Why I am an atheist – mjr »« Islamic science has come to this pitiful end

Comments

  1. says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter:

    Bill, #481: You seem to be basing your argument on the assumption that if there is no penetration of genitals or anus and no stimulation of either or of nipples, the scenario in question cannot be inherently erotic.

    Oh dear, that’s not what I meant at all. I absolutely agree that all sorts of different activities “count” as sex, and even if something didn’t seem like a form of lovemaking to me, if that’s what it is to the people doing it, who am I to say otherwise?

    What I meant instead was that, in the particular sort of porn I have in mind, the script doesn’t present the action as sexual at all. It’s understood to be erotic to the audience (i.e., people with an erotic appreciation of spanking), but the people in the scene are not presented as experiencing it as a sexual interaction.

    eroticism is all in the mind, and therefore all in the framing.

    Indeed. If a scene were framed as being of a kinky couple doing their headmaster/schoolgirl thing, that would be different… but in the cases I’m thinking about, the action is typically not portrayed as sexual at all.

    To me (and here we’re back in de gustibus… territory), the whole thing about porn is watching people have sex: The very same actions might or might not be erotically satisfying to me depending on whether they’re presented as being sex. It’s not about me deciding that certain things don’t count as sex; it’s about whether they’re being offered to me as sex.

    Consider spanking scenes in mainstream movies: If it’s framed as sexual (e.g., The Secretary), that’s hot; if it’s just an angry guy who’s punishing a woman, that’s distinctly not not (to me, at least). The difference is not whether I think it’s sex; it’s whether they do.

    Leaving all that aside, my personal kink is not about humiliation or punishment; it’s about the pain per se. That’s what I was really trying to get at, before my careless word choice led us astray.

  2. says

    Bill:

    What I meant instead was that, in the particular sort of porn I have in mind, the script doesn’t present the action as sexual at all. It’s understood to be erotic to the audience (i.e., people with an erotic appreciation of spanking), but the people in the scene are not presented as experiencing it as a sexual interaction.

    I guess it depends on what you’re watching. You might have seen movies aimed at audiences with, for want of a much better term, rougher tastes. The ones I’ve seen that had no penetration or stroking of “naughty bits” were very obvious about how the literal punishment scenario of the script was a flimsy pretext for erotic spanking.

    Then again, we’re both looking at this through the prisms of our own preferences. I don’t like anything but the mildest pain; I’m more into the power exchange. You’re the opposite. So it’s likely that certain other porn movies would strike you as much more erotic than they do me.

  3. says

    Rey Fox:

    …wouldn’t that [i.e., my Sturgeon's Law argument] also invalidate the argument that monotheists are mostly atheist as well, because they reject all gods but one. It may do so validly come to think about it.

    Not at all the same thing.

    I’m glad you said that: I would’ve responded sooner, myself, but I was having trouble figuring out how AE drew the comparison in the first place. In any case, Sturgeon’s Law is about assessments of artistic quality, which most (if not all) acknowledge as subjective; claims about the existence of god(s) are assertions of fact, and are clearly not subjective.

    So, as you say, “not at all the same thing.”

    My point to AE was that if you express your subjective opinion about art as if it were fact, and especially as if it were such an incontrovertible fact that it leaves no room for disagreement, then you implicitly insult anyone who does disagree. Insulting people is fine — many here have raised it to a high art — but when you insult someone, you shouldn’t be surprised if they are… um… insulted by that, eh?

    The flat statement, “[Genre/medium/style] is awful!” leaves no room for honorable or enlightening disagreement: If you say you like [genre/medium/style], you’re implicitly confessing to liking awfulness (which is presumably stupid, ironic forms of “liking” aside). OTOH, “I don’t like [genre/medium/style] because [reason(s)]” can be an invitation to conversations that might well end up enlightening, or at least entertaining, both parties, even if they don’t change anyone’s opinion.

  4. says

    aw, AE, you hurt Ing’s feelings?

    Just for that:
    comics : DFW :: The Cure : (say) Coltrane

    Are you ever going to grow up?

    Be that as it may, I’m not sure how criticism of an art form is really any different from criticizing a particular piece of art. There is no piece of art that isn’t atomizable to the point that someone couldn’t find something good to say about it. I’m sure that is true of the artform as well. But so what? Would you object to a person disliking a single comic book, or simply their saying so?
    Now consider this: you yourself said that 90% of comic books are irredeemably stupid

    No that’s exactly the point. Talking about works or criticizing particular pieces is just that. Criticizing. Dismissing everything with a snobbish fop is just degrading it. It’s not criticizing, it’s not talking about it, it’s attempting to shut down discussion.

    I don’t think it does. I enjoy many things that are, to use your own word, stupid. But, I admit to having engaged in some one-upmanship. I insulted the genre. I was insulted for that (this surprised me). I replied with something that I knew would be taken as insulting. And so on. I’m only surprised that people were offended by my first statement. The others were intentionally shitty, and were probably not misconstrued. I thought the conversation was mostly fun, but I guess it wasn’t too fun for Ing.

    Which was exactly WHY I was annoyed. You were surprised by the original comment, but rather than being open to learning WHY or actually listening you acted like a jerk. I only said that you were being an idiot when I suspected that you didn’t even give a shit about people’s responses to you. Basically, trolling.

  5. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Chas: Hoist by my own petard, as it were.

    Ing…I didn’t say comics were stupid. I said being an adult with access to literature was a good reason not to read them. You didn’t explain to me all the ways that they were really for adults, as much as accuse me of snobbery. Others simply explained that I hadn’t the experience to judge their quality due to my limited experience. I explained a that my experience wasn’t all that limited, and knew exactly how to judge them. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (about a teenager who kills vampires) was offered as an example of how comic books really were a “medium” intended for adults.

    Shit, hoss. I offered to purchase any fucking comic book you wanted and read the fuck out of it–instead of buying books that I actually want to read. I do I for my book club, and would do it for you too.

    How much conciliation would you like? I could bend over and kiss my own ass through my legs for you too, but this would be difficult to demonstrate to you empirically, and I get the sense that you don’t exactly trust me.

    I’m not exactly sure wtf you want, but name your terms.

  6. says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter (I’m always tempted to shorten that to just Daisy, but that would sorta’ defang your nym, wouldn’t it?):

    You might have seen movies aimed at audiences with, for want of a much better term, rougher tastes.

    Mebbe so, but I doubt it: It’s not that the spanking itself is especially brutal, it’s just that the scenarios are always played perfectly straight, with not so much as a wink or a giggle from any of the characters to suggest they’re turned on. If you think of it as a communication from filmmaker (kind of a highfalutin’ term for pornographers, I know, but I’ll stand by it) to the audience, the message is, “Look at what these people are doing; I know it turns you on,” but not “Look at what these people are doing; look how it turns them on.”

    I actually had some vague notion (though I can’t recall where I heard it) that this was due in part to legal environments: That scenes were deliberately not portrayed as sexual to avoid censorship/prosecution in jurisdictions where depictions of sexual violence are severely restricted… even when the “violence” is clearly consensual. Ironic, if so: They leave the sex out of it, and the remaining “violence” is thereby portrayed as all the more real. In any case…

    The ones I’ve seen that had no penetration or stroking of “naughty bits” were very obvious about how the literal punishment scenario of the script was a flimsy pretext for erotic spanking.

    …it sounds like the stuff you’ve seen might be more to my tastes (though still not exactly what I’m looking for) than the stuff I’ve been able to find. I guess my porn-fu is just weak, eh?

    And with that, I think I’ve done about all I care to tonight in the way of immortalizing (under my real name, no less!) my porn tastes on the Eternal Intertooooobz Machine®! ;^)

  7. says

    Shit, hoss. I offered to purchase any fucking comic book you wanted and read the fuck out of it–instead of buying books that I actually want to read. I do I for my book club, and would do it for you too.

    How much conciliation would you like? I could bend over and kiss my own ass through my legs for you too, but this would be difficult to demonstrate to you empirically, and I get the sense that you don’t exactly trust me.

    I’m not exactly sure wtf you want, but name your terms.

    WTF would I want you to do anything. It’s a moot point anyway, it’s like the creationist bar of “you must convince me of evolution or else it’s not valid”

    Ing…I didn’t say comics were stupid. I said being an adult with access to literature was a good reason not to read them. You didn’t explain to me all the ways that they were really for adults, as much as accuse me of snobbery. Others simply explained that I hadn’t the experience to judge their quality due to my limited experience. I explained a that my experience wasn’t all that limited, and knew exactly how to judge them. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (about a teenager who kills vampires) was offered as an example of how comic books really were a “medium” intended for adults.

    Quite literally bullshit. And bullshit that was explained to you.

    You didn’t explain to me all the ways that they were really for adults,

    I actually did “Not to say that 90% of comics are irredeemably stupid and seem to actually be getting dumber after a brief burst of speed forward, but come on. It’s a medium, when it can equally be porn or a historical fiction on Eliot Ness or a story about stopping an evil scientist from using his zombifying ray on the treemen it’s time to stop pretending it’s limited to an age group.”

  8. says

    WTF would I want you to do anything. It’s a moot point anyway, it’s like the creationist bar of “you must convince me of evolution or else it’s not valid”

    Which is nastier than I meant. I don’t want anything from you.

    Save that the topic probably should just be ended least we give Chas a woody.

  9. Phledge says

    I’m not used to TET so I didn’t know I couldn’t leave it alone for 24 hours without having it explode. Whoops.

    Best of luck to Redhead and her nerd, together.

    I think “Engrish” is way worse than “Chinglish,” but, yeah, I think they’re both racist.

    LOVE the quilled paper anatomical cross-sections!

    I learned, the hard way, that there’s a huge difference between “Dude, Tom Cruise is a shitty actor!” and “Dude, I think Tom Cruise is a shitty actor!” One would expect that my first statement cannot be misconstrued as a statement of fact, but, well, I still have a scar on my ear from the boxing. Nobody can shoot you down if it’s clearly your own opinion.

    I think that sexual acts that degrade and humiliate are, regardless of their titillating effects for anyone involved, part of the rape culture.

    How utterly frustrated am I about anyone, ANYONE that can defend Komen’s decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood? There’s a fucking troll over at Jen’s saying that PP “cuts up babies.” I wish I could be a little less aggravated and a little more reasonable about pro-forced-birthers.

    Caught up, I think. Hugs all around.

  10. says

    How utterly frustrated am I about anyone, ANYONE that can defend Komen’s decision to withdraw funding from Planned Parenthood? There’s a fucking troll over at Jen’s saying that PP “cuts up babies.” I wish I could be a little less aggravated and a little more reasonable about pro-forced-birthers.

    Isn’t Sandi over there a Molly or a chew toy or something?

  11. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    the message is, “Look at what these people are doing; I know it turns you on,” but not “Look at what these people are doing; look how it turns them on.”

    I get the distinction, Bill, so it’s not just you. That kind of erotica doesn’t do it for me because I’m interested in seeing people get off on what they’re doing. The actors might be getting off on doing the shoot, but it doesn’t show onscreen; they’re acting as if they’re not.

    And it’s not the absence of genital/nipple stimulation either. I’ve seen porn for a pretty dang niche fetish (involving the inflation of rubber costumes) and the women involved were at no time being touched by anyone else, nor mostly were they touching themselves. But they were definitely aroused. I couldn’t relate to their arousal because that fetish is not mine, but it was really obvious that they were.

  12. says

    Just_A_Lurker:

    2. Chinglish.

    Wait, what?

    Yo, is this racist?

    It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not racist, of course, but I can personally report that East Asian learners of English frequently use terms like Chinglish, Konglish (i.e., Korean English), and Engrish themselves; they’re not unaware of the strange constructions that can appear when speaking or translating across such disparate language families. In fact, I’m pretty sure I first heard Konglish from one of my Korean students in Seoul.

    Like panties in a bunch is sexist?

    Interesting: It depends on whether panties is gendered. That may seem like a stupid question, because the word clearly is gendered in the U.S. But when I lived in Korea, I saw men’s briefs advertised (in English) as panties, and heard Korean men refer to them that way. Of course, that may’ve been just more Konglish! ;^)

    Non-USians: Does panties invariably refer to women’s underpants, in those places where it’s used at all? Brits, does knickers (as in “don’t get your knickers in a knot”) invariably mean women’s underpants, or can it refer to men’s briefs, too? Enquiring minds want to know!

  13. says

    Bill, #506: “Daisy” or “Daze” is fine. :)

    It’s not that the spanking itself is especially brutal, it’s just that the scenarios are always played perfectly straight, with not so much as a wink or a giggle from any of the characters to suggest they’re turned on.

    But winking and giggling aren’t turn-ons for a lot of people. Laughter can be a mood-killer, especially during roleplay, because you’re trying to suspend disbelief on some level or other.

    Phledge:

    I think that sexual acts that degrade and humiliate are, regardless of their titillating effects for anyone involved, part of the rape culture.

    You’re entitled to think whatever you like about them, but you’re not entitled to police other people’s desires or consensual expression thereof. You’re especially not entitled to imply that those of us who are into kinky acts are complicit in rape culture.

  14. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    I think that sexual acts that degrade and humiliate are, regardless of their titillating effects for anyone involved, part of the rape culture.

    Unless rape culture is about the proactive investigation and embracing of our individual sexual desires, and the clear communication and negotiation of sexual relationships that fulfil everyone involved, then ya missed the mark there.

  15. walton says

    Wow. Er… as much as I’d love to join the discussion about sexual fetishes, I won’t. (One should always plan for the worst eventuality: it’s always possible that someday I’ll stand for Parliament as leader of the Anarcho-Monarchist Green Post-Ironic Bearded Granola Party, or by some other route become a controversial public figure, and someone employed by a Murdoch newspaper will promptly dig up everything embarrassing I’ve ever posted online.* There’s enough material out there already.)

    (*This sort of thing does happen.)

  16. says

    Oh, re Engrish: I had always assumed that the old Hollywood movie thing of having Japanese and other Asian characters reverse their Rs and Ls was just a stupid racist trope… but when I was in Korea, and learning hangul, it turns out that there’s a single character that’s used for a sound that’s almost R in some circumstances and almost L in others, but never quite either, exactly. And my Korean students really did get R and L sounds mixed up in their English pronunciation.

    Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean the R/L thing isn’t racist… but it does at least have some basis in linguistic reality.

  17. walton says

    Non-USians: Does panties invariably refer to women’s underpants, in those places where it’s used at all? Brits, does knickers (as in “don’t get your knickers in a knot”) invariably mean women’s underpants, or can it refer to men’s briefs, too?

    In British English, both “panties” and “knickers” normally refer to women’s underwear.

    “Pants” can refer to underwear of either gender, however. (What USians call “pants”, we call “trousers”.)

  18. Algernon says

    I just watched Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” video like 20 times in a row.

    Should I call a crisis center?

  19. Phledge says

    Dunno about Sandi–I disagree with her but she gave a reasonable statement by which to stand so meh–but there’s a Jeri over there that is srsly raising my blood pressure.

  20. Phledge says

    You’re entitled to think whatever you like about them, but you’re not entitled to police other people’s desires or consensual expression thereof. You’re especially not entitled to imply that those of us who are into kinky acts are complicit in rape culture.

    and

    Unless rape culture is about the proactive investigation and embracing of our individual sexual desires, and the clear communication and negotiation of sexual relationships that fulfil everyone involved, then ya missed the mark there.

    Hey, y’all, no argument–which is why I tried to preface my opinion with that “I think” caveat, jokingly referring to one of the other topics in the post. Sorry about the lead balloon. I’m way into enthusiastic consent, communication/negotiation, and not policing that shit. By all means, knock your partner out.

    Algernon: yes.

  21. Phledge says

    Whoops my bad about Sandi. I’ve never seen it spelled in that fashion for a man’s name.

  22. says

    Daze <grin>:

    I’ve always assumed your nym was a reference to this, rather than to collecting wildflowers (and I mean that as a compliment). Have I got that right?

    Also…

    But winking and giggling aren’t turn-ons for a lot of people.

    I didn’t mean literal winks and giggles, so much as just that the frame isn’t visible.

    ***
    Walton:

    it’s always possible that someday I’ll stand for Parliament as leader of the Anarcho-Monarchist Green Post-Ironic Bearded Granola Party, or by some other route become a controversial public figure, and someone employed by a Murdoch newspaper will promptly dig up everything embarrassing I’ve ever posted online.

