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  1. #76
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner View Post
    Dawn, even Death in Venice bored you?
    It was the first thing I tried. I own a book of novellas, which includes this ones. I also tried the Buddenbrooks, and then I quit. Since I have it at home I might try again, though.

    Talk about putting someone to sleep, what about Proust? Yet I can still read it and appreciate the genius of it.
    Haven't read Proust yet. There's a book or two lying around, so perhaps I should try.


    Is the Wasteland something that grabs you and doesn't let you go?
    Not really. I haven't read enough of it, though, to tell you why.

    I guess all this depends upon what part of ourselves we most want grabbed.
    Certainly.

    For a taste map, let me go through the authors you mentioned above:

    Proust: not read
    Kafka: I love Kafka; probably one of my major influences
    Mann: Bored me
    Dostoyevsky: Not read; wary; from what I heard he's idealising and describing too much for my taste, but I won't know until I try
    Lawrence: I love Lawrence; especially his shorts
    Salinger: Only read Catcher, found it entertaining while I read it, but didn't really impact me much.
    Woolf: has written some of my favourite shorts; her novels are hard going, but very rewarding if you stick with them
    Hemingway: A strange one. I can't seem to make up my mind. So far, I've only read shorts, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo
    I think it's one of those great pains-in-the-ass you need. On the one hand, it focuses the study of literature. There are those who studying everything on the list and everything connected to the list, and it also represents the stuff you aught to know at least pretty well as you delve into the counter-culture and what is not represented.

    Of course, it also generates what is perhaps a false dichotomy. And its premise of influentiality may not be sufficient to steer toward an objectively derived assessment of quality. It is possible, afterall, to write a great book that will make the list without adhering to the requirement of influence from the books on the list.

    But generally, I think the canon is a pretty exhaustive list of great works, but by no means complete, and with no real accounting for taste.
    When you're looking at pre-20th Century literature it's pretty clear that there are some works you can't get around: the Bible, Shakespear, Milton, Dante, The Decameron, Arabian Nights... You don't need a specialist to tell you that; the authors do. In the books themselves.

    With the rise of mass-literacy things changed. And with the rise of mass communication and film (telephones to sattelites) things changed once again. I can't help thinking that the need to creat a list is somewhat reactionary. A move to protect "good literature".

    I agree that in acedemia a common stock of communication is necessary, but I don't really think we need a single person or committee to dictate what that stock is. I'm pretty sure that this takes care of itself through re-prints and critical editions. It's much more useful as a handy history, I think. It's a pretty long list that contains plenty of stuff I never heard of (and my degree included literature in part).

  2. #77
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    We all read and enjoy things for so many different reasons. Alot depends upon where we are in our lives at the time of the reading.

    I adored Hesse for a number of years when I was quite young. His books struck chords with me then, though I don't place him on the top of my lists now, just a notch below.

    And KatG, no matter how much you rant about the lack of objectivity when it comes to lit crit, what you're saying reduces all discussion to matters of taste. Now philosophically Nietzsche made a case for that to a certain extent, but practically, it ends discussion. And you, of all people here, who has such strong opinions, do you really believe that your opinions are not based upon any objectifiable experience or knowledge or facts? They're just your opinions?

    All discussions are aesthetic. Even political ones. Yet we weigh the sides and make our choices based upon what's most reasonable in some cases or based upon intangibles that we just can't get our minds around. Art is not some sacred domain. Getting dressed in the morning is art. How you smile at a person is art. Yet some outfits look better than others, and some smiles convey sincerity and make people feel good, while others ring false. Art is an expression of our feelings, our moods, our tastes. If we do it well, it's objectifiable and others can relate to it.

    Maybe you just don't like the idea of trying to critique a book as opposed to another work of art because you've been so immersed in this industry for so long? How do you help your kids with their homework? What if they have to write an opinion paper? Do you tell them not to provide evidence to support their opinions because the evidence is just a matter of taste?

    Again, philosophically, on the meta scale, there is much to say in favor of your POV, but in real life it doesn't work. We have to establish standards in order to communicate. Language is objective. We agree upon the meanings of the words we use. We've defined beauty over and over again. It may not be a static definition, but we find it and use it.

    KatG, if you try to apply your artistic aesthetic universally, it fails miserably. We'd never be able to talk about anything.

    Dawn, I agree with you on many. Kafka, Lawrence and Woolf. You should read For Whom The Bell Tolls. You should try Death In Venice again. It's such a poignant and moving book, so full of German angst and yet universal in its sense of life fading and possibilites and purposes lost.

    Crime and Punishment is well worth reading.

    To The Lighthouse - wow.

