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Laura Anne
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:32 am:   

Reading here and elsewhere, and after overhearing and taking part in conversations at WorldCon, I have come to a tenative determination of my stance on criticsm, literary movements, and authorial interpretation of their own works and movements.

To wit: A movement is what your bowels do, and grad students dissect after you're gone (and get wrong). Writers should worry about telling the story, and leave the cricketism to the crickets who have nothing better to do.

I realize this is doubtless a plebian, low-brow, terribly mundane and hopelessly American reaction, but hey, it lets me sleep at night.

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hopeless, low-brow, plebian American
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 03:15 pm:   

A-friggin'-men
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the hopeless low brow pleb formerly known as Liz
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 05:44 am:   

Abso-bloody-lutely. See my forthcoming Third Alternative editorial...
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:18 am:   

>See my forthcoming Third Alternative editorial...

Looking forward to it.

I admit, I had expected to get some cranky (but hopefully interesting) responses to this post...

Then again, posts (and direct questions) in another quarter have been ignored as well, much to my bemusement. I guess it's true what some folk say about certain of these posting areas. If you don't have a dick you aren't allowed to wave it. And you certainly never get called on.

*hands out latex appliances*

There. Now we're all set.

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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:41 am:   

Lara Anne: Sorry to have missed responding to your post yesterday in the Strahan Space Opera Melee. You asked about what I thought about pushing the envelope, etc,, etc,. I don't care about the envelope. I read and enjoy everything from a wide variety of publishers, genres and writers. In the context of the discussion, pushing the envelope was equated, not by me, with taking financial risks and popularity of readership. In that sense, the person equating the term with these factors didn't seem to realize that he fit none of them in his present circumstance. I named a few writers who I thought were more deserving of the term based on that definition. As for ignoring your post, it was not intended, and when I saw it later last night, I made a mental note to write to you today. Hey, don't be such a martyr. As far as people arguing and talking about criticism or anything else on the message boards, if you don't like what you're reading you always have the ability to stop reading it. Why get excited about something you don't have to care about?
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 06:50 am:   

Jeff,

Thanks for your response -- as I said, your comments were open to interpretation and I wanted to make sure I wasn't leaping to the wrong one. By your comments here, I would have been.

And who said I don't care? I do care.. that people are spending so much time dissing Group A because they don't fit Very Narrow Parameters as approved by the people doing the dissing. I also care when people start making sweeping comments about the genre and/or the state and direction thereof, because it obscures the interesting commentary that could be made with a little more precision and a little less agenda.

Wasn't being a martyr. Was being annoyed at behavior. There's a significant difference.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 07:08 am:   

Laura Anne: I understand your point and agree with you. And will add, when I get invovlved in that kind of heated trash talking, not much good comes of it. Harrison's comments just momentarily pissed me off as I think they did you also. Maybe I'm wrong there.
One thing I do want to assure you of, though, is as a reader I'm looking for good fiction wherever I can find it. I don't care what venue it's in or who it's by. I think the pushing the envelope thing is way overrated. Telling a good story in clear prose is really where it is ultimately at. Not to say I don't enjoy the breaking of this as well. My favorite short story writer is Isaac Bashevis Singer, nothing "experimental" there, also a wildly successful writer and popular writer. I enjoy a writer like Patricia McKillip, even though the approach is somewhat traditional, the writing is wonderful and she really knows how to tell a story, as much as I like some of the other writers I mentioned yesterday, like Stepan Chapman, whose structures and approaches are idiosyncratic and unexpected. To close yourself off from the possibilities that exist out there seems to me as if it would be deadening to both a writer and reader.
Again, sorry for missing your post. I was dealing with a houseload of kids, and then I'd put down my whip and chair for a moment, return to the computer and dash of a snide comment or two and then back into the real fray. I knew no real writing was going to get done yesterday, which always ends up getting me in trouble.

Best,

Jeff
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Cheryl Morgan
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 10:59 am:   

"I also care when people start making sweeping comments about the genre and/or the state and direction thereof, because it obscures the interesting commentary that could be made with a little more precision and a little less agenda."

Which is presumably why you think it is OK to make sweeping comments about people who care enough to actually bother trying to produce interesting commentary.

