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Author Topic: Time for Introduction threads
Kentuckian
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I have noticed an alarming trend which gives me pause: bad philosophy often makes beautiful art. "The Grapes of Wrath" may possibly be the greatest American novel (in the opinon of this Ornerian) but it's essentially a primer of socialist thought. How depressing.

"The Fountainhead" contains much more philosophy I agree with, (and some I do not) but is hopeless as a work of art, clumsily constucted and preachy.

Sigh.

Whatever the cause of this trend, it could explain the "PC"ness of high school lit classes. I wouldn't subject my students to Rand as long as Steinbeck was available.


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Everard
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Of course, the problem is you are confused by what is bad and what is good philosophy

(or, you're a bad judge of art if you want to look at it another way).

Just in case it didn't come through, I'm joking around in this post.


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Redskullvw
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hi im Red's dog Jack and while I am busy trying to get on top of the refridgerator I thought i would see who else had introduced themselves. And while i too have heard that reading is fun, i prefer eatting books. Last week when Red pulled down a political book on Boris Yeltsin and left it on the coffee table I found it to be wonderful. The cover had a nice nutty undertone to it with hints of vanilla. but I was most impressed with the acid free archive paper which made up the meat of the book. About the only thing I didnt like about it was the blue fabric overbinding which was rather stringy and tasted so bad that I decided to upchuck it on Red's bedspread. Another book which I enjoyed was a first edition Speaker For The Dead. For some reason Red hasn't petted me much lately. Oh well off to find the cat food which should be somewhere on top of the refridgerator

Jack Frost the Trench Beagle.


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wyrd
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I am 29 years old and married to a Dental Student here at WVU although we are originally from Utah. My first love is Genetics, then literature, then philosophy. I'm very religious and I love diversity. I believe that we all exist on a spectrum between two extremes which gives us the potential to be anything of everything and sometimes I get confused . I often speak up before I've thought something through and I have many faults (maybe I'll post my most embarrasing moment sometime , I haven't heard it beat yet) and, oh yeah, I'm clumsy.

I do not yet belong to any political party but I do have some strong opinions. I feel it is immoral to form a strong opinion when you don't have all the facts and that holds me back from voicing my feelings a lot.
But I'm excited to try out my voice in an internet community for the first time.

I love OSC, Isabella Allunde, Sir Walter Scott, and Michael Ondatje's writing is so beautiful it makes me cry. I'm not big on Oprah Winfrey :rolleyes don't know why) and was disappointed when she chose an Isabella A. book for her 'Book Club'.

And EEK! , just playing with the smilies.


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The Human Commodity
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Granted - much of what is considered literature is what I like to refer to as the "Elite Enigma" - that is, those who consider themselves intellectual make something really hard to understand, then congratulate the few other intellectuals who can understand it. It's high society at its worst.

However, though Salvatore has much more merit than many authors of his time, to me he still falls below those such as John Steinbeck, Ralph Ellison, and Mark Twain or more recent authors such as Kurt Vonnegut or Tom Robbins.

Oh - and to Mark Twain's novels being "politically incorrect" - That is my biggest gripe with those in the PC community - they're completely ignorant when it comes to evaluating the overall meaning of a novel. Any idiot who looks through Huck Finn and only sees the N word misses the whole point - what Ralph Ellison calls the beautiful idea of harmony between two human beings that inspired Twain to "put Huck Finn on a raft with Jim." Huck Finn is anything but a racist model, and an uncomfortably accurate portrayal of life in America at a point in time. It will cost us too much as a society to omit it.


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Yank
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Granted, Vonnegut is a genius, and easily surpass Salvatore. But too many people pass up Salvatore simply because of the horrible (and usually well-deserved) "Forgotten Realms" stigma.
Sigh.
Far right or far left, censors are idiots. Some of the more fundamentalist parents at my old high school (*twitch* goeth my eye) decided that some of their kids were in situations where they might... possibly.... be exposed to something slightly offensive! Perish the thought!

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The Human Commodity
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*Nod* Damn those censors!

I remember when people at my church were talking about how reading a book that had one bad word in it was compromising our christian beliefs.

Some people seem to have missed the fact that there's not a list of bad words in the Bible, and neither is their an imperative moral structure in language. Instead - it's essentially a class issue. I mean, the word vulgar doesn't mean obsecne, it means common. The language of 'common' people, which is the embodiment of years of hatred towards the lower classes and their culture by the elite.