    And you’re even using a nym! I probably won’t ever run for anything important (I ran for Town Council a few years back and finished with the lowest vote total of anybody on the ballot, from either party, for any office!)… but even so, I suddenly realized tonight (as I have in similar situations in the past) how much I’m placing on my Permanent Record™!

    Oh, well…

    “I am in blood
    Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,
    Returning were as tedious as go o’er”

    ;^)

  23. says

    “Don’t get your undies in a twist” is gender-neutral; we all wear undies in Oz. Or pants, grundies, underdaks, underoos etc. “Knickers” is usually women’s wear. “Panties” just strikes me as a silly word for babies, it’s “underpants”, damnit! (And while I’m at it, what’s with “bangs” and “pinky finger”?!)

  24. Phledge says

    One should always plan for the worst eventuality: it’s always possible that someday I’ll stand for Parliament as leader of the Anarcho-Monarchist Green Post-Ironic Bearded Granola Party….

    I would totally vote for you.

  25. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

    Bill:

    I’m all for booty shorts, for almost any reason, but… it’s in the 50s here (CT), too (or was, ’til the sun went down), on frickin’ February 1!, and it’s freakin’ me out.

    Actually, by the end of the day today it was 65° (in Saugerties, NY, anyhow).

    This entire winter has freaked me out, too. It’s just not right. It’s been entirely too warm and we haven’t gotten more than a couple of inches of snow per storm. It’s so wacky that road construction hasn’t stopped around Albany this season.

    But, I’m outside a lot for work and when I’m not freezing my tits off*, I’m driving. So, as much as this weather is fucking weird, I’ll take it if it makes my day-to-day life easier, you know?

    *Or sweating my ass off, as the case may be.

  26. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    By all means, knock your partner out.

    I lol’d.

    Sorry for being fast on the trigger.

  27. walton says

    Ok I have to go listen to something… else.

    Try the Dummi Bear song from Rugrats.

    *deep breath* Sing a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy song,
    Sing a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy song,
    Sing a happy, happy… [repeat ad nauseam]

  28. says

    If I ever ran for office I would presume defeat and be open about everything and turn it into performance art. I might even legally change my last name to Taint for the campaign. The slogan will be “If the usual choice is between a dick and an ass, split the difference and vote for Taint”

  29. says

    Alethea:

    we all wear undies in Oz. Or pants, grundies, underdaks, underoos etc. “Knickers” is usually women’s wear. “Panties” just strikes me as a silly word for babies [my emphasis]

    Funny: Over here, Underoos is a brand-name for children’s underwear! ;^)

  30. says

    Re the Permanent Record™ thing… the more I think about it, the less I’m worried. I’ve revealed some things here that might be somewhat embarrassing, and a few that might lead to uncomfortable conversations with people I know and love, if they were widely bandied about… but nothing (that I can recall) that I’m actually ashamed of, or that I couldn’t ultimately stand behind.

    Of course, I’m not at the stage of life where I have to worry about things like getting into grad school or getting that first job; at my age, embarrassment has less potential to ruin my future than it might for younger folks. The tradeoff for that relative security, though, is that… I’m at my age. ;^)

  31. walton says

    Nah, just change it to Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel. Much more traditional. (Apparently someone actually did this in 1981.)

    Or you could always stand on a platform of the compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast, free corsets for the under-fives, and the abolition of slavery.*

    (*”We in the Adder Party are going to fight this campaign on issues, not personalities.”

    “Why is that?”

    “Because our candidate doesn’t have a personality.”

    “He hasn’t said much about the issues either.”

    “No, he’s got something wrong with his throat.”)

  32. walton says

    Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel.

    Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel. *hangs head in shame*

  33. says

    Why not go all the way and change it to “Malcolm Peter Brian Telescope Adrian Umbrella Stand Jasper Wednesday (pops mouth twice) Stoatgobbler John Raw Vegetable (whinnying) Arthur Norman Michael (blows squeaker) Featherstone Smith (whistle) Northgot Edwards Harris (fires pistol, then ‘whoop’) Mason (chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff) Frampton Jones Fruitbat (laughs) (squeaker) Gilbert (sings) ‘We’ll keep a welcome in the’ (three shots) Williams If I Could Walk That Way Jenkin (squeaker) Tiger-drawers Pratt Thompson (sings) ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ Darcy Carter (horn) Pussycat (sings) ‘Don’t Sleep In The Subway’ Barton Mainwaring (hoot, ‘whoop’) Smith”?

  34. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Re: panties
    To my American ear, panties are things that women, girls, and boys wear. Grown men do not wear panties, they wear boxers, briefs, tighty-whities, etc. But not panties, unless they are wearing women’s underwear.
    Of course, a woman’s “panties” is a specific garment, referring to something that has a butt (i.e. not a thong or g-string) but does not grab the upper thighs (not so-called “boyshorts”). Basically, what are frequently labeled “briefs” or “bikini briefs” are panties.

    Maybe that’s just me?

    Hmm. Maybe I’m just tired.

  35. Just_A_Lurker says

    Wow. That went the opposite way.

    I wasn’t expecting people to say panties in a bunch isn’t sexist and that chinglish isn’t racist.

    When I saw it I google searched it and the results weren’t pretty. Of course, I could be wrong on both counts, I just wasn’t expecting to be.

    Good to know.

  36. Phledge says

    Esteleth: I concur. In the States it’s panties for women and girls, excluding thong/g-string/shorts. It occurs to me that I use the phrase “big-boy panties” in a sexist way, and I should stop that shit…but it still sounds funny. I’ll stop.

    KristenC: thanks for understanding. Trigger-finger understood, given how judgmental a lot of people (well-meaning though they be) are.

    Time for knitting, y’all; need to give my troll-provoked asplodeyhead some downtime. Might be back later.

  37. Just_A_Lurker says

    Maybe that’s just me?

    My American ears agree with you. Except boys don’t wear panties, just women and girls. Boys its underwear, tighty whiteys etc. Never heard it applied to boys.

  38. Just_A_Lurker says

    “big-boy panties”

    There’s also put your big girl panties/underwear on. I need to stop that one. I used it with my 4 yr old potty training. Then bam! use that like a sexist motherfucker everywhere else.

  39. Rey Fox says

    “Panties” sounds like a diminutive form of “pants”. With all the usual entangling of feminine and diminutive.

  40. says

    Algernon #520

    I just watched Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” video like 20 times in a row.

    Should I call a crisis center?

    No need, just watch BLR’s “Dirty Spaceman”, which (for those unfamiliar with BLR) is the video for the Nicki Minaj and will.i.am song “Check It Out” re-edited, and with a completely different and approximately 52,000% better song created for it.

  41. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I hate the word panties too. Every time I hear it used in some sexual way I cringe. I’m not sure what would be a good replacement though. Just. Not. It.

  42. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Ok not that anyone will care but I’m currently listening to a Widespread Panic show that a number of my good friends are at in Mexico on the beach being broadcast, from Mexico, by a taper in the crowd, with a feed from his (obviously good) taping rig into his cell phone over the wi-fi at the resort across the inter tubes on my cell phone.

    And it sounds fucking unbelievable.

    Technology kicks ass.

    Too bad I’m not there.

  43. says

    Hmm… according to Herr Doktor Wiki, it seems that thongs and G-strings are included under the term panties, after all.

    This particular wiki is perhaps not a great work of scholarship, but it’s… um, amusing reading. It will, however, remind you how much of the language around lingerie is both sexist and sex-negative; e.g.,…

    “The phrase ‘Fur coat and no knickers’ describes a woman who looks rich and glamorous, but is in fact not so classy.”

    Good to know, eh?

    BTW…

    “Panties” sounds like a diminutive form of “pants”. With all the usual entangling of feminine and diminutive.

    I haven’t looked it up in my OED (nor even in my Funk & Wagnalls), but it appears both of these words, and the garment itself, might actually be derived from pantalettes.

  44. walton says

    On a related note (I know this was discussed back in November, but I didn’t participate then), what does everyone think about the debates within feminism about the morality of porn? In particular, Catherine Mackinnon’s argument that pornography reinforces the rape culture and male domination, and that it promotes violence against women?* I have to admit that, after studying some issues in feminist legal theory, I feel very conflicted and confused on the subject. I’ll express no opinion either way, but I’m interested in other people’s views.

    *Her views are expounded more fully in articles like “Pornography, Civil Rights and Speech” and Pornography as Defamation and Discrimination”. (Although these won’t be visible to those without HeinOnline access; unfortunately I don’t think the full text is available free. Damn, the academic publishing gravy-train really annoys me. But that’s another subject entirely.)

    ====

    Phledge @51, try Sam Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation.” It’s respectful but thought-provoking.

    I don’t like to recommend Sam Harris to anyone, personally, because of his obsessive and distorted hatred of Islam, and his apologetics for various authoritarian practices such as torture, ethnic profiling and the “War on Terror”. He’s exactly the kind of white male Western atheist who is Part Of The Problem, as far as racial equality and immigrant equality is concerned: by spreading fearmongering about the “threat” that Islam allegedly poses to Western societies, conflating all Muslims with fundamentalists, and saying stupid things like “we are at war with Islam”, he gives ammunition to those on the far right who want to restrict Muslim immigration and deprive Muslims of civil rights. (I’m not suggesting that he actually advocates such things himself – although he has defended torture – but he often seems wilfully blind to the way in which promoting fear of Islam lends inadvertent support to the far right’s talking points, and reinforces the existing oppression and marginalization of Muslims in the Western world.)

    I know this doesn’t mean everything he says on any subject is wrong, but, to be honest, I think his failings are egregious enough that I would rather not go down the road of endorsing or recommending anything he writes. (It’s very similar to the reason why I won’t promote Ron Paul’s views, even when I agree with him on specific issues. Harris, like Paul, sometimes gets things right; but, like Paul, when he gets it wrong, he gets it very wrong, catastrophically and dangerously so. And promoting someone’s work on one issue can have the unintended effect of causing their views to be taken more seriously on other issues.)

  45. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    [spanking]

    This was standard fare at school (and primary school). The idea being to cow everyone into submission. Not really conducive to obtaining a decent education or growing up “normal”. Add to this a whole culture of silence and obedience and what do you get? Fear and resentment from the kids and a cover for twisted teachers to rival the RCC. Did that affect sexuality? Well it affected every aspect of every kids development, so yes it would spill over. But generally everyone turned out relatively well adjusted (at least as far as appearances go.)

    Those teachers that enjoyed beating kids would find any excuse to do so. I don’t think it was as much a sexual thing (not openly) as that they relished their power or harboured sadistic streaks. There were a few creepy one’s too, who would like to sit next to the “prettier” kids and put their arms around them … or tell them to sit on their laps. The kind of thing that would get them immediately suspended, and more, in any civilised country.

    [chinglish]

    Used by Chinese and English speaking people equally. More in terms of endearment and amusement and rarely in exasperation. (It works both ways: English —> Chinese and Chinese —-> English.)

    [China]

    We had it over a place called Wukan towards the end of last year. The people of the village had started a major protest and several were detained (of which, one protestor died):

    Wukan villagers had looked forward to yesterday’s ballot after suffering years under the previous Communist Party village secretary, who was toppled in last year’s turmoil after decades in the post. “For 40 years we’ve never had a proper election,” said villager Chen Junchao, clutching a whit ballot registration slip stamped with an official red ink government seal. “I’ve never seen these papers before. I was crying when I saw this.”

    (from today’s The Standard Hong Kong)

  46. John Morales says

    Walton:

    I don’t like to recommend Sam Harris to anyone, personally, because of his obsessive and distorted hatred of Islam, and his apologetics for various authoritarian practices such as torture, ethnic profiling and the “War on Terror”.
    [...]
    I know this doesn’t mean everything he says on any subject is wrong, but, to be honest, I think his failings are egregious enough that I would rather not go down the road of endorsing or recommending anything he writes.
    [...]
    And promoting someone’s work on one issue can have the unintended effect of causing their views to be taken more seriously on other issues.

    Such a feeble justification.

    (Tsk)

  47. chigau (違う) says

    random (I still like him better than Corwin):
    ——–
    daisy cutter description from Pfft:
    “… flatten a forest into a helicopter landing zone …“
    Shit. I used to do that with a swiss army knife!
    —–
    As a more-or-less total-nonparticipant in sex, the “kinky” sex comments left me baffled and feeling left out.
    So I donned my anthropologist hat crinoline and took notes.
    ——
    “Panties” are female underwear below-the-waist underwear for females.
    “Pants” are trousers.

  48. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Thread Bankrupt.

    Just dropping in to complain briefly, so please pardon me. I learned today that the home of an elderly couple (who are good friends of mine) burned to the ground today. Thankfully they were out of state on vacation, and well-insured. But they lost a beautiful three-story Edwardian home filled with family heirlooms, a baby grand Steinway, all their family photos of life with their kids, all their records, and priceless mementos from the time they moved in as a young family in 1946.

    They operated the house as a bed and breakfast for the past two decades, and it was charming beyond compare. I stayed there a few years ago—it was the kind of house you could get lost in and love it. They have nothing left of their photographs, records, stamps, books, or heirlooms.

  49. chigau (違う) says

    Josh
    the Buddhist in me says, “Those were just Things.”
    the Historian in me says, “NONONONONONONONONO”.
    I’m glad no living things were harmed.

  50. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Yeah, Chigau, I feel the same way. Glad they weren’t there, but very sad about the complete destruction of their family’s material past. They may be “just things,” but things mean something, especially when they embody our historical memory of where we’ve been and people we love.

    But they are ephemeral, aren’t they? Just as we are. Sigh.

  51. John Morales says

    chigau:

    I’m glad no living things were harmed.

    You reckon that beautiful three-story Edwardian home housed no living things when it burned down?

  52. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Josh

    Give them lots of love when they return. The shock of something like that takes a long time to get over.

  53. chigau (違う) says

    John Morales
    OK
    the ficus and a bunch of cockroaches died.
    I (the buddhist) mourn.
    [huh.?. I'm serious.!.]

  54. says

    Good morning
    Hmmm, interesting. I’ve always tried to teach my kids a little English. Just by reading them books in English, watching movies in English, saying things in English.
    It’s not that they’re actively speaking much, but #1 occasionally speaks “English” in pronounciation, which means that she’s saying things in a clearly invented language that sounds like English. And she identifies English words when uttered in a German sentence, like being asked “Möchtest du Porridge”, she answered “yes”.
    And she starts writing…

    Speaking about English, there’s also Denglish, Deutsch-English, which usually mean the brutal mutilation of two beautiful languages.

  55. Just_A_Lurker says

    Ah. chinglish looked like to me Ching (racist term) + (Eng)lish, being racist making fun of them speaking/damn foreigners can’t learn English kind of thing.

    Instead its Chin(ese) + (en)glish right?

    I still don’t like how it sounds, so I can just use other words to describe it. That topic doesn’t come up much for me anyways.

    Good to know about butthurt, I will stop using it. In the US “panties in a bunch” is def. still sexist.

  56. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Josh, that’s so horrible for them – of course the main thing is nobody being hurt, but places and personal things can be imbued with huge significance. Hell, I still dream about my mother’s house and feel the void in my life its absence stands for. I can only imagine how distraught they must be. Hope they have lots of family and friends who can offer some comfort (and who maybe have copies of some photos and stuff).

    .

    it’s always possible that someday I’ll stand for Parliament as leader of the Anarcho-Monarchist Green Post-Ironic Bearded Granola Party

    If I ever see that party name on my voting slip, it’ll get my tick (well, especially if you drop the Monarchist. Except I don’t suppose you could, really). It’ll stand out in voters’ minds, of course (and Screaming Lord Sutch got votes, after all, on what was probably a much less well-balanced platform than yours will be).

  57. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Just_A_Lurker

    Instead its Chin(ese) + (en)glish right?

    Yes. Also, as I mentioned the word is common here (this is not in itself a justification for its use) and I do not hear it being used in a discriminatory fashion (but then again, this is China not the US). Also there is not an imbalance of power between Chinese and English speakers generally. It is rare to experience negative racism (in which case it is not subtle anyhow).

    Generally we go with the ‘Merkin point of view, which tends to be more sensitive to such issues.

    so I can just use other words to describe it

    Such as?

