Our world has problems. [BAD BOOKS]

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by Luya Sevrein, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think alot of books praised highly are done so because they are overly written, overly descriptive, overly Philosophical, overly ethical, include 'morally grey' issues and different cultures. That's a whole other topic though.

    I like to read a book and make my own mind up, so critics rarely come into it for me. With the internet, their job has been basically irradicated.
     
  2. Blind

    Blind Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2009
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Your problem is with how the media praises Twilight, correct? Well when a book like this one has such a massive fanbase, the media will give the majority of the people what they want and the people don't want to hear their favorite book ragged on. Obviously that isn't a good thing and I agree with your point but that's just how the media works and I doubt it will change anytime soon.
     
  3. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Not just Twilight. People seem to have holmed in on that book - Which shows alot, eh?

    But you're right. It's how they are. Yet saying 'It's not going to change' fuels it.

    When people complain about medical treatments, goverments, etc, the mainstream media always have some half-assed way to show us we can't have what we want. Only the little things.
     
  4. Roland 85

    Roland 85 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    814
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I couldn't disagree more. True, there are no "absolutes" when it comes to good/bad taste, but that doesn't mean that there are no "good taste" areas and "bad taste" areas. Tastes are not equal, and even though it is tricky to decide which one is better and which one worse (due to that awful "personal opinion" misunderstanding :D), I am not ok with the concept that all opinions/tastes are equal. That - to me - cheapens the whole idea of growing as a reader and deepening your understanding of literature.
     
  5. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just go all Nietzsche on it. All truths are held to be true, yet not all are equal. They can be defined and put on a scale by how practical they are, how evident, how subjective/objective, etc. Same is true for tastes and books.
     
  6. Alchemist

    Alchemist Registered User

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Messages:
    474
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Luya, it sounds like you are raging against the Machine. But you know what? The machine already won: it won years, decades, centuries, even millennium ago. In this context the Machine manifests as a cold, hard truth, which is quite simple: for every "good" book that sells, ten "crap" books will sell. It is a simple, basic rule of human culture and art: crap sells, quality doesn't (at least usually; there are always exceptions).

    What do I mean by "good" and "crap"? Well, there is a subjective element, but as some have noted, there is more to it than that. Debbie Gibson and Miles Davis are not "equally good." Debbie Gibson created crappy, facile pop music that has been forgotten for twenty years and Miles Davis is a musical genius whose music has, and will continue to, influenced thousands.

    But it is something a bit more subtle than that, whether we're talking about artistic influence, nuance, complexity, etc. It is a living quality that makes a work of art "good." I'll leave it at that for now.

    I'm with Pelfrey in that I tend to dislike both "low" and "high brow," but I wouldn't call my taste middle ground, or at least I would say that it is in the vast, teeming Middle Realms that the true art lies. I just think that both the low and high brow ends of the spectrum are too intentional; the former tries to sell through assembling cheap cliches and gimmicks, the latter tries to be Great Literature™ by being clever, witty, and ironic. Both are more along the lines of what Coleridge called fancy, which doesn't tap into the true imagination but instead assembles and regurgitates. Both lack imagination and both fill the void with pre-assembled pieces, re-fabricated, and essentially dead. The difference is that the high-brow does it with cunning and erudition, but not with vitality, soul or imagination.

    One of the reasons I love fantasy and science fiction and read very little mainstream literature (whether low or high brow) is that it tends to focus on Story, and Story is the primary vehicle for myth and the imagination, even if unwittingly by the author. In other words, even if an author isn't trying to channel imagination or myth, it will sometimes rear its head up and write itself into the book. Anyone who has tried their hand at writing knows the feeling when the story starts writing you, when you are but a vehicle for Something Else.

    This Something Else rarely emerges within the most commercial of fantasy, but it also tends to get closed out of the doors of Literary Fantasy™, which is similar to the Hallowed Halls of Academia in that it keeps both the rabble (commercial fiction), the whackos (unpublishables), and the true geniuses (???) out. It cannot differentiate them.

    The key, I think, is for the writer to engage his or her work as a voyage of discovery, of self-inquiry and contemplation of humanity and the world, not as an exercise in cleverness or erudition, or a means to get disenfranchised teenagers to live vicariously through a paper-thin protagonist. The key is to tell a Story to discover where it goes.

    A tangent, I know. But hopefully it is related.
     