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Autophagy
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So, this is only my 3rd post in almost a year. But who knows, maybe I'll get more verbal...

I'm 23 and female. I grew up in Kalamazoo MI, went to college in Pittsburgh PA, and now live in Oakland CA. I work in the writing and education industries. I write, paint, garden, and wish I had a dog. I believe in God, and I voted for Nader.

Autophagy basically means to devour oneself. I love the irony of that.

If you live in my neck of the Bay Area and you want to go bowling or something sometime, please get in touch! You can send mail to my yahoo account -- same username.


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Snowden
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I am a 24 year old writer/musician who finished in Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. I was the Student Body President there and I have been pleasantly amused by all of the misconceptions on the other thread.

[This message has been edited by Snowden (edited September 22, 2001).]


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TomDavidson
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"Salvatore's trilogy had some important things to say. That an individual is not merely a product of his/her enviroment or society. How prejudice cannot always be overcome, that there will always be those who will judge us by things that do not matter. How individuals can change."

And you're saying that, say, Heinlein (to stay within the general genre) didn't say it better?

Look, I'm sure there's lots of room in the world for fantasy hack fiction to break some high-minded ground -- quite a few books spring to mind, in fact, given that I'm a fan of medieval fantasy novels and prefer the more "elevated" entries to the schlock -- but to call the Dark Elf trilogy a work of "literature" is really a slap in the face to all the ACTUAL literature out there.

Now, Stephen King's Dark Tower series: THAT'S literature.


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Locus
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It seems I am late to the party.

I found this site while trying to determine if OSC was ancient and likely to die before he produces anymore great books.

I'm a product of the glorious American education system and getting more uneducated by the day. I live in the middle of nowhere after spending parts of my life almost everywhere.

I've got a small zoo, a dog,a bunch of heirloom style chickens,and some rare and unusual calves. (one lives with me the other I get to see on weekends...long story)

My religious persuasion is not.

Kyle French's sister sounds like she might be the kind of woman I find apealing.

I generally join whichever political party doesn't have a member in the room at a given moment.

I take life too seriously. I treat life as if its a joke.

My favorite author would be R.A.H.,you can keep heaven, I want to go to Boondock when I die.


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Saint Nick
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Hello.

I first visited this site after reading Orson Scott Card's recent take that had been posted by someone that I respect immensely on a football forum. Once I started reading the opinions here, I realized this place was special.

About me...30 years old, two children, no degrees or extra initials in my name. Politically, I'm an uncomprimising Libertarian that tempers their world view with Judeo-Christian values. Liberty and freedom cannot exist for long without responsibility. I'm proud of the facts that I live in a historically Democratic congressional district where my GOP representative is a former Libertarian candidate for president and that I've never voted Democrat.

And I sometimes get incredibly frustrated that so many people are in love with totalitarianist style governments. The larger the direct role of a government in your life, the less free you are. I guess I just don't get it.

Anyhoo, I'm enjoying the dialogue here and look forward to more. Take care!

[This message has been edited by Saint Nick (edited September 23, 2001).]


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Yank
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Tom-
I think we're arguing from completely different premises on what "literature" is, and in my experience that tends to be a waste of time. Let's all just read what we wish, shall we? And spare each other the condescending rhetoric?

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leave
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I actually read the dark elf trilogy awhile ago, and was really surprised to find something so good within the whatever the hell world it is. I'm not sure if it is literature in the classic sense, but...it is definitely something I would recommend you read and decide for yourself. If i recall correctly, it is a rather fast read, so set aside a day and read it, I strongly recommend it!
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FlagStone
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I am of some age and gender and was possibly born some time in some where.
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msquared
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Flag,

That has to be the shortest post you have ever made.

Nice to see you back.

msquared


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TomDavidson
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"I think we're arguing from completely different premises on what 'literature' is, and in my experience that tends to be a waste of time."

Okay.
Except....What IS your premise? I'm having trouble coming up with any definition of "literature" that would include the work of Salvatore.


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Locus
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TomDavidson wrote:

"Except....What IS your premise? I'm having trouble coming up with any definition of "literature" that would include the work of Salvatore."

How about this one from my hopped up Webster's?

6. any kind of printed material, as circulars, leaflets, or handbills: literature describing company products.


Hmm ....or were you going for the more snooty pretentious literature that is assigned to torment students?

Literature is basically anything with a printed message. The quality of that message is irrelevant.