  58. says

    @Bill Dauphin, yes, underoos are for kids here too. But it’s one that adults use playfully, like saying you have to “stay after school” instead of “work late”, or go to bed early because it’s a “school night”.

    @Just_a_lurker, I don’t think anyone said that “panties in a bunch” isn’t sexist. We were trying to find a general non-sexist form. “Undies bunched” seems like a pretty good neutral choice. I do like “knickers in a knot”, though, for the alliteration. I’d say that to a bloke, but it might be too specific.

    I’m a little iffy on Chinglish. It works like Franglais, or any other language mash – and there is legitimate humour to be found in miscommunication. But given the different history, some combinations are more prone to racism than others. I find Hanzismatter to be a good antidote, and I’d love to know more jokes that play on how English sounds funny to speakers of other languages.

    @Walton, fuck, yes, I agree with McKinnon that pornography reinforces the rape culture and male domination, and that it promotes violence against women!

    So, too, does Hollywood, mainstream TV, mainstream literature, mainstream magazines, news reporting, fashion, advertising, baby beauty pageants, police culture, MTV, frat culture, children’s toys, Susan G Komen, the Republican party, Christianity, Islam and no doubt a metric shit-tonne more. The only possible sane reason to single porn out here is that actual women may be harmed in its production. And prohibition, rather than regulation, can only make that worse.

  59. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Alethea

    I’d love to know more jokes that play on how English sounds funny to speakers of other languages.

    Englikaans (English/Afrikaans) in both directions:

    Kos my niks = cosmetics (“costs me nothing”)
    Buy a donkey = baie dankie (“thank you”)

  60. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    Wait, wait … unpress “Enter” key:

    Afriglish sounds more amusing.

  61. says

    *brrr*
    Getting out of the house is painfull at the moment, and by that I mean it causes pain. It’s about -10°C at the moment and the house, by its height and position, creates wind.
    So, -10°+ moderate normal wind + additional wind created by house = South Pole winter storm feeling of cold.

    Kos my niks = cosmetics (“costs me nothing”)
    Buy a donkey = baie dankie (“thank you”)

    Hmmm, kind of what the local radio station once called “Anneliese Braun songs”: Words and phrases that you don’t understand on account of them being foreign being turned by your brain into something you understand but that makes no sense.
    Anneliese Braun = All the leaves are brown.

    @Walton, fuck, yes, I agree with McKinnon that pornography reinforces the rape culture and male domination, and that it promotes violence against women!

    So, too, does Hollywood, mainstream TV, mainstream literature, mainstream magazines, news reporting, fashion, advertising, baby beauty pageants, police culture, MTV, frat culture, children’s toys, Susan G Komen, the Republican party, Christianity, Islam and no doubt a metric shit-tonne more. The only possible sane reason to single porn out here is that actual women may be harmed in its production. And prohibition, rather than regulation, can only make that worse.

    QFFT
    I mean, personally I wouldn’t care if all porn magically vanished from planet earth (It’s just not my cup of tea. Doesn’t turn me on), but for me, the question whether misogyny is n inherent characteristic of porn or that the current main-stream porn is misogynistic seems to be that it’s its current form, not the genre itself.
    Just like nude photography/painting: It can be sexist trash and it can be great art. The different is in whether there’s an urn or a plinth in the picture. (A cookie if you get the refference)

  62. KG says

    My own interest in kink is not of this sort: I’m not particularly interested in erotic humiliation or power exchange. Instead, I’m interested in pain as an element of sexual pleasure, in way similar to the way I’m interested in spiciness as an element of culinary pleasure. – Bill Dauphin

    Yes, I get that that is different. I suspect different people are “wired” differently in how close pain and pleasure are (not that that means it’s necessarily unchangeable). Apart from eating (moderately) spicy food, about the only time pain feels pleasureable to me is when I’m literally scratching an itch – oh, and the mild ache in the calves after a long walk. In sexual situations, no.

  63. KG says

    This just means that differences in matters of taste can’t be resolved objectively. – Bill Dauphin

    True as far as it goes, but (and I suspect Bill would agree), that doesn’t mean it is impossible to convince someone, by rational argument, that they are wrong in a matter of taste! Most often, this would be by A showing B that there is something in a work that they had not realised was there – an additional level of meaning or character, for example. But it can go the other way – A could point out to B that the work is formulaic, or a character’s actions or development (in a work intended to be realist) are implausible, that it is racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/etc.. So “cannot be settled objectively” =/= “cannot be rationally disputed”. Moreover there are some questions of taste, e.g. “Is George Eliot a better novelist than Jeffrey Archer?” where it only seems possible to conclude that the answer is “no” if you are using criteria such as current sales, or how little concentration the works require.

    Exactly the same applies to questions of ethics. I often use esthetic examples in arguing that moral objectivism vs complete moral relativism is a false dichotomy.

  64. KG says

    I’ve seen porn for a pretty dang niche fetish (involving the inflation of rubber costumes) – kristinc

    I thought on first reading that “pretty dang niche” must be the name of that particular fetish!

  65. Weed Monkey says

    Giliell, what a cold front straight out of Siberia. I live in Central Finland and it’s “only” about -25 °C at the moment; eastern parts of the country had something like -38 °C last night.

  66. KG says

    Brits, does knickers (as in “don’t get your knickers in a knot”) invariably mean women’s underpants, or can it refer to men’s briefs, too? – Bill Dauphin

    Seems to vary from person to person – maybe regional, I don’t know. I’d always understood it to refer only to women’s underpants until I went to university, where I sometimes heard men refer to their own underpants as knickers. Of course, “pants” in Bringlish means knickers/briefs/underpants, not trousers!

  67. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    *brrr*
    Getting out of the house is painfull at the moment, and by that I mean it causes pain. It’s about -10°C at the moment and the house, by its height and position, creates wind.

    We’re currently at -6°C, but it should go under -10 during the weekend.

    I think I know what you mean about the house. It feels like it’s always (more) windy and cold around our building too.

  68. KG says

    I just watched Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” video like 20 times in a row. – Algernon

    She had a frustrating gardening experience?

  69. echidna says

    Knickers, short for knickerbockers which were male trousers to the knee, and similarly shaped undergarments for women.
    I’ve only heard them as women’s undies here in oz, but I can see that it might well be regional.

  70. says

    True as far as it goes, but (and I suspect Bill would agree), that doesn’t mean it is impossible to convince someone, by rational argument, that they are wrong in a matter of taste!

    I’d say that those are two different things.
    One is criticism, which is an established discipline.
    I can criticize a book/movie/comic on different levels, like sexism/racism/homophobia, or quality (like getting anatomy all wrong or writing a sonnet with 15 lines).
    But taste is a completely different matter.
    I like James Bond movies and can’t stand Margret Atwood’s writing, but in criticising Bond gets of course a much worse deal than Atwood.

  71. says

    I just watched Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” video like 20 times in a row.

    Are you trying to induce epileptic seizures?

  72. NuMad says

    birgerjohansson,

    It turns out Capuchin monkeys also have some cool habits.

    As opposed to the habits of Cistercian monkeys, which are so out of fashion.

  73. says

    beatrice
    Well, wind isn’t actually colder, but it makes you feel colder because it blows away the warmer air around your exposed skin. And buildings create wind.
    If we could attach windmill at the sides of the building and on top of it, we could probably be energy independent ;)

    Weed Monkey
    OK, compared with your temperatures, it’s springtime over here :)

  74. changeable moniker says

    In the UK, “knickers in a knot twist” (FTFY) could be used towards either sex, but would only be considered sexist if it carried a whiff of “over-exerted lady-brain”. ;)

    This amused me: Indian English explained. I am *so* deploying “chutium sulphate” as my new insult of choice.

    Re. my #486, having read more, I suspect I was on the right lines with option #3, internet meltdown variant:

    NO people can endure so aberrant and lewd ethnic group , and no people would like to be assimilated and affected by such aberrance , which will cause the degeneration and extinction of the slutty in all the civilizations and nations , and form a menless and malignant tumor-like reign and society system.

    *backs carefully away from the computer*

  75. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    birgerjohansson,

    It turns out Capuchin monkeys also have some cool habits.

    NuMad,
    As opposed to the habits of Cistercian monkeys, which are so out of fashion.

    Well they mitre tried to update them, but judging by the latest pyx they just couldn’t cope.

  76. ChasCPeterson says

    I’m not exactly sure wtf you want, but name your terms.

    Ing wants to be immune from all perceived criticism, no matter how indirect, while retaining the right to call anybody else a fucking idiot at will.

    the topic probably should just be ended least we give Chas a woody.

    Little chance of that these days, I’m afraid. It’s the medication. Also, I much prefer women to comic-book guys*, but thanks anyway.

    *(not that there’s anything wrong with that)

  77. walton says

    The only possible sane reason to single porn out here is that actual women may be harmed in its production. And prohibition, rather than regulation, can only make that worse.

    Oh, I certainly agree on that front: prohibitive laws are rarely a good way of solving social problems. But my question isn’t “should porn be banned?” (obviously it shouldn’t) so much as “is the consumption of porn morally wrong, from a feminist perspective?” This itself is very much a subject of debate among feminists. (Mackinnon would say yes. So would Melissa Farley, for instance. Greta Christina, on the other hand, would clearly say no.)

  78. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Thanks for the link, Serendipitydawg – signed. Agree w you re hollow gestures but worth signing; as with funerals, I suppose, it’s all about what it means to/for the living

  79. walton says

    Moreover there are some questions of taste, e.g. “Is George Eliot a better novelist than Jeffrey Archer?” where it only seems possible to conclude that the answer is “no” if you are using criteria such as current sales, or how little concentration the works require.

    I disagree entirely.* For me, a “good novel” is a novel I enjoy reading. This doesn’t, in my experience, correlate very much with novels that are considered “great”, nor with novels that literary critics or scholars like. I find Dickens’ novels boring, for instance, and always have. That doesn’t mean I think he was a “bad writer” in any objective sense; I simply mean that I don’t like him. (Much as I dislike bananas, sliced bread, and the music of Wagner.) Similarly, I find James Joyce incomprehensible, pretentious and mind-numbingly boring, despite the fact that “experts” tend to love his work. Conversely, some literary critics are snobby about Tolkien; whereas I love Tolkien’s works, and always have, from childhood onwards. Personal tastes are simply not susceptible to dispute in this regard. In saying that one novel is “better” than another, I don’t need to support my claim with anything more than “I like it better”.

    (*Not necessarily about the specific example; I’ve never read anything by George Eliot, so I can’t compare her to Jeffrey Archer – some of whose works I have read, although I’m not a huge fan.)

  80. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Walton

    Recognizing this public health disparity as a positive opportunity, director Tau Morena decided to produce Mapona, South Africa’s first all-black pornography film encouraging HIV testing and condom usage. “If there are gentle, subtle, social messages that wearing a condom is acceptable – that [contraception] is normal – then I think over time, we can all overcome the hurdle of unprotected sex”

    Although highly controversial, I believe that pornography does have the power to educate youth. Despite being a taboo subject, many individuals begin watching pornography at a young age. This gives directors of pornographic films the ability to show youth and adolescents how to use contraceptives, as well as change the current social stigmas regarding condom use. By watching the actors in pornographic films enjoy their explicit experiences while wearing condoms, the sexually active youth may find it more alluring to use them – turning condom-usage into a cooler, more exciting experience.


    Link here.

    Now imagine that the script is also written with such a progressive attitude wrt depiction of all the actors (particularly the women) and spreads a message of mutual respect (granted that this is already implicit in their approach).

  81. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    Spent from Monday (your Monday) noon ’til last night sick as a dog with a cold. Only time out of the house was for Girl’s 19th birthday — we went to a Thai restaraunt (I had beef, green beans and red peppers in a spicy red sauce) for dinner. And it cleared my sinuses right out.

    Our neighbor up the street, a guy who is anti-government (except for government spending that benefits him), is anti-pharmaceuticals (the water and salt cure will handle everything), and is pretty much a rapidly oxidizing rectum on two feet, had a heart attack yesterday. A mild one. But, with his two cups of water and four tablespoons of salt twice a day regimen, his blood pressure was off the scale. Literally. The ambulance crew could not get a bp reading on the one in their rig. At the hospital, they determined that his bp was 390/310. Yeah. The salt water bit really helped.

    I continue to be amazed at how willing people are to accept large amounts of doubt when being wrong could mean the execution of an innocent person.

    Well, he knows that it’ll never be him as the innocent condemned to death, so that’s all that counts.

    Be sure to let me know when it’s okay to do Lincoln assassination jokes.

    February 12th.

    They don’t believe it themselves, but they think the yokels will fall for it again.

    When something works, you keep doing it.

    The road has turned into its usual state of ice with a bit of snow on top. We are about the last road in the whole city to get winter service.

    We hit 60F today. And the crocuses ( crocii?) are sprouting. And some of the trees are showing signs of budding. I have a bad feeling about this.

    It was 2x the strength, and I didn’t notice until I tried to get up from my chair.

    C’mon, Sailor! You gotta stand up and fight those evil government imposed death panels!

    Seriously, that sounds scary. Be safe.

    Heh… even trolls have trolls.

    I thought those were turtles all the way down.

    The government should exist solely to create and enforce a minimal set of laws designed to keep society from devolving into anarchy

    I wonder if he realizes that social programs — education, welfare, public works — help to prevent anarchy. Or, if he even cares.

    ====

    Nerd: Seriously big cyberhugs and I join the horde in wishes for a speedy recovery.

    =====

    That said, corporate America as a whole is pretty fucked up, and a lot of companies actively reward sociopathic behavior on the part of their higher-ups.

    But remember, it is always better and more efficient and more humane and more fleemish and more betterest than anything the government could do.

    I’m wondering if people have athei-dar.

    The year I realized that I really am an atheist, I had no less than 5 attempted personal witnessings. Some of which were really weird.

    #318: That’s what thread bankruptcy looks like??

    That’s more of a Chapter CXCVI bankruptcy.

    Sarchasm is the official word of the day!

    Isn’t that the canyon on the upper Sar River in the Krgstynmryn Mountains?

    =====

    Re: Spanking

    I grew up in a household in which spankings were normal. Either with a belt (which hurt) or with Mom’s hand (which really, really, really hurt).

    Wife and I decided that we would raise our children without spankings. And we almost did.

    Boy was diagnosed with Aspbergers when he was seven (and the five years leading up to that diagnosis were not fun (and we are still trying to pay off the doctor’s bills (and we’ll be done in September!))). The only time he actually got spanked was when we found out he was urinating in the corner of his room. I think he was right around seven years old.

    Wife and I were furious. Blinding mad. Angry. I deliberately waited until I had calmed down before spanking Boy. It was a measure of desperation — we honestly didn’t know what else to do.

    He later said that waiting for the punishment that he knew was coming was far worse than the actual spanking.

    Was this the correct response? Hell, no. Was it appropriate? No. Did it achieve the desired result? Yes (no more urinating in the corner of his bedroom). Would I do it again? No. Do I still feel like a failure as a parent because I got that desperate? Yes. Do I feel guily about it? Yes. Do I wish I could take it back? Yes. Does it scare the shit out of me that I resorted to physical punishment because of something that I knew was tied up in the developmental disability? Yes.

    Can’t mainstream organization stand up to the fucking wingnuts?

    No. The wingnut authoritarians control too much of the charity dollars.

    —–

    KrisinC:

    Damn. That’s really lousy.

    [runs and hids]

    Been there. Done that. Burned the T-shirt.

    if hitting children with your hand could confuse them about the same hand being both loving and cruel, will the wooden spoon confuse them about cookie dough?

    I was spanked as a child. I was threatened with spanking as a child. I was never threatened with the stand mixer used to make cookies. Not once.

    Quite aside from concerns about what it means in the long term, I miss my winter!

    Has anyone else noticed that the same GOP AGW-denialists who were claiming that an unusually snowy winter in DC meant that AGW wasn’t happening are curiously silent during this current January-February heat wave?

    . I am, however, currently wearing an apron covered in cherries.

    Next time, put the cover on the blender before starting it.

    I couldn’t leave it alone for 24 hours without having it explode.

    The Thread, Republicans, small children, cats, rats, elephants . . . . This is normal.

    they’re not unaware of the strange constructions that can appear when speaking or translating across such disparate language families.

