HOME | CATALOG | DOWNLOADS | LINKS | EDITORIALS | DISCUSSION | CONTACT

July F&SF Website column: Logorrhea, ...

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Log Out | Edit Profile | Register
Night Shade Message Boards » Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction » July F&SF Website column: Logorrhea, Death & Despair « Previous Next »

  Thread Last Poster Posts Pages Last Post
  Start New Thread        

Author Message
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 08:19 am:   

Off On A Tangent: F&SF Style: "Of Logorrhea, Language, and the Mindset of Death and Despair" is now up. It can be found at:

http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/2007/dt0708.htm
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Elizabeth L
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 11:35 am:   

Dave, before I make any comments, I have to ask -- what's up with the royal "We"?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 02:29 pm:   

"Why the preoccupation with death when one can write of anything in the whole wide world of imaginative literature?"

How else are you going to make a story that haunts the reader except by creating a few ghosts?

"Why the melancholy...all of which are emotions closely associated with death?"

It's Ramen noodles that usually bring out the meloncholy in me.

"...why the gloom...all of which are emotions closely associated with death?"

Ramen noodles when you have the noodles cooking but can't remember what in this whole wide world of less than imaginative cooking you did with the flavor packet.

"...why the despair...all of which are emotions closely associated with death?"

Ramen noodles cooked too long so that they're mush. Not even the flavor packet can save them then.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 04:18 pm:   

"before I make any comments,"...

...read the book. It always helps when attempting to place the author's thoughts and comments in proper context. And it's the "editorial" We, Elizabeth, not a "royal" We. And I slip in and out of it at my pleasure, thank you.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 04:22 pm:   

Byron,

I wish the book had had one-tenth the humor as your post. ;)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Elizabeth L
Posted on Saturday, July 07, 2007 - 09:18 pm:   

We thinks it sounds strange, we does, precious. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 03:35 pm:   

I'm waiting for a new Logorrhea/Paraspheres brand (tm) of noodles to hit the market. My only fear would be that they would make me depressed eating them, and maybe want to kill someone if I ate more than one packet at a time.

Hmm. What would a packet of F&SF noodles make me feel like? Or Analog noodles? Would Lucius Shepard brand (tm) noodles (made with an iguana flavored spice packet) make me want to travel south?

Would trying a packet of Tanith Lee ("empress of the hot read") (tm) noodles make me horny? ;)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 04:54 pm:   

Oh Dave,

There's more than enough noodle heads on this thread without trying to recruit Lucius Shepard and Tanith Lee to the cause. Please, let's not turn this thread political.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 09:13 pm:   

I didn't know there were Political (tm) Noodles, Byron. I'll bet if there were they'd just lay limp in the bottom of the bowl and do nothing, though. And the spice packet would be bland and tasteless too, cuz nuttin' can spice up dry Political Noodles.

Actually, Logorrhea Noodles would be the perfect name for Political Noodles, given the meaning of logorrhea. ;-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Sunday, July 08, 2007 - 09:28 pm:   

"I didn't know there were Political (tm) Noodles, Byron."

My mistake. It's just that polticians and noodle heads generally go together so I naturally assumed that where there's noodle heads, there's politics.

I'm not at all sure political noodles would be any different from your ramen noodles except that some bozo in a suit would be telling you that they're caviar. Not ramen with caviar flavor packets, but caviar. And they'd charge you caviar prices for them, too.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 09:38 am:   

Have you ever noticed how some folks will talk about anything under the sun before talking about death, that oppresive, gloomy, meloncholy wall that fills so many of us with despair. Not even the blind can avoid seeing it as it looms across the horizon. Noodles! Now that's logorrhrea.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 10:56 am:   

Byron: "Have you ever noticed how some folks will talk about anything under the sun before talking about death,"

_Some_ folks? I believe it was _one_ goofball, Smart Ass(tm), would-be satirist who began talking noodles instead of death. And now look what he has the nerve to post about "some" folks. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

GSH
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 03:51 pm:   

The Noodles of Despair?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

John Lodder
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 06:47 pm:   

Look out! Giant flying noodles of death!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 09:01 pm:   

LOL, GSH! Where the hell did you find that mockup of Noodles with Bugs? Pretty funny. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

GSH
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 09:38 pm:   

Mockup?

