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Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Spoilers for I, Claudius

He's Claudius

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Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

I will refrain from commenting on Russian literature because I blather on about it in every other book thread, so instead I'll take the opportunity to recommend the most beautifully written book I've ever read, The Gold Bug Variations, by Richard Powers.

Read The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina before the "and" books, especially the molasses swamp that is War and Peace.

That's a good one

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Doctor Faustine posted:

Like half of the classics are “genre fiction, but old.” Get over yourself.

you could fry an egg on this take

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


OscarDiggs posted:

. I've talked to a lot of TBB Goons over the years and many (including Hieronymous Alloy ) have said literature fiction is just a genre of fiction, so I am open to the idea.

Hieronymous get your loving rear end in here so I can yell at you

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Hieronymous Alloy posted:

In the modern era genre is more a marketing term than anything else

gently caress you thats my line

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Lex Neville posted:

Is Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers literature?

its certainly literary

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I mean I think in general the question "Is __________ literature" is a question that is generally in the wrong direction.

It should be "Does ______________ strive to be outside of the constraints of its genre"

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


yeah but only by the peasant definition

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Franchescanado posted:

This also made me think of Blindness by Jose Saramago and White Noise by Don DeLillo. While Blindness is more literary and a better book overall, it's touted as "sci-fi" for no reason other than the events are triggered by a disease that is highly communicable and leads to the host becoming blind. That's not science fiction, that's just an extraordinary situation.

Blindness is explicitly not touted as Sci-Fi though.

Night of the Triffids however, is.

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I don;t think BestScienceFictionBooks.com and a listopia author count as a voice of consensus in the literary community

Franchescanado posted:

And my point was that post-apocalyptic setting doesn't inherently mean sci-fi, though they are usually lumped together.

Now that I can agree with

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


So, Oscar asked me to type this up, and I decidedly to give a brief overview

Mel's Sexy Guide on How to Actually Read a loving Book tm

Part 1: The Rules

1.) There is no such thing as THE reading.

A book doesn't exist as a singular communication of a primary message to a reader. There is no one single absolute ultimate reading of a book that is wholly superior to all others. All one can have is A reading of a text: a narrative in which you engage with the story and text presented.

2.) gently caress the Author.

Communication theory as you have been taught is wrong. A book is not the medium in which the message is communicated to the reader by the author. The author is not a meaningful elements of the interaction between reader and text. There is ONLY reader and text. There is no author.

read: https://writing.upenn.edu/~taransky/Barthes.pdf

3.) Readings can and will be contradictory

There is no such thing as a "good" book that accomplishes its goals and a "bad" book that doesn't. Criticism is wholly uninterested in measurements of "quality." Criticism is about analysis of meaning. In that way, a book can be both successful and unsuccessful. It can be both meaningful and not meaningful. Different readings expose different elements and conclusions. A book is an infinite spectrum of possibility.

4.) There is no wrong reading

A reading can never be wrong. However, it can be weak or inconsequential.

Part 2: The Toolkit

As I have said before, reading is not about finding the truth or the answer or anything else. Reading is about the application of different critical tools to the text. In that way, let me introduce some basic critical tools.

1.) Post-Modernism.

Post-Modernism can be perhaps best defined by Jean-Francois Lyotard in "The Post-Modern Condition" (see: https://monoskop.org/images/e/e0/Ly...n_Knowledge.pdf )

In it, he states the Post-Modern Condition is not a battle for information, but instead a battle for the valid interpretation of information. This is commonly referred to as a Meta-Narrative. A Meta-Narrative is essentially the rules for how we interpret the connection between events. Think about a meta-narrative like light. A dog, a man, and a snake all can look at the same object. What elements of the object they see however are dependent on the nature of their eye. A snake will not see an object through ultra-violent light the same as humans see in the normal spectrum. Although the object is the same, the perspective changes.

I tend to consider most fields of study that deal with meta-narrational analysis to be under the "cover" of Post-Modernism, although some scholars tend to consider each field to be a distinct school of thought.

Some examples of Post-Modern critiques

a.)Marxism - To analyze the text under the framework of how the labor class interacts with the ruling class
b.)Feminism - To analyze how ideas of gender roles and expectations are reflected in the text
c.)Post-Colonialism - To analyze a text in terms of oppressed peoples and oppressors, etc.

Note: There is no such thing as the wrong toolkit. You see this a lot with video gamers. They say that feminist criticism of video games misses the point because thats not how the games are "meant" to be seen. There is no "meant" meaning of a piece of media. All readings are valid. However, some readings may not be as meaningful as others.

2.) Post Structuralism

To understand Post-Structuralism one must first understand Structuralism.

