NATION

PASSWORD

Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

A coffee shop for those who like to discuss art, music, books, movies, TV, each other's own works, and existential angst.
User avatar
Veblenia
Minister
 
Posts: 2196
Founded: Nov 13, 2007
Ex-Nation

Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Veblenia » Wed May 06, 2009 9:54 pm

Since I've effectively threadjacked myself, I thought this deserved a fresh topic.

Oeck wrote:
Veblenia wrote:I disagree; I don't think it's up to us to judge the value of other people's reading experiences.

First of all, I'll arbitrarily decide to assign your posts an increased impact factor of 7.7 for your use of a semicolon.

That said, now it is my turn to disagree, because I do think that we can very well judge the value of other people's reading experiences.
I am definitely not saying "One simply cannot enjoy book X", or "People have to enjoy book Y", but I am saying that it is perfectly legitimate to say "If you do/ do not enjoy book Z, I feel you have poor taste / a great sense of humor / an astounding intellect."
For example, if somebody keeps reading books by [insert author who I think is terribly unfunny] for humorous entertainment while giving books by, say, Douglas Adams, a wide berth, I feel it justified to pass a judgment on that reader's sense of humor. Similarly if they always prefer books of a philosophical/political tint I disagree with, or keep reading books with screamingly inaccurate popular pseudo-science rather than books with actual facts and scientific discourse in them, I certainly do think that this enables me to make a call on their philosophical and/or intellectual disposition, which in turn I think is fair game to judgment.

I can certainly recommend reading Book X over Book Y, but to say "don't read Book Y; I'll think less of you because of it", particularly after the book has been read, denies both the autonomy of other people's intellects and the value of reading books we don't like/agree with.

Assuming that the (potential) reader has some sort of prior information about the part/aspect of the book I don't like (because they've talked about it to someone, or have read similar stuff by the same author, or whatever), then their reading that book is an indicator for their interest in that aspect, or at least an indicator for their tolerating that aspect in favor of [other aspect(s) of the book], and again I feel it justified to judge a person's interests. Say, for example, that someone knows I have an active interest in reading John Carey, then they'll be able to deduce (and judge) the fact that I'm highly interested in theories denouncing intellectual and artistic elitism.

However, as with any other sort of judgment, book-related or not, I can very well separate single issues from the entire person, and especially separate single issues of differences in political, philosophical, artistic etc. tastes from liking or not liking the person as a person.
This holds, as far as books go, especially true for the so-called "value" or supposed literary merit of any book. I've read many a highbrow book with rather unexciting content that I didn't like for exactly the latte reason, and I've enjoyed many a "pleb" book with gripping characters and/or plot that I enjoyed. I'm enough of a literature major to appreciate it when someone gets a kick out of a "good" / well-written work, and I'm still human enough (despite my degree!) to value it when someone appreciates a good story for itself.

However, if someone enjoys book wherein the most part are descriptions of utter gore and brutality, and characters mainly reveling in the pure joy of inflicting as much harm of both physical and psychological nature on each other as possible, then yes that may serve as the basis for a negative judgment on my part of that person's estimation of what makes good reading (without saying they are a bad person, or making the ridiculously simplistic assumption they secretly want to inflict similar harm upon anybody). Would you say I'm wrong to pass that judgment?


These are legitimate judgements, but I think we need to draw a distinction between the act of reading and how readers evaluate books. Certainly, people's opinions can be a useful guide to their taste and/or character. But I don't think we necessarily have to enjoy or agree with a book to gain something from having read it; every act of reading broadens our perspective or challenges our thinking on some level. To judge someone merely for having read a book, regardless of what they thought of it, is wrong.
Political Compass: -6.62, -7.69
"Freedom is a horizon in which we continually re-negotiate the terms of our own subjugation."
- Michel Foucault

User avatar
SoWiBi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 718
Founded: Sep 09, 2005
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby SoWiBi » Fri May 08, 2009 8:34 am

Veblenia wrote:Since I've effectively threadjacked myself...

That somehow sounded refreshingly dirty.
These are legitimate judgements, but I think we need to draw a distinction between the act of reading and how readers evaluate books. Certainly, people's opinions can be a useful guide to their taste and/or character. But I don't think we necessarily have to enjoy or agree with a book to gain something from having read it; every act of reading broadens our perspective or challenges our thinking on some level. To judge someone merely for having read a book, regardless of what they thought of it, is wrong.

Yes, I'd say we agree here. I routinely read books I heartily disagree with; in fact I try to make a certain quota of my reading this sort of "critical reading" - first of all because I think it a very good idea to actually know what you're criticizing in detail, and secondly because I get a sense of pleasure out of exercising my mind like that: I find that it's good mental gymnastics to try and follow a line of argument that's way out there for your way of thinking, and I enjoy the exercise of continuously building my own counter-argumentation against the reading material.