You've just got to shop in the right stores and keep an eye open for the Sale and Close Out items...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, July 09, 2007 - 09:44 pm:   

Close out items?

More like a new sample they were testing before they got the, er, bugs out...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 03:00 pm:   

_Dune_
Body Count ???

_John Carter of Mars_
Body Count: ???

"Lean Times in Lahnkmar"
Body Count: ???

"The Little Black Bag"
Body Count: ???

I think _Logorrhea_ is likely quite somber reading, yet I'm not at all sure that a body count is particularly illustrative of anything.

John Carter would be a very different character if there was more focus on things like: "I ran him through with my longsword and leaped backwards to watch him die. One thrust and a life snuffed out. Maybe next time it would be my life. I sheathed my sword, needing to place a barrier between me and that cold, lifeless steel so intent on drinking life. I Elric -- I mean John Carter -- am a murderer." Yet there wasn't. It's just pure adventure and fun, at least for when I in fifth grade.

Part of the reason _Logorrhea_ may have had such a focus on death is the way it was designed. The writers were assigned a word and told to write a story. Death is powerful and I think it only likely that in an unusual situation, death is what writers would most likely write about. It's also endlessly fascinating, being a problem we all face yet in our facing of it, we are left without any truly satisfactory solutions, especially considering the fate of countless Egyptian mummies.

The Egyptians built their pyramids while we write stories. Although far from satisfactory, I think we have the better solution. Still, that doesn't mean there isn't room for stories that aren't somber.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 08:25 pm:   

Byron: "I think _Logorrhea_ is likely quite somber reading, yet I'm not at all sure that a body count is particularly illustrative of anything."

I used it to factually underscore, and then foreshadow, the points I would be making further in the column, not as sole criterion for judging the anthology. I wanted to show that it wasn't just some vague feeling that I wasn't able to back up (like I knew some readers would want me to). I didn't judge the entire book by the body count at all, only to show how its use accumulates to give the book a certain depressing tone. I recommended the book twice (IIRC), and gave high marks to several of the stories. I did make a big deal out of the singular use of death which figured prominently in far too many of the stories (and which I documented), and which I felt gave the book, as a whole, a rather bleak and depressing sameness.

I made provision in my column for Jay Lake's s&s story, Byron, by stating that a high death rate is what one would expect from such a story...and is why I gave alternate total body count numbers which didn't include it.

Of the four examples you gave above, one is a novel and not a short story as were those in Logorrhea, and two of the other three were s&s or Burroughsian types, which go to my exclusion of the Lake story, where you'd expect high body counts.

While Death may be a fascinating subject (is it the ONLY one?), I still find it remarkable in the extreme that of 21 writers, fully 2/3rds of them writing _totally independently_, would not only have so much death or dying in their stories, but treat it in such an atonal emotional manner...thus giving the book an overarching feel of depression and sadness. _And_ I might add, this emotional bleakness is represented across all genres: SF, F, Horror, and Mainstream.

Also, the writers were asked to choose a word from the 75 years of spelling bee winners; they weren't assigned a word. This makes a difference in your observation as well. They could choose their word and use it in any one of a thousand ways, in any one of an unimaginable number of story lines, worlds, themes, and scenarios.

Like I said there, with so many stories dealing with death or dying, at least _some_ of the writers could have--with a little imagination--brought some humor (dark or otherwise) to its use. But they didn't, and it was all downbeat. So I felt that not only did an overwhelming majority of the stories use death, but it wasn't used very imaginatively, which brought a sameness to the collection on an overall level.