    Lawrence is amazing, INHO. Women in Love.

    Have you ever read Ernest Buckler? Canadian. Not so well know, but a master of beautiful prose.

    So KatG, I guess those authors mentioned above, along with so many others, are no different than Robert Jordan? Or James Patterson? Or Danielle Steele? They're just writers? Nothing special? Nothing extraordinary? No reason to pick up one over another other than the mood you're in? Nothing to be learned?

  3. #78
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Alright... let's make this practical. I'm a trained teacher. Pretend you're one, too. Let's talk assessment.

    I've taught Art -- drawing, painting, etc. I've taught writing, creative and academic.

    KatG, HE -- Tell me how to fairly grade a student's art and/or writing.

  4. #79
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Fung Koo: In a classroom, doesn't the grading depend upon what the students were taught is important?
    GW: What criteria did you use to conclude:
    Crime and Punishment is well worth reading.
    To The Lighthouse - wow.
    Lawrence is amazing, INHO. Women in Love.
    Have you ever read Ernest Buckler? Canadian. Not so well know, but a master of beautiful prose.

  5. #80
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    To be more responsive: H.W. janson in his History of Art, Abrams Publishers, Inc., Second Edition, 1977, provides some criteria for art but then discusses the near impossibility of applying each: Creativity, Originality, and The Artist's Audience, and I quote: "The artist does not create merely for his own satisfaction, but wants his work appreciated by others." Ergo, in a classrooom I would have to grade the student's efforts on the basis of what we had discussed each of these factors means.
    Borrowing from the textbook Elements of Literature, Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston, 2000, for novels the basis of judgment comes down to plot, setting, character, theme, POV, symbols, imagery, and sound effects. Is that what you're after?

  6. #81
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Fung Koo: In a classroom, doesn't the grading depend upon what the students were taught is important?
    In part, yes. A teacher should clearly define what the assessed parameters are of an art piece. The question goes back to what we teach kids about how art is created. Should the assessment and subsequent grading of art be based on commonly taught skills and qualities, or should it be teacher-dependent? Should a geography teacher teach art, or should an art teacher teach art?

    The subjective argument claims the difference between the two is irrelevant. The objective argument claims a significant difference. What are the skills, attributes, and qualities we should teach in order to assess and grade an individual piece of art? Should the process be comparative, or individual?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    History of Art, Abrams Publishers, Inc., Second Edition, 1977, provides some criteria for art but then discusses the near impossibility of applying each: Creativity, Originality, and The Artist's Audience
    "Creativity" is completely a matter of both opinion and context and is, most definitely, subjective and fluid. Originality... likewise. As for the audience, as a question of assessment, if one clearly defines the target audience as (let's say) Canadian Grade 2 students then we can assess the "appropriateness" of the art based on curriculum standards for Grade 2's as an objective measure (which would mean giving kids access to the curriculum, which is interesting of itself), and then applying a subjective assessment of "appropriateness" as it pertains to censorship.

    But how to do we grade the actual art itself, separate from (though dependent on and in consideration of) the target audience?

    "The artist does not create merely for his own satisfaction, but wants his work appreciated by others."
    This is in keeping with previous statements you've made -- it is a populist theory of art. A child's grade, in this ideology, is then a reflection only of the teacher's subjective like or dislike of an art-attempt. Is that a fair way to grade art?

    I don't like Goya -- I give him a C. I like Bill Watterson -- he gets an A.

    Ergo, in a classrooom I would have to grade the student's efforts on the basis of what we had discussed each of these factors means.
    So to make it fair, you would cast subjective ideas as objectively quantifiable parameters. (Teacher jargon for this is a Rubric.)

    Elements of Literature, Holt, Rhinehart, and Winston, 2000, for novels the basis of judgment comes down to plot, setting, character, theme, POV, symbols, imagery, and sound effects. Is that what you're after?
    Those are attributes of narrative prose, yes. However, it is the skill with which those attributes are rendered into "qualities" of the text that is at question. How do we assess the quality of an individual piece of art?

  7. #82
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    HE, different ones for each. Beautiful prose, electric, stimulating, intelligent, thought provoking, broad vision, moving, well-crafted, meaningful, hard to duplicate, unique in all the above combinations etc etc

    Are you just being difficult? You can't tell the difference between categories? Sure, some books may be entertaining (you might like bondage stories full of gay sex) and they might keep your interest, and they might even function on many levels, but they might also be flat and vapid and only about titillation. In fact, they may be great at that and therefor be masterful within the scope of their intent. But that's not what we're talking about, is it?
    Last edited by Gary Wassner; February 5th, 2008 at 11:00 AM.