    In a science-fiction short story collection (no, I do not recall who’s stories, but it was a one-writer collection), a story had been printed in China, translated to Mandarin. Then it was directly retranslated to English with some rather odd results, including a couple of extra plot twists in about the same number of words. It was eye-opening for me, especially since I had read the story in the original English.

    “Underwear” is good for all underclothes in general.

    “What are you eating under there?”

    “Under where?”

    (Trust me — third graders find this hilarious.)

    They have nothing left of their photographs, records, stamps, books, or heirlooms.

    Damn. That’s sad.

    There are things that are just things, and there are things that are more than just things.

  82. KG says

    Personal tastes are simply not susceptible to dispute in this regard. In saying that one novel is “better” than another, I don’t need to support my claim with anything more than “I like it better”. – walton

    You’re simply wrong in saying personal tastes are not susceptible to dispute. Someone can point out to you that you have missed something in a novel (good or bad), and thereby change your evaluation of it. Even with food, you can “educate your palate” and come to like things you didn’t, or find things you did like insipid. As I’ve said, I enjoy reading parts of LotR. That doesn’t change my recognition that it is, in fact, badly written: wooden characters (and I don’t mean the ents!), sloppy sentimentality, pointless pseudo-erudition, pompous pseudo-philosophy…

  83. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    On a happier note: Happy Groundhog Day!

    And to celebrate, I will have some smoked pork sausage for dinner tonight (ground hog day)!

    So when your boss tells you “this project has a quick deadline! I need it done ASAP!” and you finish ASAP and it sits on his desk for the rest of the day, whose fault is it when the deadline is missed?

    Erm, yours. It is never the bosses fault. Ever.

    It says it on page 31 of the Employee’s Handbook.

    No, not that one. The one you don’t get to see.

  84. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says


    [underwear]

    Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, it’s all in perfect working order. – Spike Milligan

    & [condoms/porn]

    Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion. – Spike Milligan

  85. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    And to celebrate, I will have some smoked pork sausage for dinner tonight (ground hog day)!

    Oh, very nice. I will be stealing this.

  86. walton says

    You’re simply wrong in saying personal tastes are not susceptible to dispute. Someone can point out to you that you have missed something in a novel (good or bad), and thereby change your evaluation of it.

    Of course they can, but that doesn’t mean that taste itself is susceptible to dispute. For example, if you told me that Famous Author X was a secret Nazi and pointed out a white supremacist subtext in hir work that I hadn’t noticed, it would undoubtedly cause me to dislike X’s work. But that doesn’t mean that my personal standards as to what constitutes a “good” novel would have changed; it would just mean that my reading of the work in question had changed by discovering a fact of which I was previously unaware.

    What you cannot do is show that there are objective standards of “good writing”, in fiction or in poetry, that a given work does or does not meet. (Certainly, we’re taught rules of “good writing” in school, but many celebrated authors become celebrated precisely by breaking all these rules: James Joyce, for instance.) You can outline your personal standards of “good writing”, but if I disagree with those standards or with your application of those standards to a specific work, there is no way of establishing that one of us is in any objective sense “wrong” and the other “right”.

    That doesn’t change my recognition that it is, in fact, badly written: wooden characters (and I don’t mean the ents!), sloppy sentimentality, pointless pseudo-erudition, pompous pseudo-philosophy…

    I honestly don’t understand how anyone can say it’s “badly written”. As a poet (and LOTR is full of poetry), I’d say Tolkien is virtually unequalled among twentieth-century English writers. And in prose I find his writing style rich, descriptive and elegant. Nor would I describe any of his characters as “wooden”. But this is another case of de gustibus non est disputandum. I like his style of prose and poetry, and find it beautiful and very readable; if you don’t, then that’s fine. Just don’t go claiming that your reaction is objectively right or that mine is objectively wrong.

    It’s hardly “pseudo-erudition”, either: Tolkien was genuinely erudite by anyone’s definition. He was the foremost scholar of Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon of his generation, and in his academic life he revolutionized the teaching of Beowulf, for instance. In literary terms, I would say his fault was excessive erudition, rather than too little; he was so obsessed with the details of his constructed languages, history and setting that he is sometimes criticized for allowing them to drown out the plot.

    Nor do I think he was intending really to engage in philosophy, pseudo- or otherwise. The reason I much prefer Tolkien to C.S. Lewis as a writer is that Lewis was constantly preaching at the reader: so many of his books are allegories or morality-tales intended to illustrate moral and religious points, and it can get extremely frustrating, especially when one disagrees with him vehemently. Tolkien, on the other hand, really disliked allegory, and had no desire to sermonize; he became very annoyed when people tried to read any kind of contemporary political or religious allegory into LOTR (and went to the trouble of disavowing any such intention in the foreword to the second edition). Rather, he was fascinated by myth and legend for its own sake, and it is really in that genre that LOTR (and The Silmarillion) are intended to be situated.

    This doesn’t mean there’s nothing to criticize in LOTR. For one thing, the total lack of interesting female characters (Galadriel possibly excepted) is jarring. This is probably simply down to the fact that, apart from his wife Edith, Tolkien just didn’t have any close friendships with women.* He was also devoutly Catholic, and, even by the standards of his generation, was extremely prudish about sex and sexuality. And although I don’t think he was consciously racist (indeed, there is evidence that he was not), the portrayal of the Haradrim probably does derive in part from unconscious stereotypes common to his generation, although it’s nowhere near as bad in that respect as, say, the Calormenes in Lewis’ Narnia series.

    (*In this regard I think it’s useful to look at his biography, and the kind of world in which he grew up. He was educated at various boys’ schools, then became an undergraduate at Oxford – which in 1910 was entirely gender-segregated into men’s and women’s colleges, and did not even yet admit women as full members of the University – and then served in the Army during WWI. On his return, he became an academic and remained one for his entire life, in an academic world that was then extremely male-dominated. All his literary and intellectual companions – C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, for instance – were men. I think this shows in his writing, as it does in that of many other male authors of the same generation.)

  87. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    de gustibus non est disputandum

    For those Pharyngulites who do not speak Latin, I shall translate:
    Over de smaak valt niet te twisten.

  88. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    For those Pharyngulites who do not speak Latin, I shall translate:
    Over de smaak valt niet te twisten.

    Whew. thanks.

  89. says

    Ing wants to be immune from all perceived criticism, no matter how indirect, while retaining the right to call anybody else a fucking idiot at will. Little chance of that these days, I’m afraid. It’s the medication. Also, I much prefer women to comic-book guys*, but thanks anyway.

    *(not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  90. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    @ Rev./myeck

    Tolkien would have been quite horrified if I had translated Latin to English.

  91. Pteryxx says

    Cracked sometimes has very good articles, but it’s far from an enlightened non-douchecanoe zone. (I’m not even gonna TRY and read that one, much less the comments. Rather keep my breakfast down.)

  92. carlie says

    Boy was diagnosed with Aspbergers when he was seven (and the five years leading up to that diagnosis were not fun (and we are still trying to pay off the doctor’s bills (and we’ll be done in September!))). The only time he actually got spanked was when we found out he was urinating in the corner of his room. I think he was right around seven years old.

    Lord, could we share stories. The potty-training of our Aspie son was epic. His final major battle of resistance, once we had started forcing him to stay in the bathroom until something happened, was to poop on the floor (this was around age 5 1/2). I know there was lots and lots of yelling, but I honestly don’t remember if we spanked him for it or not. We probably did, although we tried to keep very hands-off in terms of punishments in general. The next week we were at a therapist (no diagnosis of course, just general “parenting issues”), who suggested a few things that worked immediately. I don’t know what we would have done if they hadn’t. (I’m pretty sure he still poops by taking off all his clothes; not sure if he still squats on the toilet with his feet on the seat, but he did for a few years)

    But yeah. There are times that try the patience of any parent to the point of potentially spanking once in awhile.

  93. says

    I’m genuinely amazed by what some Serbian christofascists are posting in the comments of 2 threads I’ve had on the tennis player Novak Djokovic and his Tebowing. You want religious persecution complex combined with fatherland ideology, check it out. I learned something there, I have to say. These guys actually think that America bombed them because of their religious beliefs. Just wow.

  94. Just_A_Lurker says

    Cracked sometimes has very good articles, but it’s far from an enlightened non-douchecanoe zone. (I’m not even gonna TRY and read that one, much less the comments. Rather keep my breakfast down.)

    Oh yes. I avoid these kinds of articles usually, I’m just really dumb this morning apparently.

  95. KG says

    walton,

    But that doesn’t mean that my personal standards as to what constitutes a “good” novel would have changed; it would just mean that my reading of the work in question had changed by discovering a fact of which I was previously unaware.

    Ah, but in fact it might, because it might be something you had never previously thought about as relevant to your assessment of novels. Seriously, do you believe that, say, someone who studies for a degree in literature doesn’t change how they assess novels? Because if you do, you’re flat wrong.

    What you cannot do is show that there are objective standards of “good writing”, in fiction or in poetry, that a given work does or does not meet.

    Try rereading my #582, this time for comprehension. Objective standards vs pure subjectivism is a false dichotomy, in esthetics as it is in ethics. But if you think LotR is good writing, you’re plain uneducated in that particular domain, just as much as someone who thinks creationism is good science is in biology.

    I honestly don’t understand how anyone can say it’s “badly written”. As a poet (and LOTR is full of poetry), I’d say Tolkien is virtually unequalled among twentieth-century English writers. And in prose I find his writing style rich, descriptive and elegant. Nor would I describe any of his characters as “wooden”. But this is another case of de gustibus non est disputandum.

    Now here, interestingly enough, you go from what is in fact rational argument for your opinion – i.e. disputanduming about gustibuses (which is what I’m saying is possible), to implicitly denying that it is possible, in the space of a few sentences. Tolkien’s verse (I hesitate to call it poetry) is embarrassingly bad: plonking rhythms, hackneyed rhyme schemes, stale metaphors, lines filled out with nonsense syllables: I wouldn’t be surprised if a computer could be programmed to write stuff that would be indistinguishable to anyone unfamiliar with the specific examples. I’m not much of a connoisseur of poetry, but to compare him to Seamus Heaney or T.S. Eliot or Wilfred Owen is risible. Good poetry is mostly about saying a lot, and often several conflicting things at once, in carefully chosen words, in the right order. Tolkien says nothing much at all with reams of them.

    Almost all his characters lack any interior reality at all – they are good and noble and spiritual, or pure evil, or comic relief, and that’s it. Those that do change at all in the course of the book mostly do so in completely implausible ways – Theoden, for example, who after years of inactivity and subservience suddenly straightens up and becomes a heroic and powerful warrior; or Eowyn, who suddenly, *ping*, falls in love with Faramir, because it makes for a happy ending. Though admittedly she’s one of the few with anything interesting about them psychologically at all – Boromir and Saruman are about the only others, because they are not pure goody or pure baddy.

    he was so obsessed with the details of his constructed languages, history and setting

    That’s exactly what I mean by pseudo-erudition. I’m not denying his genuine erudition as a scholar.

    Tolkien, on the other hand, really disliked allegory, and had no desire to sermonize

    Yes I know that’s what Tolkien said, but in fact the whole book is a long sermon about the innateness of nobility, the superiority of the past over the present, the evils of science and technology, and the importance of knowing your place. Consider some of Gandalf’s pronouncements, e.g. to Saruman:
    “He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”.
    Of course, much of science consists precisely in breaking things to find out what they are. Saruman has become evil because he has “a mind of metal and wheels”, according to Treebeard IIRC. And I don’t know how anyone can read some of the passages between Frodo and Sam without wanting to puke.

    But taste is a completely different matter.
    I like James Bond movies and can’t stand Margret Atwood’s writing, but in criticising Bond gets of course a much worse deal than Atwood. – Giliell

    Distinct, yes, but not completely different. Learning how to criticise literature (or movies, or whatever art form or even food) changes your taste. That’s just an empirical, observable fact.

  96. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    rorschach,

    I posted on that thread after you mentioned it in “It’s part of their Culture”. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned being from a neighboring country, but I couldn’t help it – they are stupid and I kinda wanted to see if anyone’s head would explode. We’ll see.
    *trying to feel ashamed of myself*
    *failing*

  97. walton says

    But if you think LotR is good writing, you’re plain uneducated in that particular domain, just as much as someone who thinks creationism is good science is in biology.

    No, I’m sorry, that’s utter bollocks on every level. Biology, like other science, is a field which deals (at least in theory) with objective, empirical facts about reality; creationism is bad science because it ignores or distorts reams of actual empirical evidence, and thus inaccurately represents reality. With science, there is an objective benchmark of truth and falsehood. If a scientific claim does not correspond to the empirical evidence, then it is, objectively, bad science.

    The question of what constitutes “good writing”, on the other hand, is not a scientific question; it’s not a question of objective, external fact about reality. It’s a question of personal taste. And saying that “…if you think LotR is good writing, you’re plain uneducated in that particular domain…” is exactly the kind of literary snobbery I detest, and exactly the kind of thing I’m criticizing.

    This doesn’t, of course, mean that there can’t be objective facts about literature, or that one can’t be wrong about those facts. If I asserted that Tolkien was not a Catholic, for instance, I would be objectively, factually wrong. Likewise, if I asserted that LOTR was intended as an allegory for the rise of Soviet Communism, I’d be making an empirical claim that would be entirely unsubstantiated by any evidence. That would be the literary equivalent of creationism.

    But saying that LOTR is “good writing” is not an empirical claim. It’s an expression of personal taste, because the phrase “good writing” means “writing I like”.

    I’d also point out that questions about what constitutes “good” writing are highly culturally-contingent. The consensus preferences among the educated literary élite do not represent some sort of eternal objective truth; such preferences vary according to fashion and time-period. There are plenty of works which were once targets of snobbery but which are now regarded as classics. And from a sociological perspective, the idea that there is an objective standard of “good” writing seems to me to rely heavily on class and status divisions: the commercially-successful cultural forms that the masses enjoy tend to be looked down upon by the élite as being of inferior quality.

    Seriously, do you believe that, say, someone who studies for a degree in literature doesn’t change how they assess novels? Because if you do, you’re flat wrong.

    No, I didn’t make that claim. Nor am I disputing that learning more about the history, context, influences and subtext of a particular literary work can change one’s reactions to it; obviously that’s true. (And I’m certainly not suggesting that learning about literature or the history of literature is a useless endeavour; far from it.)

    Rather, what I am disputing is the idea that someone with a degree in literature is better qualified to assess what is and isn’t a “good novel” than anyone else. Because the latter is purely a question of personal aesthetic taste. The currently-fashionable tastes of the educated élite about what is “good writing” do not represent some kind of eternal truth.

    Good poetry is mostly about saying a lot, and often several conflicting things at once, in carefully chosen words, in the right order.

    Again, this is your personal taste talking. When you say that “good poetry means X”, you are simply describing the kind of poetry you like, not expressing some sort of objective truth.

    And I don’t know how anyone can read some of the passages between Frodo and Sam without wanting to puke.

    Again, personal taste. I find it hard to read Dickens’ Great Expectations without falling asleep; that doesn’t mean I assume that everyone in the world shares, or should share, my reaction to that work. Similarly, I like Gilbert and Sullivan, and hate Wagner; this doesn’t mean I want to project those preferences on to everyone in the world.

    Learning how to criticise literature (or movies, or whatever art form or even food) changes your taste. That’s just an empirical, observable fact.

    Yes. But that doesn’t mean that one’s previous tastes were “wrong” or that one’s new tastes are “right”, in any objective sense. It does probably mean that one is more likely to have absorbed the currently-fashionable preferences of the literary and cultural élite, but that doesn’t imply that those preferences are objectively “right”.

  98. Just_A_Lurker says

    I just had an awesome trip down memory lane when I remembered this doll and found it online . Fucking loved it, still love it.

    Also, Sailor Moon kicked ass and deserved better dolls than this. But again still loved it so much.

    Ah childhood. My daughter needs to watch these. I’m trying to find Wishbone, reading is fucking awesome and loved Wishbone.

