mum degree of bewilderment’ in ordernto awaken and clarify this knowledge.”nIn other words, Blackmur was a kind ofnprotodeconstructionist. He still feltnuneasy in recognizing what appeared tonhim the indeterminacy in literary meaning.nThe full-fledged cleconstmctionist isnconvinced not only that certainty is unattainable,nbut also that the only virtue liesnin abandoning the attempt to achieve it.nDeconstruction, although highlynvocal and fashionable, is a minority view.nBut in the realm of modern criticalntheory, minority views enjoy presdge andnare able to dominate attention. The majoritynview remains the traditional one,nthe view that authors wish to express anview of life and that criticism ought tonconcern itself with what an author meansnand whether or not it is true or significant.nProponents of this view generallyngo about their business, enjoying literatorenand trying to make sense of it in relationnto their understanding of actualnhuman experience. Either they feel nonneed to proselydze for what seems obviousncommon sense or they are intimidatednby subde and sophisdcated theorizingnand allow it to monopolize thenfomm of cridcal discussion. With few exceptions,nnot since the New Humanistsnof the early part of our century—mennlike Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer Moren—have we had forceful proponents of ancriticism alert to lapses of moral vision.nWe have drifted away from evaluationnuntil, as Lionel Trilling observed in 1970,n”At the present time the idea that literaturenis to be judged by its moral effect hasnvirtually no place in critical theory.” Wenhave now reached a point where the issuenin academic criticism is simply whether itnis possible to mean what one says and tonconvey that meaning to others.nA positive aspect of the deconstmctionncontroversy is that it is forcing readersnwith traditional humanistic inclinationsnto re-evaluate and reassert their position.nThe challenge of deconstruction is hardnto ignore, since it calls into question evennthe possibility of debating literary viewsn—or any views for that matter. GeraldnGraff has perceptively noted that “Then14nChronicles of Culturendilemma of a culture so pluralized that itnsees all reality as determined by the ideologynof the observer is that it can’t arguenwith itself, since it won’t grant itself thatnmeasure of trans-ideological agreementnnecessary to make argument possible.nThe real question in such a culture is notnhow we can achieve consensus but hownBetween Yukon and Praguen}oha.Vetty: Jack London: An AmericannMyth; Nelson-Hall; Chicago.nRonald Hayman: Kafka; Oxford UniversitynPress; New York.nby Keith BowernAn attempt to reconcile London andnKafka in one piece of criticism may resultnin a dream in which one is standingnbefore a law court, which consists ofnseven hermaphroditic sanatoriumnguards, being sentenced to spend the restnof one’s life pulling a pack sled betweennFlin Flon and Skagway carrying a circulatingnlibrary of Jack London’s collectednworks. The differences between the twonare staggering. It is hard to believe theynboth lived during the same period. Bothnhad read Nietzsche hot off the press, butnthey had certainly received differentnmessages from the dyspeptic saint of existentialism.nBoth were spared survivingnto see the day when existentialism was anformally defined philosophical entity. IfnLondon’s one-time friend AmbrosenBierce had been able to include a definitionnof the school in his Devil’s Dictionary,nit might have been: “Existentialism:nthe belief that existence precedes essence,nthat rational tmth is a sign of badnfaith, and that, all of this notwithstanding,ntrain fare to Cleveland will still remainnin excess of its actual worth.”nBoth London and Kafka were suicidal,ndied around their 40th year (of naturalnMr. Bower works for a natural-familyplanningnorganization.nnnwe can disagree.” I hope (perhaps innvain) that the extremes of deconstructionnwill provoke a bold reaffirmation of thenvalue and necessity of a criticism accessiblento the ordinary educated readernwhich treats literature in relation withnthe author and the social and moral concernsnof actual life. Dncauses), and both had thoroughly meannupbringings. London’s father wouldnhave made an interesting flim-flam mannin one of O. Henry’s “Jeff and Andy”nstories. Jack left a nonetheless comfortablenhome in Oakland at an early age,nlooking for adventure, and spent the restnof his life mythologizing about his hardntimes, raffish youth, daring pluck, andnvirile propensities. The Jack Londonnpresented injohn Perry’s biography is, atnbest, a naive knave. London hated hisnchosen profession. “To me, writing is anneasy way to make a fine living. … I amnsincere when I say that my professionnsickens me. Every story I write is for thenmoney that will come to me,” he toldnEmanuel Julius. London’s biography isnthat of a hack writer whose life andnthought was constantly arranged to increasenhis magazine sales (which at onentime exceeded $80,000 a year). His profitsnfunded an elaborate white elephant ofna ranch north of San Francisco callednGlen Ellen that was as important for hisnself-image as Hugh Hefner’s revolvingnbed must be for his. Marx, Nietzsche,nSpencer, and finally Carl Jung providedntouchstones upon which London fashionedncharacter motivations for some ofnthe flimsiest mannequins ever to capturenthe attention of the book world.nFor the better part of his career, untilnhe kowtowed to his “capitalist editors” inna belated burst of patriotic drivel duringnWorld War I, London was a vigorous socialist.nBut his socialism was windowndressing; the thousands of dollars henspent outfitting the Snark for a worldncruise reflected his compassion for then