  8. #83
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Fung Koo:
    We don't; you and I do.
    GW:
    C'mon, each of those is subjective as all get out, e.g., I find Kipling astounding but, since he is politically incorrect, he isn't taught anymore. Does that mean his poetry lost its beauty? Not for me, it doesn't.

    Editorial addition: What is happening is pattern recognition. We are taught this is a nice pattern and, ever after, such patterns look nice to us. We develop new patterns with experience and, ever after, these new patterns look nice to us. We can find the patterns in anything we look at or we can't. If we don't find our patterns; then our appreciation of the artifact in question suffers. Ergo, I don't like Vellum; I like Perdido Street Station but dislike Iron Council and I disliked Baaker's first novel as I thought it to be a poltical polemic.

    PS: I've nver understood bondage, the idea scares the hell out of me but seventeen virgins somehow has a draw that I am not certain I understand but I haven't tried to explore my rationale. Sex is good, that much I know.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 5th, 2008 at 11:11 AM.

  9. #84
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Fung Koo: We don't; you and I do.
    Then please explain the education system.

    How did you learn to read and write? How did you learn to draw? How did you learn to read, write, and draw better?

    Is a one-hit-wonder equal to a multi-hit wonder?

    *****

    Also, you could answer these questions, should you deign to...

    Should the assessment and subsequent grading of art be based on commonly taught skills and qualities, or should it be teacher-dependent?

    Should a geography teacher teach art, or should an art teacher teach art?

    What are the skills, attributes, and qualities we should teach in order to assess and grade an individual piece of art?

    Should the process be comparative, or individual?

    How to do we grade the actual art itself, separate from (though dependent on and in consideration of) the target audience?

    Is a child's grade a reflection only of the teacher's subjective like or dislike of an art-attempt?

    Is that a fair way to grade art?

    How do we assess the quality of an individual piece of art?

  10. #85
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Assuming everybody is actively replying to previous posts, I'll go back to attempt to clarify pattern recognition. Often in this thread, when we got to specific books and disagreed on their relative merit, the disagreement was dismissed as a matter of taste. Recognition of quality is precisely that. For example, in the software industry there is a theoretically objective scale of quality consisting of five levels of accomplishment. Companies lust for the CMMI Level 5 designation. Close examination will produce no correlation between CMMI level and profitability or even program performance but the level measures are all supposed to indicate the level of quality in the organization. PMI, CMI, and the Accounting Industry all have measures to certify professional accomplishment. Yet, a certified public accountant or program manager or contract management specialist can all be miserable performers in the real world. True of lawyers and doctors and nurses and teachers,as well.
    Quality is something that can only be judged after the fact and the criteria, though common to all, are largely subjective: the patterns we recognize at the time.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 5th, 2008 at 11:48 AM.

  11. #86
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    "How did you learn to read and write? How did you learn to draw? How did you learn to read, write, and draw better?"
    I was given the patterns deemed acceptible at the time by some very good and some merely adequate teachers. About the time I started reading for myself, I modified the patterns I had been taught to the patterns discovered in my own reading that I liked better. The patterns I was taught in grade school in the 40s and 50s bare little resemblance to the pattern taught in the 70s and 80s which bare only token resemblance to being taught today e.g., do you remember the advent and disappearance of the "new" math?

    Is a one-hit-wonder equal to a multi-hit wonder?
    Sort of depends on the one-hit. I've never head heard a better pop music hit than "Afternoon Delight." The instrumentation, the harmony, the melody, and the lyrics just all came together for me.

    *****

    Also, you could answer these questions, should you deign to... wow, I seem to have gone from philistine to elitist in a single day.

    Should the assessment and subsequent grading of art be based on commonly taught skills and qualities, or should it be teacher-dependent?
    In the real world, both occur simultaneously. Which do you prefer I subtract?

    Should a geography teacher teach art, or should an art teacher teach art?
    In the schools I grew up in there was a teacher to teach all the topics. That education prepared me for 20 years in the military and 25 years in business, owning my own business for the last 5 years of my working life. Oh, yeah, i did get a college education beginning when I was 43 years old and doing logistic engineering for one of the premier aerospace companies in the country, Sperry Flight Systems.

    What are the skills, attributes, and qualities we should teach in order to assess and grade an individual piece of art?
    The patterns that are deemed appropriate at the time we are teaching. Are the same patterns to be applied to Degas, Goya, Michaelangelo, Bosch, Da Vinci, Klimt, Vermeer, Vallejo, Kirby, and Dali - listing just some of my favorites?

    Should the process be comparative, or individual?
    The process is always both.

