With the kind of writings I can come up now, evidently, I don’t know it.

    Well writing, again, is to preserve the sublime beauties (at least those that I would know) that the universe has to offer. What makes it hard for me to define it, writing, now is my fear to be so prejudiced so long before I could really define it. But of course I’m striving to define it. Only, I want it to be sure, at least. Because while it’s true that “many things are wasted if not written” (courtesy of allen or nikki, naremember lang nakÜ), many things are destroyed if written erroneously.

    (an “it”-full composition)

    Assignment ni? Clyde here sir, present!

  8. hele Says:

    Making a guitar squeal, eventually
    snapping the string out.

    WRITING is
    taking the broken string out, placing
    it inside a dear page of your precious photo album.
    Looking at it, you
    remember its sound before
    it was snapped out , its squeal
    screaming to your soul like a real RAKENROL fuck._

    -sir, allen, present dn._

  9. rr Says:

    In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, “Is it good, friend?”
    “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
    “But I like it
    “Because it is bitter,
    “And because it is my heart.”

    —Stepen Crane
    from The Black Riders and Other Lines

    -RR, class S. [ang tagapag-mana, subsidized since 2001]
    “di na uso ang closure karon”

  10. hahaha Says:

    For me, Writing is not just a mere expRession of one’s self but also creating an identity- defy from what is being fed to you. It is an exploration of one’s self from the restrictions of nature and be able to distinguish yourself from the kind of world you exIst. It is putting concrete & vivid images into words- to create embellishments on what our naked eyes see. We devour the norms, we creaTe the impossible, and we often make unresponsive objects react. WrIting isn’t only lookiNg but seeing thinGs beyond any perspective.

  11. cant sleep Says:

    riding the rollercoaster

    It is never easy.

    Stringing letters to form words and ending it with a period is not enough to state that it was a sentence, good enough to take pride in. Nor should the subject and the predicate be amiss or it will end up in a fragment. Fragments which I have always mistook for a sentence until the green line appears right after clicking the space in the computers’ keyboard. Also, there is the matter of comas and prepositions that must be placed appropriately along with the many churva out there. In a way, writing down a sentence takes effort but coming up with an idea that will be jutted down to a sentence and lengthened to paragraphs that will comprise an entire composition is a process called writing that is very much a pain in the ass.
    There are times (or rather most of the times) I could hear my soul screaming and the words, spare me, would not stop echoing. Especially during discussions with beloved sirs and ma’ams’ where a writing activity sprouts out of nowhere, the rooms’ temperature drastically drops down to negative 40 degrees Celsius from its usual 37 brought by calamity known as Dread. And when the detailed instructions are given, I have become solid ice. But the mention of deadline (oh my) is enough to crack me into the ideal crushed ice for a perfect halo-halo. There goes what is left of me.

    That is how it has been lately. My experience with writing is not without all these emotions dug up confronting me like a hard slap in the face. How I long for the day I could do without it and envy those who could. Thinking about it reminded me of the many writers portrayed in the movies who wrote passionately in those morsel of papers around the corner. For once, they never wavered in their determination to reach the end of the goal they envision. Elements which I am having trouble to grasp with.
    In a writing exercise my mind would go completely blank in an instant. Then, there is this sudden rush of ideas floating around me but putting order into it is a task worthy of Hercules. Not only is it time consuming but it saps your strength like how a vacuum does. But during those rare days where I am in command of all these ideas, I could write for hours (with a pause of course every now and then) and be assured that there is actually a sense of direction in it.

    If not this adrenaline rush of ideas, I would find my inner self lurking around the corner in my mind and my actual self actually doing the same thing. Wandering also in my room and looking for that something that would ignite an inspiration. Any inspiration that is willing to possess me so that I could get this writing exercise over with.

    But worse is when after that momentary blackout I would find myself locked in a corridor whose walls are stretched for miles and miles. I could use some emergency lights but (no) it is pitched black down there and I have to grapple with the dark. I have to rely then on my other senses to see me through this ordeal, passed beyond that pinpoint of light.

    The question that bugs me at that moment is whether I could overcome the distance that separates me and that end. Can I actually reach for it or must I forfeit along the way that perhaps this is really the end and I could not go beyond. It is a one way road, between stop and go.
    At times I tend to do the former one. Even though it is not the end I imagined it to be. I gave up and it hurt. I could have made an ending and not settle for a so so one, but. Here comes a but so huge saying it is hopeless.
    Those were the days better left behind but there were some I am proud of where I did pass through that hurdle. It was an all new experience, looking back at everything I went through to get pass that point. A whole new perspective was born. The course painstakingly taken dulls to a period in comparison to the grand vision I used to envision which I am seeing and living at that very moment. This was it, the ending I hoped for.