See: http://home.wlu.edu/~levys/courses/...06/saussure.pdf - hard mode
http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvin...day-excerpt.pdf - easy mode

Structuralism is the study of how language creates meaning. Of particular importance is that there is a sign which is made up of a signified and a signifier. The signified is the object, and the signifier is the meaning attached to the object. Together, they become a sign, which is a meaningful object.

Post-Structuralism critiques this view of language. The most famous form of Post-Structuralist criticism is what is known as De-Construction.

Deconstruction is best defined as a disentanglement of significance.

NOTE: Dumb people will call Deconstruction an -ism and say it is its own school of thought. They are dumb and wrong. Deconstruction is not a belief, it is a tool.

Post-Structuralism, through Deconstruction looks at how signs might become their own signifieds attached to their own signifiers. Essentially, all meaning is not concrete, but instead a very complex but ultimately unstable correlation of cultural ideas. All terms are arbitrary at their essence, and meaning is only as concrete as can be understood between those communicating that meaning.

NOTE: The way TVtropes defines Deconstruction is wrong. That is not deconstruction. That is reference.

Part 3: Winning an Argument with BotL

The fundamental failure of people who argue with BotL is failing to understand that his critique is A reading of the text. People get mad and try to fight him because they think he is claiming his reading supercedes their own reading. It doesn't. You cannot win an argument with BotL by trying to say his interpretation is wrong or irrelevant because no reading can be. You need to engage with the methodology of his reading, not the conclusions.

Cheers

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

it's ridiculous to say that author isn't meaningful or that there isn't any wrong readings on a book. frame and context is just as important, as art doesn't exist in a vacuum.

reading a novel within a historical context is only one reading, not the essential reading

if you want to throw yourself against the past half-century of critical theory go for it, just don't expect to make a dent

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

im not even talking about "essential readings" or w/e. yes you can look at anything in multiple different angles but to say that you can have a reading of every story in anyway you want is completely wildly off base

Saying a novel can be read in infinitely different ways is different from saying you can read a novel however you want

jagstag posted:

but merely that there are completely wrong takes

who arbitrates that

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

Here's a cheat code: You can't look at a text in light of the author, but you can look at it in light of other texts by the author, including autobiographies, personal correspondence, etc.

Sure you can give the book a historical/biographic reading but that is not a more essential reading than one which ignores it

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

I was just clarifying that "There is ONLY reader and text. There is no author," doesn't preclude that context for the book.

Sure, but in that case the author exists as a consideration of the reader applied to the text, not an independent third body

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

This is my exact point.

Yeah, I know, I just want to make sure that is clearly stated because someone always shows up drunkenly swinging a barstool going "WHADDYA MEAN THE AUTHOR DOESN'T COUNT"

jagstag posted:

maybe im not explaining myself correctly. I'm not saying anything outside of an authors intent or context is a wrong reading but that there are wrong takes especially ones that are completely counter to the context/intent

whose intent

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

Being counter to authorial intent does not invalidate a reading. The ostensibly anti-racist YA novel Save the Pearls is infamous for actually being insanely racist.

ooh good example, I was trying to think of one

Hell, a plausible critical analysis of Starship Troopers (the text) could argue the narrative is pro- and anti- fascism with nearly equal validity but according to jag one of them must be wrong

Mel Mudkiper fucked around with this message at 20:58 on Nov 15, 2018

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.



cheers

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

so if i was to say that a modest proposal was actually pro baby eating you would say that the reading is weak/inconsequential and not wrong?

It would depend on how you explain your reasoning. Criticism is not just going "this book is about this" without providing any analysis.

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


OscarDiggs posted:

As someone who only knows what signified and signifier means is because they googled it as a result of this post, let mejust say that would be an amazing thread to read. Especially where it concerns my own difficulty with theme, symbolism and what have you. Though I would hope in my case it's more lack of experience then total inability.

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

I know I bang the drum about Barthes all the time but I really do consider it the bible for beginner critical theory

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

then who is to say what is a dumb reading and what is a good reading?

the reader of the reading

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

and then that reader of the reading can misconstrue what the author of that reading says

now you're getting it

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Seldom Posts posted:

I read At the Mountains of Madness and it reminded me of the time I took a trip to the mountains, so it is a happy book for me.

explain why



I mean in general, I don't get why dinguses think a subjective reading is wholly voluntary. Like they seem to think you can go "so I can say War and Peace is about migratory penguins and you can't say I am wrong"

Subjectivity is not voluntary, subjectivity is inherent. A book can have infinite meanings to the reader as subject, but the reader is not reading subjectively if they are just tossing interpretations they don't believe in for the sake of it.