    How to do we grade the actual art itself, separate from (though dependent on and in consideration of) the target audience?
    In school, teach, you are the target audience. How do you separate your own patterns from the process?

    Is a child's grade a reflection only of the teacher's subjective like or dislike of an art-attempt?
    Yes and no as already explained.

    Is that a fair way to grade art?
    It's the only practical way to do so.

    How do we assess the quality of an individual piece of art?
    We don't; you and I do. Sometimes, we agree.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 5th, 2008 at 11:50 AM.

  12. #87
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Are you saying then HE, that your sole criterion for determining value is, "I liked this and I didn't like that."? You don't evaluate why? You just move on to the next whimsical thing you pick up? How do you ever determine what to read or what movie to watch or what restaurant to go to? No standards? Only, "I like it or I don't"?

    You claimed you disliked PON because it felt like a political polemic to you. So aside from not wanting your fantasy books to read like polemics, did you also find the style disagreeable? was it poorly written? were the concepts muddled? was the plot weak?

    You stated that Vellum fell apart for you in the second half. Does that translate to "i didn't like the second half, but I don't know why?"

    If I'm an elitist, you're a philistine. But I'm not sure you'll know what that means. Both terms refer to objectifiable qualities, and I guess you either like them or you don't.

  13. #88
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    $^&^%&#&$!!
    You persist in travelling this street with your blinders firmly in place. Is political polemic objective or subjective. Is "didn't meet the promise of the first half - a tour de force in time streaming" subjective or objective?
    As yet, I have not noticed that you have identified any objective criteria though Fung Koo alludes to the fact that such criteria exist are employed in Fung Koo's classroom.
    I submit that you learned - in the classroom - "this is a good piece of writing and this is why it is a good piece of writing." Mostly because it was in the textbook. You internalized that - constructed a pattern - and, over time, modified or adapted that pattern to your own prejudices. So, you think you have an objective criteria when what you have - just as what I have - is a pattern given in the classroom adapted opver time by our own life experiences. Is that objective or subjective? Hell, I don't know but I think, I suspect, I judge that it does not constitute consensus with what we learned in the classroom nor does it conform among the five of us: Fung Koo, you, DS, KatG, and me who is downright confused as to whether he a philistine or an elitist or which of the two is leading in the polls. I hope I'm a philistine because they have better uniforms and their cheerleaders are pretty hot.

    Are you saying then HE, that your sole criterion for determining value is, "I liked this and I didn't like that."? You don't evaluate why? You just move on to the next whimsical thing you pick up? How do you ever determine what to read or what movie to watch or what restaurant to go to? No standards? Only, "I like it or I don't"?
    I examine the trailers and ads to attempt to determine whether I am interested. Occasionally, as with KatG's recommendation of vellum amnd today's perusal of Hobbit's year in review recommendations, I'll accept a recommendation. I'll go to almost any restaurant a first time. Quality is something that can only be judged after the fact and the criteria, though common to all, are largely subjective: the patterns we recognize at the time.

    You claimed you disliked PON because it felt like a political polemic to you. So aside from not wanting your fantasy books to read like polemics, did you also find the style disagreeable? was it poorly written? were the concepts muddled? was the plot weak?
    Why put my dislike of polemics aside? Why is that not sufficient criteria to judge a work unacceptable to me. I did not state that I thought it should be pulled from the shelves, hidden away from children, or be banned by the Southwestern Baptists. I stated that I did not believe it deserved the hype because it was more polemic than fantasy story. My opinion stated as fairly as I know how to state it.

    You stated that Vellum fell apart for you in the second half. Does that translate to "i didn't like the second half, but I don't know why?" See above.
    Last edited by Hereford Eye; February 5th, 2008 at 12:40 PM.

  14. #89
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    Companies lust for the CMMI Level 5 designation. Close examination will produce no correlation between CMMI level and profitability or even program performance but the level measures are all supposed to indicate the level of quality in the organization.
    And? If this is being offered as an analogue to the assessment protocols we apply to the arts, then I'm not sure of the point. Can art can be of good quality without "performing" well?

    PMI, CMI, and the Accounting Industry all have measures to certify professional accomplishment. Yet, a certified public accountant or program manager or contract management specialist can all be miserable performers in the real world. True of lawyers and doctors and nurses and teachers,as well.
    Tellllllllll me about it...

    Again, performance as a measure of quality is a populist assertion which only measures effect and utility. If effect illuminates quality, measured as inversely proportional to the art work itself, then unpopular works are, by this definition, without quality.

    Is that what you're saying? Are you saying that art has to be useful? And popular?