  99. walton says

    Yes I know that’s what Tolkien said, but in fact the whole book is a long sermon about the innateness of nobility, the superiority of the past over the present, the evils of science and technology, and the importance of knowing your place. Consider some of Gandalf’s pronouncements, e.g. to Saruman:
    “He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”.
    Of course, much of science consists precisely in breaking things to find out what they are. Saruman has become evil because he has “a mind of metal and wheels”, according to Treebeard IIRC.

    I think that analysis is largely accurate – Tolkien was a kind of romantic eco-primitivist, who was very nostalgic for the rural England of his youth (specifically the hamlet of Sarehole in the West Midlands, where he spent part of his childhood, which was later overtaken by suburban development). He hated industrialization, valued traditional rural society, and distrusted modern technology. Though it’s also worth noting that he was never very political, and took no recorded interest in contemporary politics at all; he certainly wasn’t trying to lecture the reader or convert them to anything, as LEwis was.

  100. Just_A_Lurker says

    Thank you Walton! You are saying what I wanted to say, and doing it so much better than I. *Clap*

    This

    Similarly, I like Gilbert and Sullivan,

    Considering the fact you are a lawyer made me think of the stereotype in Angel when they input all legal information into Gunn in order to become their lawyer and of course all Gilber & Sullivan was included.

    XD

    Link included because I don’t know if you are an Angel fan or not.

  101. Rey Fox says

    I remember seeing something on some blog somewhere about FIFA not including Kosovo on their map of Serbia, and the comments section inundated with identical “KOSOVO IS PART OF SERBIA” comments.

    Knickers, short for knickerbockers which were male trousers to the knee, and similarly shaped undergarments for women.

    That’s how this American learned it.

    If we could attach windmill at the sides of the building and on top of it, we could probably be energy independent ;)

    Yeah, but someone linked a few days ago to that building in London that incorporated three windmills into its design to help power it, and it was voted the Ugliest Building in London. There’s no pleasing some people.

  102. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Also, Sailor Moon kicked ass and deserved better dolls than this. But again still loved it so much.

    This was one of the first anime series released in Croatia (I think Candy Candy was the first, or at least the first that I watched). It was unusual, compared to classical cartoons that were running on our tv, so it turned into sort of a guilty pleasure. Especially because it was on when my generation was supposedly already too old for cartoons (I know, I knowp there is no such thing as too old for cartoons). I remember boys in my class not wanting to admit that they watched it, but they somehow knew all the characters and details if it turned up in the conversation.

  103. Just_A_Lurker says

    I read all the Chronicles of Narnia when in 5th grade and saw all the bullshit coming from a mile away. Hated the series for it. Saw the movie in Science class because in AZ the teacher had to teach about creationism. He just said “This is what people believe without evidence to support and tons of evidence to the contrary. Your religion is none of my business, ask your parents. I’m here for science, you are here for science, that is what I teach. This movie is a creation story told very well, but that’s all it is.” Surprisingly liked the movie and loved that teacher, all though he was a traditional ass when it came to my friend who became pregnant.

    Its funny, I loved the Sword of Truth series and in a previous TET I found out about the author’s libertarian politics and how he was pushing it in his books. The latest book set in the modern world (The Law of Nines), it was so blatantly obvious. It really dampened my enjoyment of that book. However, I still love the original series, though now I have to have to add an asterisk next to it.

    I’m dirt poor currently, been homeless and I love reading. Not only do you get shit if you don’t read but you’re suppose to like the right books. Its just classist bullshit. It is a major pet peeve with me. I’ve gotten shit for being a book nerd by most people and then book snobs can’t leave me alone either. Since I’m just low brow entertainment reading. Ugh.

  104. Just_A_Lurker says

    I remember boys in my class not wanting to admit that they watched it, but they somehow knew all the characters and details if it turned up in the conversation.

    Hehe. Yes, I so remember this.

    I was talking about it one day and my friend (former boyfriend) admitted he watched and liked it.
    It so made my day. He’s into manga and was the one that got me into a lot of it. So the sheepish finally coming clean about it was too funny.

  105. chigau (違う) says

    Walton
    LotR clenched tentacle fist bump
    —–
    I don’t like Wagner either. I emphasize this among my opera-snob acquaintances by pronouncing it wagner as opposed to vogner. Someone always corrects me.

  106. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    OK, I’ve read the Case in point thread at rorschach’s, as well as the first one.
    I generally don’t get into discussions about who is or was more persecuted/whose fault it (the war) really was/who threw more bombs or whatever. I’m not going to get into one now either, but these commentators are really annoying me.
    They are the same as “our” diaspora. They moved far from home and, in trying to stay connected, became stauncher nationalists (and believers to whichever brand of Christianity) than people in their homeland.

  107. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Well, I see that TET is wandering all over the place. I knew there was something I liked about this place!

    Porn:
    Inherently, my view of naughty pictures / videos is “meh.” Not really my thing, and I don’t have a problem with naughty pictures qua naught pictures.
    What I have a problem with is the overarching thematic tendency that is anti-safe sex, anti-contraception, anti-woman, etc., etc., etc. Does porn normalize shit? Hell yes. Look at the rise in genital shaving. Twenty years ago, few women shaved their genitals. Now, a woman who doesn’t shave is aberrant. Likewise with anal. While shaving and anal are not themselves inherently problematic, they (1) can be very problematic and (2) are hardly the only examples of things that have been normalized by porn.

    Tolkien:
    I’m a fan of his. I find his prose clunky and his poetry appalling. I like his stories, though. I’m fascinated by his language (i.e. the invented ones). I find some of his attitudes unfortunate, though I recognize that some of them are due to his time.

    Tolkien porn:
    Pictures / videos of the dude himself: no thanks. I doubt it exists (okay, okay, Rule 34 stands), and don’t want to know about it if it does.
    Erotica (visual and otherwise) of his works: okay. Depending on the subject matter.

    (…I may or may not have written horrifically bad slash fanfic when I was 15…)

  108. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    Hey Pharyngula. Totally bankrupt on the previous two threads. Been preoccupied with quitting smoking, and with my quitting-smoking present to myself. I switched from the ‘trail hawk’ tomahawk to this beauty: http://www.warriorsandwonders.com/Axes_Spears_Maces/Cold_Steel_Norse_Hawk_in_store_only

    And have been customizing it to my liking ever since. Stripped the paint, put decorative filework, ground an edge on the inside of the beard for hooking and slashing action, and added a quick leather handle-wrap. I’m thinking of doing some decorative woodburning on the handle too. I’ll put up a pic when it’s done to my relative satisfaction.

    This thing is fun. Excellent for woodcarving and bushcraft, and holds its own reasonably well for heavy chopping.

    The Sailor: I still haven’t forgotten that knife you want me to make btw.

    Also, no offense intended to anyone but being compared to Ben Geiger was a little… unpleasant.

  109. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    I like Stephen King a hell of a lot, but I sure as hell can recognize the problems with his writing.

    For instance, why does he feel the need to make every mentally challenged character of his, if not a villain of some sort, a gifted psychic?

  110. Pteryxx says

    Question: Are y’all discussing “porn” as something different from slashfic, fantasy stories, cartoons, drawings, trashy romances and all that? Also, including or excluding amateur and solo photos/video? Because I admit, I find it hard to see how, say, a piece of furry soft-vore writing has anything to do with inherent objectification of anybody who isn’t a balloon animal.

    >_>

    (…I may or may not have written horrifically bad slash fanfic when I was 15…)

    Oh pfft, hasn’t EVERYONE! … What?

  111. KG says

    Walton,

    The question of what constitutes “good writing”, on the other hand, is not a scientific question; it’s not a question of objective, external fact about reality. It’s a question of personal taste.

    No, it isn’t. You’re right that it’s not objective, but it is rationally disputable – as you showed you actually know despite yourself, by rationally disputing my criticism of Tolkein.

    And saying that “…if you think LotR is good writing, you’re plain uneducated in that particular domain…” is exactly the kind of literary snobbery I detest, and exactly the kind of thing I’m criticizing.

    No, it’s a statement of fact. I don’t know whether you’ve ever actually studied literature critically, but if you have, it doesn’t show: hence, you are uneducated in that domain. The fact that you dislike being told you’re uneducated doesn’t change that fact. If you were educated in that domain, you would be able to distinguish work you happen to like, from work that has merit. I can recognise that some of what I like (like parts of LotR, or pop songs of my youth) has very little merit, while there is also a lot of stuff, like the whole of classical opera and ballet, and much Victorian fiction, that I don’t like, but that nonetheless must have a great deal of merit, which people who understand it appreciate. I have little doubt that if I were prepared to devote enough time to these things, I would see their merits as well, while no amount of effort devoted to the novels of Jeffrey Archer would have the same effect; indeed, the hallmark of art with real merit is that appreciating it fully takes a lot of time and effort.

    But that doesn’t mean that one’s previous tastes were “wrong” or that one’s new tastes are “right”, in any objective sense.

    It does mean that you see how your previous tastes were based on ignorance about how to get the most out of more sophisticated works, and the limitations of what you previously liked.

    He[Tolkien] hated industrialization, valued traditional rural society, and distrusted modern technology. Though it’s also worth noting that he was never very political – Walton

    That is political. Traditional rural society was hellish for most of those involved: backbreaking work, under-nourishment, destitution in sickness or old age, compulsory forelock-tugging, and imprisonment, transportation or hanging if you displeased the local gentry. Presenting a false view of it is a routine aspect of reactionary politics.

  112. janine says

    I was under the impression that part of the reason for Tolkien idealizing his “shire” and dislike of modernism was his experience as a soldier on the western front during The Great War, that he saw pasture that were devastated by industrial warfare.

  113. sisu says

    Generally we go with the ‘Merkin point of view

    uh, we all know that a merkin is a pubic wig, right?

  114. says

    Josh, #563: Ah, dammit. I’m really sorry. And I agree with you and Chigau about the destruction of history.

    Og, #603:

    But, with his two cups of water and four tablespoons of salt twice a day regimen…

    WTF. WHY.

    KG, #622:

    And I don’t know how anyone can read some of the passages between Frodo and Sam without wanting to puke.

    Homoerotically?

    And #639:

    Traditional rural society was hellish for most of those involved: backbreaking work, under-nourishment, destitution in sickness or old age, compulsory forelock-tugging, and imprisonment, transportation or hanging if you displeased the local gentry. Presenting a false view of it is a routine aspect of reactionary politics.

    Right on the money.

  115. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Janine,
    I’ve always heard that explanation, and also one that says that when he came home from WWI (with PTSD), his formerly green and bucolic hometown was heavily industrialized and polluted.

    WRT old rural life: None of KG’s criticisms are wrong. What I think bears remembering, however, is that industrializing England was not a very nice place in any location, unless you were gentry. A rural farmer had backbreaking work in dangerous conditions and social repression. An urban factory worker also faced backbreaking dangerous work and social repression. There was a bit more pay, and broader horizons from urban life – but the work was more dangerous. Of course, industrialization also pulled the rug out from under rural artisans. Not every person who went from rural farming to urban factory work did so consensually and cheerfully. Many did so in pursuit of the means to survive.

  116. Just_A_Lurker says

    I like Stephen King a hell of a lot, but I sure as hell can recognize the problems with his writing.

    For instance, why does he feel the need to make every mentally challenged character of his, if not a villain of some sort, a gifted psychic?

    Yep. I’m with you there. Read most of his books and loved them but that doesn’t mean there isn’t issues with them.

    You can like/love books and still see their flaws and understand the “deeper meaning”.

    The debate about Tolkien politics reminds me of a list of books that people, even literature teachers, who do not understand the actual meaning of the book (as determined by the author). Fans of the book were not listening, telling the author in person that they were wrong about the meaning of their own book.

  117. Dhorvath, OM says

    Phledge,

    I think that sexual acts that degrade and humiliate are, regardless of their titillating effects for anyone involved, part of the rape culture.

    I see others have addressed this, I just wanted to expand a bit on something that is floating in my head. This is not wholly formed and I suspect I will step on some toes, but maybe I can learn something in the process without pissing anyone off.

    I do not think it should be argued that it is wrong to pull elements from the environment in which you live, and that you cannot escape, and wring some sense of personal gratification in consensual play out of those ideas. That doesn’t change for me the notion that we leverage environmental elements in our play, making use of reflections of the good and bad that we live within. I don’t think that anyone can divorce their sexuality from the culture in which they live, at least not wholly.

    So whether we play by way of missionary face to face with the lights out, or in group sessions with floggers and chains, we are leveraging culture, and often problematic parts of it, for some level of the atmosphere that exists. The real question is: can it be too much? Does it promote rather than reflect? I don’t know, and I would not see people give up consensually enjoyable activities, rather I hope that people can recognize that aspect of how sexuality and culture interact.

  118. Dhorvath, OM says

    Josh,
    One of the great things that humans have learned how to do is externalizing our memory. To have that stolen or lost is akin to brain damage and very traumatic. My sympathies to your friends, this will not be easy.

  119. says

    Esteleth: That’s all true; Industrial Age cities were hellholes for most people. That said, while there is certainly some romanticization of cities, it’s mostly the country that is glorified, and usually in the service of some reactionary cause.

  120. Predator Handshake says

    I noticed last night as my dog was splayed out sleeping next to me that she hadn’t closed her eyes all the way and her third eyelid was visible over her eye. I don’t think this is a serious issue, but I’m a little worried about the possibility of her getting irritants in there if she sleeps like that a lot. Has anyone else ever had an open-eyed sleeping dog?

  121. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Oh, absolutely, Daisy.
    Much of the romanticization of rural life (especially rural life before now) revolves the use of the term “simple.” (Life is simpler in the country or Life was more simple back then) This is utter nonsense of course, unless the word “simple” is unpacked and it’s real meaning is revealed. That is, if you were born into (say) a family that ran the village pub, you (1) knew who you were and (2) your life was pretty much laid out ahead of you. You didn’t have to think, to plan. You’d work in the pub while young. If you were the eldest son, one day you’d be the publican yourself and would be responsible for the care of your old parents. Daughters would go into service or marry, perhaps to a farmer or maybe a bit up to be the wife of the doctor or lawyer. Younger sons could go into the military or into service.
    If you were born to a farmer, to the local gentry, your path was likewise laid out ahead of you. Simple.
    The old hierarchy held, with the gentry outranking the middle class, who outranked the villeins (archaic term used deliberately).
    This, of course, hides all the nuance – a person whose tastes and interests led them elsewhere was looked at in askance. People who got out of place were an affront to the system.

    Old rural life can be great if the path you’re handed at birth suits you. If it doesn’t, then life sucks.

  122. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Nutmeg:
    …was that satire? I can never tell anymore.

  123. Predator Handshake says

    Nutmeg: I don’t think she’s brachycephalic; she’s a spitz mix and most closely resembles a big Pomeranian with shorter hair. I never see the third eyelid unless she’s in that early twitchy state of sleep.

    She doesn’t seem to have any other problems with her eyes though. She does have a weird thing that I think she learned from the cats she grew up with where she’ll lick her paw and rub it over her face like she’s trying to give herself a cat bath.

  124. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    (…I may or may not have written horrifically bad slash fanfic when I was 15…)

    Oh pfft, hasn’t EVERYONE! … What?

    Er, no? I didn’t even know fanfic existed until about three years ago. And I’m not sure where the slash fits in. And not sure I want to know.

    WTF. WHY.

    First, that should have been teaspoons, not tablespoons. But, anyway. There is an advert that runs on the radio for a towing company. And at the end, the owner of the company shoves in a get to for ‘the Water Cure.’ Which, basically, is a wooist theory that all our physical ailments are because we are not getting enough water, and the water should be salted to preserve our natural balance.

  125. says

    Ah, dinner at my house. I bring in the griddle cakes and the sour cream. I go to the kitchen to get the smoked salmon. The sour cream has magically vanished. I go back to the kitchen to get more sour cream. I come back, the salmon has vanished.
    Those kids have too exquisite a taste!

    Learning how to criticise literature (or movies, or whatever art form or even food) changes your taste. That’s just an empirical, observable fact.

    It does and it doesn’t.
    It gives you an additional level, insight, understanding. BUt it can’t make something appealing to you that simply isn’t. Interesting, yes, but not appealing.

    BTW, Tolkien’s poetry is largely based on the styles and conventions of Old English and Norse Poetry, poetry creatd at times when it was not written but told, so it needed to be easy to remember, not short.
    As much as I love Seamus Heaney, he wouldn’t have made it in the olden days.
    Also, is Paradise Lost bad poetry? I mean, it’s long and complicated and all that.