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TomDavidson
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"Literature is basically anything with a printed message. The quality of that message is irrelevant."

Ouch. You DO realize that I'm a former English teacher and a professional writer, right?

That's like saying the girl who works the register at J.C. Penney is an economist, that Roy Rogers was a historian, and that Carrot Top is a comedian.

[This message has been edited by TomDavidson (edited September 24, 2001).]


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SapperGirl
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My old handle was ender wiggin, I've been posting here for about a year. Lately I've been slacking off because I have actual work to do. Also, I don't own a computer so it's kind of difficult for me.

I just switched my area of study from physics/computers to anthropology, mainly because I realized that I hate math and am actually good a social science. Which means I'm still in first year at Universtiy of Toronto. But I have a good science background and often see things from that perspective.

I am in the Canadian Army reserves as a combat Engineer, and I tend to be sligtly obsessed with Army stuff.

Currently going through a moral crises wrt religion & morality and stuff. Am Catholic but right now I'm really ticked off at the church for it's position on women.

I belive in equality, not equity. I don't like political correctness, but I believe in publicly funded health care and education. (mainly becuase my parents have no money so if it wasn't publicly funded I would have no oppritunties)

I'm not a member of a political party because of the current sad state of Canadian politics.

I read entirely too much. My favorite book's Ender's Game,The War in 2020 by Ralhp Peters, and The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavrial Kay. My favorite magazine is the economist, from which I get most of my current events information.

Been lurking lately, don't really have the time to post that much.
But I'm still here.


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invah
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Geez I hated Steinbeck...wait except for "Of Mice and Men" that book made me want to cry. As to literature, I find that a lot of literature is as Jubal Harshaw said: (Heinlein) some of it is just intellectual masterbation that sneers at the fact that any who aren't of the english effete even attempt to understand what is obviously out of their range. Any art that does not connect with its audience has failed.

As for introducing myself...well, there is a lot of conflicting ideology that I seem to agree or disagree with, especially if someone disgrees, but then that is probably me just being contrary. (Dare I say "ornery"?)

My father is a librarian so I grew up teething on "the classics", much to his dismay, though he read us "The Phantom Tolbooth" to get us to go to sleep. But then again he turned on Star Trek: TNG at dinner time to get us to shut the hell up. <grins>

I love music as well...my name comes from Inva Mulla (opera singer) who sang a rendition of Luci di Lammermoor that gives me the chills.

I have no idea what anyone would really want to know, but if you have any questions you could always ask.


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Yank
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Tom-
I'm afraid that your status as a former English teacher and professional writer makes me a bit more skeptical about your positions on literature (much as I'm skeptical of politicians when they talk about politics, actors when they talk about Hollywood, scientists when they talk about science- not on technical issues, but on things like ethics and the the *value* of what the profession does. Insiders tend to have a rather skewed view of the inside. Scientists think science is all-important, artists think their particular branch of art is the pinnacle of the "human experience," actors tend to think they are extremely important people- you get the idea.)

My definition of literature is any work that changes the way I think about something, that opens a new window into the world. If quotes from the book spring to mind when I ponder a certain issue, it's literature. I've always believed "artistic value" to be rather beside the point. It's subjective. I quite simply care not at all what the "authorities" say is and is not art. *I* decide what for me is art and what is literature.

I tend to scoff the world of modern "literature" because they are completely out of touch with the outside world. No outsider cares about them unless forced to (e.g. high school lit classes). Members of academia and the art world often hear constant praise and accolades from their colleagues which eventually gives them the illusion that they're actually famous and important, when in fact no one outside the clique has ever heard of them, or cares about their accomplishments if they have.

I don't follow sports. If the quarterback of some leading football team were to end up next to me in an airplane, I would be no more interested in his accomplishments than in the underwater basket-weaver world champion's. They would mean nothing to me. I would simply be politely attentive.

If, on the other hand, I were to end up next to Orson Scott Card on an airplane, I would be extremely interested. I would think it wonderfully exciting. But if someone who didn't care for reading were to end up next to him, he would be as interested as I was in the quarterback. He wouldn't care about Hugo or Nebula awards. We all think our community the most important one, the best.

Heinlen and Vonnegut, admirable though they may be to us, mean nothing to most people.

[This message has been edited by Yank (edited September 24, 2001).]