So yeah, I found your post ignorant and offensive. Now you've got a crank response. I hope you are happy.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 11:58 am:   

Cheryl,

thrilled, actually. I'm contrary that way. I also started this topic to see who was actually reading, so it flushed you out, at least. *grin*


To clarify (since some folk may not have read the thread under discussion), I found a lot of the comments about "the new space opera" to be interesting and thought-provoking, otherwise I would have ignored it completely from the get-go. So I wasn't making sweeping generalizations about "people who care enough." I was making a pointed comment about a few people in that thread who _were_ making generalizations and pushing agendas thereof, and were called on it.

As I said at the very beginning of this thread, I don't have much patience for pre-emptive litcrit. I probably shouldn't even let myself talk to those who adore it. Like putting a logger in the middle of a tree-hugger convention.


Speaking of that thread, I was tempted to wade in with my own thoughts about the definition of space opera. It's a term which is not always used by marketing and bookselling folk in the way it's being used in that discussion, which leads me to believe that there may be a disconnect that's worrisome. Or is it just my crass comemrcial self on the outs yet again with the academic-minded?

Inquiring minds inquire.
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AH
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:04 pm:   

Why shouldn't there be a disconnect between a commercial publisher's label and the use of the term in a literary sense? The publisher's label is just there to help sell books for the most part. That shouldn't impact on the literary use of the term. Nor should either group--publishers/editors or writers--be upset if the disconnect exists. The disconnect *should* exist. Otherwise, writing just becomes PR.

Anna Hedgehog
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:25 pm:   

"Why shouldn't there be a disconnect between a commercial publisher's label and the use of the term in a literary sense?"

Hrm. Mainly because it's helpful if writers and publishers and booksellers all have the same idea of what they're talking about. If Author says "I'm writing a space opera" and Publisher says "oh, great!" and plans their marketing campaign thusly, and Bookseller says "hey, I can sell X number of those" and then Author hands in a book that isn't what Publisher or Bookseller expects...

that's not a good way to run a business.

Whether writing should be a business or not is another discussion, and one I've fought to a truce elsewhere many many times. Would that no-one had to worry about sales or returns or etc. A perfect world, indeed.

Again referring to the original comment, I'm not much for labeling or categorizing, even on my own work. I tell a story. Hopefully it makes people feel and think and (in a perfect world) wonder.


Getting back to your response, I'm not sure where the "PR" comes into it, though. Marketing, maybe. But public relations?

*thinking*

Well, in the end it's all about getting your audience to think the way you want them to, isn't it? We just (hopefully) do it with more style and subtlety and emotional honesty.

Resolved: All writers are manipulators.


And wheee! we got some topic drift going. Hauling it back somewhat, how much influence _should_ critics have/be given? I'm not talking about reviewers, who are a separate beast for the most part, but the folk who do body-of-work studies. Are they the cart or the horse, in terms of genre evolution?

My views may be plain by now. *wry grin*




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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:34 pm:   

Jeff wrote:

"And will add, when I get invovlved in that kind of heated trash talking, not much good comes of it. Harrison's comments just momentarily pissed me off as I think they did you also. Maybe I'm wrong there."


Nope, you're right. I was pissed. And yeah, exactly on closing yourself off. I'm not a specialist -- in fact, I'm a huge supporter of cross-pollination. Limiting yourself to one genetic pool of experiences creates stunted and deformed thoughts.

And you're a Singer fan? Cool, so'm I! Still have a signed copy of Neftali the Storyteller and his Horse Sus I got signed when I was just a kid...

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Liz Williams
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:39 pm:   

This question of critical influence continually keeps coming up in arguments about aesthetics, and it's never satisfactorily resolved. Just to get really pretentious (fuck it, my background's in philosophy - I have a license granted to me by the Philosopher's Union), a lot of this issue boils down to what Wittgenstein refers to as language-games, with which we're probably all familiar. Basically it's territory-marking through the adoption of a particular terminology, and I have two issues with it:

1. That an emerging aesthetic or genre is almost impossible to define when it's in the process of being generated, because it's part of a historical context (this is the can't-see-the- wood-for-the-trees argument)

2. That the terminology often gets deployed as an exclusionary measure for the people who don't happen to agree with it (that is, after all, what territory marking is all about).

The latter invokes an issue I have with a lot of deconstructionist arguments, e.g., because I don't feel that terms initially get defined with sufficient clarity.

