(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight
sfrug at post.harvard.edu
Tue Sep 18 16:39:09 PDT 2007
When I quoted Hemingway, I was not appealing to authority (which of
course I agree is not a relevant mode of argument), but nor was I
saying that his every word was precisely what I would have written
myself; I was doing something else, namely, citing him as an example
of a change in attitude, the general thrust of which I agreed with --
which doesn't mean that I agree with every word he wrote
(particularly given that that quote is from a novel, etc.).
All of which is to say: if you disagree with this view, then fine:
that's a valid point of view. I might engage you on it later. You
are certainly right that I more or less assumed that readers would
agree with what I am calling the modern view, and that if you don't,
WTF is a reasonable response.
As for the criticize me for criticizing Wolfe... remember that my
earlier post was a general post: I don't think you were doing that.
Anyway, let me reiterate that I am not trying to shut off criticism,
and that I hope that this discussion can be conducted with mutual
respect on all sides.
As i said, I was writing in a way that assumed agreement... probably
I unwise, but what can I say, I'm imperfect... and I'm not sure I
want to get into a meta-argument about the value of these values.
(Though, again, it was certainly a reasonable line of critique for
you to make.)
But as a basic stab, let me try this. You rightly re-focus attention
on Wolfe's words rather than Hemingways, and cite the trio from the
Gaiman interview (which I also cited): "honor, courage, and
fidelity". So I'll phrase my point using those words.
Wolfe says -- to put those words in a bit of context -- that he hoped
The Wizard Knight would take readers "To a country where honor,
courage, and fidelity actually mean something".
I agree that honor, courage and fidelity are words that can have
perfectly valid, worthy meanings -- in today's world, among others.
But I think that the specific meanings of those words that is implied
not only by their being used together, but also by the implication
that today's world is not one in which they "actually mean something"
-- in other words, the meanings specified by an idea that it is the
specific meanings of the words that is absent in today's world but
present in the society portrayed in the Wizard Knight -- I think that
those specific meanings of those three words add up to a specific set
of ideas -- an idealized version of a medieval knightly ideal --
which is basically the same set of ideas that Hemingway's quote was
And I certainly will maintain that, in today's world, that idea --
the one pointed to by both Hemingway's sentence (negatively) and
Wolfe's sentence from the Gaiman interview (positively), and which I
argue is pointed to in Wolfe's Wizard Knight -- I think that that
idea is, in fact, quite troubling and dangerous. Which, again, is
not to say that there aren't other types of honor, courage and
fidelity which remain perfectly valid, indeed crucial, values.
Hope that clarifies.
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