An Interview with Reuven Tsur

Reuven Tsur is Professor of Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University. His theory of Cognitive Poetics, which he continues to elaborate and refine, is one of the earliest and most systematic efforts to apply cognitive theory to literary studies. Some of Reuven Tsur's works are listed in the Annotated Bibliography, and others are available in the Features, Abstracts, and Works in Progress sections of this page. I asked him about the origins and implications of cognitive poetics. The answers here are excerpted from longer ones which may be accessed through the links within each answer.

--Beth Bradburn

What are the original research questions or interests that led you to develop cognitive poetics?

I had not set out from the beginning to develop cognitive poetics. I had a problem, and the solution grew with me during the years. Then, like Moliere's M. Jourdain, who was told one day that all his life he had been talking prose, I realized in 1980 at the second annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Association in New Haven that all my life I had been doing cognitive poetics. That happened after having already taught courses in "Poetic Language and Perception Processes" and published a book-length study A Perception-Oriented Theory of Metre.

When I was a teenager, at high school, studying Hungarian poetry, I was very much annoyed by the fact that our literary studies concerned mainly the idea contents of poetry. I had very strong intuitions that the most important things in poetry were not conceptual, but something of the kind that, now I know, was "perceptual." I spent the ensuing decades in a pursuit of that "perceptual" something. One of the main problems appeared to be this: language by its very nature is conceptual; but it is an observational fact that poetry sometimes conveys emotional, perceptual, or mystical qualities. At the university, in Israel, I was exposed to "New Criticism", and was committed to close-reading of poems as the only worthy critical activity. But I always felt that there was that important something which I later called the "perceived effect" of the poem, and I soon realized that this could not be accounted for merely by appealing to the structure of the text; one had to assume a perceiving consciousness. Wellek and Warren along with Wimsatt and Beardsley provided the theoretical constraints within which I attempted to solve the problem. The latter warned against the "affective fallacy", while the former conceived of a poem as of "a stratified system of norms that is a potential source of experience," but categorically rejected all psychologization of the literary endeavour. I thought, therefore, that I must eschew what is individual and idiosyncratic in poetic experience, and pursue the intersubjective foundations of the "perceived quality." Eventually I found the redeeming formula in a noncognitive context, in L. C. Knights' Notes on Comedy: "the only generalizations which are useful are those [...] which suggest how the mind works in certain classes of experience," with particular emphasis on "classes." My approach in those days could be epitomized by the title of one of my courses: "Poetic Language and Perception Processes." I adopted, at an early stage, a twofold assumption from Gestalt theory: that one could distinguish between the structure and the regional quality of a perceptual object; and that the two could be systematically related. Much of my thinking and methodology was developed in defence against two kinds of accusations: that analytic criticism destroys poetic experience, and that the perceived effects of poetry are entirely subjective and cannot be submitted to systematic investigation.

Some of your work makes cognitive poetics seem to emerge quite naturally from Russian Formalism. How do you see the relationship between CP and RF? What about CP and other schools and traditions of aesthetic theory?

Indeed, my bottom-up work on Cognitive Poetics emerged from New Criticism, Russian Formalism, and related critical schools. The reading of poetry, I assume, involves the modification (or, sometimes, the deformation) of cognitive processes, and their adaptation for purposes for which they were not originally "devised." In certain extreme but central cases, this modification may become, paraphrasing the Russian Formalists, "organized violence against cognitive processes." Quite a few (but by no means all) central poetic effects are the result of some drastic interference with, or at least delay of, the regular course of cognitive processes, and the exploitation of its effects for aesthetic purposes. Thus, for instance, the perception of [i] as higher and brighter than [u] can be accounted for in terms of a delay in recoding from the acoustic to the phonetic mode.

In other words, the cognitive correlates of poetic processes must be described in three respects: the normal cognitive processes; some kind of modification or disturbance of these processes; and their reorganization according to different principles. This conception was anticipated by Shklovsky in his statement: "The technique of art is to make the object 'unfamiliar,' to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged," and by Jakobson: "The function of poetry is to point out that sign is not identical with its referent"; "along with the awareness of the identity of the sign and the referent (A is A1), we need the consciousness of the inadequacy of this identity (A is not A1)." This conception has been complemented by a top-down conception of period style I derived from traditional literary and art history.

I have also learnt a lot from various branches of analytic philosophy.

How did analytic philosophy help point the way to Cognitive Poetics?