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Locus
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TomDavidson,

FYI I haven't even read Salvatore's work. I felt the need to defend (the guy?) on the grounds that he IS writing and I don't think he elected himself as a literary genius? I would do the same for you were you in his place.

I've TRIED writing and between you, me, and the board I can generate good ideas but its alot like a turtle trying to fly. The plus side is I've some appreciation for the effort to produce a book full of drivel much less one of merit.

As for "fine" literature(to distinguish), I read David Copperfield when I was in 4th grade (voluntarily) and I don't think I will ever get over the damage. (I picked it up thinking it was about the magician, then I had to read the whole thing, I oughta sue) Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn did much more for me without the trauma.

I feel it more important that people read than what they read. Romance novels aren't exactly my idea of a good time but for some they might broaden their horizons, who am I to judge?

BTW ...what do you write?


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TomDavidson
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"much as I'm skeptical of politicians when they talk about politics, actors when they talk about Hollywood, scientists when they talk about science- not on technical issues, but on things like ethics and the the *value* of what the profession does. Insiders tend to have a rather skewed view of the inside."

What's interesting here is that -- with the exception of politicians and writers -- you reserve your skepticism for when people working in a given field try to extend their understanding of that field into ANOTHER area of endeavor. My question, then, is why you do NOT grant the same courtesy to politicians and writers; in the same way that you are willing to accept a scientist's opinion when it comes to scientific fact, or an actor's opinion when it comes to making movies, why wouldn't you be willing to accept a politician's opinion on politics or a writer's opinion on literature?

I have a number of problems with the way literature is taught today -- and was taught in the past. I also disagree with a great deal of what is still considered "canon" literature in high schools and college classrooms, and hasten to point out that Dickens, in his day, was as much of a schlockmeister as Salvatore is in ours; he wrote escapist serial fantasies about social mobility and Victorian mores to pander to crowds, and only in a very few novels was his occasionally brilliant writing style -- like Dumas', artifically padded because they were both paid by the word -- able to salvage some of his really ridiculous plots. Jane Austen was the same way; if her works have weathered better than most of Dickens', perhaps it's only because the foibles of people in love age better than social criticism.

Real literature is one of those things that, IMO, good readers know when they encounter it. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what should be included -- and often, things get included because they're old enough or politically correct enough or demonstrate some technique that teachers are hoping to pass on to their students (Heart of Darkness and The Scarlet Letter both spring to mind here as novels that were NOT the best works of either author but are considered very good teaching novels because of their rather heavy-handed symbolism.)

The fact that people should feel free to disagree about which books are "literary" enough to include in Western canon does NOT mean that all books that make points, or all books that are relatively thought-provoking, are somehow "literature." This is the mistake the Pulitzer Prize committee makes, year after year, when they hand out their fiction Prizes to pieces of complete and total drivel.

So far, no Forgotten Realms book has yet been "literature," although a scant handful have been pleasant reads. I would argue that Stephen King's Dark Tower series is literary, and that IT would already be taught in schools as literature if not for all the vulgarity. I think Speaker for the Dead is literature, as are parts of the Worthing Saga, but think Ender's Game is not -- although, since the latter is far more acceptable, we're seeing it taught in schools already.

Good literature plays with words and meaning and symbol. It's thought-provoking, yes, but the NEWSPAPER is thought-provoking -- so it's the duty of literature to do more than simply raise a few interesting topics over the course of the experience; it has to dress them up and take them out on the town, make them dance in front of some interesting scenery. It's the difference between a Rob Reiner movie and a Kubrick movie; Reiner films are often enjoyable, but rarely do they strike you as ART, as something that works on multiple levels and was created with a genuine love of the act of construction (with, perhaps, the exception of The Princess Bride, but that's because Goldman's a pretty literary screenwriter).

For what it's worth, I don't consider To Kill a Mockingbird to be literature any more than I consider the Dark Elf Trilogy to be literature; both cover the same themes and splash a little symbolism around, but they're breezy reads without any real attention paid to the work in progress. On the other hand, Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land makes roughly the same points in a way that I WOULD consider literature -- even though I don't enjoy the book all that much.

Literature IS subjective, but not completely. There's more to art than knowing what you like.


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Yank
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Well, Tom, like I said, my definition of literature does not match yours. Much as I like debating, you can't debate from opposite sides of a definition.