A guy kills his wife because he's tired of his life and runs off to Mexico. An alien commits suicide from guilt. A woman confronts her adultery at a funeral. Out of four characters in one story, two are already dead at story's start, and a third is in the process of dying. And on and on and on. I gave story by story and line by line in the column. No matter how you slice it, a little goes a long way, you know? :-)

I don't know if you've had the opportunity to read the entire book, cover to cover, but if you haven't then it will be difficult to get the actual "feel," the grey, or bleak, mood that runs through many of the stories...and is what I came away with after the repetition sank in as a palpable entity. I thought it was worthy of comment, and asked Why?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Elizabeth L
Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:36 pm:   

Dave, I haven't read the book. If I can get a copy I will. I think it's perfectly legitimate to comment on the bleak tone of the work and the fact that death or mortality or dying is in some way a focus in many of the stories.

You ask why -- I can't answer for the individual authors, but when I look at my own life, I see death, dying and illness as a constant theme:

In the previous year and currently:

- my niece had a miscarriage
- an old friend died of breast cancer
- my uncle is having a bypass
- my dad might have an aneurism operation
- my nephew's best friend attempted suicide
- a family friend had a stroke
- a co-worker had his head run over by a car and is brain-damaged
- a family friend was diagnosed with aplastic anemia
- my uncle was diagnosed with a very rare blood cancer
- my aunt had a skin cancer removed from her nose
- I witnessed a mid-air collision which killed two stunt pilots
- my daughter's friend's cousin was killed in a head-on collision
- my son's friend's father died of exposure

Death, dying and illness is all around me. I imagine that most people could come up with a similar list. Is it any wonder that it figures prominently in fiction?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:55 pm:   

"While Death may be a fascinating subject (is it the ONLY one?)...."

The only one? No. However, when you get right down to it, it may just be the only subject that ultimately matters because when love, gadgets, grand theories of the universe and such fade, death is what's left.

"I still find it remarkable in the extreme that of 21 writers, fully 2/3rds of them writing _totally independently_, would not only have so much death or dying in their stories, but treat it in such an atonal emotional manner...thus giving the book an overarching feel of depression and sadness."

The Greeks performed one satire to every three tragedies if I recall correctly and that seems like a good ratio to me. Logorrhea is actually a little on the light side perhaps if what you say is correct. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - 09:57 pm:   

Ah...back on track after being bogged down in noodles.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Carole Hall
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 04:59 am:   

What it really boils down to is that all those long words automatically made people think of death - which makes death like a long incomprehensible word that nobody really understands and can only conjecture as to its real meaning ...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 09:09 am:   

Byron: "However, when you get right down to it, it may just be the only subject that ultimately matters because when love, gadgets, grand theories of the universe and such fade, death is what's left."

Death awaits us all, for sure. But why dwell on it, make it a preoccupation, and forget to live and enjoy life while we can? There are so many good things to appreciate in life, to see, to do, to experience and dream about, that it simply struck me as odd that (almost) an entire collection of stories, coming from wildly different writers (and this is worth noting), should feature death in one aspect or another, and (almost) all have the same glum feel to their stories. It surely must say _something_ about the current mindset, or outlook on life, that so many of these writers had that they went dark instead of light in their story settings or themes or treatments of ideas--when they had the entire range of human experience from which to draw. Aren't any of them happy about anything? :-)

This is all I was getting at. Just seemed strange is all. Shrug.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 10:16 am:   

For some strange reason, I have the sudden urge to reread Robert Sheckley's _Immortality Inc_. I must be eating too many noodles.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 08:14 pm:   

Maybe all the death in Lorrhea comes from the name. Did the writers know that the name of the anthology would be before they submitted? To me Logorrhea sounds like one of this horrible diseases that clutch onto you after a night of indiscretion -- wear your condom! --and three month laters, hurls you to the ground as a quivering, feverish ball of vomit who wish he were dead, afraid that his wish is coming true.

Also, ever notice that individually wrapped condoms and ramen flavor packets share about the same space? Maybe I should start carrying a ramen flavor packet around in my wallet for emergencies. There is never an excuse for gloom.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Carole Hall
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 08:33 am:   

That must be right - the only word that sounds remotely like Logorrhea is Diarrhoea - and everybody knows how that makes you feel, thus making the leap straight to death.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 09:15 am:   

gonorrhea....
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Carole Hall
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 09:29 am:   

so 'orrhea' words are all diseases? So logorrhea may be the long word equivalent disease - the disease of long unknown words leading to death.