    Finally I could just rest and rest and rest in peace. Which I would like to do but the more I think about it, the more I get restless for my hands are actually itching for a pen. Ironic isn’t it? How come I want to live through that ‘here we go again’ scenario. Even I do not understand myself of wanting to experience all that penetensiya once more. Feeling the body numb and all those issues shoved back. Fearing all the fears again but despite it all and my ramblings, I in my selfishness want to see the end product of my vision. To see the bigger picture it paints.

    That is why writing is never easy, and never will be in my opinion. It is a melting pot of high emotions waiting to just burst. This journey that a writer goes through is doomed with pitfalls but to where will one end up is interesting.

    melissa, sir.

  12. Um… “What is writing for you?”

    *haha* To be honest, writing isn’t my strongest point!!

    I am not sure what, exactly, you are asking but I will answer the
    question the way I think you are asking. In another words… your question
    is a bit vague. *peace*

    *clutching*… writing, for me, is like an expressive “way out” for a lot of emotions
    that I just don’t know what to do with it. I write how I feel depends on
    my mood. I feel like letting people know, sometimes, though I don’t
    really understand much of the traditional techniques of it.

    I suppose, writing is my diary.

    So, yeah.
    I know someone who writes stories and with varied words. It’s
    interesting reading his stories cause, to be honest, I have never really met
    anyone else out there, I know personally, who creates stories.

    I prefer
    drawing. *sad*


    My answer seems a little disappointing than you have hoped?
    *mah* I suppose, it depends on what you make of writing for each


  13. joy Says:

    For me, writing is not merely putting words and ideas in a piece of paper or tying it in the keyboard of computer, it is about putting life in a paper and giving life to itself.

    For a young writer, like me, I found it difficult to write (I mean, to write creatively). A lot of problem that I meet while on the process. But, I guess, it is just common,if not to all, may be, most of us who are just beginning to write. Although, talent in writing is innate, one can learn it, anyway.

    “Forming great concept” is one of the best ways to start as I could remember Longinus’ advise to young writers. That’s in our CL121 class. Yes, it is really true. But most of the time, I get lost while on the process while writing the concept that I have in my mind because, what is in the paper did not exactly express what I am trying to say. In this case, I have only two choices: to continue writing or to stop and start it all over again. But then, whatever I may choose, at the end, I would still write.(This has always been the bottom line.)

    To write, for me, is an effective way to release emotions and ideas, despite of its, somehow, difficult process. Of course, it doesn’t end by just putting them in a piece or pieces of paper. It DEMANDS PATIENCE and DEDICATION; patience to wait my mind to have a better concept, and dedication in editing and revising it. If I would only consider it process, I can really say that it is not as easy as I first thought it would be. It is like a mother, giving birth to a child in a delivery room. After she gave birth, she has to take care and nurture her child to be a good person. It is also the same way in writing. After an idea has been transferred in the paper, the writer’s tasks now, is to give his time in editing it, to be in its best. Thus, to teach and delight his readers. For these two words,”teach and delight”, according to Horace, is one of the basic principles that a writer should aim. After all, it is the reason why we write.

  14. joli Says:

    Grandmother’s dust:

    When I was about six or eight, I read some of my grandma’s scratch notes (not to mention the smell of dusts trapped inside the pages). There were paragraphs of three or four lines of her spoken tongue (karay-a) which is completely unknown to my young understanding. I thought it was cool… From that young age, I knew that when I grew up I wanted to write my OWN lines too. I don’t know what for but I just want to have those lines owned by me.
    I’ve been always lonely— living the saddest days of my childhood and heartaches from my innocence. I wrote about my bitterness and corny lovepoems. I thought I was a writer. I wrote my own stories. I thought I was a writer. I wrote literary attempts with my imaginary friends. I thought I was a writer. I joined the workshop on Davao Writers’ Guild. I thought I was a writer. A writer claiming she’s “writer” without possessing the force of being one.
    I am NOT a writer! I am an awake creative writing amateur dreamer. In the broad sense of writing, I write because I wanted to be labeled as a “real blooded-writer” and not just a fancy-blooded-claiming-writer. *ouch!* I write to be read. To be read with all the biggest possibility of being noticed that I have this raw aspiration to write. Everytime I ask myself why I write, my aspiration left me hanging in the air, and all my literary ambitions were gone.
    I’m going back to the basics: I write to know how to have an intuitive emotion drenched inside a publishable line.

    waaaaa…yes, im ambitious.

