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  1. #121
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland 85 View Post
    Obviously no story that truly inspires could be without any quality. But if the inspiration was unintentional, you have to ask yourself, did it occur due to some of his qualities, or was it a simple chance?
    But A) even if you care about whether an effect was intentional or chance, what if other people don't care? And B) How can we ever know how much was intentional and how much was chance?

    Uh, I gather you haven't read Ulysses or Finnegan's Wake?
    I have read both. I liked Finnegan's Wake...not so much Ulysses.

    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.
    I think I didn't manage to convey my point...sure, those books are the way they are on purpose. But what if Joyce made them the way they are without realizing how good they would seem to critics? THAT's my point. A writer can put any stylistic element into a story intentionally, but cannot intentionally write a story that is sure to be embraced by critics, literature students, or any judges of quality.

    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.
    Well, you can use the word "objective quality" to mean anything you want. You can use it to mean pink fluffy bunnies. But there's no rule out there written in the laws of physics that says that in-tune singing is any better than out-of-tune singing. Was Bob Dylan low in "objective quality"? Was Kurt Cobain? Was their out-of-tune singing simply outweighed in the cosmos' impartial calculation of "objective quality"? Or could it be that people actually liked the out-of-tune singing, that it had a synergistic effect with the other features of Dylan's and Cobain's music, that it actually worked for people?

    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"?
    OK, so if there is no "best", what do you call the work of art that is highest in "objective quality"? Take all fantasy books, write down an "objective quality" number for each (or a vector, with any norm you like), and won't the one with the highest "objective quality" be the "best"?

    And if not, who cares about "objective quality" as a measure of anything?

  2. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pvt View Post
    The burden of proof is always on the person making the claim (yourself). This is simple logic.
    Likewise you make the claim Terry Goodkind is a competent writer.

    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.

  3. #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.

  4. #124
    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    His fiction is really nothing more than a twelve-step program to a Ayn Rand induced ecstasy.
    Made me laugh out loud. Well said. Also you forgot that its not fiction at all!

  5. #125
    Quote Originally Posted by rhallva View Post
    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 don't believe Roland has once said that he is the one who decides what is well written and what is not. He may identify himself as an elitist and make his own judgments known, and he obviously offends and annoys some, but his scope is far broader than what he likes or doesn't like.

    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.

  6. #126
    trolling > dissertation nquixote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dyloot View Post
    I think you two would be either fast friends or snide opponents
    Possibly both...I certainly have him wriggling in the crushing grip of reason...

  7. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhallva View Post
    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 public’s heart and by accident hit its stomach." Does this make The Jungle poor literature?

    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 02:25 PM.

  8. #128
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    Ok, once more with feeling