  126. says

    Ogvorbis, the slash just refers to the “/” symbol used between the names of people sexually hooked up in the fanfic. A person who loves the X-Files may write Mulder/Scully fanfic. Or Mulder/Skinner, etc. So “slash” has become shorthand for fanfic in which two or more characters have sex.

  127. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Daisy:

    Yep, just as with modern small-town life.

    You don’t have to tell me that. I grew up in a small town. There are reasons why I don’t live there anymore.

    Ogvorbis:

    And I’m not sure where the slash fits in.

    “Slash,” in the literal sense, refers to the pairing (i.e. the couple). For example, a LotR ‘fic about Faramir and Eowyn would be Faramir/Eowyn. A group relationship would be indicated by multiple slashes: Frodo/Sam/Merry/Pippin would indicate a four-sided relationship, while Frodo/Sam, Merry/Pippin would indicate two pairs. By convention, however, “slash” refers to same-sex couples. Some say that slash specifically refers to same-sex male couples and same-sex female couples is “femslash.” Others just go completely the other direction and speak of yaoi and yuri.

    And not sure I want to know.

    *shrug*

  128. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    For people with trainwreck syndrome

    Why do you denigrate something as clean and entertaining as a train wreck with dreck like this? Why?

    Ogvorbis, the slash just refers to the “/” symbol used between the names of people sexually hooked up in the fanfic. A person who loves the X-Files may write Mulder/Scully fanfic. Or Mulder/Skinner, etc. So “slash” has become shorthand for fanfic in which two or more characters have sex.

    I was right. I didn’t want to know. ‘Slash’ has now been excised from my already limited vocabulary.

  129. says

    If you were educated in that domain, you would be able to distinguish work you happen to like, from work that has merit. I can recognise that some of what I like (like parts of LotR, or pop songs of my youth) has very little merit, while there is also a lot of stuff, like the whole of classical opera and ballet, and much Victorian fiction, that I don’t like, but that nonetheless must have a great deal of merit, which people who understand it appreciate.

    “Merit” is subjective. Your opinion of what has merit, in my opinion, has no merit. And likely vice versa. The more one reads, the better one becomes at articulating why one likes what one likes or dislikes what one dislikes, regardless of whether or not some professor told one what to think. And I am educated in that domain, thank you very much.

    For instance, my man William S. Burroughs. I love him, or at least, I love a lot of his stuff. There was this one Western that he wrote; I think it was called “Wild Boys” or something similar. I couldn’t get through it, but that doesn’t make it objectively bad, and it doesn’t mean that all he was trying to do with it was disgust or shock people. It probably just means I wasn’t in the mood for Burroughs at that particular time.

    Burroughs’ work was extremely political. He talked about mind control, time travel, drug addiction, the queer experience. There was always a theme of alienation, of being othered by society and by the government, running through his work. Way more to him than just shock-artistry. At the same time, I can understand how many people might not be able to dig through the viscera to get to the yummy stuff. Like I said, there is at least one novel of his that I couldn’t finish, and I’m a fan.

    So yeah, your opinion of what has merit is not objective fact, no matter how many times you declare it to be so.

  130. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    So “slash” has become shorthand for fanfic in which two or more characters of the same sex are romantically involved and/or have sex.

  131. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Sorry Esteleth, I didn’t notice that you’ve already explained in more detail.

  132. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Incidentally, I still remember the most utterly batshit piece of fanfic that I EVER read. It was LotR. Slash.

    Legolas/Treebeard. Legolas was on the bottom.

    o_O

    …I release this upon the Horde, so that maybe my years of suffering over this may be alleviated. Or maybe I’m sadistic.

  133. carlie says

    That’s good to know, because I always thought “slashfic” involved violence of some kind, like slasher movies.

    On the sex thing – Greta Christina has written quite well (of course) on sex fantasies sometimes being a way to get what you’re missing in regular life. Specifically, she mentioned that she’s a lot more interested in submissive roles (which I think can be linked a little to the degrading thing?) when she’s having to be THE DECIDER all the damned time in life, and more interested in dominating roles when she’s more powerless in whatever’s happening around her. Makes sense to me.

  134. KG says

    What I think bears remembering, however, is that industrializing England was not a very nice place in any location, unless you were gentry. – Esteleth

    Yes indeed. But the lot of the British urban poor started to improve noticeably after about 1850, with the industrial boom, wages getting ahead of food prices, and the Factory Acts; that of the rural poor did not – indeed, did not do so much until WWII. My father, born in 1919, was five inches shorter than me (his sister had rickets as a child), and only the second ever to go from his small Norfolk coastal town, Mundesley, to a school you could stay on at after 14. He got a scholarship, so his parents didn’t have to pay for tuition, but could only afford to pay for the uniform and let him stay on because they were comparatively well-off, his father having by then worked his way up from gardener’s boy to being a junior partner in a TB sanatorium (providing the food – the senior partner was the doctor).

    The old hierarchy held, with the gentry outranking the middle class, who outranked the villeins (archaic term used deliberately).

    In one way, villeins had been better off than the landless rural poor of the 18th and 19th century, as they had a strip of land on which they could grow their own food.

  135. Private Ogvorbis, OM says

    I was right. I didn’t want to know. ‘Slash’ has now been excised from my already limited vocabulary.

    Actually, I take that back and correct myself. I feel a little better knowing what it is. I was expecting ‘slasher’ style cut-em-ups, not /with/ style.

    I still have little desire to go there, but, on reflection, it isn’t nearly as bad as I imagined from my firt glance at the word ‘slash.’

    However, Treebeard/Legolas?

  136. cicely (Now With 37.5% Less Fleem!!) says

    Josh, what chigau said @564, only without the Buddhism.

    At the hospital, they determined that his bp was 390/310.

    O-O
    -

  137. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Ogvorbis, I give you the worst part of that story: the title is “Pliant Wood.”

    Ah, thank you Ben. I’d forgotten about that little rape joke. Hilarious.

  138. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    That’s good to know, because I always thought “slashfic” involved violence of some kind, like slasher movies.

    When I first started reading fanfiction, I never clicked on any slashfics because I thought the same. Imagine my surprise when, liking the summary of one and rationalizing that maybe it isn’t too violent, I discovered something completely different.

  139. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    There are two kinds of discussion to be had regarding art. It is often interesting to discuss what we like and why. It is also interesting to discuss how a work (or works) has been transformative to the way that people make and perceive art. These are really not the same conversation at all. The former is much less subject to objective scrutiny than the latter.
    I like reading Tolkien, but also recognize that he did little to change the way that people use language to express ideas. I do not care that much for the Beatles*, but their mark on the way that people play and listen to rock is unmistakable. I didn’t enjoy watching Citizen Cane all that much, but maybe had I seen it at the time it was released, it would have been strikingly different from anything I had seen before.
    These aren’t contradictory ideas.

    I’m dirt poor currently, been homeless and I love reading. Not only do you get shit if you don’t read but you’re suppose to like the right books. Its just classist bullshit.

    Sorry that you feel like you get shit. I don’t know if your example is “classist” in the strict sense but there is an element of privilege in what you are saying. There are some art forms that require more training than others to enjoy…most people have to be taught how to like them. For some people, the effort that it takes to understand something that is really complex or novel is part of the enjoyment. It even enhances it**. I guess to someone who hasn’t the privilege of training, such art just seems pretentious. Of course, people with access to that kind of education are generally wealthier than people without. Sometimes, not. Strangely, excellent books (in like the second sense) cost no more than simply enjoyable books. Neither of my parents had much of an education, but they realized that they could buy books at the Salvation Army for a quarter a piece. They filled our house with used books and liked to read them and talk about them. Their parents who had even less formal education did the same thing. I was privileged with access***. On top of that, there was jack-all else for us (five of us kids plus foster brothers/sisters) to do but read. In this regard, my parents gave us a gift normally reserved for our betters.
    It occurred to me just now that this form of privilege is different from most others, in that those who have it wouldn’t be diminished if everyone else suddenly did as well.

    *I already regret having written this.
    **Also don’t kid yourself that these people don’t receive their share of bullshit, especially as children. Wedgies were fucking invented for such people.
    ***Although not especially encouraged to make use of it.

  140. Weed Monkey says

    Giliell: sorry, I didn’t mean to be a condescending ass one-upping the cold. What I meant was that there actually is a huge mass of cold weather that is slowly flowing westward from Siberia.

    It is ridiculously cold outside, but luckily I have enough comestibles to stay inside for a few days.

  141. carlie says

    Nerd, so sorry for all you’re going through. I have no advice, but I have virtual hugs to offer.

  142. walton says

    No, it’s a statement of fact. I don’t know whether you’ve ever actually studied literature critically, but if you have, it doesn’t show: hence, you are uneducated in that domain. The fact that you dislike being told you’re uneducated doesn’t change that fact. If you were educated in that domain, you would be able to distinguish work you happen to like, from work that has merit. I can recognise that some of what I like (like parts of LotR, or pop songs of my youth) has very little merit, while there is also a lot of stuff, like the whole of classical opera and ballet, and much Victorian fiction, that I don’t like, but that nonetheless must have a great deal of merit, which people who understand it appreciate. I have little doubt that if I were prepared to devote enough time to these things, I would see their merits as well, while no amount of effort devoted to the novels of Jeffrey Archer would have the same effect; indeed, the hallmark of art with real merit is that appreciating it fully takes a lot of time and effort.

    But “literary merit” is not itself an objective or universal concept. What you mean by “merit” here, quite evidently, is “a set of prescriptive standards laid down by the educated literary and cultural élite”. While you may be able to distinguish these standards from your own personal preferences, there is no reason to think that these standards are either objective or culturally-universal. They’re not; they’re just fashions among the educated élite. There is nothing inherent about the prose of Joyce’s Ulysses which makes it objectively “better” than that of, say, Harry Potter; it is assumed to have that status because Ulysses is something that educated élites enjoy and that is inaccessible to those with less education in the field of literature, whereas Harry Potter is accessible to and enjoyed by ordinary people, and is therefore perceived as less sophisticated.

    A good analogy might be to standards of dress. In mainstream British culture, it’s fair to say that a suit and tie are considered “formal” clothing where a t-shirt and jeans are considered “casual” clothing. This standard has some superficial objectivity, insofar as it exists separately from our individual preferences: if I were to claim as a matter of personal preference that a t-shirt and jeans amounted to “formal wear”, you might very well tell me that I’m objectively wrong, according to the prevailing standards of our society. But that doesn’t mean that these standards themselves have any objective force. There is no innate quality of a suit or a tie that makes these clothes more “formal” than any other set of fabrics; they simply have that status because our culture happens to have assigned them that meaning. What constitutes “formalwear” differs in other cultures and in other time-periods (indeed, before WWII a lounge suit was considered relatively informal, whereas full morning or evening dress, dependent on the time of day, would have been required at formal events). And, much like the concept of “literary merit”, dress codes are used as a class and status symbol by which the élite can set their own “refined” tastes and behaviours apart from those of people of lower status. It’s all just a way of reinforcing class hierarchies.

    That is political. Traditional rural society was hellish for most of those involved: backbreaking work, under-nourishment, destitution in sickness or old age, compulsory forelock-tugging, and imprisonment, transportation or hanging if you displeased the local gentry. Presenting a false view of it is a routine aspect of reactionary politics.

    That’s absolutely true, of course (and I didn’t have time to flesh out my comment on the subject of Tolkien’s politics as much as I’d have liked, since I had to run to class). And, indeed, he could reasonably be described as reactionary in his political instincts; he was a monarchist, a devout Catholic, and had fairly traditional views about social hierarchy. (He once said “doffing your cap to the Squire may be bad for the Squire but it’s damn good for you.”) LOTR contains echoes of this, such as in the clear class inequality between Frodo, Merry and Pippin on the one hand, who come from the Shire’s equivalent of landowning gentry, and Sam on the other hand, whose family is of a lower status. (This was downplayed in the films, but it’s very clear in the book.) Indeed, Tolkien himself said that Sam was modelled partly on the (working-class) soldiers he commanded as an infantry officer in WWI.

    He wouldn’t have seen himself as political in the ordinary sense of the word, though; he had very little interest in contemporary politics or current affairs, and his understanding of it was generally rather shallow (see his comments about Franco and the Spanish Civil War for an example of his cluelessness about contemporary events). He spent his time deeply engaged with ancient historical questions – reportedly he could get very angry about the Norman Conquest, for instance – but he was really quite clueless and naive about the political dynamics of the society he actually inhabited.

  143. Predator Handshake says

    I guess the one good thing about the Treebeard/Legolas pairing would be this: being an elf, Legolas would have a longer life span compared to the other Middle-earth races, so maybe he’d have more patience for what I imagine to be an incredibly slow experience? Sorry everyone, this is way more thought than I wish I had put into such a thing.

  144. Just_A_Lurker says

    Also don’t kid yourself that these people don’t receive their share of bullshit, especially as children. Wedgies were fucking invented for such people.

    Didn’t mean it like I had it worse than them in that category. Its more like we’re all book nerds, we get shit for it so why fight about who’s on top? I don’t get it. I like what I like, you like what you like, why be condescending about being a better book nerd. I hate that. I don’t like your so called classics. So what it’s my opinion doesn’t make you better.

    There are some art forms that require more training than others to enjoy…most people have to be taught how to like them. For some people, the effort that it takes to understand something that is really complex or novel is part of the enjoyment. It even enhances it

    Why do you assume I can’t understand it just because I don’t like it. Like Walton and I have said, don’t like your examples of great book even though we read and understood them. Shit. Not liking doesn’t equal not understanding or not being able to understand them. Like I don’t make an effort to understand books..WTF?

    It occurred to me just now that this form of privilege is different from most others, in that those who have it wouldn’t be diminished if everyone else suddenly did as well.

    Unless of course they have the proper training to read the great books and just don’t like them.

    I don’t know if we are just talking past each other or what, I just know this really sucks. I’m fine with disagreeing on great books. I’d love to have just a discussion about books. We’ve had those here before. Its the condescending attitude I can’t stand. Yes, I take it personally because I’m tired of being looked down on for not being in the “we’re so smart, these are so great, you just don’t like them because you’re too stupid to understand their beauty. You need training to understand. Poor you.” Apparently I need a Master’s degree to understand books now. I barely got an associates from a community college so I’m still a dumb-dumb. >.<

  145. David Marjanović says

    Caught up till comment 624. Refusing to refresh before posting — I want outta here.

    I wrote -5 °C, right? That was wrong. It’s -7, and that’s the peak temperature of the day, in the sun.

    Guess how far the diversity of current ladies’ legwear reaches.

    HI David
    If you wanna go for a drink

    I don’t – alcohol stinks. *raises cup of hot chocolate from fake Starbucks at nearly Starbucks prices*

    :-)

    not that “ultimately”; I was thinking more on a human, individual scale.

    I know – I just can’t stop there. My perspective is from the “nothing is for eternity in the first place” point of view; I’m pretty happy with the kind of immortality I get from having my publications cited, because I know there isn’t really any more to get.

    Since I don’t really feel emotionally very passionate or inspired by any possible goal I’d like to achieve with my life, and have nothing “to look forward to” in the sense of delaying gratification, it all just amounts to a temporary distraction from remembering the pointlessness

    So… if I just took you and stuck you into a mildly interesting scientific or similar career, I at least wouldn’t make you any less happy than you already are? :-]

    ;-)

    Somewhat more seriously, you look passionate when you trounce evolution deniers or AGW deniers.

    …And, BTW, a skill you didn’t learn recently allows you to get the joke that a colleague has posted in big letters on his office door:

    Венн ду дас лезен каннст, бист ду кеин думмер весси!!

    Isn’t that worth something?

    (I won’t explain the joke before you react.)

    (and incidentally, I don’t think getting religious would help any, either. Religious depressives also all just kill time and distract themselves until death).

    Yeah. Vale of tears and all.

    to make a positive contribution means having to offset the amount of social, economic, and ecological resources one’s life consumes; and since I’m a Westerner, that’s a lot of resources that any dogoodery would have to offset.

    While you’re right, I still wonder if you’re skirting rather close to a Messiah complex here. Why do you measure yourself by an impossible standard? Not everyone can be the next Norman Borlaug, and I’m already ignoring the long-term negative impacts of the Green Revolution here that you know better than I by now. It doesn’t help anyone if everyone else feels like a failure over that.