My eventual course in this respect was determined at the age 3-16. I grew up in an environment in which I had to defend, constantly, "my own truth" against distortion. I remember myself, when I was four or five years old, helplessly saying "What is true is true!" as my ultimate argument. At the same time, I grew up in a family in which the norm was to receive ironically any kind of sentimental chatter, empty slogans or authoritative methods of education. So, when years later I was exposed to analytical philosophy, I realised at once that here there was a powerful tool to insist on evasive truths, expose empty slogans, and debunk sentimental chatter.

From analytical philosophers I learned that without a well-defined metalanguage you cannot even refer to the most significant aspects of literary works of art. After having read Beardsley's Aesthetics I thought that he may be right or wrong on many issues, but one thing is certain: that after having read him one has no excuse for confusion in critical communication. From Joseph Margolis and Morris Weitz I learned that interpretations are not factual but hypothetical statements, and that they cannot be "true" or " false," only more or less " plausible."

This philosophical distinction implies a mental attitude that is crucial for Cognitive Poetics: that one must be able to assume an attitude toward what is merely possible; furthermore, that one must tolerate the state of affairs in which what is " plausible," its opposite is plausible at the same time. In this way we have imperceptibly passed into a domain that is properly explored by a very different discipline - the psychology of perception and personality. Else Frenkel Brunswick speaks of the intolerance of ambiguity, of the authoritarian personality who is incapable of assuming an attitude toward " the merely possible," and for whom unevaluated percepts are particularly offensive. In this respect, it is important to note that both in New Criticism and in the psychology of perception and personality, ambiguity is a key term. When I was a young high-school teacher, headmasters and inspectors used to chide us: "You, young teachers, are willing to sacrifice educational values for aesthetic values." In a society in which authoritarianism is a negative value, the teaching of literature in terms of New Criticism and Cognitive Poetics may have some positive educational value. Conversely, the foregrounding of certain idea contents as examples to be followed may have an authoritarian effect on students.

Our Western culture encourages us to mistrust our sense perceptions and trust our logic and inferences. In this respect too I learned an important lesson from analytic philosophy. Frank Sibley asserts that aesthetic qualities cannot be inferred, with the help of rules, from non- aesthetic elements. They must be perceived directly; rules, conditions and principles can be used only after the event, to account for the qualities perceived. (This appears to be the case, with the necessary changes, in all creative thinking). If we are not following rules and there are no conditions to appeal to, how are we to know when the aesthetic concepts are applicable? One very natural way to counter this question is to point out that some other sorts of concepts also are not condition-governed. We do not apply simple color-words by following rules or in accordance with principles. We see that the book is red by looking, just as we tell that the tea is sweet by tasting it. So too, it might be said, we just see (or fail to see) that things are delicate, balanced, and the like.

My students sometimes put up great resistance when they are required to apply exact logical tools to literature. But this resistance is negligible in comparison to the resistance they put up when required to expose themselves directly to the perceptual qualities of poetry. But while they can easily rationalise their resistance to "logical tools," they have no stock slogans for rationalising their resistance to sense-experience in poetry. A very intelligent student in my graduate seminar "The Sound Patterns of Poetry and Their Relationship to Meaning," who displayed distinct signs of the intolerance of ambiguity, once blamed me for "turning literary criticism into exact science." In response I pointed out to her that I forced the students to use their senses for the direct perception of poetic qualities instead of inferring them. To this she answered: "But do not think that all your efforts were wasted on me. The other day I dropped a coin. Before looking at it, I tried to guess from its sound what coin it was, and then I thought of you." There is no alternative to using one's senses in the experiencing of poetry; and there is no alternative to using logical tools in speaking of those experiences.

Your use of logical tools to speak of those experiences seems designed to be of practical use to other scholars.

The truth is that they are designed to be of practical use to myself. It just happened that it was of practical use to other scholars as well. When I was a young high school teacher, in a class on Hebrew literature I said of one of the exquisite instances of romantic nature poetry that the poet expressed in it his wish to dissolve in nature. One of the students asked, not without a grain of teasing, "What do you mean by 'dissolve in nature'? Did he intend to sleep among the rocks?" I felt myself caught in using empty slogans I had learnt at the university. I mentioned in one of my earlier answers my hostility to empty slogans. It took me several decades to work out an answer that satisfied me, exploring romantic nature poetry, and the poetry of "altered states of consciousness": hypnotic and ecstatic poetry. When I met that student about twenty five years later (he was at that time the Greek Prime Minister's press adviser), I told him that now I had an answer to his question; but he did not remember that he had ever asked it.