I mean, at some level I do envy the ability for a barely literature manchild to stumble upon the last half century of critical thought and think "heh, idiots, if the book can have infinite readings than I can just say whatever I want."

Like, do you really think this is not something critics realized?

Mel Mudkiper fucked around with this message at 16:29 on Nov 16, 2018

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Speaking of which, Lord of the Flies might be the wrongest taught book in all of American fiction

Second only, maybe, to The Scarlet Letter

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Ben Nevis posted:

Can you elaborate?

They are both books that seem be taught by public schools (at least in my experience) as an Easter Egg hunt for "symbols" that are meant to be concrete and inarguable

It reinforces the most pedestrian sort of reading, an author-centric riddle box that needs to be "correctly" "solved"

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Irony doesn't work when its indistinguishable from sincerity

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


my bony fealty posted:

I have known someone who was an obstinate believer in "objective readings" and would say dumb poo poo like this to prove that subjectivity is wrong or w/e, and they were an English major :/ :/

There is a sort of person who desperately wants there to be a right answer to art and for them to be smarter than others for knowing it

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


vandalism posted:

I guess there really is no objectivity.

get that man a cigar

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


you seem to really want it to be wrong but cannot come up with a reason stronger than you want it to be wrong

also lol at the interpretation of it being "narrow" because it only considers the last 50 years as if the last 50 was not informed by the previous 5000. The conclusions of modern criticism come from the extended historical debate. It's not separate from it.

Mel Mudkiper fucked around with this message at 03:43 on Nov 19, 2018

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

considering only the recent theory as the only valid part is narrow especially since it's a continued debate that hasn't concluded and probs never will be as long as people care about this poo poo

Please, for the love of god, read a book

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Sham bam bamina! posted:

Your mistake here is caring about this poo poo.

false

caring about literature and criticism is v. cool

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


CestMoi posted:

do you ever read the things you argue against or make a guess based on what you think a person might say

Considering I cited structuralists when I am a post-structuralist

yes

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I demand to be cited jag

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


jagstag posted:

didn't because your arguments we're pretty weak

says the guy who pulled a "sorry that was my little brother using my account"

OscarDiggs posted:

Okay.

This dip into Russian Literature hasn't been interesting and eye-opening, and I'm eager to go back to it again at some point, but right now I think it's time to dip back out and try another new thing.

At this moment I am considering "A Confederary of Dunces" quite heaviliy, with the other options still there in the back of my mind. Also, I managed to get my hands on a few books from family, which included "A Scarlet Letter", "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Heart of Darkness" and 2 different versions of "The Oddysey".

As always, feel free to tell me my chosen book is a bad choice and to suggest something different. I'll decide good and proper some time tommorow.

I mean, those are very different directions. I would recommend identifying what wore you out with Russian lit and trying to read something that contrasts with it

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I mean, Dunces sounds like a good pick especially because the protagonist is basically a pretender version of the weighty Russian thinkers anyways

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


OscarDiggs posted:

Oh wow I meant it was! It was interesting and eye opening!

It must have autocompleted as hasn't. My bad for not checking! I definetly intend to go back to Russian Lit at some point!

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Dunces is long but its surprisingly easy to read

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


I think Mockingbird is a poo poo book sorry thread

Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Franchescanado posted:

Mel I don't mind your crazy opinions I just wish you would elaborate on them without me having to ask you over two or three posts first.

Sorry brah.

I just don't think its very good and it has a very regressive view on the ethics of racism that almost wholly robs black men and women of agency and empathy

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Mel Mudkiper
Jan 19, 2012

I think this is a pretty good draft class overall. It's really shaping up that way because of the water types.


Hieronymous Alloy posted:

The modern critique of tkam is that it has a white-savior problem. All works are flawed though.

I like arguing that tkam is the greatest work of southern fiction by a white author because it sends Faulkner folks into conniption fits.

Broke: Faulkner
Woke: Lee
Bespoke: Mcdowell

Hieronymous Alloy posted:

The modern critique of tkam is that it has a white-savior problem. All works are flawed though.

I like arguing that tkam is the greatest work of southern fiction by a white author because it sends Faulkner folks into conniption fits.

I mean, its not even the white savior problem as much as the implicit devaluation of black lives by making the wrongful imprisonment and death of a black man have the primary significance of giving a little white girl a better understanding of the world or that a white lawyer futilely going against a biased system is noble even when the consequences for the black man are unchanged.

It feels like the life of Tom Robinson only has significance in so far that it affects the privileged white family of the protagonist

Mel Mudkiper fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Nov 30, 2018

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