Oh, and apparently my sentence structure is bad. I'll take *into consideration* the opinion of *any* professional on the technical side of their profession. (I still think they're sometimes if not often wrong even on these things. Plenty of science is opinion, much as they like to pretend otherwise. Scientists latch onto a pet theory and defend it whatever the facts. Yeah, it's bad science, but there are plenty of bad critics- and no shortage of bad politicians.) But what is and isn't literature isn't accepted fact, it's opinion. I'll listen to a politician when he talks about the legislative process, but I'll be skeptical when he talks about the *value* of his or another politicians voting record. The same goes for writers.

[This message has been edited by Yank (edited September 24, 2001).]


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TomDavidson
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Yank, you DO realize that the rest of the world can't use the definition "books that make Yank think" as their working definition of the word "literature," right?

They can't even use the definition "books that make any given individual think," since quite a few poorly-written and completely pedantic books might in fact stir new thoughts in some poor soul who first encountered those themes there.

There pretty much HAS to be another aspect to literature, above and beyond the "make me think" aspect....

[This message has been edited by TomDavidson (edited September 25, 2001).]


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Mike_W
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Tom,
Or, maybe "literature" is just an artificial, bourgois concept that does not correspond to reality. Honestly, I don't know. This is the classic debate over "what is art". My current working definition is "the intentional creation of beauty". I think extending art and literature definitions too far into their impact is a dead end because of the subjectivity of the impact (of course, my definition fails because of the difficulty of defining beauty). But, what do I know?

Mike


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Locus
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TomDavidson:

You either need to get a better dictionary or go spend some time studying yours. You seem to be insisting we only use the word to describe "fine" literature, "classic" literature, or some such other vague concept.
"Literature" is basically any written work much the same as a comic strip or a finger painting is a work of art. When a child makes an ashtray its still art even if it does fall a bit short of David. If we set the standard on "art" based on David, Picasso and Van Gogh sucked and aren't worth remembering. Fortunately even the art world has a bit more flex in it than that. Things that were not seen as art in the past are now being appreciated.

What strikes me about the art world(including lit) is the artificiality that has pervaded everything. It is less important to be thing of beauty than to have depth. Is this some kind of rebellion in which the art crowd tries to prove they DO have minds?

"Hey look ..I crucified myself on top of a volkswagen with a nailgun look how brilliant I am".

Hmmm...

Does the suffering generate the depth or does the depth generate the suffering?


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TomDavidson
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"'Literature' is basically any written work much the same as a comic strip or a finger painting is a work of art."

One technical definition of "literature," sure, is "anything written." A pamphlet, brochure, or newspaper can be considered "literature" by this definition, as you've pointed out.

However, this is clearly NOT the definition that we're using in this discussion, as Yank established. Let's examine his post to see which definition of "literature" we're using:

"Yes, it's one the dreaded 'D&D' books. Yes, most of them are solid crap. But Salvatore makes dazzling points on everything under the sun. It's literature in the highest sense of the word."

We're using "literature" in the "highest sense of the word," a form of the word that apparently does NOT include most other D&D books and/or other books that do not make dazzling points. Surely, then, Yank intends literature here to mean, at the very least, "a great book worth reading" -- which is far, far closer to the definition usually used by literary critics than to the sixth dictionary definition of "printed material."

---------

Like you, I'm also bothered by the artificiality of modern art, classical music, and "official" literature. I think many writers, artists, and musicians go to unnatural lengths to seem odd or experimental or completely inaccessible to make it obvious that their work is NOT intended for the mere huddled masses, that what THEY'RE doing is one of those multi-layered, thoughtful pieces. In so doing, sometimes they lose sight of the fact that the work itself also has to be good, that there has to be some skill in the craft as well as intention in the craft in order for artistry to shine through. (In the world of film, Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick have been guilty of making this same mistake a few times each.)

Art, to me, is something that is simultaneously thought-provoking, skillfully created or performed, and finally performed with a thoughtful consciousness regarding its own creation. Random or thoughtless design is not art -- or literature. Easy, accessible pieces CAN be art, but I expect an artist of any kind to be able to tell me why he used a certain shade of red or a certain synonym or a certain iamb.

Work that contains all three elements can, I believe, make an argument for literary regard. GREAT literature, in turn, contains all three elements while still being compelling enough to be enjoyable. (James Joyce, for example, is a borderline author to me; he's clearly talented and occasionally enjoyable, but he's also absolutely impenetrable to a casual reader -- unlike, say, T.S. Eliot, whose work is at least a good read even if you miss his points.)


