The Links, Opinion, and Updates post, now with randomly fluctuating frequency. Yes, it’s long. No, I don’t think it’s too long for you.
Links of Interest:
Sarah Frantz, romance scholar and blogger, is interviewed by Laura Vivanco about glbt romance at Teach Me Tonight.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, Dear Author is launching its own Gay Writes campaign, including big book giveaways
And speaking of Laura Vivanco, she prompted a post about romance at On Fiction (an online magazine on the psychology of fiction). But I’m not sure that Laura is saying what sitemaster Oatley thinks she’s saying when he sums up thusly:
The womanly phantasy seems, thus, not only to be about achieving physiological effects on the man’s body, not just about achieving union because of what the man has got, but about achieving transformation of someone who, as well as being incomplete, is an insensitive bully.
Luckily Laura showed up to comment. Proving once again that gendered people studying gender is always a fraught enterprise.
And back to the theme of GLBT literature and its emancipatory effects, a big thank you to The Millions for digging up a 1984 essay by Nobel Prize winner Mario Varga Llosa, entitled “Is Fiction the Art of Living?”:
The Spanish Inquisition understood the danger. Leading lives through fiction that one does not live in reality is a source of anxiety, a maladjustment to existence that can turn into rebelliousness, an unsubmissive attitude toward the establishment. One can well understand why regimes that seek to exercise total control over life mistrust works of fiction and subject them to censorship. Emerging from one’s own self, being another, even in illusion, is a way of being less a slave and of experiencing the risks of freedom.
In the NYT’s The Stone, its forum for philosophy, Robert Pippin argues in favor of “naive reading”
Clearly, poems and novels and paintings were not produced as objects for future academic study; there is no a priori reason to think that they could be suitable objects of “research.” By and large they were produced for the pleasure and enlightenment of those who enjoyed them. But just as clearly, the teaching of literature in universities ─ especially after the 19th-century research model of Humboldt University of Berlin was widely copied ─ needed a justification consistent with the aims of that academic setting: that fact alone has always shaped the way vernacular literature has been taught.
Pippin goes on to identify two sources of tension between the academic approach to literature and literature itself:
First, literature and the arts have a dimension unique in the academy, not shared by the objects studied, or “researched” by our scientific brethren. They invite or invoke, at a kind of “first level,” an aesthetic experience that is by its nature resistant to restatement in more formalized, theoretical or generalizing language. This response can certainly be enriched by knowledge of context and history, but the objects express a first-person or subjective view of human concerns that is falsified if wholly transposed to a more “sideways on” or third person view. Indeed that is in a way the whole point of having the “arts.”
Likewise ─ and this is a much more controversial thesis ─ such works also can directly deliver a kind of practical knowledge and self-understanding not available from a third person or more general formulation of such knowledge. There is no reason to think that such knowledge — exemplified in what Aristotle said about the practically wise man (the phronimos)or in what Pascal meant by the difference between l’espirit géometrique and l’espirit de finesse — is any less knowledge because it cannot be so formalized or even taught as such. Call this a plea for a place for “naïve” reading, teaching and writing — an appreciation and discussion not mediated by a theoretical research question recognizable as such by the modern academy.
In case you are wondering, I LOVE this.
Rohan Maitzen, a professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University (my neighbor to the north!) linked to her own old post on rereading Gone With the Wind, a favorite re-read from her youth, which adulthood and a PhD in English have forced her to rethink:
Reading Gone with the Wind today, then, I realize that it rejects precisely the qualities I had always celebrated in its heroine, while embracing her most loathsome values. Punishing Scarlett for rebelling against her identity as a “lady,” it endorses racism and romanticizes slavery. For all its undeniable narrative power, its passion, drama, and pathos, it is, morally, an appalling book.
For anyone who thinks she doesn’t deserve success, or feels like a fraud when she gets it, Bob Mayer wrote a great column at The Seekers, on “imposter syndrome” and his own tactic to deal with it, which he calls HALO, “High Altitude Low Opening” parachuting.
Ebooks: No Friends of Free Expression, a blog post by by Ted Striphas, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, in which he links to several of his own pieces on the threats posed to literacy and free speech by digital reading (thanks to @jafurtado). Apparently, October 18 kicks off National Freedom of Speech Week.
Given the intimate tie that reading and free expression share with one another, it seems reasonable to wonder what will happen to our ability to communicate when the reading activities we’ve long counted on to be private suddenly go public. Indeed, the knowledge that someone is looking over our shoulders every time we open our e-books could lead us to censor which selections we make or how we choose to engage them. The far greater concern is that these initial acts of self-censorship could diminish our ability to communicate richly and openly with one another down the road, because there would be fewer communicative resources for us to confidently draw on.
Interesting dustup at The Guardian: First, columnist Helienne Lindvall chided “advocates of free” like Cory Doctorow for charging hefty speaking fees. Doctorow himself responded in The Real Cost of Free, in which he redirects her attention away from how much he earns and on to his concerns about digital rights, noting that much more is at stake here than a bit of pirating by cheap bastards with time on their hands:
In France, the HADOPI “three strikes” rule just went into effect; they’re sending out 10,000 legal threats a week now, and have promised 150,000 a week in short order. After three unsubstantiated accusations of infringement, your whole family is disconnected from the internet – from work, education, civic engagement, distant relatives, health information, community.