(Does anyone actually know what logorrhea means??)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 10:12 am:   

All literature (fiction) is premissed on death.
I call it 'The Ominous Imagination'.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

GSH
Posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007 - 12:34 pm:   

"Logorrhoea (US logorrhea) (Greek logorrhoia, "word-flux") is defined as an "excessive flow of words" and, when used medically, refers to incoherent talkativeness that occurs in certain kinds of mental illness, such as mania."

Wikipedia article
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 09:49 pm:   

Another review of Logorrhea has just been posted at Strange Horizons, written by L. Timmel Duchamp. Compare her review to mine.

I carped on the depressing tone throughout the book. She carps on the authors' use of the first person in story after story.

Taken collectively, it would appear that most of the authors are into first person death and despair. :-)

Interesting, however, that both of us cited several of the same stories as the standouts, with one major exception, Hal Duncan's "The Chiaroscurist." I really liked it (as has just about everyone who's reviewed it that I've seen); she hated it.

I recommended the book twice. Timmy recommended it once, and mainly for two stories.

Would be interesting to see your comments on her review here. Note that she really doesn't even touch on most of the stories, much less tell what any of the stories are about (except for maybe one...or two...and in rather vague terms; are there recurring themes, and if so what are they? What do these stories talk about, in general? I tend to write my reviews with the potential _reader_ in mind. Some reviewers write critiques of style, and ignore the story, as if it weren't important to the potential _buyer_). I'm certainly not the greatest or most eloquent stylist in the world, but I always try to think of the reader first. I suppose each approach has its adherents and upside, but I really am truly given to wonder which approach the average non-insider potential buyer might get more out of. I could be wrong, of course, but...

http://www.strangehorizons.com/reviews/2007/08/logorrhea_edite.shtml

Anyway, reading over both reviews gives a nice juxtaposition of viewpoints and approaches to the collection.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 01:03 am:   

Ah, the theme of Dave picking fights.

Sort of a third person death wish :-)

---

I suppose one could ask John whether the assignments were simply take a word and write a story. And so what he got was what he got as he didn't direct the writers to choose a particular person or to avoid being grim.

Seems to be a particular weakness of the anthology in general.

The reader will make of it what the reader will. Though if the reader considers that the stories were composed using the guideline of a word or words rather than stylistic or thematic imperatives AND the authors worked independently of one another then the reader recognizes these similarities between stories as coincidence.

One might as well tick off how many times each writer used the word "the". And one might ask what is "the" point?

Yet reviewers will go on anyway and hold the writers and the editor to an unrealistic expectation. Was John going to be able to tell x number of the writers, "Go back and redo this. Drop the first person. Give me an upbeat story."? I doubt it.

Did the writers conspire amongst one another in the creation of their stories? I doubt it.

And when one considers these points, one realizes the sheer meaninglessness of these objections.

The stories stand or fall on their own.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 01:11 am:   

I'll quickly address the issue of style vs. theme.

One cannot have one without the other.

It's incumbent upon the reviewer to identify one's critical apparatus/approach. Sometimes this is implicit.

Timmy indicates a dislike of the first person in many of the stories. It's better to indicate as much rather than indicating a dislike of the stories without providing explanation.

And so if the reader is one who really objects to stories told in first person then mentioning this can be very helpful.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 07:55 am:   

I wasn't trying to pick a fight, PM, merely illuminating differences in approaches to reviewing.

One thing I found valuable in Duchamp's review was when she quoted Delany on the use of first person. Delany believes one shouldn't use first person unless the character is very interesting. Now, I remember when I wrote my first pair of F&SF columns on the book reviews of Alfred Bester from F&SF back in the early 60s, he made the observation that Fritz Leiber's best stories were written in the first person, because Leiber could make the character's viewpoint so damned interesting, and that some of the stories of Leiber's that Bester didn't like so much failed to use first person, not giving the reader that fascinating immediacy that comes from a well-written first-person viewpoint. And this is where Bester felt Leiber excelled.