..SoWiBi....Oeck....ElkElks....NietzscheHeretics....Isjan....I am a False Statement..
are all expressing the above view in an indiscernible cacophony

We'll also all vanish now for a while. So long and thanks for all the fish!


User avatar
Anumia
Diplomat
 
Posts: 665
Founded: Apr 29, 2005
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Anumia » Fri May 08, 2009 8:39 am

My father's argument for having read the Bible (other than the fact that he went to a strict Christian school for part of his life so he kinda had to :P) was that, "You have to know your enemy to beat your enemy."

I'll get around to it, eventually.

While I do not go out there to find books I will necessarily disagree with, I do like reading the "important" ones that are out there, to see if I actually have any ideas in common with them.

User avatar
Rejistania
Senator
 
Posts: 3600
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Rejistania » Fri May 08, 2009 8:51 am

or keep reading books with screamingly inaccurate popular pseudo-science rather than books with actual facts and scientific discourse in them, I certainly do think that this enables me to make a call on their philosophical and/or intellectual disposition, which in turn I think is fair game to judgment.


Except that people might read for entertainment and while knowing about the inaccuracies do not mind them since the story is great. There are people, who like fiction and do not think it is reality - most of the time, they can perfectly well distinguish between the 2 worlds. IMHO it is perfectly okay to read Star Trek stories (or watch the movies) even though ST has a purely sexual relationship with most of the natural sciences.
Rejis sjiki, linux sjiki, alari sjiki, korona sjiki!
Forever united, forever free, forever in justice, forever prospering!


"Tekneluru mi'aru mi aji, il'sidekhir'ra mi, lajistas. Mi'ki'vasu kynha'het kijitax." Hank͜hila Sede, first lentine (translation: A dream is only a dream until it is reached. After that, it becomes something trivial)

Headlines from the Na~ovi Nanti: Hetkali election ended in no candidate over 2% hurdle - Syku I Jai fired as coach of Aetaila Seli, youth coach Hea I Juien takes over reins of club - Rising number of fairy penguins in Sumumusumu and neighboring islands


This person is pro-EU and proud of it! They are also a Eurofederalist and want the Federated States of Europe!

User avatar
Northwest Slobovia
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 12411
Founded: Sep 16, 2006
Anarchy

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Northwest Slobovia » Fri May 08, 2009 9:05 am

Rejistania wrote:Except that people might read for entertainment and while knowing about the inaccuracies do not mind them since the story is great.

Indeed. Further, I read Hubbard's laughably bad Battlefield Earth just to see if there was anything in it that might hint at his later development of Dianetics. (No.)

Rejistania wrote:IMHO it is perfectly okay to read Star Trek stories (or watch the movies) even though ST has a purely sexual relationship with most of the natural sciences.

I like this line. :) Yes, I've read some ST stories and seen some of the episodes and movies. I mock the stupid science -- I'm a biochemist, and they handle biology with the same exquisite care they do physics -- and the poor writing and acting. But some of them aren't bad entertainment anyway.
Gollum died for your sins.
Power is an equal-opportunity corrupter.

User avatar
Veblenia
Minister
 
Posts: 2196
Founded: Nov 13, 2007
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Veblenia » Fri May 08, 2009 9:18 am

SoWiBi wrote:
That somehow sounded refreshingly dirty.

That may be the first time I've ever been called "refreshing".

SoWiBi wrote:
Yes, I'd say we agree here. I routinely read books I heartily disagree with; in fact I try to make a certain quota of my reading this sort of "critical reading" - first of all because I think it a very good idea to actually know what you're criticizing in detail, and secondly because I get a sense of pleasure out of exercising my mind like that: I find that it's good mental gymnastics to try and follow a line of argument that's way out there for your way of thinking, and I enjoy the exercise of continuously building my own counter-argumentation against the reading material.


This is exactly what I'm talking about, although I can't lay claim to your dedication in applying it. It's important not to continually reinforce your intellectual biases.
Political Compass: -6.62, -7.69
"Freedom is a horizon in which we continually re-negotiate the terms of our own subjugation."
- Michel Foucault

User avatar
Tsrill
Bureaucrat
 
Posts: 59
Founded: Antiquity
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Tsrill » Fri May 08, 2009 9:23 am

Except that people might read for entertainment and while knowing about the inaccuracies do not mind them since the story is great. There are people, who like fiction and do not think it is reality - most of the time, they can perfectly well distinguish between the 2 worlds. IMHO it is perfectly okay to read Star Trek stories (or watch the movies) even though ST has a purely sexual relationship with most of the natural sciences.[/quote]

As long as the science, or rather "science" is plausible, or at least plausible within the context of the book, I can live with it. This is called "suspension of disbelief" if I'm not mistaken. When it's obviously utter nonsense, I cannot. And will probably ROFL literally.