OK, enough of the wankiness. I've stated my principal views elsewhere: which are that I've no objection to being part of a movement if that's really what it is (which I doubt), but I'm predominantly concerned with the work as it unfolds, rather than going onto some self-referential meta-level and contemplating it from there. If other people want to do that, well and good and it keeps them off the streets. In the meantime, I have a job to do.
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Cheryl Morgan
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:16 pm:   

Glad to hear that you are happy. Do keep me appraised of what books you are involved in so that I won't make the mistake of sullying them by writing a review.
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AH
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:35 pm:   

I didn't mean to go off-topic.

For myself, I'd have to say that I don't think critics should have much sway--I see them as putting a straitjacket on writers, and sometimes a noose. They're sometimes akin to jackals.

As for the disconnect--it is interesting to see what some people think of as commercial and others do not. The point being, I think, that inventive salespeople and inventive editors can find ways to market books that may on first glance *seem* like poor sellers. That would be my only beef with some commercial publishers.

Anna Hedgehog
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Liz Williams
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:39 pm:   

There's also the issue of who has authority of commentary: is it author? Critic? Reader? All three or no one? If so, how is that authority conferred? Huge questions about intentionality here, and what it's viable to see within a work.

This got thrashed out in the IZ letters column with one of Al Reynold's novellas - I reviewed it, took slight issue with it, and was then confronted (in an entirely civilised manner) by someone who was convinced that I had misunderstood the text. He gave me his account of what he thought Al was trying to do, none of which Al had actually intended when he was writing the thing. I think this is all perfectly OK, though I do think authorial intentionality is critical unless one believes that people write in a contextual vaccuum.

OK, just thinking aloud.

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Nitpicker
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:40 pm:   

Shouldn't that be apprised? And sullying is an appropriate term considering the needless vitriol you expouse.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:41 pm:   

Anna -- oh, damn straighton all fronts. But you need a budget to be inventive, and that's what's most often lacking, not passion/enthusiasm/creativity. Authors want to see ads with their names on them. But ads seem to be the least ROI-friendly of promotional tools.

Which, I think, calls out for a new thread on "what influences your buying patterns?"
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 01:44 pm:   

Liz,

I once had the (mis)fortune of seeing the teacher's guide to an anthology I was included in. The comments for discussion (and their take on it) was... well, wrong. No, I didn't intend that, I wasn't thinking that, and I didn't mean for anyone to believe that.

But I'm just the author. What do I know?

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Minz, the other nitpicker
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 08:52 pm:   

Liz & Laura Ann:

While I certainly do _not_ dismiss the importance of an author's intention, in the end, the great majority of readers have no way of verifying this, and it is only the work itself the reader can interpret. And, in fact, it's the reader's contextual experience that defines the reaction to the work. Therefore I'd say "authorial intentionality" is not "critical" but merely significant. (I know, shades of grey, but it's a distinction I think that's worth mentioning. And it's why I adore Gene Wolfe for _not_ really getting into discussions about his novels--he'd rather the reader interpret what's on the page on their own.)

And of course, if the author and editor have done their jobs, enough of it should come across regardless.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 09:09 pm:   

Reading and keeping mouth shut for now :-)
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Liz Williams
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 01:14 am:   

Jim, point totally taken about readers - but I was thinking about the work when considered in its entirety (eg from an academic standpoint), not just as something that appears in a magazine.

And I'm a distinction dweeb, so no worries there! :-)
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Laura Anne
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 03:58 am:   

JimM,

If you're going to be a nitpicker, for god's sake get my name right! Sheeesh.


Ellen,

You are and continue to be wiser than I. But hey, got traffic flowing...



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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 07:55 am:   

I have to side with Minz. No matter what you intend, the interpretation is up to the reader. (that's why we have the god-awful Oedipal reading of Hamlet) Meaning and intentionality are the building blocks of every great stride humankind has made forward and every stumble that's thrown it back. There are many people who use this to their advantage (propoganda, good and bad) and at the same time many are maligned by a mis-interpretation of their words ("we're more important to teenagers than Jesus").