So Duchamp makes a good point about the use of first person. Of course, her subjective viewpoint as to whether it worked in the stories she mentions may not jive with other readers'. They may think the characters were interesting enough to make it work. But her basic point, I felt, was a valid one, and was reinforced through my memory of what Bester said of Leiber's work. In Bester's opinion, Leiber had a gift for using the first person effectively. In Duchamp's opinion, some of the writers using first person in Logorrhea did not. I find these viewpoints interesting and valuable, and will keep them in mind.

If a reviewer is also a writer, he might tend to look for things like Duchamp did and pick up a pattern. If a reviewer is not also a writer, he _may_ look to other things in a story geared more toward the reader's concerns. For instance, I don't care what person the story is told in. I'm concerned whether the story worked or not, was an interesting tale a potential reader may want to read. Things like that.

So, no fight-picking, just my thoughts on approaches and insights into writing and reviewing. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 08:16 am:   

"Delany believes one shouldn't use first person unless the character is very interesting."

How about second or third person?

I suppose one could suggest that tossing in Delany's name makes that point. Whatever.

And no canticle for either Bester or Lieber.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 01:18 pm:   

PM: "And no canticle for either Bester or Lieber."

You don't respect (or sing the praises of) the critical opinions and/or writing skills of Bester or Leiber? Bester especially is acknowledged as a master of the short story, writing some of the most brilliant examples of same, and Leiber (at worst) only slightly less so. Both have reviewed professionally and have written valued critical pieces on the art of writing as well.

And you offer that you have "no canticle" for either of them??? Wow. With all due respect, I think your opinion of their skills is woefully uninformed.

And we won't even get into your hasty dismissal of Delany, whose essays of criticism and literary theory are very often brilliant (if not always agreed with), and have been most highly regarded in critical circles for decades.

So you now have cavalierly dismissed Bester, Leiber, and Delany as if you're in any responsible position to offer an educated, _informed_ opinion--much less judge them, and cast their individual critical canons aside as of no consequence. Referencing respected opinion in an essay, article, or review (as Duchamp did, in this case Delany, who makes a good observation) is a plus, yet you dismiss this.

Why do you think this way, PM? Are there no competent, respected authority figures in the SF field to which you would refer to bolster a point or observation or speculation you might make were you to pen an article or essay? Or would you decline the wisdom of those upon whose literary shoulders your article might prove the better for incorporating their insights?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 02:40 pm:   

My point has eluded you.

Clearly you don't hesitate to associate yourself with the dead who are unable to defend themselves from your quotes.

As I am neither a papist nor one to pretend that the dead would wish to be dragged in to support a point, I would be content to generally resist the impulse.

I have no need to name drop.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 07:08 pm:   

PM: "My point has eluded you."

Please enlighten us all as to what it was, re Delany (Duchamp tossing in his name), Bester, and Leiber (no canticle for either of them).

"Clearly you don't hesitate to associate yourself with the dead who are unable to defend themselves from your quotes."

(ROFL and shaking head at the same time) What in heaven's sake are you talking about? An example, please? Why would Bester (the only person I mentioned, and from his own words) need to defend his own quote about Leiber's work?

"As I am neither a papist nor one to pretend that the dead would wish to be dragged in to support a point, I would be content to generally resist the impulse."

What in heaven's sake are you talking about????

"I have no need to name drop."

There is a God.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 07:18 pm:   

To reiterate: I didn't consider it advantageous to introduce either Delany or Bester in the reviews.

Just as it would be unnecessary for me to mention Heidegger's famous last interview.

Bester doesn't have to defend himself from Leiber. He has to defend himself from your seizing his name and reputation for your own purposes. As he's dead he cannot.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 09:14 pm:   

PM: "Bester doesn't have to defend himself from Leiber. He has to defend himself from your seizing his name and reputation for your own purposes. As he's dead he cannot."

You can't be serious.

All I did (I can't believe I have to explain this) in one of my two first F&SF columns--which were devoted to the book review columns of Bester in F&SF--was to quote an observation Bester made about Leiber's short stories re the use of first person pov. Reviewers such as Bester and Leiber and Knight and Blish and anyone else you can think of always talk about writing technique (among other things) when doing their reviews and criticism. All I did was to quote Bester. How you twist that into my "seizing his name and reputation for my own purposes" is beyond any sane, rational thought process I'm aware of.