  7. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Telling a story, self discovery... These are wonderful things. Yet, if you look at the 'crap' (and I agree with your sort-of definition there) doesn't do either of these. Crap tells an already-existing story with added elements for the sake of self-insertion, self-happiness, or at the lowest point, publicity and money.

    All I hope for is that, if an author stays true to the goal of telling their story and learning something from it then they shall be satisfied and will have grown. Even if it does not become popular or it's critique is low brow, high brow or non-existant, others may come to read and learn from it as well.

    I seriously wish it didn't have to be this way. But, then again, if the media started holding up the greats we might all get fed up of them for the sake of it.
     
  8. KatG

    KatG Effulgent Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Messages:
    12,417
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    183
    I like Luya. She is creating a kick-ass fantasy world. I am not going to drop a pile of ink on her head. (Luya, if you happen to be male, sorry about that; I'm just going with your female-looking avatar for the moment.)

    I am, however, laughing my head off over her bringing Stephen King into this, the guy who has for thirty years been reviled by so many as the man who single-handedly destroyed and is destroying literature. (I myself am a fan of his.) You have no idea of King's market power in the 1980's, a market power he still wields as the second best selling fiction author ever in the world.

    Twilight is a big bright shiny object and Meyer is the latest phenom author (King being another,) which means a lot of media coverage, especially as she's writing in the YA market. And there are the movies, which millions more people have seen than have actually read the books, and all the merchandise that comes with the movies, and most importantly, very sexy young actors in the movies who are doing other movies and tons and tons of promotion for all the movies they are in and for their careers. So it's easy to think that the universe is Twilight obsessed, but actually it's largely not. And there are many other fantasy novels doing well on the bestseller lists, YA and adult, some of which you may like and some of which you'll think are crap.

    I do not regard this as a problem. Fiction publishing has much bigger problems that have to do with more boring things like the economy, distribution systems, technology hitches and a hostile media.

    But the best thing you can do Luya is to talk about the books that you find that you love to others. All fiction works are successful chiefly through word of mouth, so spreading word of mouth is the most effective marketing you can do for any author. However, if you frame it as "you should not read that, you should read this instead," they will be less likely to listen to your word of mouth. So my suggestion would be to stick to just "you should try this one." But you don't have to bother doing that with King at this point.
     
  9. NYCfan

    NYCfan Registered User

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There's always been tons of really, really bad popular fiction for both children and adults. Anybody ever read the Hardy Boys, or a whole bunch of pulp fiction from the forties and fifties (not best ofs, but the standard stuff)? Go back in time and you have penny dreadfuls, go back a bit further and you've got all that pornographic stuff about priests and nobles from the Enlightenment period, most of it horribly written. Some of the kids reading this stuff will develop more sophisticated tastes, some will stick to reading mostly crap, some will stop reading altogether. This is really not worth worrying about as such.
     
  10. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm glad you didn't bury me in ink - Just a little bit of it. 8P

    I love your kidness, Kat. I hope my world lives up. THE PRESSURE.

    It's honestly fine if people like Twilight, if people keep a place held for it. It's just not what I was trying to debate.

    Though, you've kind of done what I was hoping and discussed a way of getting around it. By discussing books you love in hopes they will be passed on to other people, thus investigated and read. That, to you, might not be a way of 'overcoming' the problem, since you don't think it's a problem, but to me it's a good number. C:

    PS - Yepp, I'm'a girl.
     
  11. Sparrow

    Sparrow Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    Messages:
    1,101
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    Though not nearly as popular but still well read and eventually working their way into the popular mainstream are...

    His Dark Materials books, by Phillip Pullman
    The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson
    Abarat; Days of Magic, Nights of War, by Clive Barker
    The Yiddish Policemen's Union & Gentlemen of the Road, by Michael Chabon

    ... some good works do fall through the cracks and become top sellers, or at least develop cultish followings... such as, As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway.

    If the Twilight books act as a gateway drug to the really well written stuff, than I'm good with that. But I'm guessing it doesn't happen like that very often.

    I had not read one piece of fantasy for near ten years until a friend said his daughter was reading these Harry Potter books and they really are very well done. Well, after breaking down my defenses I finally took him up on the offer and read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I loved it. I accepted the material for what it was and went on to read all seven books... and that got me interested in better written and thematically more sophisticated fantasy like with the books mentioned above.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  12. Sancho

    Sancho Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Fiction, like all art, is subjective.