User avatar
SoWiBi
Diplomat
 
Posts: 718
Founded: Sep 09, 2005
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby SoWiBi » Sat May 09, 2009 2:50 am

Rejistania wrote:Except that people might read for entertainment and while knowing about the inaccuracies do not mind them since the story is great. There are people, who like fiction and do not think it is reality - most of the time, they can perfectly well distinguish between the 2 worlds. IMHO it is perfectly okay to read Star Trek stories (or watch the movies) even though ST has a purely sexual relationship with most of the natural sciences.

I'm sorry I do not appear to have made myself all too abundantly clear.

I was most emphatically not talking about "narrative reading", so to speak, that uses science - or a non-equivalent their author is deluded enough to think of as science - as a plot device / backdrop; in that instance, I fully agree with you (although it does make me wince occasionally, but that's okay).

What I was more aiming at are books that you find in the "non-fiction" or "popular science" book-case in your library. And again, it's not there mere reading process I object to, but the motivation and/or result of it. I'm all for reading the currently popular book of this kind (there always seems to be that one, no?) so as to be able to refute it more effectively hen people starttalking about it let and right - great. Read it with an inclination to think it might just be an informative book right up your alley that "finally says what no-one else dared to say", and then realize by the time you finished it that it's full of holes - kudos. Read it and say "ZOMG what a brilliant analysis; I'll only keep on reading this sort of 'science' from now on!" and I'll make my judgment on it. A judgment which you may or may not give a rat's ass about.

..SoWiBi....Oeck....ElkElks....NietzscheHeretics....Isjan....I am a False Statement..
are all expressing the above view in an indiscernible cacophony

We'll also all vanish now for a while. So long and thanks for all the fish!


User avatar
Tobelade
Secretary
 
Posts: 39
Founded: May 24, 2008
Corporate Police State

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Tobelade » Mon May 11, 2009 11:51 pm

SoWiBi wrote:
Veblenia wrote:Since I've effectively threadjacked myself...

That somehow sounded refreshingly dirty.

Agreed... Perhaps a new term is in call for...
Blearrghh... Durg... Slobber slobber. Brains? Blurgh. Duh. >eye drops out of socket<
TRANSLATION: Greetings, fellow creature! Would you perhaps allow me to greet you traditionally by sucking your brain out through your ear? It's quite enjoyable. Apparently. At least, no one ever complains about it.

User avatar
Saint Jade IV
Negotiator
 
Posts: 6441
Founded: Jul 02, 2008
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby Saint Jade IV » Tue May 26, 2009 7:08 pm

SoWiBi wrote:
Veblenia wrote:Since I've effectively threadjacked myself...

That somehow sounded refreshingly dirty.
These are legitimate judgements, but I think we need to draw a distinction between the act of reading and how readers evaluate books. Certainly, people's opinions can be a useful guide to their taste and/or character. But I don't think we necessarily have to enjoy or agree with a book to gain something from having read it; every act of reading broadens our perspective or challenges our thinking on some level. To judge someone merely for having read a book, regardless of what they thought of it, is wrong.

Yes, I'd say we agree here. I routinely read books I heartily disagree with; in fact I try to make a certain quota of my reading this sort of "critical reading" - first of all because I think it a very good idea to actually know what you're criticizing in detail, and secondly because I get a sense of pleasure out of exercising my mind like that: I find that it's good mental gymnastics to try and follow a line of argument that's way out there for your way of thinking, and I enjoy the exercise of continuously building my own counter-argumentation against the reading material.


I think it essential to read material which you fundamentally disagree with, if only to better understand the people in your acquaintance who actually do agree with it. It also makes it far easier to refute if you know their source as well or better than they do.

I try to read the classics, because I think it important to read those books that informed the structure of our society and moral code. I constantly opine to my colleagues, mother and anyone who listens how depressed I am about the dumbing down of our English Curriculum. Most of our students don't study anything more taxing than To Kill a Mockingbird or Romeo and Juliet in high school, and that is considered their literature component all sewn up. :twisted:
When you grow up, your heart dies.
It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of son of a b*tch or another.
RIP Dyakovo...we are all poorer for your loss.

User avatar
The Ninja Penguin
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 2
Founded: Nov 04, 2006
Ex-Nation

Re: Judging Others By Their Books (was: Reading list)

Postby The Ninja Penguin » Tue May 26, 2009 8:49 pm

Indeed. Further, I read Hubbard's laughably bad Battlefield Earth just to see if there was anything in it that might hint at his later development of Dianetics. (No.)

:lol: I read it to see if it was as laughably bad as everyone said it was (Yes.)

I regret the time that cannot be recovered.


Advertisement

Remove ads

Return to Arts & Fiction

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

Advertisement

Remove ads