But where is the problem you began with? The one like the problem you had with the Rake's critique of James Wood? I don't see it. It seems to have disappeared into an abstraction about "reason and emotion." You do go on to say that "reason" is to be "applied to one's emotion, and to the devices at work in the text.
A curious association: one's emotions with "devices." The same instrument (reason) applied to both, with some sort of assumed analogy to be drawn with the "devices" in the text and the "devices" that constitute our emotions. What is missing, is the problem that sets all this off, the one you have with emotional arguments. Is it that reason (as you understand and use it) isn't adequate to the task? Or is it that you haven't stopped, haven't paused to reflect on the "problem" long enough to recognize it as one distinct from that having to do with writing and thinking about literature? As the problem you have, that belongs to you, the one you experience in meeting arguments laden with affective power.
You don't acknowledge the leap you make in moving from the problem you have, to the conceptual problem you pose--about reason and emotion. A purely abstract idea of this theoretical opposition, itself, an unexamined assumption. The benefit for you being, that it relocates your "problem" to something outside your "self", a set of "devices" ... which, in the absence of definition or conceptual clarity, serves an almost mystical function, standing in for whatever it is that would be the counter-force, the power that saves you from your problem... a reasonable salvation.
The opposition of reason and emotion is, of course, specious. Unfounded and indefensible. In applying the disciplines of reason, emotion is no less present than when we act by ungoverned passion, and "reason" can be a most effective mask to cover emotions we prefer to hide, or deny.
We can work with this sometimes necessary fiction without much danger of impairment to our investigations, when they have to do with black holes, chaos theory, reconstructing ancient civilizations from pottery shards, gene splicing, but when it comes to thinking about art, there is a problem. Another kind of problem. A problem, I suspect, close to your heart.
"Art and the study of art," you write," are not the same thing."
What makes you so sure?
"... otherwise poetry criticism would be written in verse, music criticism in musical notation."
In verse? No. But in the mode of poetic thinking? Yes.
A play or a novel has many modes of being: as repositories of historical information, manifestations of political and cultural perspectives, linguistic and symbolic artifacts--any one or all of which are worthy of our attention and study--yielding knowledge by application of methods borrowed from, and not altogether unlike, those of the hard sciences. Methods which, if we are not critical regarding our own thinking, we might mistake for evidence of the efficacy of the application of reason, as opposed to emotion.
And here is my problem with what you wrote.
When we read, Proust wrote, we read ourselves. An engagement with a play, a novel, a story, a painting... is a double encounter, a dialogue. Critical writing that engages the text is always personal.
Of all Shakespear's plays Macbeth is the most rapid, Hamlet the slowest, in movement. Lear combines length with rapidity,--like the hurricane and th whirlpool, absorbing while it advance. It beings as a stormy day in summer, with brightness; but that brightness is lurid, and anticipates the tempest.Coleridge, from Lectures on Shakespeare.
The tragedy of Lear is deservedly celebrated among the dramas of Shakespeare. There is perhaps no play with keeps the attention so strongly fixed: which so much agitates our passions and interests our curiosity. the artful involutions of distinct interests, the striking opposition of contrary characters, the sudden changes of fortune, and the quick succession of events, fill the mind with a perpetual tumult of indignation, pity, and hope. ... So powerful is the current of the poet's imagination, that the mind, which once ventures within it, is hurried irresistibly along.
Samuel Johnson, Notes on King Lear
Johnson and Coleridge are reading themselves in reading the play, and in reading themselves, they give us a new portal into the experience and understanding of the play--a kind of reading that does not come by remaining an outsider to the experience, and writing and reflection that is filled and empowered by an engagement which cannot be dissected into categories of "emotion" and "reason" anymore than you can find such distinctions in a poem or play that succeeds on an aesthetic level. We can get away with pretending we are brains in a bottle when investigating the stars (though I see no evidence of that when I read scientists of the highest order... say, like those who post on Cosmic Variance--and can't imagine Sean Carroll making such a claim), but even so, there is a difference when we are thinking about the aesthetics of a text. Treated as an object (as "devices" we can dissect as artifact: of culture, repository of history) --the aesthetic engagement is erased. It cannot endure the unengaged glance. To think and write about the aesthetics of a literary work, you must be engaged in the aesthetic experience: thinking with the body and feeling with the mind. The best critical writing is fully synesthetic--engaging all the senses interchangeably, mind and body as one.
I've said enough for one post. I thought I might go on to defend The Rake, and comment on what I think he's reacting to in Woods, but that would take a extended post in itself. I can suggest that it is Woods exclusionary approach, his disengagement from the works he comments on, his reduction of what he reads to objects for dissection with no evidence of engagement, that closes the door to any possibility of dialogue... he neither treats the text as pure artifact, nor permits mutual engagement, rather, he insists on speaking from a ground that exists only apart from mutual engagement/ The Rake addresses that... and you have a problem with his engagement... a problem, you have yet to address.