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Locus
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We're using "literature" in the "highest sense of the word,"

*nod* Point taken, I'd missed this or perhaps got distracted from it when you asked Yank to again define his meaning with :

"Except....What IS your premise? I'm having trouble coming up with any definition of "literature" that would include the work of Salvatore."

----------------------

"Art, to me, is something that is simultaneously thought-provoking, skillfully created or performed, and finally performed with a thoughtful consciousness regarding its own creation. Random or thoughtless design is not art -- or literature. Easy, accessible pieces CAN be art, but I expect an artist of any kind to be able to tell me why he used a certain shade of red or a certain synonym or a certain iamb."

Here we disagree. Sometimes an artist (including writers) can give motives for their technique. More frequently, I believe they get caught up in the process which feeds itself and its done intuitively, what feels "right". If consciousness of the work is your chief concern then you'll have to credit the editors as the true artists.

To illustrate my example I submit Michelangelo describing how he determined which block of marble would turn into a particular statue "the figure is already there all I do is removed the excess concealing it" (forgive me if I misquoted as I do it from memory).

As for the need to be thought provoking. Well ..there goes many great pieces who are simply beautiful. Bye bye music without lyrics. You may choose to think about the art but I do not believe it needs to provoke thought to be art. Usually more "pure" art for me invokes feelings. I wonder if this need for art to carry a message or directly invoke thought is a result of the influence of the protestant work ethic, that everything's worth can be judged by its usefulness.

A quirk of my personality is I buy tools for fun. The goal is not the posession of the tools but for what those tools allow me to do. Each tool gives me new power to shape the world around me. This reshaping gives me an immense charge but it is also exhausting. Not on a physical level on a ...psyche level. Then I seek refuge in simple art, not something to invoke me to think, but to slow me down, recharge me, nourish something inside and give me that sense of peace. Sitting quietly at night in the car with the radio playing jazz is an one example of what I might do.

I have some random thoughtless design examples as well but they may touch off a religious debate and really make the subject murky.


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TomDavidson
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"Then I seek refuge in simple art, not something to invoke me to think, but to slow me down, recharge me, nourish something inside and give me that sense of peace."

And, of course, this is another aspect of art that I completely forgot to mention, much to my embarassment: it should be evocative. (I touched briefly on this when talking about accessibility, especially with the Kubrick/T.S. Eliot examples, but should have spent more time on it.)

Note, however, that we're not just talking about art in general; we're specifically talking about literature. Most of the greatest pieces of music are more evocative than thought-provoking, precisely because this is EXACTLY what music is intended to do. Poems also work on this level, to some extent, as do many great paintings. Few people, however, pick up a work of respected literature to relax and turn off their brains for a while -- so while an emotional connection is indeed important to literature, I would argue that it's not as essential a component of the form as it is for music or dance.

[This message has been edited by TomDavidson (edited September 25, 2001).]


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Yank
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Hee hee hee I seem to have started an entire thread inadverdently merely through the use of some (admittedly over-the-top) hyperbole: "It's literature in the highest sense of the word."

Forgive me for exaggerating.

And my thanks to Tom for being my sparring partner in this debate. Always good to sharpen one's mind and ideas, no?

I concede the point and am off to take a nap.

[This message has been edited by Yank (edited September 25, 2001).]


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Viking
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Not to drag this thread back to it's original meaning or anything

My name is Toby Stevenson, and I hail from Toronto Ontario, or at the very least currently live there.

I work as a poor slave for an evil multinational corporation (computer programmer for a large Canadian Bank).

I'm married with no children, and my wife is currently attending law school in Kingston, about a 3 hour drive from the city where I live.

I started studying Biochemistry at McMaster University in 1994 and somehow wound up graduating with a history degree in 1997. I also have a college diploma in Computer Programming and I am considering returning to school for a physics degree once my wife has completed law school and we have reduced our monumental student debts.

In terms of religion I am somewhere between agnostic and utterly apathetic. I think that a belief in your ability to state unequivocaly the true nature of the Universe, it's Creator, and the nature of any possible afterlife is incredibly arrogant. Furthermore, I think that beliefs in these matters are quite irrelevant as what matters is what you do while you are here and the relationships and impacts you have on other people.

Politically I am left leaning for a Canadian, which probably makes me a commie bastard for all you Yanks

I am a big believer in fiscal responsibility for a Government and think that Debt reduction must be the primary goal of the leaders of canada. I don't especially mind paying taxes, but I get very angry when I feel that they are being wasted.

