(urth) SRD on obscurity
sbocian at poczta.fm
Wed Jun 14 11:54:56 PDT 2006
Saturday, June 10, 2006, 8:57:16 AM, you wrote:
> On 6/9/06, pthwndxrclzp <aquastor at gmail.com> wrote:
>> My assessment had very little to do with my liking or disliking the
>> material. Whether you agree or not, I find his prose puerile, sloppy, and
>> overwritten. You needn't agree, but getting so bent over the absence of an
>> "I think" statement (which is actually implicit in almost anything anyone
>> writes, neurolinguistically speaking) seems equally childish to me.
> It seems to me (which I like to use instead of "I think" or "in my
> opinion") that, while the "I think" statement is _factually_ implicit
> in any utterance, failure to _explicitly_ mark opinions as over against
> facts frequently denotes an inability to distinguish the two; the real
> test, of course, is how "emotionally" people defend their opinions
> against perceived attacks.
The real difference between facts and opinion is that opinions can
be neither attacked nor defended. The opinion is the fact that I like
or dislike something.They are. I like something, or not, and
similarly you like it, or not. There is nothing more to it. I cannot,
and I need not, persuade you that I like something.
Unfortunately, the obvious fact that one can have an opinion about a
value of a book is taken to mean that one cannot make a judgement
You can certainly say that there are no objective values of
books, only personal likes or dislikes. That position is wrong, but it
is tenable. It can be proven that books have an intrinsic value, but
it would require many presupositions. Many of them could be regarded
as not obvious, or even false. (Eg, I think it is necessary to suppose
that the God exists. This is a controversial supposition.)
Calling any judgement about value of a book an opinion, however, only
The proof that there opinions and judgements about books are
different things is easy - I can like a book, and judge it bad (eg
some romance) or I can dislike a book and judge it good (eg
Cortazar, or Joyce's Ulisses).
In other words there are two separate things:
an objective value of a given book,
your liking or disliking of it.
You can like a bad book, and dislike a good one - most people do so.
But whether a book is bad or good is not an opinion, but a fact -
although it can be difficult to ascertain. (It does not follow that
one of the widely different books must be better; good and bad is not
a one-dimensional cathegory, books can be good in different ways).
>> I am curious about something. Is it your opinion that there exist no "bad
>> writers," only writers about whose work opinions vary? Or just that yes,
>> there are indeed bad writers, Donaldson (in your opinion) just not being one
>> of them?
> Oh, no. There are very definitely bad writers. Piers Anthony, post
> 1976. Anne McCaffrey, post-about-1970. Ed Earl Repp, ever.
> John Saul. But if enough people I respect respect a writer that I
> see no value in, I make the leap of faith that there's something in
> that writer's work that I'm simply not equipped to see.
So it seems you think that there are bad writers, but not good ones.
There is a certain objective minimal threshold. Those who are below,
are bad. Those that are above, are not-bad.
Writers who pass this minimum can be liked or disliked, but cannot be
Unfortunately, this theory is contradictory. Great works can
deliberately breach the rules which are the minimal limits of good
writing. So you will have to say that there are bad and not-bad books.
And some of the best books are bad.
Or perhaps you are simply saying that many people like Donaldson, and
they may very well be right.
>> I stand by what I originally wrote, or certainly intended to write: *I*
>> THINK that Donaldson's "Lord Foul's Bane" is a literary embarrassment.
> I think you're missing some valuable material, even in LFB. His style
> there is decidedly not up to snuff, but he was doing something, and
> something valuable, that nobody had ever done in fantasy before.
Donaldson, and Bujold also, are neither very good, nor very bad. Both
are rather enjoyable.
Donaldson's innovation in fantasy is the world as inner landscape - the
land as the heart of the hero. It is taking the so-called "pathetic
fallacy" and making it the main constructing material of a novel.
Covenant is corrupted, and the Land is corrupted in its turn - in
other words, Lord Foul is a facet of Covenants character.
Stanislaus mailto:sbocian at poczta.fm
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