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  1. #31
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    Damn good question. You would have to say yes, wouldn't you?

  2. #32
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    But tell me how that is possible? It never really occurred to me until now, but I don't consider what they write as 'literary' in the sense we are describing it here. It may be well written (or not), and people certainly love both of them as authors (which was never a gauge of what is truly good) but where does it take you? What emotion does it elevate? What inspiration does it leave you with? What moral dilemma does it focus on?

  3. #33
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    It's got to be the 'alternate world' thing. I think it's fair to say our culture has had a general 'verisimilitude bias' for centuries now. I think you could say that some readers are alienated by all the extra work involved in learning a different world, and others are alienated because of they think they catch a whiff of 'infantilism' - escapism in the bad sense, which suggests an unmannish inability to cope with the 'real world.'

    That's probably horribly overgeneralizing.

  4. #34
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    No, I think you make a really good point. Sci Fi is scientific, and thus credible and thus acceptable. Fantasy is frivolous and escapist. So what are chick-lits and thrillers? The best seller list is rife with them.

  5. #35
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    The popularity of 'low culture' (which given the overturning of 'hi/lo paradigms by post-modern literary studies, is euphemistically called 'commercial crap'), not always, but quite often tells against it. Take tLoTR and what I call the 'iconclastic chic effect.' Every notice how many people suddenly start making anti-Tolkien noises after it hit the mainstream? It's actually comes back to our status hardwiring: we associate 'exclusivity' with status, and this is simply one of the ways it expresses itself. We have a hard time affirming without some backhand degradation.

    Some genre has to find itself on the bottom of heap. It might as well be the one I love.

    It goes with my '91 VW Golf.

  6. #36
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
    No, I think you make a really good point. Sci Fi is scientific, and thus credible and thus acceptable. Fantasy is frivolous and escapist. So what are chick-lits and thrillers? The best seller list is rife with them.
    Chick-lit and Thriller are both set in the 'real' world. People figure that once they 'grow up' they must stop reading about made up worlds. Though sci-fi may be about made up worlds, it's still, as you put it, scientific. It's possible. Fantasy is not possible no matter how you look at it. Elves and dwarves will never exist. Aliens have never been proven, but they are possible.

    Fantasy will never make the leap to main-stream because of that simple fact. It's unreal and made up. It's a hard fact to deal with and is highly unfair, but most adults don't read fantasy because of the fact that they 'grew up'.

    I love fantasy in all its forms. I have a real job and a real life and I have grown up, but I still enjoy fantasy. Why? Have I got a screw loose? Am I still a child at heart? Possibly, but it's not because I enjoy reading fantasy.

    One side comment, you mentioned Staphen King. I must ask you, how well did his 'Fantasy' book 'Eyes of the Dragon' do? I'd wager it was his lowest selling novel as you rarely see it in book stores. At least I've not found it since it came out. Even King faces the stigma.

  7. #37
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Listen, my tastes are very eclectic. I am not making any value judgments here. I am just confused. I think many people are just totally misinformed about fantasy. They don't read it because they never read it. And they never read it because they assume it is not for them. You need a good imagination to read fantasy. Most people don't have very good imaginations. Reading is supposed to be a relaxing endeavor. So if the subject matter is hard to assimilate, then it is no longer relaxing. I suppose under those circumstances it would be like picking up Proust for the average person, or trying to read Hegel. The difference is that the reader assumes fantasy is childish and incomprehensible, while Proust and Hegel may be incomprehensible, but because they are too esoteric, not because they are childish. It's funny, but Nietzsche never received credit while he was alive because he was so untraditional during a very exacting time. Aphorisms instead of didactic treatises? Many tried to trivialize his thinking as well, and for years he was relegated to the back shelf of philosophy and not taken seriously.

  8. #38
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    Here's a (likely loaded) Q for you Gary. Where do you think philosophy generally stands on the social totem pole?

