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Thread: SoT - Legend of the Seeker
August 29th, 2010, 10:46 AM #121
Uh, I gather you haven't read Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake?
I mean, the chance of those books turning out the way they are through anything but painstaking determination and genius concept is akin to the proverbial room full of chimps typewriting Hamlet by random chance.
No matter how much "objective quality" (as you call it) a writer puts into a work, (s)he cannot ensure that his/her work will be judged to be of high quality, no matter who is doing the judging.
Yes, if you don't care about out of tune vocals, then by all means - don't care. Your subjective love for the band is unaffected by their lack of pitch. BUT their objective quality in terms of pitch is lower than that of a band whose vocals aren't out of tune.
How many times have we heard some critic or another say "This isn't music, this is just noise!", only to have said music become the darling of critics of a later generation, who praise its timeless quality?
Also, there is no such thing as a "best" thing. Anywhere. Ever. (apart from anime and Cowboy Bebop, but we won't go there) The more your knowledge of a certain field broadens, the more ridiculous the concept of "best" becomes. Best in what? Best how? Best for whom? How do you even measure "best"?
And if not, who cares about "objective quality" as a measure of anything?
August 29th, 2010, 11:29 AM #122
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The prevailing opinion, if that matters, is that he is not a competent writer and even worse, he's a hack of the highest order. His fiction is really nothing more than a twelve-step program to a Ayn Rand induced ecstasy.
August 29th, 2010, 12:29 PM #123
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Is it possible that a "Well Written" book is one that pleases its intended audience? If a writer sets out to reach a certain group in a certain way and does so... could it not be considered well written? Or is it only well written if Roland says it is? Personal expectations and life experience as well as individual likes, dislike, biases, etc... all go into whether humans like or dislike something. Roland either believes he is the only human who can totally overcome these factors, or that his are the only ones that matter. Some books that I dislike can really reach out to touch another reader because of their life experiences.
I hated the Goodkind that I read so much that I read a lot less of it than many of the other Goodkind haters here. I seldom quit on a series, but just couldn't stand reading one more word about what Richard thought about.... anything. I cannot and will not make the case that Goodkind is a good writer. I hated SoT ...what I read of it. My personal opinion is that Goodkind sucks. What disturbs me about Roland's position on this is that he seems to be claiming that people who read and enjoyed those books are idiots and are incapable of recognizing or enjoying good writing. Enjoying or not enjoying a book, song, poem, movie IS a subjective thing, not an objective thing. The most perfectly written and performed County song is still something I just can't enjoy listening to most of the time. I don't know why. I don't like big band music or rap either. It is a personal preference for any number of reasons and is a subjective thing. I enjoy Tom Petty... and yes... he is out of tune, pitch, etc... quite often. I love Louis Armstrong's version of "What a Wonderful World" though I imagine if you break it down you might find some flaws in some of the details. It's not a formula... it's personal preference. It would be pompous and egotistical for me to claim that only the songs (or books) I like are worthy and anyone who disagress just does not understand well enough to know the difference. Personal preference! I have thoroughly enjoyed so many bad Stephen King books and poor Dean Koontz books that it would be hypocritical for me to imply that those who enjoyed Goodkind are not worthy. The fact is we simply enjoy different things. Why don't some people see the obvious and inherent quality of spinach, kale, and asparagus! What is wrong with them? Well... it doesn't taste good to them. That's all.
To the idea of intended meaning v unintended meaning... among the most influential books in US History is Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle. He wrote that to expose the terrible working conditions and treatment faced by immigrant workers exploited in factories. American readers got stuck on the tainted meat going into the cans and forced government action. Laws were passed but they were the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.... not laws about working conditions in the factory. Those laws came for other reasons. Sinclair later said, "I aimed at the publicís heart and by accident hit its stomach." Does this make The Jungle poor literature?
Read what you enjoy and understand that others may not see it the same way you do.
August 29th, 2010, 12:40 PM #124
August 29th, 2010, 02:10 PM #125
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I am rather enjoying his debate with nquixote. A few days back I wondered if we should call Roland "nquixote 2.0." I think you two would be either fast friends or snide opponents, spending hours in bars or coffee houses endlessly debating literature and whatever else you two share in terms of interests.