However, if I interpret writing solely in a way the author didn't intend, it is either because the author was so ham-handed that I couldn't grasp what was on the page, or I am a dolt who has no connection to reality. Despite the failure on someone's side (reader or author) this can potentially be damaging if the reader mis-interprets the story so badly as to place mistaken ideals on the writer. But if I glean an additional interpretation of the writing from what the author intended, then we've all won.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do to combat this, and in my opinion, little you should do. I think it's horrible to stifle the creative thinking process of readers by telling them their interpretation of a piece is wrong. I know I come at this from a different standpoint than most people. I interact with a lot of teenagers through my wife's work, and they can come up with some crazy ideas on what's happening (and more importantly why something is happening) in a book, but they need to be given a chance. If someone has a thought about your writing, and they can pull support from your text, than it's a valid interpretation of your writing whether you like it or not.

And I more than totally agree with Liz. It is impossible to determine a literary movement from the inside/while it's happening. Once you start to concentrate on the movement, you stop doing the work that was creating the movement in the first place. You need to continue writing/publishing/editing/drawing and making the work that you do best. Later, it might be part of a movement, most likely not. (sorry if that sounds scatological)

Before I go, I understand the frustration at people not understanding what you're saying or misinterpreting what you mean. Unfortunately, I do not find many modern/current writers put much or any meaning into their work. I may enjoy the story, but few pieces really stick with me. Often the story is a series of events that disappears when I close the book. I don't find a character that I can identify with and therefore draw some meaning out of the events in the story/book into my own life.

This is my biggest problem when I try to write; I have difficulty putting meaning or purpose into my story, so I stop. If it isn't telling the reader something, why write it?

And it's not that I need some canonizable work to find this, IMO a TV show like BUFFY constantly dealt with issues outside the realm of Sunnydale, like insecurity, responsibility, personal loss, maturity...Buffy herself is a giant metaphor of the woman being strong and independent in the male world by being strong and killing off her competition, literally. For as campy and as silly as BUFFY could be, it really dealt with a lot of issues that all of us face.

I tend to find non-male and non-US writers do it best. That's an unfair broad brush stroke, but it's my opinion. I certainly haven't read everybody, and I don't intend to try. I just get disappointed that so many male writers have cardboard characters moving their plot along. It may be due to the fact that male, US writers are so close to my own mentality that I can't see inside their writing very well. There are exceptions, but not many in comparison to the extent of the publishing world. Hell, most of the exceptions take part in the message board. For example, I think every bit of writing Lucius Shepherd touches is infused with meaning, sometimes to the point where I don't get it (like Waldrop, for another example) but it's worth the effort.

I think there is a problem in the fact that there is a perception that American audiences do not want to think. That's why we have dreck like STAR WARS, THE HULK, LXG, William Bennett, John Grisham, etc. Perhaps the majority of American audiences do not want to think, but I can hope that the poor box office this Summer is more a result of bad movies than bad economy.

Hmmm, I wandered around a bit there. Well, attack away, I'm sure I've left enough holes to start somewhere.

JK
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Laura Anne
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 08:27 am:   

JK --

the sad truth is, the majority of the _human_ population doesn't want to think. And that sums up and explains a lot of popular culture AND politics. But while we may bemoan it, we also have to deal with it. Especially if you want to garner a wider audience (some folk don't, preferring to remain for the elite. More power to 'em, I suppose).


other matters:

I went back last night and reread the teacher's guide that so irked me. The truly annoying bit started "what was the author thinking when she..."

So it wasn't a question of interpreting the story, but of interpreting my mindset at the time. I take great exception to that, since they weren't working from any of my letters, notes, or conversations of the time period.*


So what IS fair game in critical interpretation? You have the text.. should you remain pure to that? Do you bring in societal influences? personal matters? How do you gather those -- through authorial effects alone? Do you research major events of the time, assuming the author was influenced by them?

Where does it stop? At what point do you look a PhD candidate in the eye and say "give over, that's just silly"?




*I should admit to having dual BA degrees, history as well as Lit, and that I'm probably more of a historian's mindset than not, tending to take the long, supported-by-factual-evidence view. This may be (as a friend pointed out last night) the root of my problems with LitCrit. Actually, what she said was "you're not satisfied unless you can produce four different and unrelated pieces of evidence to support your contention." Which isn't as true as it used to be, but guilty, guilty, guilty as charged yer honor)


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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 08:51 am:   

Laura:

Yes, you are correct that most people don't want to think. It would be great if we could all sit and think and write perfect sentences that explained life and everything, but it's not reality.