People who cared to praise my early work said that its great merit was the transition between the theoretical level and the close reading of individual poems. I was working very much like the machine that generates whole porks from sausages: I was sometimes starting with some critical slogan, or encyclopedia entry, or some generalization from literary history, and attempted to show how those generalizations applied to single poems from which they had been abstracted. I always asked the question: "How can we know that this category applies in this particular instance?" I had the privilege of having my PhD dissertation supervised by David Daiches at Sussex University. I kept complaining to him of my doctoral dissertation that my work was not innovative enough, but he insisted that it was innovative and illuminating; and this was later confirmed by the examiners too. Though an outstanding figure in traditional literary scholarship, he gave me all the support in my attempts to venture into territories unknown to him or myself. I think, I would have never reached what I did, had I not his support at this critical stage of my development.

Once David Daiches told me that in describing poems I was doing what he called "loaded description." He meant a kind of activity which by way of a linguistic description also suggests the emotional and other aesthetic qualities of the poem. Intuitively this seemed to me very true. But I wanted to give an operational definition of " loaded description." I didn't mean by this to be useful to anybody; I regarded it as a kind of moral obligation. It took me, again, a decade or so to find the proper formulation.

How directly does your work depend on empirical research, from phonetics, cognitive psychology etc.?

My work is essentially speculative, and most of the "empirical" support to it has been derived from my own introspection, or responses elicited from my students in the classroom situation. I am not skilled in experimentation. All my controlled experimental work except for my last project was done in collaboration with Yossi Glickson, who planned the experiments, and executed them with Chanita Goodblatt. I was therefore very much surprised that my theoretical work has been more than favourably received by leading empirical researchers. The reason seems to be that concerning critical slogans and generalizations from critical theory and literary history I relentlessly ask the question "How can we know that this is indeed the case in this particular instance"? And this appears to be of great practical use to other scholars.

About empirical research in aesthetics in general: if you want to stick to the most rigorous experimental procedures, you must confine yourself to fairly trivial issues. If you want to explore fairly significant issues in aesthetics, you must relax to some degree or other the rigour demanded by cognitive psychologists.

How did your theory of the rhythmical performance of poetry originate?

When I was a teenager, I had one great passionate hobby: poetry recital--in my native Hungarian. There is in Hungary a magnificent tradition of artistic reading of poetry. After World War II, a Jewish couple of leading actors (just back from concentration camps), settled in our town, flying from the famine in Budapest after the siege. My mother decided "to kill two birds with one stone": she sent me to the actress to take lessons in poetry recital, thus supporting her financially and, at the same time, constructively developing my hobby. I may have been the only thirteen-year-old boy in history who got private instruction in poetry recital from a leading actress and stage manager. Hungarian and English poetic metre have one thing in common: there are enormous complexities in both prosodies, and both Hungarian and English prosodists are in hopeless disagreement about the rules or principles of their respective metric systems. The reasons for this state of affairs are very different in the two languages. Fortunately, however, both Hungarian and British actors have strong intuitions concerning the arising problems, and many of them have the competence required to solve them, without being aware of what they are doing or why. At present I am aware that actors in both languages deploy the same strategies to handle problems arising from widely different systems. This suggests that cognitive processes may be at work in their solutions.

Thus, when in the early seventies I entered the boggy land of English prosody, I had already mastered a set of intuitive strategies for handling metric complexities--in a very different system, though. This gave me an additional perspective on the problems. The psychologist Maslow said that a person whose only tool is a hammer will tend to treat everything as a nail. And conversely, one could add, if the hammer is missing from one's toolbox, one will be inclined to ignore nails. Now I seemed to have a powerful tool which was missing from other prosodists' toolbox. This is not to say that from the very beginning I formulated different questions and developed a different methodology. Rather, I started to explore the field precisely at the point reached at the time by Wimsatt and Beardsley and by Roger Fowler. But, I strongly suspect, I perceived the problems differently; I seem to have seen the "nails" somewhat more clearly than other persons did. Thus, while other prosodists saw the issues in terms of "parsing rules," or "mapping rules" that allowed them to define an utmost limit of permissibility in metrics, I noticed that certain verse lines that other prosodists ruled "unmetrical" could be performed rhythmically, by deploying certain vocal strategies.

As I see it now, my approach assumes that the performance of poetry is not just a mediating agency between text and consumer; it is an essential dimension of any experiencing of poetic rhythm. I conceive of it as of a solution to a perceptual problem posed by the versification patterns of poems and the stress and intonation patterns of their language. Performance is a perceptual solution to a perceptual problem, and as such determined by it to a considerable extent, but also leaving room for considerable creativity on the performer's part.