In social terms I believe the government should butt out. I believe in legalised gay marriages, legalisation of marijuana etc.

I've only been lurking here for a few weeks but have read many interesting conversations here, and I expect my involvement will slowly pick up over the next little month or two.

-------------------------

As to definitions of literature and what works should be included under the definition I really don't think it is possible to reach a concensus on the subject.

What charateristics should be considered before a work is described as literary?

The ability to challenge an individuals thoughts?

Whether or not the work establishes an emotional connection?

Popularity?

Complex style and structure?

Competent use of advanced writing techniques?

No matter what characteristics you decide are necessary for a written work to achieve the title of "literature", the decision will still be either wholly subjective, or a reliance on the logic of others.

You could take the word of an "expert" such as an english professor or writer on what works should qualify as literature.

But what about professional rivalry. What about jealousy. If a book is written with an intended audience vastly different from the expert making the judgement and then fails to connect at an emotional or idealogical level, does it automatically fail to meet the standard of literature?

Can a work which has a specific target audience ever be considered literature, or, are only works written for the widest possible appeal eligible.

If you dismiss the idea that a decision on the literary value of a written work can be decided solely on expert opinion, you might therefore decide that the question of literature is a solely personal decision.

Under this idea, each individual sets their own criteria for what literature is. This criteria will be drawn from the personality, cultural background, and educational training of each person. In some rare cases a person may actually try to logically determine what their criteria for literature is.

For those that think I am being a little harsh by saying a logical determination of personal literary criteria would be a rare event, look at your own posts in this thread. Bright, educated people who for the most part have yet to be able to articulate their own personal definitions of literature.

The other problem with self defined literary criteria, is of course that no two people would ever agree on what "literature" is.

One person might claim that "Mighty Mouse" comics saw them through a dark time in their life, and thereof are the highest form of written literature.

Another person might claim that only the works of Shakespeare qualify of literature and everything else is simply fiction.

The more I think about this subject, the less meaning I can find to ascribe to the word "literature".

Perhaps the best definition for literature is the most technical one.

Just as any medical text or paper becomes part of the medical literature, or a treatise on string theory becomes part of the physics literature, perhaps it is just best to say that any written work of fiction becomes part of the english literature.

Not a statement on the quality or worthiness of a book. Simply a way of saying that it is a work of fiction.

It is still possible, without using the word literature, to discuss books, their meaning, and their importance to our world, culture, and philosophies.

Viking

PS, I can't stand Salvatore


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Yank
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Viking-
No, not a commie, just a socialist.

You want commies, talk to Everard. I'm a capitalist myself, but Everard puts forth a pretty darn good defense of communism.


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Viking
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Hmmm, I wouldn't describe myself as a socialist.

I believe in a free economy and free trade. I think that government restrictions on industry should only be in place to protect people, (regulations on food industries for example) the environment (emissions regulations), or to promote economic growth and competition.

Now, there are of course exceptions to that as I think that the government should provide healthcare, dental care, and education for no fee to anyone under the age of 18.

Viking


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ozymandias
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I am a law student, a father, a husband, 25 years old, rabidly conservative and zanily Mormon, and I think almost all of you are nuts. At least, I thought all of you were nuts until I started reading these posts and now I see you as warm, loving human beings who form an integral part of the rich tapestry of life, blah, blah, blah, specifically the loony part. So why do I keep coming back to this forum? I must be nuts.
But not as nuts as Salvatore fans.

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TomDavidson
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I've never actually met a zany Mormon.
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Yank
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As I said in my original post (it's *way* the heck back there) I'm not really a Salvatore fan. Most of his work is mediocre at best. It's the Dark Elf Trilogy I like. People are welcome to hold opinions to the contrary.

Methinks we should move this discussion to the new literature topic that ozymandias has started.


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ozymandias
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TomD
I reserve all my zaniness for when there are no witnesses, as any sensible person would do.

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Brian
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Hello all. I have been lurking since mid-Sept. and finally decided to register.
I am 27, married for almost five years. I love to read, I am interested in the martial arts and I have an insatiable hunger for knowledge. I used to consider myself very liberal, but after listening to you all for several months, I realized that I am apparently a moderate with liberal leanings. I am dissatisfied with formal church structures, although I do believe that there is a greater force out there which we cannot discern. I am a christian in the sense that Everard is a communist.

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