That scares me, and it’s not just because I like to watch You Tube videos of My So Called Life.
The Six meanest book reviews ever, picked by Huffington Post readers. I like this New Republic review by Dale Peck of The Black Veil:
Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation.
I apologize for the abruptness of this declaration, its lack of nuance, of any meaning besides the intuitive; but as I made my way through Moody’s oeuvre during the past few months I was unable to come up with any other starting point for a consideration of his accomplishment.
Let’s remember this the next time someone gets huffy over a negative romance review.
The end is nigh for Bitch PhD. Sybil Vane notes that she has to stop blogging because she is so content, and “You can imagine the tedium that kind of material would produce, as far as posts go.” Actually, no, I can’t. While I understand that a site called “Bitch PhD” might suffer an identity crisis when all the writers are happily employed in academia, I think a blogger can be engaged and interesting even when she is content. She can even be engaged and interesting about the things which make her content.
A recent edited collection by philosophers about procrastination is getting a boatload of press for some reason. Here, a link to The New Yorker review.
Most of the contributors to the new book agree that this peculiar irrationality stems from our relationship to time—in particular, from a tendency that economists call “hyperbolic discounting.” A two-stage experiment provides a classic illustration: In the first stage, people are offered the choice between a hundred dollars today or a hundred and ten dollars tomorrow; in the second stage, they choose between a hundred dollars a month from now or a hundred and ten dollars a month and a day from now. In substance, the two choices are identical: wait an extra day, get an extra ten bucks. Yet, in the first stage many people choose to take the smaller sum immediately, whereas in the second they prefer to wait one more day and get the extra ten bucks. In other words, hyperbolic discounters are able to make the rational choice when they’re thinking about the future, but, as the present gets closer, short-term considerations overwhelm their long-term goals. A similar phenomenon is at work in an experiment run by a group including the economist George Loewenstein, in which people were asked to pick one movie to watch that night and one to watch at a later date. Not surprisingly, for the movie they wanted to watch immediately, people tended to pick lowbrow comedies and blockbusters, but when asked what movie they wanted to watch later they were more likely to pick serious, important films. The problem, of course, is that when the time comes to watch the serious movie, another frothy one will often seem more appealing. This is why Netflix queues are filled with movies that never get watched: our responsible selves put “Hotel Rwanda” and “The Seventh Seal” in our queue, but when the time comes we end up in front of a rerun of “The Hangover.”
Of course, prior to the discovery of hyperbolic discounting, we had keen students of human nature like Plato, Aristotle and John Stuart Mill, who knew the score on the attraction of “the nearer good”, in Mill’s lingo.
It’s in our uni library, and I plan to read it … someday.
Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches Trashy Books has announced that she is the keynote speaker at the 2011 Book Blogger Con, an event that occurs in conjunction with Book Expo America in May in New York City. I am glad the BBC folks, overwhelmingly female, chose a woman this year again, especially a woman who blogs about women’s fiction. Also, the BBC folks are looking for workshop ideas as they change to format to concurrent sessions.
Finally, it is technically, Columbus Day. And Racialicious is asking why.
I signed up for NetGalley, and downloaded a book to see what it is all about. The main objections I had with the old system of getting ARCs were that you (a) couldn’t choose what you wanted to read, except by saying no as requests came to you willy nilly, (b) you felt obligated to read and review the book (or at least I did) if you accepted it, and (c) you had to do so on someone else’s timeline. Netgalley obviates all of that. On the other hand, I have little motivation to use it because I’m not a blogger who strives to be on the cutting edge as far as reviews of upcoming releases goes (but I am glad others do it), and I don’t have much of a financial incentive, as book buying is not an expensive habit in my world (I am a slow reader and don’t buy many books).
As far as (d), the connection to industry which has always concerned me and still does, now that I have been blogging for 2.5 years, I understand more deeply the notion that free books are just one way a reviewer can be connected to publishing. Since I started the blog, I have made friends with authors, attended a genre conference, made romance reading part of my work profile, served as a beta reader, and just recently made a decision to write for a publisher for “pay” (pennies, but still … pennies). Feel free to ask me more about this last point, call me out, challenge me on it. etc.
I’ll let readers know whenever I review a free book. I may eat my words, but I don’t think it’ll happen often.
The kitchen is finished, but needs painting. No photos until that is done, even though I know you are dying for them.
Soccer tourney this weekend in the southern part of the state. A certain U11 boys team went undefeated. Woot! And a certain U11 player who has been working on his curve scored from a free kick, giving the ball a wicked “bend” in game play for the first time. It was our family’s “crane kick” moment. (To relive the original Karate Kid ending, click here). All the usual fun was had by kids and parents alike: touch football on the beach, bedbugs in the hotel, fried clams and cheap beer, shin guards with hazardous odor levels, and lots and lots of Gatorade.
I continue to be extremely busy. I am trying to finish my vampire and bioethics paper for the conference next week, review an article for a journal, grade midterms, and write a proposal on lactation ethics. I did finish Persuasion, and plan to write a blog post on it this week. Luckily we are on fall break today and tomorrow.
In other vitally important news, I now hate the phrase “game changer” and all its equally offensive variations.
Finally, we are heading off to Treworgy Family Orchards today to get our pumpkins, pick apples, and get hopelessly lost in the corn maze. This year, the maze is the shape of a rabbit:
Wish us luck!