Using your own logic, no one should ever quote JFK or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Abraham Lincoln or Thoreau or Gandhi, or Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John because they are dead and can't, as you say, "defend" themselves. Which is utterly absurd.

Oh, and by the way, those very first pair of F&SF columns I wrote about Bester have been picked up for reprint in a new German (print) SF magazine titled Pandora. My columns will appear in issue #2, out in October. Pandora runs fiction from US and UK authors as well as non-English speaking writers, both fiction and non-fiction. Some names I recall off the top of my head from visiting their website and have appeared, or will be appearing, are Moorcock, LeGuin, Aldiss, Baxter, VanderMeer, Greg Egan (I think), Joe Haldeman, and a great many other top drawer names.

http://pandora.corneredchicken.com/contenido/cms/front_content.php?idart=113

Seems the rest of the world doesn't think it's such a terrible evil to quote a dead person, author or otherwise. You're all by your lonesome on this one, PM. Enjoy the company.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 09:37 pm:   

And you continue to not quite get the point as you conflate yourself with everyone.

One wonders if you're about to start braying along with SFM regarding your publication. Somehow I don't think that those "top drawer" names are going to be name checking you when they discuss their publications...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 12:22 am:   

I must say I sympathise with PM's views here.
The text is what matters not what lies behind the text - just being one reason why I thus sympathise.
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 06:44 am:   

des,

So you don't believe it valid ever to quote anyone...against all current and historical convention to the contrary? Am I understanding you correctly?

When, for example, one discusses philosophy, it's not kosher to quote Plato or Aristotle?

When, for example, one discusses science fiction, it's not kosher to quote Knight or Blish?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 06:53 am:   

I think it is fine to quote 'text' to elucidate it or for the 'text' to elucidate what you have said (ie to elucidate a new text).

But to quote 'text' to aggrandise another text, as opposed to elucidating it, is something else. The former seems to give Name prominence and make unknowable inferences from the Name rather the text itself. I say this in support(and in the context) of PM's:

"Delany believes one shouldn't use first person unless the character is very interesting."

How about second or third person?

I suppose one could suggest that tossing in Delany's name makes that point. Whatever.

And no canticle for either Bester or Lieber.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 07:20 am:   

des, that captures it.

I'd also add that in general writers intend to portray interesting characters. So to make that assertion is to assert nothing controversial, informative, or interesting. And then to throw Delany into it is just embarrassing.

Delany didn't give permission to be mistreated in such a manner where he's summoned to provide authority for a superfluous statement intended to buttress a review of which his opinion is unknown.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 11:47 am:   

des: "But to quote 'text' to aggrandise another text, as opposed to elucidating it, is something else."

Assuming for the moment we accept this assertion, then I'm not clear on how Duchamp violated it. All she did was use something Delany had said to reinforce, or support her own opinion on the use of first person pov. Delany is held as an "authority" in critical circles. Does his opinion have no weight, even within his area of expertise? Can it then not be used to support one's views if they are akin to his?

Unless the person quoted is blatantly misquoted, or clearly quoted out of context, then I see no reason why their opinions and views can't be used to support one's own views (assuming the person quoted is quoted within his area of expertise).

If--just for instance--I read something Algis Budrys wrote on criticism and think he makes a good point, then I might have occasion to say of a certain story "I think it failed because of X, and why I think this way is because Budrys makes a good point when he says (insert quote)." This is exactly what Duchamp did by referring to Delany. I see nothing wrong with it at all.

One may of course disagree with Delany's (or Budrys') opinions, but using their expertise to support a view of one's own (or a shared view with said expert in any field) is perfectly valid the way I understand this matter. The usage is fair game and standard practice (if not misquoted or used out of context), whether one agrees with the original quote or not is another matter. It's one thing if Joe Blow a flight instructor, say, is quoted as an expert on literary criticism. That doesn't fly. But if someone quotes Delany on literary criticism, it's proper and acceptable to do so.