    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    But A) even if you care about whether an effect was intentional or chance, what if other people don't care? And B) How can we ever know how much was intentional and how much was chance?
    What people in general care or don't care about is completely irrelevant to my point. Whether they'll care or not, the effect does not change, and neither does the method of its inception. As for B, a work of fiction does stray from the author's intentions sometimes, but that is usually less than the "genius creator of art" cliche would like us to think. Also, writers - especially writers of books that people debate - usually tend to express their intentions, be it in essays, articles, interviews, you name it. Besides, there is a level of professionalism and craftsmanship that - when reached - just doesn't leave too much to chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    I think I didn't manage to convey my point...sure, those books are the way they are on purpose. But what if Joyce made them the way they are without realizing how good they would seem to critics? THAT's my point. A writer can put any stylistic element into a story intentionally, but cannot intentionally write a story that is sure to be embraced by critics, literature students, or any judges of quality.
    Uhm, I severely doubt Joyce started writing with the intention to write a "good" book. He wanted to express something, to do something with the medium of literature, and I don't think it mattered too much to him what people would think of it. Again, you talk to me of the way a work is received, as if popularity (even among critics) is a measure of quality. Obviously a writer can't know how "good" his book would be. So? What does that prove? How is this an argument against objectivity in art? A writer cannot intentionally write a "good" story, but that is mainly because "good" is just as general and meaningless as "best" (I'll talk about that later). He could, however, intentionally write with precise language (that does not mean "simple" btw), he could intentionally go into detail in his character building. He could intentionally decide to put sensory perceptions and innuendos, instead of writing "IT WAS SO VERY SAD!!!" when trying to express emotions. There are a thousand different ways in which a writer can intentionally do something, which in the end would make his work better than others. Objectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    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.
    Not true. Because it does matter who is doing the judging. The average Joe Reader is the kind of guy we've witnessed in this topic - The "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, SAYING THAT SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN OTHER! WHY SHOULD YOUR OPINION BE MORE VALID THAN MINE, IT IS ALL SUBJECTIVE, AND I WANT MY RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH!!!" knee-jerker person who - in most cases - has never read a single line about the process of writing fiction, has no particular interest in said process, and thus usually can't recognize the elements of what he reads. If you don't know why you like or dislike something, you are obviously not qualified to judge anything literature-related, outside of just stating your preferences.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    Well, you can use the word "objective quality" to mean anything you want. You can use it to mean pink fluffy bunnies. But there's no rule out there written in the laws of physics that says that in-tune singing is any better than out-of-tune singing. Was Bob Dylan low in "objective quality"? Was Kurt Cobain? Was their out-of-tune singing simply outweighed in the cosmos' impartial calculation of "objective quality"? Or could it be that people actually liked the out-of-tune singing, that it had a synergistic effect with the other features of Dylan's and Cobain's music, that it actually worked for people?
    There is a rule, written in the laws of physics, that does say, in point of fact, that out of tune tone-producing IS irritating. It is particularly irritating for people with perfect pitch, but even for those with relative pitch, it is jarring. Many of the rules in music theory and acoustics just *are*, but they are axiomatic. Of course, being out of tune doesn't absolutely exclude being "good", as it could be intentional. Or it could be very slight, and the music could have other redeeming qualities that outweigh it. Makes it no less worse than being IN tune, unless it's some very special kind of music that actually requires you to be out of tune (and yes, there are such cases, especially in late XX and XXI century music). I mean, it might be irritating, but this irritation could be intentional and it could serve a purpose. Although with singing it is WICKED hard to sing out of tune if you hear yourself being out of tune...

    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    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?
    That's a completely different issue, and it has a lot more to do with traditionalism and closed-mindedness on one side, and conformity and fashion on the other. Of course, quality does play a part, but it's a general rule that - where art and especially music (being the most abstract of the arts, and thus the most emotionally-tied) is concerned - true innovations, unless they are really pleasing (in which case they would hardly be true innovations as innovation requires a noticeable change, but I guess it has happened) are accepted long after their actual creation. It just takes time (and a few open-minded people promoting, building over and imitating it) for any new concept to take root. If it has what it takes to do that, of course. But anyway, this is hardly a matter of objectivity/subjectivity, as there are way too many elements outside the art itself, that play a part in situations such as these.

    Quote Originally Posted by nquixote View Post
    OK, so if there is no "best", what do you call the work of art that is highest in "objective quality"? Take all fantasy books, write down an "objective quality" number for each (or a vector, with any norm you like), and won't the one with the highest "objective quality" be the "best"?

    And if not, who cares about "objective quality" as a measure of anything?
    There is no "best" because there is not ONE "objective quality". You keep talking about objectivity in terms of science. Go back and see the way I've described it in this post here. It is not a single point of judgment, but a web of interconnected points of reference - a lot of them - that vary depending on many different factors. It IS there, but it is not nearly as easy to grasp as 2+2=4.

    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.

  9. #129
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...588#post594588

    There you go, Roland. Let's move the conversation out of the Goodkind ghetto.

  10. #130
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    Ok, I'm reposting my last post there, and nquixote can answer there if he wants to.

  11. #131
    Quote Originally Posted by Roland 85 View Post
    Actually, there are two sides here, making claims. I claim that Terry Goodkind is a terrible writer. The other side claims he isn't. Considering that the popular opinion in this board is on my side, I can't see why I should be the first to defend my claims
    No, you are the only one making claims on goodkind's writing, therefore the burden of proof is on you. This is even more so because you've created a one sided argument.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
    Likewise you make the claim Terry Goodkind is a competent writer.

    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.
    I made no such claim concerning Goodkind's writing so there is no point to be made here.

  12. #132
    Registered User Roland 85's Avatar
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    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.

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