    Kaeos sir, humahabol sa deadline.

  15. lilo Says:

    why do i write?

    why not?

    it is the same as combing my hair, washing dirty clothes, cleaning the house: cutting my hair, wearing my worn-out clothes and messing around the house.

    it is cleansing and corrupting all happening almost at the same time. and when i think about it, it never gets me bored.

  16. Back_off Says:

    I was squeezing out every part of my brain for something to write about what writing really is for me, and surprisingly I found the question tougher than what I have expected.

    Well, writing itself is a 150-meter mud crawl for me. The thing is, every time I am to write about something, I usually spend time just staring blankly and rattling my mind for something good to write and then wish that someone may dash into my room and just shoot a bullet in my head. Ok, not helping. But this really holds true of the burden behind every writer’s back and I am definitely sure I’m not the only one experiencing it. And I am somehow convinced that it is a curse a writer would carry on the course of his literary life — knowing by heart how beautiful will be the ending of your piece yet doesn’t know how to begin. And because being a writer is also parallel to that of hurling yourself at a stake and let rejections and pressures burn you, one is thus vulnerable to despair. That’s why I can’t blame Sylvia Plath when she fell down crying to the floor when her works were rejected by Marianne Moore, why Emily Dickinson left her poems hidden inside her drawers, why I’m so preoccupied of what to write I cannot sleep. We may think our work had been a great one, that work which caused us anxiety attacks, shoving off Morpheus himself and killing ourselves with caffeine, and then surprise! surprise! later find out one actually produced a crap. This is what I’m saying, and what I always battle whenever I am writing something. Yet, when I carefully look at it now, all of these only boil down to the idea that one has choices and its either you let yourself be burned or not. Writing had been an act of discovery, of communication, of joy and fulfillment for me. It has offered access to the emotions contained in the particular memory I had attempted to encapsulate by writing them on paper. Korni* to say, but writing had been my means of connecting to my naked and native dignity.

    Despite all the rantings I can say about Writing, I still stoop myself and bow to it for because of writing I am able to keep my sanity.

    — RiGiL here.

  17. lydz Says:

    For an average person with an average intelligence like me, I find it hard to catch the wing of a thought or feeling in a flight and pin it down in a paper in an instance. It’ll take a long way for me to come up with a brilliant writing that everyone else would appreciate and look up to and that’s the challenge of writing; to dare to enter into the world of imagination with uncertainties, a refuge with unavoidable difficulties.
    Beyond all these doubts and fears, I still don’t want to let go of those ideas that enables me to write more, to pursue better. As Salvador Lopez would say, winner of Commonwealth Literary Contest in his essay; geniuses are born, but writers may be made. Every normal person has the capacity to express his thoughts and feelings in consecutive speech if not in a language that is touched with fire. Well, I would stick to that, for geniuses themselves, as many would say are nineteenths perspiration. Though writing with great affectivity as much as Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘unique singular effect’ or James Joyce’s ‘epiphany’ as well as Aristotle’s “catharsis’ is concern, the goal of achieving appreciation from the readers (in this compact world of competent writers) is metaphorical to finding a proverbial needle in a haystack. It’s quite difficult yet, I still would want to chain myself in writing. The more the chain suppresses me, the more I feel the need to strive hard to free myself.
    It would be a lie if somebody would say that writing is easy. For in reality, an ordered thought and feeling embodied in the affectivity and life of words is a struggle that even those literary canons and those who are still in the great “attempt” in writing is facing. I always question myself in how to bridge the things that I have in my mind and the words that would best attribute in these emotions to arrive in a perfect embodiment of these feelings. So as feelings are derived from our senses, it is better to heighten my sensitivity to the happenings outside. To compose is to observe, to reflect, to read and to converse with other people. Though writing is very hard, yet it is a tool for progress, leaping over man’s evolution from the speechless ancestor of human race. #

  18. josie jane balabag Says:

    In my status as a creative writing student, I still have the difficulty in difining what really writing is and why i write. However, I consider myself as a student of this course and somehow defines what writing is.
    For me, writing is a product of human’s creative mind. one writes because of what he or she sees in his/her daily course. Anybody could write as long as he/she knows how to write. There are stages of writing: first, as a student in highschool, we write on our diaries and other school papers; second, new writers who are starting to write their masterpieces; and finally, professional writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wordsworth and Edgar Allan Poe. Of course, it’s my own idea in defining them.
    A person writes not just because he/she reflects the things he/she sees but also because he/she sees the character that he/she’s looking to. We create imaginations when we write. We meditate and then we write. Through writing, we can express our own perceptions and views in an issue.
    The effectivity of our depends on how readers appreciate it or if he appreciate it in the first place.
    With these thoughts, my conclusion would be: if someone intnends to write something about an event, he/she has the chance to write it on the way he/she wants to. Because anyone could write, anyone could appreciate his/her work.#

  19. Sandrock Hart Says:

    i’ll explain better my previous answer…

    writing is all about having fun(able to invent things, create characters and “brainchilding” quotes!) but at the same time making sense.