I guess we'll just have to disagree on this one, des. Sorry. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 01:43 pm:   

I suppose it is all in the perceived *manner* of aggrandising or elucidating one's text by means of quoting a supporting text. I think I was continuing the discussion of this as shown on the current thread...
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 03:10 pm:   

des,

Where did you pick up your distinction between aggrandising and elucidation? Did you just make it up or did you read it somewhere? Can you quote your source, and then show how quoting this source (i.e. authority) "elucidates" your opinion while not at the same time supporting (i.e. aggrandising) it?

Am really trying to understand where you're coming from here, and am confused. It seems as of now that you're making a distinction without a difference. And that if there _is_ a difference it's a purely subjective one and hence highly arguable...which sort of defangs it if anyone can interpret the _use_ of a quote from their own subjective rules. See where I'm coming from?

So can you quote the source you've used to make the distinction between aggrandising and elucidation when using a quote? And explain to us why this distinction is a hard and fast rule not subject to individual interpretation, but is something one can spot objectively? This would help, I think.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 03:26 pm:   

No, it's simple common sense to me. Not based on any slavish tenet.

Without regard to anything specific above, I'd generalise to say that any support or proof statements can be done in all manner of tones and registers, academic or informal, and I was merely supporting PM's contention with my own.

Time for my bed as it's late at night now for 60 year olds in UK, I'm afraid. :-)
des
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 06:43 pm:   

Thank you very much, des. Have a good one. I'll turn 57 in October, so I'm right behind ya. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

des lewis
Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 12:45 am:   

Well, actually I'm not strictly 60 till this coming January. So I was allowed up an extra 30 minutes last night. :-)
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Dave Truesdale
Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 06:54 am:   

I sympathise. Time treats us old farts like strict nanny's the older we become. No matter how we try to ignore her admonitions, she still is a harsh taskmaster with whom we eventually lose the argument. She's still worth fighting, though, and we shouldn't make her job any easier. So I'm still rather a night owl, though not as much as back in the day, darn it.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

Sheila Finch
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 01:53 pm:   

Delaney set out to teach the rest of us (in THE JEWEL-HINGED JAW and elsewhere) how to distinguish the good from the indifferent in fiction. I doubt he'd be offended by someone trying to apply his precepts to evaluate a story.

btw, I think his point about 1st p-o-v working better if the character is "interesting" is being misinterpreted here. I agree that a writer hopes all his/her characters will be interesting, even the bad guys and the spear carriers. I believe he means that 1st person works best when the character himself is more important than the plot, as we see in a lot of mainstream or literary fiction where we get an in-depth analysis of the character's psychology but nothing much happens in the story's outside world. Again, that's not a value judgment to be applied blindly to all stories ("First person is BAD!"); it's just a way of approaching fiction to evaluate which methods work best in which stories. Frequently in science fiction the idea is so much more weighted than the character at the center of the story that 1st p-o-v tends to distort the emphasis.

A good example, imo, where 1st really works well, is in detective fiction -- especially series. The crimes differ in detail from book to book, but we aren't asked to say "Wow! What an ingenious crime!" very often, or to spend much time afterwards contemplating its ramifications (as we might some novel point in an sf story). What we are asked to see is the emotional price the detective character pays in dealing with it -- and we're asked to empathize. And if that doesn't interest us, or convince us of its reality, the story is usually not a successful one.
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message

PM
Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 - 03:16 pm:   

Returning to the context of the review did it really advance the review to even mention him?

The reviewer objected to many of the stories having a 1st person POV. The point is a fallacious one as the writers worked independently of one another (I won't reiterate my earlier posts entirely).

And then the big D is brought in and I ask why? Is this critical insecurity? Is this some sort of papist approach? Is it noodling?

I'd suggest that the first person discussion provides nearly zilch in terms of understanding or explicating the stories. I would have dropped it entirely and spent that space discussing the stories that say were not even mentioned.

Add Your Message Here
Post:
Username: Posting Information:
This is a private posting area. Only registered users and moderators may post messages here.
Password:
Options: Enable HTML code in message
Automatically activate URLs in message
Action:

Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | User List | Help/Instructions | Log Out | Edit Profile | Register

| Moderators | Administrators |