My perception-oriented theory of metre performs a small Copernican revolution, and instead in the verse structure, it places the constraints in the reader's "rhythmic competence": the utmost limit of rhythmicality is the reader's ability or willingness to perform the verse line rhythmically. Jay Keyser of MIT (against whose generative metrical theory I was arguing, among others) suggested to me that such a formulation requires a systematic theory of "rhythmical performance." I had to begin from scratch. I began with the early work of the so-called sound- recorders in poetry readings, but I mostly relied on introspection, listening to recorded readings by professional actors, attempting to explain my intuitions in terms of Gestalt psychology and speech research conducted at the Haskins Laboratories.

How did you move from introspection to empirical testing?

When I wrote to D.B. Fry of London University, seeking his help in my attempt to obtain empirical support for an instrumental analysis for my fledgling theory of rhythmical performance of poetry, he answered: "It is clear to me that the ear and the brain are the only satisfactory instruments for dealing with matters of rhythm and metre. Not because their effects are any more "subjective" than any others, but because they represent a complex of impressions for which ear and brain are the only appropriate transducing instruments. So in fact I think you are better off listening to and thinking about metre than in doing physical measurements. [...] All this is not to say that one cannot learn something from physical measurements, but in the case of metre this is very much a matter of following one's hunches" (personal communication, 22 November 1972).

And that is what I did at the time: listening to recorded readings with my own ears, so that most of my early work was speculative. With the novice' s enthusiasm I construed Fry's answer as if it meant that it was only a matter of time that electronic instruments would become available for this kind of research too. I was first initiated into the mysteries of speech research in 1980, when Al Liberman generously invited me to explore my theory on the equipment of the Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, and provided me with professional guidance in the use of the Laboratories' facilities. But the state of the art still was not quite ready for my research, and I made very little progress. The problem through all these years was that there is an enormous discrepancy between what we experience when listening to speech and what can be read off a spectrogram. In fact, as Fry implied, this discrepancy is not due to the machines' incapability of representing the speech signal, but to the complex processing of the signal by the human brain. The sophisticated electronic instruments do give an accurate analysis of the sound information; but what really matters is its integration that takes place in the brain. Since then, every few years I applied to universities that had advanced phonetic laboratories for help in my research. Usually I received the answer that they had no staff experienced in this kind of research. Then I met Tom Barney at a conference on Empirical Aesthetics, a PhD student from Lancaster University who was doing an instrumental research on poetic rhythm. I decided that whoever had taught him would be good enough for me. So I ended up at the Dpt. of Linguistics and Modern English, Lancaster University, where I was exposed to British phonetician Gerry Knowles's work, who quite independently from my plight created precisely the tools which I needed. The "state of the art" has not greatly changed during this period; it is rather that I found a way to ask the machine questions the answers to which make sense within the framework of my theory.

It was obvious from the beginning that perhaps the most substantial part of experiencing poetic rhythm is outside the reach of the instruments. It has to do with a vocalizable linguistic string and its correspondence or lack of correspondence with an abstract mental pattern. From this relationship tensions and resolutions of tensions may arise. But from all this, only the linguistic string, if vocalized, is accessible to empirical measurements. When I got the big chance of my life, and the facilities of the Haskins Laboratories were at my disposal, the most important single piece of knowledge I received was that though you can make with those instruments quite sophisticated analyses of speech, not of those aspects which are of immediate relevance to metrical analysis.

The synopsis of my forthcoming book is displayed elsewhere on this website; some of my empirical work can be read (and listened to) in a "paper" in the e-journal Versification.

What are the limits of CP as an investigative tool? Are there questions it can't adequately address?

My first response to your question was embarrassment. I sometimes accuse practitioners of alternative medicine that they don't know their own limitations. Now I suddenly realised that I have never asked myself this question concerning the limitations of Cognitive Poetics. On second thought, however, there is a great difference. The kind of practitioners I have in mind reject conventional medicine, believe that their brand of alternative medicine can replace it and answer all the questions. The critical approach I am advocating does not presume to replace any kind of traditional criticism; on the contrary rather, it adopts any approach that can illuminate the work or theoretical problem under discussion. As I have already suggested, I have not set out to elaborate a theory; I always began with a problem. During the years I sought solutions to a great variety of problems, starting with the received view, feeling my way at the edges, and seeking new solutions for problems that more traditional approaches could not solve. I have never asked what are the limitations of my approach; I usually asked how I can improve upon what is already known, and what are the constraints. If I reject some approach, or some specific analysis, it is because it does not observe certain constraints; not because I have a better approach. Thus, for instance, I have sharply criticised Eva Metman's reading of Waiting for Godot, because it applied Jungian methodology in a way that reduced the play to a set of Jungian notions. At the same time, I consider Maud Bodkin's interpretations in her Archetypal Patterns in Poetry exemplary, and I have recourse to its methodology whenever I find it appropriate. I have devoted much thinking to the question what are the constraints on interpretation; and in this I had recourse to both analytic philosophy and cognitive science.