    There exists no meter to determine whether Shakespeare is a better writer than Neil Gaiman, or if Michelangelo is a better painter than Damian Hurst. It all comes down to personal preference.


    There are those here who decry Twilight for its general rubbishness, whilst praising Rowling and Tolkien for their artistic merit; yet in other circles (Harold Bloom, for instance), Rowling is demonised as an utterly awful hack, as talentless as a castrated gigolo.


    This argument is as old as a lingering fart. Back when Jane Austen was knocking about, her books were ridiculed for their almost complete lack of mention of the war with Napoleonic France (quite a big deal, back then). Mark Twain hated her terribly. But today, it’s the very universal nature of her work that appeals to readers of all variety.


    If a person receives pleasure from reading a particular book, and if that pleasure does not affect others directly, who are we to label that book bad, or the reader of that book misguided for thinking it good, simply because it does not coincide with our own aesthetic persuasions?


    So, some teenage girl (or any other type of demographic, for that matter) thinks Twilight to be the greatest book of all time. Who cares? They’re entitled to their opinion. I really couldn’t give a damn, so long as they’re not smearing Nazi insignia on walls with their own faeces as a result. And if Twilight appeals to a greater majority of readers than other contemporary novels, it will naturally receive a greater share of attention. Simples.


    I’ll end with a quote from the Bard, cuz I’m cool like that:

    They that level at my offenses reckon up their own.
     
  13. Roland 85

    Roland 85 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    814
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There are any number of ways to determine whether one author is better than another in the same field, as well as if one field has more merits in a particular direction than another. It is fluent, but it's not completely devoid of anchors.
     
  14. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Personally, I think the old 'Art is subjective so fiction is too.' argument is a thin one.

    You can't even get through it without dismissing a book such as Twilight as 'general rubbishness' on the sly.

    What is subjective about fiction, is;
    The story told,
    The characters,
    The writing fluidity, tone, style, amount of discription, etc.

    What can be measured, however is the skill level of an author, the amount of story, the quality (not content) of plot, character persona study, etc.
     
  15. Sancho

    Sancho Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Go on then: provide me with absolute, indelible evidence that proves, beyond all doubt, that JK Rowling is a better writer than Stephanie Meyer.
     
  16. Luya Sevrein

    Luya Sevrein Humble Grifter

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,353
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Rowling told a story.

    A fiction writer tells a story.

    So therefore we judge by quality of story, surely?

    Find me someone who can - and not just for the sake of saying so - say that 'average girl moves to small town and falls for mysterious guy,' is an origional and intriguing story?

    Asking for necessery proof is rather odd if you relate that to the debate that is being put forward.
     
  17. Roland 85

    Roland 85 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    814
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There are no absolutes in art. There are, however, authorities. It is a matter of being open-minded and perceptive enough to decide which authorities make the most sense to you, and then lean on them while building your own value system.

    So, there can be no "absolute, indelible evidence that proves, beyond all doubt, that JK Rowling is a better writer than Stephanie Meyer". There are, however, any number of pointers that would make a strong argument about it. I don't have the time to write a more argumented post about that right now, but I might in the future.
     
  18. Sancho

    Sancho Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ah. You failed to answer my question. Shame; I genuinely believed you to be in possession of a mysterious magical device that manages to gauge a writer’s ability. Afterall, did you not say, ‘What can be measured, however is the skill level of an author’?

    Oh, the joys of transitive logic! Misapplied here though.

    Rowling used words.

    A fiction writer uses words.

    So therefore we judge by quality of words, surely?


    Or is my example, like yours, just plain nonsense?

    Uh, I can find you about a million. Fans of Twilight are hardly going to think it unoriginal and boring, are they?
     
  19. Sancho

    Sancho Registered User

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    Hardly anchors, then, but fishing floats, susceptible to change. And these so-called authorities don't all hold to the same opinion, because, as I said, art (and therefore fiction) is subjective.

    I look forward to your more detailed response.
     
  20. Roland 85

    Roland 85 Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    814
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thank you for your sarcasm. It really contributes to your post count and is, as such, awesome.

    Edit: Oops, double posting with a more normal tone. Ok, I actually said that myself - the changing and disagreeing thing. But that is why reading is as much a science as writing - you have to work hard to build a system of values complex enough to be able to find the appropriate authority on any particular subject, and one that applies to your way of thinking at that.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010