  9. #39
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It's on a different pole somewhat near the one you are talking about, but behind some very big trees.

    Very few even have opinions about it. As my grandfather would say, and he was the quintessential, successful, old-school capitalist, how much can you ever earn by studying and teaching philosophy? Therein lay his evaluation of its merit.

  10. #40
    Space Cowboy Asraloth's Avatar
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    "People figure that once they 'grow up' they must stop reading about made up worlds. Though sci-fi may be about made up worlds, it's still, as you put it, scientific. It's possible. Fantasy is not possible no matter how you look at it."


    maus, i think both genres deal in "possibilities." for example, it is "possible" that if some sort of multiverse exists, with an infinite amount of paralell worlds, that somewhere out there, there is a Middle-Earth. the difference is in the exploration of that possibility.

    i think fantasy just chucks you into the world, whilst science fiction explains and extrapolates, then chucks you into it. aliens are only more convincing concepts because they are more probable in the eyes of science than invisible fairies who live in toadstools. what i'm saying is neither of these genres can really claim dominion over "reality," they deal in unreal possibilities.

  11. #41
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    Very few even have opinions about it. As my grandfather would say, and he was the quintessential, successful, old-school capitalist, how much can you ever earn by studying and teaching philosophy?
    The joke I always use in my Pop Culture classes (before I started writing fulltime) was:

    How do you get a philosopher to shut up?

    Pay for the pizza and tell him to get the hell of your porch!

    You're right about most people not having an explicit opinion about philosophy, but I think that most of the bias against fantasy is implicit as well. The thing is that most everybody gets that joke. Most everybody assumes that philosophers are bloody mincers and tail-chasers. Why else would they be delivering your pizza unless there was nothing practical about their discipline - which is just to say it has nothing to do with the real world.

    Like fantasy?

    The thing that kills me is that I sometimes get the same flummoxed response from strangers who ask what I do as a fantasy author as I once did as a philosophy teacher. The old, 'Yes... But what do you do?' response.

  12. #42
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    So tell me Scott, what could you tell them that would really impress them? It's not enough that you are a deep thinker, a philosopher and an author, along with many other things, I am sure. What is it that these people yearn to hear?

    When I left academics and came to work in New York City, I remember going to one of my High School reunions. I really didn't want to go, but I just couldn't help myself actually. In any case, when people asked me what I was doing I replied that i was writing a book. I wasn't really at the time, but to say that I was in the finance business and that I had left my doctoral program and was no longer teaching at the university was too hard to say. Once I was acclimated into the fast world of money and finance, if I said I was writing a book at a cocktail party everyone would nod patronizingly and say that was nice. You can't win, so why try? Now I do a lot of everything and i no longer have anyone left to impress. How ironic!

  13. #43
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    Yes, but finance is real, Gary!

    It's the skepticism of the response that gets me - as though writing fantasy or teaching philosophy couldn't be real.

    You have admit. They do sound pretty strange when you think about it.

    "Hi, I'm a philosopher!"

  14. #44
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    It's all a matter of which side of the fence you are sitting on. Finance is real 'what'? It serves a purpose, sure. But is value simply judged by a things utility? Philosophy serves the mind. Sadly, many people don't value the mind quite so highly. Has science usurped philosophy's position in academia? Is philosophy now considered frivolous because it doesn't help anyone earn the big bucks?

  15. #45
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    It's not simply that it doesn't earn money - I personally think that critical thinking skills could only be an advantage in any competitive business situation. Law firms, I know, love JDs with philosophy backgrounds.

    The problem has more to do with it's inability to command any kind of consensus. Philosophy generates interminable controversy, which quite obviously - and quite properly, I think - tells against it's cognitive efficacy. It has no feet. Organized religion does better because it's invested in generating the illusion of certainty and consensus. This is why it's so averse to real questions and critical self-examination: because a mere dash of these things so quickly demonstrate that it's feet are made of clay.

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