After many years, I realised that these scattered discussions "grew together" into a fairly coherent theory of Cognitive Poetics. It was Dr. Keese Michielsen, the cognitive science acquisition editor of Elsevier Science Publishers, who first suggested to me that I had reached a point when I should integrate my various theoretical activities into a coherent whole, and commissioned the book which eventually became my Toward a Theory of Cognitive Poetics (which contains, among others, a chapter on Archetypal Patterns). I have investigated at great length what I call "the implied critic's decision style." The methodology I have developed for this research can be extended to critical schools and aesthetic movements.

"Cognitive Poetics" does not imply that all issues should be treated in cognitive terms, but rather that cognitive assumptions should be called in where more traditional notions are insufficient. Cognitive assumptions do not supersede the descriptions of poems in terms derived from a variety of approaches, but may illuminate them, in a similar fashion, from a new perspective. Thus, we should not ask what are the questions Cognitive Poetics can't adequately address, but rather what are the questions concerning which cognitive assumptions may be illuminating.

CP emphasizes the cognitive processes of individual readers and poets while also assuming the universality of those processes. Does this tend to set a limit on the extent to which literary texts may be read as cultural artifacts?

You are right. Cognitive Poetics emphasizes the cognitive processes of individual readers and poets, while also assuming the universality of those processes. And as a reaction to the overemphasis of cultural conditioning in the various branches of contemporary scholarship, Cognitive Poetics tends to exaggerate in the opposite direction and de-emphasize "the extent to which literary texts may be read as cultural artifacts." But I regard this only as a passing situation. On the other hand, I am trying to be cautious with "assuming the universality of those processes." I shall attempt now to outline a more or less balanced view of this issue.

When I was much younger I did entertain hopes that I would eventually come up with something that has universal validity. But today, when some of my friends put to me the provocative question "Are you sure this would work in Chinese poetry as well?" I answer that my aspirations are far more modest, and that I will be pleased if I can validate my claims in Western Culture. But sometimes, cautiously though, I do make some probings beyond the boundaries of our Western Culture.

The paradigm may be set by my discussion of "Cross-Cultural Universals of Affective Meaning" in the "Literary Synaesthesia" chapter of my book On Metaphoring. I discuss there the cross- cultural foundations of the emotional symbolism of colour terms and the emotional vocabulary of heat.

How do cultural similarities arise? The following passage by D'Andrade (1980) may suggest a reasonable beginning for an answer to this question:

An important assumption of cognitive anthropology is that in the process of repeated social transmission, cultural programs come to take forms which have a good fit to the natural capacities of the human brain. Thus, when similar cultural programs are found in most societies around the world, there is reason to search for psychological factors which could account for these similarities.

On the other hand, one might add, if those "cultural programs" contain features that do not conflict with "the natural capacities of the human brain," or there are some good culture-specific reasons to preserve them, there may evolve huge differences, or even conflicting patterns, between the various cultures on the more concrete levels. My work on poetic metre, in two different metric systems which, in turn, belong to different cultural systems demonstrates this.

The cognitive approach may shed some light on the way poetic conventions come into being. The metric system of pegs and chords, for example, was introduced into Hebrew poetry by a conscious and intentional effort of Dunash Ben Labrat, and its reception process involved violent ideological and other conflicts. But the overwhelming dominance of one metric structure within this system was the result of a long and unintentional process of natural selection: the metric pattern that had the best fit to the natural constraints of cognitive economy was the one that had a better chance to prevail and multiply.

You sometimes use CP to help define styles of poetry (e.g., Romantic, Metaphysical). How might a CP perspective affect our understanding of aesthetic movements in their historical/cultural contexts?