>>>"what was the author thinking when she..."

Good question. Why didn't they ask you? Might've helped the teacher's guide. It's as if you are dead, or difficult to find. It truly sucks that it made its way into the guide so that teachers/students might read it and pre-judge your piece as being written by someone who doesn't think their fiction through and just blats words on the page.

What is fair in critical interpretation? Anything, I would think, although I'd be hard pressed to call it lit crit if you only looked at the text and didn't take into context what was going on in the world at the time the piece was written. I think critically judging the text in a vacuum is a disservice to reader and writer alike. To assume that the author was not influenced by world events is just plain stupid. You may never write a story about 9/11 with planes crashing into buildings, or even people dealing with the grief of it afterwards, but that event has probably changed you and will affect your writing.

If you can, bring in authorial effects as well, but this is more difficult with modern writers. I've also find it more difficult in general to study modern writing since there hasn't been much/any time to distance ourselves from the events that occured during the writing.

Where does it stop? Nowhere. And it's always considered ok to look a PhD (pronounced 'fudd') in the eye and say: "Go outside, see the sun, watch some birds, and give it a rest!"

I will admit to the deadly BA duality of English/Philosophy. My Philosophy degree was focused on the philosophy of language (i.e. Meaning and Intentionality, I got chills [and not good ones] when Liz mentioned Wittgenstein earlier) so I should be the last person to talk about interpretation, as the big thing I learned from my coursework was that you can come to any conclusion you want as long as you have support in the text (no matter how specious). I remember writing papers on Ben & Jerry's and cake late at night. Interpret that how you will.

JK
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Liz
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:32 am:   

>So what IS fair game in critical interpretation? You have the text.. should you remain pure to that? Do you bring in societal influences? personal matters? How do you gather those -- through authorial effects alone? Do you research major events of the time, assuming the author was influenced by them?

Hmm, interesting. John has addressed the issue of support in the text - and philosophers of language are particularly guilty in this regard, when it comes to the text alone, because the semantic parameters are often so dodgy.

I don't believe that any of us are islands. Societal/historical influences are major, I think - even if one is reacting to them (or perhaps especially then). I doubt that I'd have written EMPIRE OF BONES if I hadn't been a Brit, and had that colonial history at my back.

I also don't think that you can look at people like Dick, for instance, without taking personal considerations like mindset and medication into account. Feminist analyses have to take the role of the writer as a woman into consideration.

I'm jumping about a bit here as there are lots of possible examples. What gets me about the attempt to define movements from within is that we don't know what the nature of our time as a historical period _is_ yet. I think it'll have to be seen from the context of a future date. But bear in mind, I'm a philosopher, not a historian (though my grad work is in history and philosophy of science, and that does take particular views of scientific progress, for instance, from which you can extrapolate).
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Trent Walters
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:36 am:   

I'm not sure if I agree entirely with the general tenor. I most heartily agree that movements tend to dismiss other, quite valid ideas of fiction. But that's usually done to promote your own idea of fiction.

What I disagree with is whether you can call movements while they're happening. It's been done throughout history: manifestos, literary criticism written by the authors of the very same movement (which is usually far more interesting than that by historically inclined and dessicated critics). In order to make statements about a movement or any observable phenomenon, all you need is a body of evidence. The best critics and writers are literary scientists, examining these phenomena as they happen: anticipating, developing, shifting gears, rebuffing. To paraphrase: the unexamined text is not worth writing (unless, of course, your aim is just to please a wide audience, which is a perfectly acceptable and noble goal). Paul Valery, I believe, said in order to be a poet, you have to be a critic.

Of course, you can write poetry of fiction. without knowing what or why you're doing what you're doing, but the chances of doing anything interesting are slim.

So, yes, movements in general are full of sound and fury in order to be heard, but they do not signify nothing.

xxoo,

Trent
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Trent Walters
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:38 am:   

Doh!:

you can write poetry OR fiction

T
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:40 am:   

I'm kind of baffled by all of this talk of literary critics "harnessing" and "straight-jacketing" authors. I've never experienced that myself. I don't really see any inherent problems with lit criticism either. If you don't like it, don't read it. It's not for everyone. I myself tend to think of it as just another reader's group, with their own vocabulary to discuss the books they're reading. If someone has a different take on your writing than what you intended, and this bothers you, you're going to have a writing career filled with lots of frustration, because most often people will interpret your work to mean things other than what you thought it meant.

