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Re: Digest Number 4

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  • David Cozy
    ... There are, I am sure, as many reasons for not enjoying science fiction as there are people who don t enjoy it. The sensawonda, or lack thereof, may,
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 14, 1999
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      Ron Henry writes:

      >I suspect it *is* true, Zvi, especially if we accept the sort of adaptive
      >reading strategy models that Delany himself usually promotes. I personally
      >know few (no?) people who began reading science fiction as adults.
      >
      >Also, I'm not sure David was saying that adults attempting to enter the
      >conceptual sphere of sf acquire the strategies but miss the "sensawonda",
      >so much as that they don't acquire the strategies at all, later. That they
      >don't have the time and patience and enthusiasm to learn the ropes of sf
      >reading. (I could be wrong; pls correct me if I am, David.)

      There are, I am sure, as many reasons for not enjoying science fiction as
      there are people who don't enjoy it. The "sensawonda," or lack thereof,
      may, however, be of crucial importance. Just as one can know, on an
      intellectual level, what sonata-form is but still not enjoy Mozart, can
      have knowledge of the forms a poet is working with and the tradition she is
      working within but still not be moved by the poetry, one can, I think,
      understand the ways science fiction works without being in love with the
      genre. In most cases where a real love for a type of writing develops I
      think the "sensawonda" precedes the intellectual grasp, but that then the
      scholarly tidbits one goes on to accrue: the historical, formal, critical
      knowledge that one is moved to acquire, can deepen that appreciation, can
      make the "sensawonda" even more wonderful.

      I don't think it's impossible for the dynamic to work in the other
      direction--from intellectual knowledge to gut love. I do think it's less
      common for it to work that way.

      Also, I hasten to add, lest I'm misunderstood, I'm not one of those who
      thinks analysis and scholarly study rob a work (of any type) of any of the
      beauty and power it might possess. Far from it. The more one knows, the
      less naive one's reading is, the more, I believe, there is to enjoy.


      Ron continues:

      [snip]

      >It might just be that learning the conventions necessary to access the
      >rewards of sophisticated sf or poetry is a process that requires, or at
      >least is usually enabled by, the enthusiam and spare time of adolescents.
      >Perhaps "grown-ups", with demanding careers, domestic responsibilities, and
      >the inhibitions that come with being an adult in late capitalist western
      >society, simply don't have the surplus mental and emotional resources to
      >devote to the task of mastering a para-literary set of conventions?

      In some cases this is certainly true. In other cases I suspect it's just
      that the literature-shaped hole in people's lives is often
      addequately--nay, joyfully!--filled by the time they reach adulthood.
      They've already discovered the types of writing that speak to their
      condition and thus have no pressing need to explore new ones. Adolescents,
      I believe, tend to be more open because they are still searching for the
      literature they need.

      ___________

      I'd like to say a word out two about the term "mundane fiction." I think I
      understand the move Delany and others are making in using this term, but am
      I the only one who bridles a bit at seeing writers as defiantly non-mundane
      as: Don DeLillo, Gertrude Stein, Rikki Ducornet, Thomas Pynchon, George
      Perec, Walter Abish, Samuel Beckett, David Markson, Cormac McCarthy, Jorge
      Luis Borges and . . . the list could go on . . . subsumed under such a
      belittling rubric?

      Although I have experienced the "sensawonda" less often reading science
      fiction than I would like to have, my strong reactions to the work of the
      writers above allow me know what Zvi, Ron and others are alluding to when
      they talk about it.

      ___________

      Finally, this list has been great fun so far. The level of the
      contributions is stunningly high. Thanks, everyone, and let's keep on
      doing it.

      Zvi: I'm curious. How may of us area there?

      Yours,

      David Cozy
      mailto:cozy@...-net.ne.jp
    • zvi@xxxxxxxx.xxx
      Hi David, From: David Cozy ... Or A.S.Byatt, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje, Angela Carter, Martin Amis, Nicholson Baker, Russell Hoban,
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 15, 1999
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        Hi David,

        From: David Cozy <cozy@...-net.ne.jp>
        > I'd like to say a word out two about the term "mundane fiction." I think I
        > understand the move Delany and others are making in using this term, but am
        > I the only one who bridles a bit at seeing writers as defiantly non-mundane
        > as: Don DeLillo, Gertrude Stein, Rikki Ducornet, Thomas Pynchon, George
        > Perec, Walter Abish, Samuel Beckett, David Markson, Cormac McCarthy, Jorge
        > Luis Borges and . . . the list could go on . . . subsumed under such a
        > belittling rubric?

        Or A.S.Byatt, Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje, Angela Carter, Martin Amis,
        Nicholson Baker, Russell Hoban, Cynthia Ozick...

        Well, it's a cultural reaction. Thought I'm not an active 'fan' (only been
        to part of one 'con'; I mostly just read the stuff), sf has been belittled
        so much, especially in the context of so-called 'real' literature, that I
        think 'mundane fiction' reciprocates 'sci-fi'. I prefer the term
        'mainstream' fiction, anyway. Maybe 'non-sf' would be even better. :)

        > Finally, this list has been great fun so far. The level of the
        > contributions is stunningly high. Thanks, everyone, and let's keep on
        > doing it.

        I think so too. There's certainly many many things that I'd like to
        comment on in everyone's last few emails. I hope I find time to do so.

        > Zvi: I'm curious. How may of us area there?

        Well, there are at least 12 [4/15/99]. Some people may have decided not to
        create member profiles. You can see anyone who has created a profile from
        the 'member center' of delany-list once you've logged into onelist.

        --Zvi
        zvi@...
        Moderator, Delany-L
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