    Quality is something that can only be judged after the fact and the criteria, though common to all, are largely subjective: the patterns we recognize at the time.
    Then this is where we differ. I think quality can be judged independently of effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    I was given the patterns deemed acceptible at the time by some very good and some merely adequate teachers. About the time I started reading for myself, I modified the patterns I had been taught to the patterns discovered in my own reading that I liked better. The patterns I was taught in grade school in the 40s and 50s bare little resemblance to the pattern taught in the 70s and 80s which bare only token resemblance to being taught today e.g., do you remember the advent and disappearance of the "new" math?
    No, but I remember the taste of a new generation... I get it... you're the old hat, I'm the young whippersnapper

    Actually, the "patterns" haven't changed that much. Most of what is taught today could still be taught with a textbook from any previous era. Every teacher teaches differently, but the source material being taught is by and large identical across the life of the formalized education system. The point isn't the pattern you were taught. The point is the assessment.

    How do you assess whether or not someone has learned the information, or if they've learned the pattern? How you assess understanding versus process? And how do you assess improvement?

    Should the assessment and subsequent grading of art be based on commonly taught skills and qualities, or should it be teacher-dependent?
    In the real world, both occur simultaneously. Which do you prefer I subtract?
    Well, if you subtract the teacher-dependency, you should theoretically find common benchmarks at each level within the system. That's the point of curricula, and that's how the education system is built. But the real question is, if you subtract the system and the benchmarks, how now do you teach and assess art? Your assertion is that the curriculum benchmarks are irrelevancies. So I want to know how you propose art is to be assessed if teacher-dependency is all there is?

    Should a geography teacher teach art, or should an art teacher teach art?
    In the schools I grew up in there was a teacher to teach all the topics.
    So I'm asking you, should it be that way? If art is a subjective experience, a subjective assessment, and a subjective production, then should there even be art teachers? If you assume you have two teachers who are identical in teaching ability, but one is a math teacher and the other is an art teacher (each with only cursory familiarity of the others specialty), which one is the better art teacher?

    Is foreknowledge irrelevant to the teaching of the subject?

    What are the skills, attributes, and qualities we should teach in order to assess and grade an individual piece of art?
    The patterns that are deemed appropriate at the time we are teaching.
    How do we deem what patterns are appropriate?

    Are the same patterns to be applied to Degas, Goya, Michaelangelo, Bosch, Da Vinci, Klimt, Vermeer, Vallejo, Kirby, and Dali...
    Yes.

    How to do we grade the actual art itself, separate from (though dependent on and in consideration of) the target audience?
    In school, teach, you are the target audience. How do you separate your own patterns from the process?
    True, I am the target. Now, if I want to educate children so that they flourish under any teacher, on what do I rely?

    How do we assess the quality of an individual piece of art?
    We don't; you and I do. Sometimes, we agree.
    So cantankerous...

  15. #90
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Stubborn man.....

    Okay, let's leave the words good and bad out entirely. Let's just discuss the books. We don't need to make value judgments unless we have agreed upon standards, which clearly you say we don't have. So, how do you talk to people, particularly people who come to you for advice, on what to read?

    What is your 'interest' based upon? Your mood today? What you ate for dinner? You said you watch trailers etc. What are you looking for? Intangibles? You don't know, you just have some vague idea of what appeals to you and what doesn't? You don't bother to question it? I DOUBT THAT!

    I think you're much smarter than that, HE. Yeah, philistines sometimes wear cooler clothing, but often it's worth spending a little more and buying something of quality.

    My blinders? I just want to be able to converse. I don't believe we're the arbiters of quality, but I do think we come here for opinions from people we hope take their time to think why they like or dislike what they recommend.

    And when you say Vellum fell apart during the second half, then I take that comment to be a qualitative one based upon your expectations of what a good book should do, what you expect from it and where it failed. And I'd look to analyze your comment and see if I agree when I read the book, because those are quantifiable things you're talking about, at least to discerning readers.

    If you want to converse, then you have to converse. Not start and stop. Of course it's not enough to say you didn't like PON because it felt like a polemic. So what does that mean? No it's not enough to say it. What's wrong with that? Was the politics stronger than the story for you? A qualitative assessment. Do you prefer more story, less policy? Why? Because it makes for a more entertaining book? Are you referring to standards or just going by your mood? You think too much is too much, right? It ruins the flow of the plot for you. It offends you. All these reactions have further reasons and causes. Maybe tomorrow you'll like polemics and read Nietzsche and then love PON.

    I'm sorry. There are differences from one book to another. List three books you love and tell me why you love them? I'm seriously curious to know. And then maybe I'll read them (if I haven't already) and see if I agree or disagree.

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