I'm not really sure literary criticism and interpretations of writer's texts needs justification. People do lots of other things, perform all sorts of behaviors that seem strange to others, and aren't necessarily called on to validate the necessity for that behavior. Why go to a science fiction convention? Why *write* science fiction even? It's not necessary to my existence really. I lived before I found it, and I'll live if it's not written anymore.

People value different things, and if you don't value literary criticism (or would appeal by saying you value it but wish there were more good criticm, when the same could be said of any sort of writing) then don't read it, or else begin writing the criticism you'd want to read.

I hope this doesn't sound too offensive, but I've seen this debate before, and it feels like it's just another hamster wheel. Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully something good will come out of its discussion.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 11:59 am:   

Just one more thing: I don't want to sound like I'm unaffected by bad criticism or terribly wrong reviews. I am, just as much as the next writer whose work has been discussed in a way that they find totally wrong or inappropriate. I just want to clarify that what my first post is meant to address is that this model of writing, literary criticism, is equitable (at least to me) as any other mode of writing. You'll find good and bad literary critics, just as you'll find good and bad criticism. To say that because you come across a lot of bad criticism is enough reason to justify generalizing lit critics and saying they're useless is a bit like saying let's get rid of poetry, or let's get rid of high fantasy, or let's get rid of short stories. You know those damned short story writers never get a short story done right.

That's all.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 04:13 pm:   

Christopher, I think the whole commentary is not on literary crticism per se, but rather those who would make it justification (self or otherwise) for inclusive or exclusive movements. When it becomes political club building, then it becomes something else.
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Christopher Barzak
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 09:28 pm:   

I guess I'm a bit lost, then. Could someone point me towards an example of political club building that is also literary criticism? Or am I coming from a completely different understanding of literary criticism than what's being discussed here? I'm taking it to mean essays written about authors that interpret that author's work. Should I take the criticism Laura and everyone else is talking about is something less academic? More along the lines of, say, the Surrealist movement in the 30s, with all their manifestoes and exclusionary tactics? If that's the case, I guess I never really took people like that very seriously. Authors writing criticism about their own work, that is. I say leave criticism to the critics. And authors should just keep writing the stuff for critics to talk about. Unless you're A.S. Byatt, whose criticism I enjoy reading as much as her fiction. Same for Jeanette Winterson. Or Angela Carter. Some authors tend to write criticism of literature that is as good, and sometimes better, than their own fiction.

I wonder, though, about all this political club building. I think like-minded people tend to gravitate towards one another as it is. This could just generally be human nature. Is it, then, truely political in nature? Of course I think I know what you're meaning when you use that term, I just want to make sure of it. There are, of course, some groups of writers who tend to make a muck of their natural likenesses, making it seem like whoever's on the outs of their boundaries isn't as good, etc. That, of course, is utter foolishness.

Anyway, I'm sure I've overstayed my welcome here. But I am interested in seeing how this topic gets at what it's talking about more succinctly.
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minz
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 10:24 pm:   

It's too late for me to formulate cogent thought . . . not that that's ever stopped me before.

Laura Anne:
I find myself in need of apologizing to you twice in one week. I am agog, and sheepishly annoyed with myself. Please forgive me. I pick nits, but spelling ain't been very good to Chico.

Honore´
I imagine you're welcome as long as you're engaged in the conversation. So enough with this "I am unworthy" routine. (That's my schtick.)

Next time I post, I'll try and be facile and on topic. Honest.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 01:25 am:   

Christopher saith:

>> Should I take the criticism Laura and everyone else is talking about is something less academic? More along the lines of, say, the Surrealist movement in the 30s, with all their manifestoes and exclusionary tactics? If that's the case, I guess I never really took people like that very seriously. Authors writing criticism about their own work, that is. I say leave criticism to the critics. And authors should just keep writing the stuff for critics to talk about. <<

Exactly what's being talked about. That has been extended in some places to include critics jumping on the coat tails of particular authors' 'movements' looking for a cause. When discussion descends to flag planting and UK this or US that, I think it's indicative.

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