As for the Goodkind argument, we all know that many find his work to be absolute crap. So much so that I was warned by other fantasy fans when I first started reading the genre to stay away. Sadly, in doing so I can't add much to the conversation.
August 29th, 2010, 02:34 PM #126
August 29th, 2010, 03:08 PM #127
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No, of course not.
While Common Sense was a huge success and helped to rally folks to fight against the English, Thomas Paine's other books, Rights of Man & The Age of Reason, failed to change hearts or move minds in the same way. Two works of literature at least a hundred years ahead of their time. Poorly done... not hardly.
On a deeper level, we should think of Thomas Paine as a propagandist.
After all what is he really doing, he's propagating a certain doctrine and framing it in the best light possible.
Terry Goodkind is weaving the ideologies of Ayn Rand into a fantasy story.
I happen to like what Thomas Paine is selling so I enjoy reading him. To me, Ayn Rand is leader of a cult, her followers in whatever form that takes, in this case they read Terry Goodkind, are a sorry bunch who not only like the SoT protagonist, they wish they could be him.
Last edited by Sparrow; August 29th, 2010 at 03:25 PM.
August 29th, 2010, 03:49 PM #128
Ok, once more with feeling
However, if you DO know why you like or dislike something, you can also weigh it against other elements of the work in question, as well as its goals, the writer's historical background in terms of place and literature field (if he is from another age), etc. etc. In the end, you have a clear picture of the work which has almost nothing to do with your likes or dislikes. I've said this often - "good" and "bad" should not equal "like" and "don't like". I've disliked objectively good books, and I've loved some pretty crappy ones.
I can give you a solid argument which doesn't prove the existence of objectivity in art, but it does weigh in its favor. It is from my own field - professional music. No matter how many different schools in how many different ages you see, and if you take into consideration the general evolution of technique, the instruments and sensibility, it is astonishing how close opinions are on so many matters of style, phrasing and technique. No matter the personal quirks of the great musicians, there is a sh*tload of stuff they ALL agree on. And this area of "they all agree on" is what I call objectivity. It is not the same as scientific objectivity, nor could it be. But for the purpose of art, it is no less valid and stable. It's just harder to see, prove and accept, if you lack the apparatus.
Btw, the voice being what it is, the occasional lapse in intonation is not necessarily "singing out of tune". It has to be consistent to merit such a description, and to become really annoying. And neither Cobain, nor Dylan are in that group. But singing, like any music, is WAY beyond just basic intonation, and it is not being in or out of tune that wins audiences.
Even if we only stick to one single genre, it is still completely impossible to find anything "best" there. Ok, so Steven Erikson's magic systems are a lot more flashy than Sanderson's. But Sanderson's are way better structured and a lot more stable in terms of internal logic. So which one is better? Those are both objective facts, but in terms of "better" it only matters what YOU personally like as a reader in your magic - logic or flashiness. But then we find Scott Bakker's magic system. It is not as well structured as Sanderson's, but it is a LOT better structured than Erikson's, and arguably just as flahsy, if not more (even though it happens on rare occasions). What's more - it is a lot more poetically described, with not nearly so much pathos, instead opting for symbolic connotation ("unspeakable" words, "blasphemous" songs, etc.). That makes it more elegant and flowing, which amplifies the emotional effect it has - the flashiness. It is to Erikson's magic what a professional ice skater is to two kids playing at being ballerinas. So, if taken in isolation, it is "objectively" better. Of course, that means nothing in terms of likes or dislikes. For many people the pathos and LARGE APOCALYPSES OF MANY VARIETIES of Erikson would be much more appealing (as they are sometimes to me as well). That is why I say that popularity and/or personal feelings should not be the bigger part (as it is inevitable for them to be a part) of judging a work of art.
August 29th, 2010, 05:25 PM #129
August 29th, 2010, 06:23 PM #130
Ok, I'm reposting my last post there, and nquixote can answer there if he wants to.
August 29th, 2010, 08:04 PM #131
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August 29th, 2010, 08:12 PM #132
Other people did. I am not arguing exclusively here. It's a package service
And anyway, obviously I don't have a Goodkind book at home, and I sure am not going to bother buying/renting one just to take out some excerpts and criticize them.