    My best hope on that account is that Walton will become a super-effective super-humanitarian, because then at least I can take partial credit for turning him into a progressive :-p

    :-)

    Hey, it’s possible. So far he’s showing great promise. :-)

    Hmm.

    Flight to Berlin is doable between 17th and 26th …

    Oh, so you’re inviting yourself? Go ahead :-)

    (Seriously. I have plenty of space, and by then I should have an air mattress that doesn’t leak.)

    well, that’s the problem. i figured out that I’m seriously lacking in “wanting” things. it makes it very hard to figure out what to do with myself for the rest of my life O.o

    I simply got distracted by something interesting… and then an ever-branching tree of more and more interesting things…

    Actually, I’ll send you an e-mail about something you could devote years to, improve it a lot, and help the general education of the world about a lot of biology, evolutionary ecology in particular. Plans to make a bestselling book out of it, however, are… delayed.

    My line is usually that I can’t save the world, but I can help teach the world to save itself.

    Yep, that puts into words what I’m doing.

    It puts SIWOTI syndrome into words. :-)

    (If you procrastinate enough, it will become moot)

    *eyeroll*

    2. Chinglish.

    Likely helped along by electronic translation of selected words or, worse, Chinese characters without context.

    the old Hollywood movie thing of having Japanese and other Asian characters reverse their Rs and Ls

    Of course reality is still more complex than the stereotype. Mandarin has an ordinary L and something quite similar to an English R; Mandarin learners of English don’t tend to get them mixed up in my experience. Cantonese has a L, but nothing similar to R, so Cantonese learners of English do tend to say L instead of R (or, in later stages of learning, the opposite – hypercorrectivism). Japanese has something that is an unspectacular Spanish-style R in most dialects, somewhere between that and L in others; Japanese learners of English strongly tend to use those sounds instead of L, hence Engrish, and even university professors of English are occasionally caught mixing R and L up even in writing (there’s a documented case on a linguistics blog out there).

    In western and central Africa, it seems to me from a tour through Wikipedia or something a few years ago, there are often pairs of closely related languages where one has L and the other has R.

    The slogan will be “If the usual choice is between a dick and an ass, split the difference and vote for Taint”

    Please explain.

    ambisextrous

    WIN!11!!

    Quite.

    Yeah, Chigau, I feel the same way. Glad they weren’t there, but very sad about the complete destruction of their family’s material past.

    Thirded. :-(

    John Morales, fuck you.

    (the show you put on is grating)

    Why do you think it’s a show? I think it’s entirely genuine extreme SIWOTI syndrome, not far from mine.

    What concerns me is that John seems to actually enjoy annoying people with it.

    At the hospital, they determined that his bp was 390/310. Yeah. The salt water bit really helped.

    Instead of picking up my jaw from the floor the normal way, I’ll just *headfloor* and try to get my jaw back in position that way.

    I couldn’t leave it alone for 24 hours without having it explode.

    The Thread, Republicans, small children, cats, rats, elephants . . . . This is normal.

    Subthread won. *applause*

    Even with food, you can “educate your palate” and come to like things you didn’t, or find things you did like insipid.

    Apparently, neurotypics can. I definitely can’t.

    wooden characters (and I don’t mean the ents!)

    :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion.

    LOL!

    For those Pharyngulites who do not speak Latin, I shall translate:
    Over de smaak valt niet te twisten.

    …and the valt part is straight from Latin valet, right? I can’t get it to make sense otherwise. :-)

    The potty-training of our Aspie son was epic.

    …I feel neurotypic already.

    The thought of shitting on a floor has always been next to impossible to me. After all, shit is way too big to magically vanish like nail clippings do. *vehement nodding*

    These guys actually think that America bombed them because of their religious beliefs.

    I’d rather say they want to believe it and desperately try to convince themselves of it by trolling about it on the Internet. I’ll check it out sometime.

    Yes I know that’s what Tolkien said, but in fact the whole book is a long sermon about the innateness of nobility, the superiority of the past over the present, [...] and the importance of knowing your place.

    So, like The Lion King?

    “Never forget who you are…” Oh, for Comic Sans.

  146. says

    At this point I am not sure what I am more grateful for: That Skeptifem didn’t show up to turn Walton’s query about porn and rape culture into a lecture brooking no debate, or that SGBM/AHS/LM didn’t show up to tell people how counterrevolutionary wrong they are for believing that art can be judged.

  147. walton says

    For instance, my man William S. Burroughs. I love him, or at least, I love a lot of his stuff. There was this one Western that he wrote; I think it was called “Wild Boys” or something similar. I couldn’t get through it, but that doesn’t make it objectively bad, and it doesn’t mean that all he was trying to do with it was disgust or shock people. It probably just means I wasn’t in the mood for Burroughs at that particular time.

    A good example of how tastes differ. I don’t have the stomach for Burroughs: from the small amount of his work I’ve read, he was so horribly graphic in his depictions of sex, eroticized violence and medical abuse that it’s too much for me to handle. (I only came across him in the first place because Piltdown, of all people, raised the subject at some considerable length on my blog: Piltdown sees Burroughs as a kind of occultist subversive who was deliberately trying to corrupt society’s morals. This made me curious enough to attempt to read one of his books – I think it was Western Lands – but it didn’t go well.)

    ===

    There are some art forms that require more training than others to enjoy…most people have to be taught how to like them. For some people, the effort that it takes to understand something that is really complex or novel is part of the enjoyment.

    True… but that’s what people say about Schoenberg’s serialist music, for instance, and I still disliked that after getting to grips with it from a music-theory perspective. (This doesn’t mean you’re wrong, just that I don’t think a dislike of an art form can always be ascribed to ignorance about it. Of course, unlike music, I don’t have any formal training in literary criticism, so I can’t comment on whether I’d feel the same way about that.)

    ====

    Considering the fact you are a lawyer made me think of the stereotype in Angel when they input all legal information into Gunn in order to become their lawyer and of course all Gilber & Sullivan was included.

    Oh, one of the reasons I love G&S is the insight into English legal history (a subject for which I have a geeky passion, and about which I could talk for hours). Gilbert himself trained as a barrister, and Trial by Jury and Iolanthe in particular are wonderful satires of the labyrinthine, archaic English legal system of the nineteenth century.

  148. Esteleth, Ph.D. of Mischief, Mayhem and Hilarity says

    Daisy, references to UD should not be made lightly.

    Ah well. At least it isn’t the Encyclopedia Dramatica.

  149. Just_A_Lurker says

    AE

    I don’t know if your example is “classist”

    Well, as Walton said

    they’re just fashions among the educated élite.

    Since I can’t become educated elite because I’m working poor it sure as hell feels classist to me.

  150. walton says

    he was so horribly graphic in his depictions of sex, eroticized violence and medical abuse that it’s too much for me to handle.

    (And by this I don’t mean ordinary sex, nor do I mean that it’s pornographic; there’s nothing erotic about it. Rather, he wrote about some really quite vile and sick stuff. Of course he was chronically addicted to heroin and also tried just about every other drug under the sun, and some of his books – Naked Lunch in particular – apparently owe a great deal to drug-induced hallucinations.)

  151. Just_A_Lurker says

    Oh, one of the reasons I love G&S is the insight into English legal history (a subject for which I have a geeky passion, and about which I could talk for hours). Gilbert himself trained as a barrister, and Trial by Jury and Iolanthe in particular are wonderful satires of the labyrinthine, archaic English legal system of the nineteenth century.

    Yeah, on the show they made a joke about it, but they said it actually helped with his voice and diction.

  152. walton says

    or that SGBM/AHS/LM didn’t show up to tell people how counterrevolutionary wrong they are for believing that art can be judged.

    I know this wasn’t addressed to me, but I feel the need to clarify that I’m not denying that art can be judged. Of course it can. “I don’t like this” is itself a judgment, and an entirely legitimate one, one which we all make every day.

    What I’m objecting to is the idea that there are objective, prescriptive standards of “merit” in art and literature. I’m arguing that the whole general claim that some works or genres are objectively “better” than others has its root in classism and in the fashions of the educated literary and cultural élite, with élite preferences being held up as “sophisticated” and “refined”, while the preferences of ordinary people are denigrated as inferior or unsophisticated. (I don’t speak for SGBM, and I don’t know if he’d agree with that.)

  153. says

    I don’t have the stomach for Burroughs: from the small amount of his work I’ve read, he was so horribly graphic in his depictions of sex, eroticized violence and medical abuse that it’s too much for me to handle.

    I get that, and totally understand. I used Burroughs as an example for just that reason (and also because his name was brought up earlier). What rankles me, and what I think you and Just_A_Lurker also are trying to say, is how we get from “I don’t dig x because y,” or “x is problematic because z,” to “x has no merit, and you’re a big stupid head who clearly understands nothing about art.”

    The former two statements are valid conversation points, while the third is just classist nonsense.

  154. walton says

    What rankles me, and what I think you and Just_A_Lurker also are trying to say, is how we get from “I don’t dig x because y,” or “x is problematic because z,” to “x has no merit, and you’re a big stupid head who clearly understands nothing about art.”

    The former two statements are valid conversation points, while the third is just classist nonsense.

    I agree entirely, and that’s precisely what I was trying to say. It all boils down to a matter of personal taste. I personally find Burroughs distasteful, but I don’t think that makes him a “bad writer”, by any means. And I would never criticize, or look down on, other people for enjoying his work.

  155. David Marjanović says

    But I must scroll through the rest!!!

    inundated with identical “KOSOVO IS PART OF SERBIA” comments

    What, not “KOSOVO IS THE ♥ OF SERBIA”? That’s what it said on the desks of the place where I tutored: “КОСОВО ЈЕ ♥ СРБИЈЕ”.

    inherent objectification of anybody who isn’t a balloon animal

    Win.

    http://imgur.com/a/CCF5A

    So… full… of… win…

    When I reached the bald eagle, I giggled in meatspace.

    It gives you an additional level, insight, understanding. BUt it can’t make something appealing to you that simply isn’t. Interesting, yes, but not appealing.

    I don’t know about literature, but this is clearly true for me when it comes to music. Indeed, we’ve had this discussion on this very Thread.

  156. says

    At this point I am not sure what I am more grateful for: That Skeptifem didn’t show up to turn Walton’s query about porn and rape culture into a lecture brooking no debate, or that SGBM/AHS/LM didn’t show up to tell people how counterrevolutionary wrong they are for believing that art can be judged.

    It’s really creepy that you do this.

  157. David Marjanović says

    Arnold Schönberg is the guy with this anecdote:

    Rich sponsor dude: “I am an honest admirer of your beautiful music.”
    Schönberg: “My music isn’t beautiful.” Turns around, leaves, and is never seen in that place again.

    so horribly graphic in his depictions of sex, eroticized violence and medical abuse that it’s too much for me to handle. [...] Piltdown, of all people

    Why are you surprised? The Hoax has always been fascinated by precisely this sort of thing. I wonder if he thinks he needs to constantly remind himself: “But that’s evil! I must not like it! Indeed, I must make sure everyone knows just how evil it is!!!1!1!!!”

    Look up “taint” at UrbanDictionary.com.

    I’m scared. Do you think I’d find it disturbing? *batting eyelashes*

    Particularly when it comes to pre-teens making up terms for implausible sexual activities.

    …every one of which has surely been banned by some Reptilian state legislature or other.

  158. walton says

    (I don’t speak for SGBM, and I don’t know if he’d agree with that.)</blockquote.

    (Though I do think you’re being somewhat unfair to him; to my recollection, he has never claimed that art should not be judged.)

  159. David Marjanović says

    It’s really creepy that you do this.

    I wouldn’t say “really creepy”, but I do agree it’s strange to try to revive old quarrels for no discernible reason. Looks evil. Would be bullying if there were a power differential.

  160. walton says

    Epic blockquote fail. Let’s try that again.

    or that SGBM/AHS/LM didn’t show up to tell people how counterrevolutionary wrong they are for believing that art can be judged.

    I know this wasn’t addressed to me, but I feel the need to clarify that I’m not denying that art can be judged. Of course it can. “I don’t like this” is itself a judgment, and an entirely legitimate one, one which we all make every day.

    What I’m objecting to is the idea that there are objective, prescriptive standards of “merit” in art and literature. I’m arguing that the whole general claim that some works or genres are objectively “better” than others has its root in classism and in the fashions of the educated literary and cultural élite, with élite preferences being held up as “sophisticated” and “refined”, while the preferences of ordinary people are denigrated as inferior or unsophisticated. (I don’t speak for SGBM, and I don’t know if he’d agree with that.)

    Though I do think you’re being somewhat unfair to him; to my recollection, he has never claimed that art should not be judged.

    (As an addendum, while I don’t necessarily agree with Skeptifem about porn, her views on the subject are really not that unusual in the mainstream feminist community; they’re pretty much in line with Mackinnon’s position, for example. Which is why I asked about it, and why I think the question is important and does have to be addressed. I don’t feel like I’m really in a position to take a strong stance either way myself, given that it is fundamentally an issue about women’s equality, and, as a man, I don’t want to end up in the position of mansplaining to women on either side of the debate that they’re the Wrong Type Of Feminist.)

  161. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I don’t know if we are just talking past each other or what, I just know this really sucks.

    Yes. Except for the part about how I’m sorry you get shit, none of that is about you. I have no fucking idea what you like or what you don’t like, or, like, your level of reading comprehension. Again, neither of my parents had much education. Their parents had less. They liked to read anyway and have the capability of appreciating (if not liking) all kinds of things.
    And again, what you like has nothing to do with understanding the role that a book has in changing the way that people write and read books. For example, I don’t like Dickens, but that has nothing to do with the role that Dickens played in the history of English literature, which can be discussed objectively.
    If you don’t like that second kind of conversation , fine. Don’t engage in it. A conversation about what you like is worth having but is different than this conversation.

    Unless of course they have the proper training to read the great books and just don’t like them.

    You could talk about why you didn’t like them or why you didn’t think they were great. Two different conversations.
    Nonetheless, I think your interpretation of what I wrote today may have something to do with the fact that I behaved like an asshole yesterday. I apologize for being insensitive about being a snob. I can’t help being a snob about some things, but I can help what I write. FWIW, I understand how you feel. I got to go to a pretty nice college with lots of rich kids because I had a scholarship and was willing to wash dishes in the cafeteria for four years. I got desensitized to their condescension really fast. I’m an academic now and I’m used to playful conceit in my daily interactions. So in short, I’m given to being an insensitive ass if I’m not vigilent.
    This is a bug, not a feature.

  162. says

    (Though I do think you’re being somewhat unfair to him; to my recollection, he has never claimed that art should not be judged.)

    Well, there was a long discussion that followed someone’s linking to some guy’s poetry, and I think that was pretty much the gist of his remarks. I recall it being an interesting conversation. I don’t recall Ms. Daisy Cutter being involved, but she may have been.

  163. ChasCPeterson says

    Here’s, I think, the thing about why people’s tastes in art differ. Different people are applying different sets of criteria.

    Back when I used to read Pandagon I used to laugh at Amanda Marcotte’s ‘Insufferable Music Snob’ posts because everything she insufferably snobbishly liked I insufferably snobbishly hated. And no doubt vice versa. Because we apply completely different sets of criteria to judging music.

    But see the thing is that there is such a wide variety of criteria in play. In music, for example, from ‘it has a good beat you can dance to it’ to ‘these lyrics really speak to me’ to ‘listen to what the bass player’s doing in the bridge’ to ‘that’s an interesting way to modulate between the F-major-7-sharp-11 and G-7-flat-5-sharp-9′. etc. etc. (Also some people (as AE sez) apply the criterion of self-challenge, others (or the sames at different times) are looking instead for mindless vegging escape.)

    Now, the plain fact is that some criteria require experience and/or education to apply. While the same piece of art can be appreciated by different people for different reasons, some of them more sophisticated than others, some art is not enjoyable by anyone without such experience/education. Adding more sophisticated criteria to one’s menu does not erase the ability to enjoy art for more accessible, less sophisticated reasons at the same time, and therefore some people are actually getting more out of it than others.