    OR maybe (for the people in despair) writing is a product of a person who is in a dismal state but at the same time making sense.
    Writing puts the author in a position in which he/she owns something that will never die. To immortalize oneself maybe is the real deal. But at the very same time he/she will able to create new lives, new thoughts, new problems( though i strongly believe one do really have an influence) that makes him/her satiated.

    It is a good feeling to be able to mold lives and thoughts that will tickle or hurt feelings of other people. Such is also a great adventure, like dreams, to travel places and meet people( though dreams are somewhat uncontrollable,writing allows an author to use God’s hands).

    The beauty of writing all-in-all is the fun of being in control. The only hindrance is the person’s limitations(though this can be arguable) and his/her perseverance and passion. How much fun can it be to put a character in peril by throwing problems at him/her, create profound ideas and quotes that maybe just maybe being passed on chain letters, text messages or shout-outs in Friendster(not to mention being trnasmogrified into a Song or even a title to a movie, Filipinos do that always) and to have ones thoughts printed in paper. I just love the anatomy of the book, the smell, the cover and the name printed on it.

    Hope this is sufficient and from now on, i’ll be a better person and student.


  20. melissa Says:

    To Comments RSS,

    We meet again and I was hoping our confrontation could be delayed for hmm lets say next semester perhaps? But who am I kidding that would be asking the impossible.

    You are probably wondering why I am writing knowing I could have done and be doing lots of things–except this. Well I’ll let you on a secret Com. Deadline has arrived again.

    I could ignore both of you but you know me better than that and I know myself better than to do that. Heck going that far would be suicide! This is what I got myself into. Being enrolled in a system called BAE whose one of the many rules is to meet you on a regular basis. Writing every now and then, making my presence known so you would perhaps remember me. It is difficult. Afterall you’ve got what like twenty admirers worshipping you (there is hele, joli, hahaha and lots more) while I am doing this out of necessity. Got it?

    However it is interesting that I find myself having fun writing to you. Even if all of it is just me ranting like a chicken. Blabbering such nonsense. For in every word I convey I find myself actually being relieved of my ‘baggages’ as if coming clean.

    I know I ought to write more (which I should) but this matter of writing between you and me has led me to lots of possibilities (now that I think about it). I am being shown to a different world that only people enrolled in this system can make sense of. Should I take the next step? Throw away my baggages and brave the new world you are trying to show me.

    Damn I am hallucinating and you are probably thinking I’ve gone nuts which somehow aptly describe the predicament I dug myself into.

    Crazy for You,

  21. joli Says:

    somebody committed an intentional fallacy

  22. Sandrock Hart Says:

    sir , jasper nikki de la cruz=sandrock hart…

  23. tazi Says:

    sir nino, gud pm! wala ang pangalan ko sa binary opposition na list.. ito po url ko. thanx po. josie jane po ito..

  24. hele Says:

    sir d2 ba ipo2st ung asynmnt s marxism?
    d q alm qng san, so i’ll post it hir._

    family backround:
    (individual, family, society)

    The way i see things, i seem to have come from:)

    -a small family, i have one younger sister.
    -a social status as that of a lower middle class at most, or just a knotch higher than that of the poverty line at least.
    -a society of a third world country, obviously.
    -a place in the sosiety of.. i really don’t know, probably because i just drift around, but in terms of social status, i’m from the proletariat side, no doubt.


    -‘Cause, i ‘m inclined to the arts, more or less.
    -I write. More inclined to music, that is.
    -I take pleasure in literature, big-time
    -I want to build walls of words around my existence, RAKENROL!



    ” one great rockshow can change the world..” -school of rock.


    “purple haze all in my brain… actin’ funny and i dont know why. excuse me while i kiss the sky..” -jimi hendrix.

  25. nikkiboy Says:

    ay sir, i forgot, nag-change na day kog blogsite… jasper nikki de la cruz

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