There is a problem concerning "aesthetic movements." Your question excluded ab ovo the "styles of poetry (e.g., Romantic, Metaphysical)." Apart from this, there is the doctrine of the movement, poets and critics; and the practice of the critics. In my answer I will mainly discuss the issue of the collective doctrine, but it is difficult to draw the boundary between the collective decision style and the individual critic's decision style. In addition, there is an important social- psychological question of the group dynmics of the persons who constitute the aesthetic movement. When you discuss such groups as, e.g., The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, or even much less cohesive groups that have some patent shared aesthetic purpose, some sociological or social-psychological considerations become inevitable.

I have recently supervised a PhD dissertation by Rina Tsvieli on the poetics of a literary journal published in the nineteen thirties by a group of Hebrew avant-garde poets some of whom were rightly forgotten, while some others became the great modern classics of Hebrew poetry. There inevitably arose the question, why should a few young poets with only loosely- connected poetics band into a militant group of avant-garde. At the outset I assumed that this question might be satisfactorily handled by Wittgenstein's notion of open concept and family resemblance. All my work on poetry has been based on published material, and I devoutly shun archives. But Rina, who was one of my closest students, decided nonetheless to plough archives. She told me "I have got fascinating documents, what should I do with them?" I told her "I have no idea, but try to present to me some of the stuff, perhaps it will give me some insight." So she read to me the correspondence between two groups of poets that eventually merged into the group discussed, one of them already lived in Palestine, the other one lived in Vilna, preparing to emigrate to Palestine. What struck me was that they were not corresponding about poetics, but rather made such remarks as "do come soon and strengthen our files." One of the most important motives of these people was their wish to belong. So I told my student: "I am going to say something that I don't understand myself. I've heard that there is a branch of sociology that investigates the dynamics of small groups, such as gangs of thieves. Perhaps there we might find some illuminating stuff." So she had to master the sociology of the small group. Eventually in that field too she had some significant contribution. Regarding our problem, she found that the structure and the dynamics of this group of poets reasonably conformed with the sociological models. Small groups have an "emotive aim" ("togetherness"), and an "instrumental aim" (e.g., stealing in the case of thieves). Accordingly, they have two leaders, an "emotive leader" and an "instrumental leader" (unless one person fulfils both functions). Some of the examiners of the dissertation observed that the two parts of the dissertation (that on the sociology and that on the poetics of the group) are only loosely connected. They overlooked one small but very important sentence: that the poetics was the instrumental aim of the group. A small group also has a typical life cycle with a beginning, middle and end predicted by the sociological models. Rina found that the group under discussion dissolved when it reached the end of its life cycle; but then, she claimed, they turned into a "poetic school." Thus, for instance, they published, or participated in, rival literary journals; but sometimes invited each other to publish in their journals. I would like to make one more comment on this work. Digging up archives is a favourite occupation of what I call "Factualism"; this dissertation is an excellent example of how archives can be used in a conspicuously nonfactualistic manner.

What is the relationship between what you call factualism and something like intertextuality?

A factualist may go on to engage in parallel hunting and source digging, and call it "intertextuality"; and certainly, intertextuality does have such an ingredient. But it also generates a new context of two interacting texts, in which the minute as well as large elements receive interesting qualifications. It would make an illuminating meta-critical study to check this new wave of studies in intertextuality, how many of them confine themselves to the first element only, and how many investigate both elements. Even when they point out some interaction between the two texts, many studies use one text as a means to start the discussion of the other with a solid, pre-conceived hypothesis. They display no "sensitivity to subtle and minimal cues," and defy the process of interpretation as a "highly internal one in the sense that it is not anchored in established rules, and in the sense that many different interactions can be generated in the same situation." In short, I strongly suspect that much study in intertextuality is factualism in disguise. When in the doctrine and practice of a critical school or trend, just as in the output of an individual critic, certain cognitive devices are consistently deployed in a way that is characteristic of a certain cognitive style, that decision style may be used by the meta-critic as a schema to impute a coherent design to doctrines or practices otherwise defective or puzzling in this respect. Such a schema has considerable claim for adequacy when applied to flesh-and-blood people, and is supported by considerable empirical evidence; but when applied to critical schools or trends, its validity depends on its power to impute a coherent design to them. Notwithstanding, the more adaquate the schemata when applied to flesh-and-blood people, the more plausible they become when applied to critical schools or trends. I have pointed out the complex relationships between individuals and groups that deploy the same kinds of cognitive devices. The consistently rigid deployment of rigid cognitive devices may indicate either a rigid personality style, or lack of experience in a certain domain, or the adherence to certain trends or schools in a given profession or discipline--but in any case it is likely to be more maladaptive, less sensitive to evasive cues, than the consistently flexible deployment of flexible cognitive devices.