    People get elitist about their tastes for at least two reasons. One is they think it’s cool to have elitist tastes; this is the classic hipster pose of “oh, yeah, I liked their early stuff, but [now that people like you have heard of them] I’ve moved on”. I find that shit highly annoying.
    Another is because they really do know a lot about it and are applying far more sophisticated criteria than most people. Since most people are not in a position to even understand the criteria being applied, this creates understandably distrustful feelings on both sides.

    Many people do not even know what it means to listen to music. They hear it, they like some and not others, but if they can even articulate their criteria they tend to be (objectively but not judgmentally) relatively superficial. I know a lot about music; I’ve listened, played, studied and practiced it for decades. I know for a fact that I apply more criteria and more sophisticated criteria than most people (though not necessarily the same set being applied by others with similar or more knowledge). Although I (usually) try not to be a jerk about it, my elitism is hard-earned.

    And I’m not talking about anything ‘classist’, in terms of social class. But the truth is that there is some music that requires a certain amount of (musical) intelligence and education or experience to get at all. There are also books that require a certain amount of (verbal) intelligence and education to get, at all. Many–of course, not all–people who can enjoy them do; many many others don’t because they can’t.

    but anyway. enough defense of elitism.

  164. says

    Well, there was a long discussion that followed someone’s linking to some guy’s poetry, and I think that was pretty much the gist of his remarks.

    In fact, if I remember correctly, he was talking about the intersection of inequality and aesthetic judgments (so you’d find it interesting, I suspect), but then went off the deep end (in my view) when he started trying to make the argument that culture* itself is inherently oppressive.

    *Culture in the anthropological sense – not “High Culture.”

  165. says

    About what your comment deserves, actually.

    I would bother responding to you if I thought that you were actually trying to have a discussion with me, but it’s apparent that what you really want to do is play to the gallery.

  166. walton says

    And again, what you like has nothing to do with understanding the role that a book has in changing the way that people write and read books. For example, I don’t like Dickens, but that has nothing to do with the role that Dickens played in the history of English literature, which can be discussed objectively.

    Yes, it can… but I think this is shifting the goalposts a bit. Historical importance, which is an objective empirical question, is not the same thing as “literary merit”, which is not. Ayn Rand is objectively a historically-important novelist and thinker, insofar as she influenced an intellectual movement which has had significant effects on American political history for the last couple of decades: this would clearly not, however, be a basis for concluding that her books are “great” or have “literary merit”.

    A conversation about what you like is worth having but is different than this conversation.

    I don’t speak for JAL, but what I’m objecting to, as I said, is the idea that there are objective, prescriptive standards of “merit” in art and literature that are distinct from one’s own preferences. I’ll quote what I said above:

    [Me:] But “literary merit” is not itself an objective or universal concept. What you mean by “merit” here, quite evidently, is “a set of prescriptive standards laid down by the educated literary and cultural élite”. While you may be able to distinguish these standards from your own personal preferences, there is no reason to think that these standards are either objective or culturally-universal. They’re not; they’re just fashions among the educated élite. There is nothing inherent about the prose of Joyce’s Ulysses which makes it objectively “better” than that of, say, Harry Potter; it is assumed to have that status because Ulysses is something that educated élites enjoy and that is inaccessible to those with less education in the field of literature, whereas Harry Potter is accessible to and enjoyed by ordinary people, and is therefore perceived as less sophisticated.
    [...]

    What I’m objecting to is the idea that there are objective, prescriptive standards of “merit” in art and literature. I’m arguing that the whole general claim that some works or genres are objectively “better” than others has its root in classism and in the fashions of the educated literary and cultural élite, with élite preferences being held up as “sophisticated” and “refined”, while the preferences of ordinary people are denigrated as inferior or unsophisticated.

  167. Algernon says

    but what I’m objecting to, as I said, is the idea that there are objective, prescriptive standards of “merit” in art and literature that are distinct from one’s own preferences.

    Oh don’t be silly. Of course there are. They are determined by the same things that all other social conventions are (how people are allowed to dress, what constitutes subversion, whether women should vote, so on and so on…)

  168. Algernon says

    I mean those are objective, or their existence is, but OF COURSE THERE IS NO EXTERNAL OBJECTIVE because the concept of “merit” is essentially a bias. You can’t have an unbiased view of what sucks and what doesn’t suck. That doesn’t even make sense?

  169. changeable moniker says

    David M: “electronic translation of selected words”

    Oh!

    That makes so much sense, and explains the disconnect between the erudite vocabulary (“imbruted”, “aberrant”) and the erratic grammar (and spelling, and capitalisation). Thank you! :)

  170. Algernon says

    Besides it was *me* in that conversation with SGBM, and neither of us was doing anything but what I see lots of other people doing here, having a conversation about something that interests us.

    That’s not what he said, it’s not what I said, and it’s not what we were talking about really.

    Anyway, I better bail. This shit made me unpopular and frankly it’s just not worth it. No reason to drive the wrong way on a one way…

  171. Pteryxx says

    There’s also some music that requires good auditory processing to get at all. I learned to play some djembe drum patterns that I can’t bloody pick out of a recording afterwards. Annoying.

  172. Rey Fox says

    What, not “KOSOVO IS THE ♥ OF SERBIA”?

    Might have been, this was a while ago, probably in the run up to the last World Cup. It was disturbing in its chanting nationalistic fervor.

  173. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Yes, it can… but I think this is shifting the goalposts a bit.

    It isn’t shifting them as much as recognizing what the “educated literary and cultural élite” are actually discussing.
    I think Ayn Rand provides a great example of what I’m talking about. I don’t think “Atlas Shrugged” is great in the sense that I liked it or that it introduces good ideas, or even in that it changed literature all that much. I think it is important in that it has had such an impact, and represents something foundational for the way that lots of people think. And we can talk about that objectively. We can talk about why people find it appealing objectively. Despite its uninterrupted tedium*, it is a worthwhile read if you want to understand what goes on in the mind of libertarians.

    There is nothing inherent about the prose of Joyce’s Ulysses which makes it objectively “better” than that of, say, Harry Potter; it is assumed to have that status because Ulysses is something that educated élites enjoy and that is inaccessible to those with less education in the field of literature, whereas Harry Potter is accessible to and enjoyed by ordinary people, and is therefore perceived as less sophisticated.

    I preface this by saying that I get hopelessly lost in the first 100 pages of Ulysses and never finish it. But again, I think you are mischaracterizing the argument for why Ulysses is better than Harry Potter. It isn’t simply because the “culturally elite” liked it. It is because it is transformatively different from other literature. Joyce changed the way that subsequent authors wrote, and the way that people read. You could make the argument that Joyce paved the way for Henry Miler, Burroughs and the beat writers, and certainly influenced other influential writers like Woolf**. I am willing to bet that Rowling will never have that kind of influence.

    *Conversation one: I found it painful to read. That doesn’t influence conversation one, with the obvious possibility that I could have found it so painful to read that I didn’t finish it.
    **Kind of an interesting story for reasons that are not on point.

  174. says

    KG:

    This just means that differences in matters of taste can’t be resolved objectively. – Bill Dauphin

    True as far as it goes, but (and I suspect Bill would agree), that doesn’t mean it is impossible to convince someone, by rational argument, that they are wrong in a matter of taste!

    First, the quoted stuff wasn’t actually me (though I don’t recall who it was, and I may have quoted it in something I wrote).

    Second, I see you and Walton (among many others) have been back and forth on this, and I don’t pretend I haven’t just skimmed most of it, so I’ll just respond briefly (except you know how it goes when I say “briefly”!) to what you addressed to me:

    I do, in fact, think it’s possible to change someone’s opinion on a matter of taste by rational argument… but it would still be opinion, and I wouldn’t put it on a right/wrong axis: If you managed to change my opinion about (for instance) opera, which generally doesn’t appeal to me, I would not say “I was wrong before, and now I see things correctly.” Instead, I would say “I saw things one way before, and now you’ve persuaded me to see them differently.”

    There are certainly things you can say about the elements of art that are objective — whether the meter or rhyme scheme of a poem is broken, for instance, or whether a painter’s use of perspective is technically correct, or whether a guitar is properly tuned — but questions of merit involve a synthesis of those elements that is (IMHO) inescapably subjective. And, of course, personal preference adds yet another layer of subjectivity. That is, I can recognize merit in art, yet still not like it: The former judgment is subjective; the latter, doubly so.

    Now, I can point out the objective elements that go into my subjective evaluation of merit, and you might say “oh, I hadn’t noticed that”… after which you might be persuaded to change your own evaluation of merit, or you might not. And even if you are persuaded to adopt my evaluation of merit, that might still not change whether or not you actually like the piece.

    To me, all this disputation is not only fun, but intellectually and aesthetically valuable: It’s part of how I engage with the art itself. The only thing that bugs me is when people assert their own subjective merit claims as if they were objective fact, which has the effect of treating all conflicting merit claims as false, and suggests that those who hold them are incompetent to see the “truth.”

    When it goes that way, it’s not fun after all.

  175. says

    changeable moniker:

    In the UK, “knickers in a knot twist” (FTFY)

    I’ve heard it both ways. I bow to your greater knowledge of what’s more current in the UK, but I prefer knot, because the alliteration (especially with the reptition of kn) appeals to the old creative writing teacher in me: It’s just better art! <grin>

  176. walton says

    But again, I think you are mischaracterizing the argument for why Ulysses is better than Harry Potter. It isn’t simply because the “culturally elite” liked it. It is because it is transformatively different from other literature. Joyce changed the way that subsequent authors wrote, and the way that people read. You could make the argument that Joyce paved the way for Henry Miler, Burroughs and the beat writers, and certainly influenced other influential writers like Woolf**. I am willing to bet that Rowling will never have that kind of influence.

    But that argument doesn’t establish that it’s better, or that it has “greater literary merit”. It establishes that it’s more important, in the specific context of the historical evolution of English prose. Not only are these not the same thing, they’re categorically different types of claim: the first is a value-judgment, the second is an empirical claim.

    If your claim is simply that some novels and some authors are of greater historical significance than others, in terms of their influence on culture and literature, then that’s obviously true. But that isn’t what KG said, nor is it what I was arguing against. I am arguing against the claim that there is an objective, prescriptive standard that allows us to distinguish a “good” novel from a “bad” novel. KG didn’t claim that Tolkien was unimportant in the history of literature; he claimed that Tolkien’s writing was bad. These aren’t even remotely the same claim.

  177. Therrin says

    Nutmeg,

    “Lesbionic libertines” (from the link) sounds like a cyborg superhero group.

    Regarding studying art to appreciate it, my example would be Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. I didn’t think much of his work until a music theory class spent a week unpacking the prelude. The whole damn opera is (impressively) condensed into those four pages.

  178. changeable moniker says

    @Bill Dauphin, so explain “panties in a bunch”? Oh, it’s the voiced/unvoiced plosive thing. ;)

  179. walton says

    It isn’t shifting them as much as recognizing what the “educated literary and cultural élite” are actually discussing.
    I think Ayn Rand provides a great example of what I’m talking about. I don’t think “Atlas Shrugged” is great in the sense that I liked it or that it introduces good ideas, or even in that it changed literature all that much. I think it is important in that it has had such an impact, and represents something foundational for the way that lots of people think. And we can talk about that objectively. We can talk about why people find it appealing objectively.

    Sure. Just as political historians might talk about the effects of Reagan’s presidency on the American political system and American society, and conclude that he was an important figure in American history. But it obviously would not follow that “Reagan was a good president”, because the latter is not an empirical claim about his historical significance, but a value-judgment about his merit. Historical importance and merit are not the same thing. As I said, I’m arguing against the claim that there is an objective, prescriptive standard that allows us to distinguish “good” literature from “bad” literature. KG didn’t claim that Tolkien was unimportant in the history of literature; he claimed that Tolkien’s writing was bad.

  180. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    Nobody warned me that 13 years old was the new 4 years old when it comes to tantrums. If they had, I would have braced myself.

  181. says

    Slightly threadrupt here:
    “hypercorrectivism” is a word? Because I have that. If I get something wrong the first time I will usually oscillate between the right one and the left one. (That’s kinda a joke, I still have to think about ‘right’ and ‘left’, but I get ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ w/o thinking.)
    ++++++++++++++
    amiwrong or did someone upthread equate erotica as != porn?
    The only difference that I can tell is one turns you on and the other doesn’t.
    +++++++++++++
    On a similar subject; I too thought slashfic was horror and I’ve never clicked a link.
    +++++++++++++++
    Josh, they lost part of their lives in that fire, and mementos are not just things.
    +++++++++++++++
    “Ground hog” made me chortle out loud. Now I want bacon. Thanks Ogvorbis.
    +++++++++++++++
    Inspired by a comment upthread (FY Spellczech, ‘upthread is too a word!);
    National Prayer Breakfast Day and Groundhog Day are the same day. Dammit! This means we’re going to have at least another 6 weeks of religious pandering by politicians.

  182. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Tolkien’s bad writing is likely the reason he isn’t generally recognized as being an important literary* figure. The quality of his writing is in some sense a matter of opinion, but not all opinions are equally valid. People who have read and analyzed literature broadly likely have insight into what makes for effective or innovative or transformative writng that people with less experience don’t. Library shelves are full of this kind of critical work. Scholars of literature may disagree on fine points, but one need not hypothesize that some kind of cabal of the culturally elite is responsible for the nearly universal opinion that it is important for students to read Dostoevsky but not Crichton.

    *As opposed to cultural.

  183. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The Redhead usually makes a meatloaf from ground pork, in a shaped pan, for groundhog day. Even goes so far to use cloves for claws. Tonight I’ll get by with regular meatloaf from Swanson.

  184. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Nerd: Another shoulder chuck for you. I mean, you distribute the grog so maybe you ought to help yourself to some.

  185. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I mean, you distribute the grog so maybe you ought to help yourself to some.

    *hic*

  186. walton says

    Tolkien’s bad writing is likely the reason he isn’t generally recognized as being an important literary* figure. The quality of his writing is in some sense a matter of opinion, but not all opinions are equally valid. People who have read and analyzed literature broadly likely have insight into what makes for effective or innovative or transformative writng that people with less experience don’t.

    No, you’re dodging my point. You’re still engaging in a rhetorical sleight of hand: equating qualities like “effective or innovative or transformative” with good, and the absence of these qualities with bad.

    I’ll leave aside “effective” because I’m not sure what you mean by “effective” writing; effective at what? But it’s fair to say that calling a work “innovative” or “transformative” is a factual claim. Presumably, whether a work is “innovative” would depend on how much it differs from earlier work, and whether it is “transformative” would depend on how much it influenced later work. These are, at root, factual claims which are susceptible to empirical investigation. I’m happy to say that someone who has “analyzed literature” is more qualified

    But where you are making a giant and unsustainable leap of logic is in conflating these factual qualities with literary merit. On what basis do you claim that writing which is “innovative” and “transformative” is objectively better than writing which does not possess these qualities? Why should these – rather than, say, capacity to entertain the reader or to inspire hir imagination – be the standards by which writing is adjudged “good” or “bad”?

    Again, my argument is not intended to denigrate the field of academic literary criticism. My argument, rather, is that it is simply false to suggest that there is an objective set of prescriptive standards for what constitutes “good” literature or art or culture. You’ve offered an explanation of what you think constitutes good writing: namely, that work which is historically important, innovative and transformative is of greater literary merit than work which doesn’t possess these qualities. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t establish that this is anything more than your personal opinion, or that everyone is obligated to accept these as the “correct” standards for judging writing to be “good” or “bad”. You haven’t established that I am wrong in an objective sense if I say that, in my personal opinion, Tolkien was a much better writer than James Joyce, because I am less interested in the “transformative” qualities of a work of literature and more in its ability to appeal to my imagination, and Tolkien does so much more effectively than Joyce does.

  187. walton says

    I’m happy to say that someone who has “analyzed literature” is more qualified

    should read: “I’m happy to say that someone who has “analyzed literature” is more qualified to judge whether or not a work possesses these specific qualities, because that’s a question of fact, not a matter of personal taste.”

  188. says

    (vent)

    After getting my diabetes under control and keeping it under control for a year with oral medication, diet, exercise and weight loss – my numbers have started to climb. In the last week, glucose numbers have gone up ten points over their recent normal state. Checking in with doctor tomorrow. Hacked off.

    (/vent)