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Re: [mythsoc] Re: Rowling contemplates the P-word.

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  • Mike Foster
    Tolkien misliked the title of The Return of the King because of the spoiler factor, as I recall. Mike ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 27, 2006
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      Tolkien misliked the title of The Return of the King because of the
      spoiler factor, as I recall.

      Mike

      Jason Fisher wrote:

      >Walter,
      >
      >I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      >>Are we talking about the magical experience of discovery that the
      >>reader goes through, an experience created by the author? Does it
      >>have something to do with the relationship between author and
      >>reader that gets spoiled by interference from another agent?
      >>Somebody with knowledge of the future revealing it to another who
      >>isn't ready for it, yet, thereby disrupting the "intended" course of
      >>the subject's experience?
      >>
      >>
      >
      >For me, reading is a deeply personal (and generally extremely rewarding) experience. I'm not interested in collaborative reading -- at least not on *first* readings. Subsequent re-readings, sure. :) Some people love book groups, enjoy speculating with others on where a book is going *while* they all read it. Not me. After the fact, sure, but the journey that an author and reader embark on together is (or should be) inviolable while it's going on for that first time. You can only ever read a book for the first time once. And I think it should be a very precious experience of discovery. At least, for me. Your "magical experience of discovery" is spot-on. While I read, I tend to be very wrapped up in something like Coleridge's "willing suspension of disbelief," and I don't want to be led by anybody or anything but the author and my own invested feelings and thoughts. And if you reach in from the outside (or even if the author herself does this, say, in an interview that I
      > accidentally read) and interfere with the process, I won't thank you for it. Something has been lost -- something that can never be recaptured. The "it" to which you referred.
      >
      >Am I over-romanticizing the whole experience of reading? Hahae, maybe.
      >
      >And by the way, I am *notoriously* anti-spoiler, and my definition of a spoiler is extremely broad, so take all of this is just my own (possibly unique) opinion. And I even apply it to nonfiction. For example, I recently read Sebastian Junger's "A Death in Belmont," and I applied the same no-spoiler rules to it that I would to Rowling's next novel.
      >
      >
      >
      >>My original point was to ask whether anyone could recommend books
      >>(for them) that have that certain something, that can be spoiled. After
      >>listening to my own (predictably relativistic) way of thinking about it for
      >>a moment, maybe almost all books can fall into this category, because
      >>it depends upon the subjective tastes and unique experience of the individual.
      >>
      >>
      >
      >For me, yes, almost all books are of this sort. I suppose the only ones that might not be are those of pure expository nonfiction -- e.g., something like Strunk and White's Elements of Style, a book of Picasso reproductions, a guide to learning Italian, et al.). Certainly, all fiction is "spoilable" in my view. And this applies to poetry as well. Want an example of a "spoilable" poem? Just read James Wright's "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" (http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/616.html) and ask yourself how you'd feel if somebody told you about the end of it before you'd read it.
      >
      >Jason
      >
      >
      >
      >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
      >Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Bonnie Callahan
      Good point, Mr. Padgett! Many a time I can guess more or less how a tale is going to unfold, but then I get swept into ,not WHO dunit, but. How & WHY they
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 28, 2006
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        Good point, Mr. Padgett!

        Many a time I can guess more or less how a tale is going to unfold, but
        then I get swept into ,not WHO dunit, but. How & WHY they Dunit.
        And what other riches may be apprehended along the way.

        Bonnie

        Walter Padgett <wpadgett@...> wrote:
        This discussion on spoiling is starting to churn my interest a little. I
        wonder what it is that gets spoiled, specifically, when one who has read a
        work reveals to another that certain something that "spoils it" for the
        other who hasn't read it yet. What's the "it" here? Are we talking about
        the magical experience of discovery that the reader goes through, an
        experience created by the author? Does it have something to do with the
        relationship between author and reader that gets spoiled by interference
        from another agent? Is it like violating the first directive in Star Trek?
        Somebody with knowledge of the future revealing it to another who isn't
        ready for it, yet, thereby disrupting the "intended" course of the subject's
        experience?

        Works of literature which can be spoiled have that certain something, it
        seems, that "it" which can be spoiled. Some other literary works don't.
        Perhaps they are devoid of any "surprise" type content, new, interesting or
        profound ideas, marvels of any kind, and thereby do not to fall into this
        category. Perhaps "it" depends on what the reader brings to the experience
        more than what the story teller's skill can devise.

        If Rowling's readers have lost interest in her Harry Potter stories, does
        this indicate that for those readers, those stories can't be spoiled? One
        could care if Harry Potter were killed off in Rowling's next issue, but
        why? My guess is that there would have to be something at stake for the
        reader, an investment of expectations, hopes, or sympathies.

        Sorry I'm going on here... My original point was to ask whether anyone
        could recommend books (for them) that have that certain something, that can
        be spoiled. After listening to my own (predictably relativistic) way of
        thinking about it for a moment, maybe almost all books can fall into this
        category, because it depends upon the subjective tastes and unique
        experience of the individual.

        But maybe not. Some works maybe there are that come to mind when one thinks
        about having to be very careful not to spoil it for the uninitiated. Any?

        Thanks, Walter.


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




        The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
        Yahoo! Groups Links









        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • John D Rateliff
        I think the situation with spoilers is rather complicated. Certainly there are some stories in which there are plot twists and surprises, prior knowledge of
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 28, 2006
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          I think the situation with "spoilers" is rather complicated.
          Certainly there are some stories in which there are plot twists and
          surprises, prior knowledge of which significantly changes the
          experience of reading or viewing that work. For example, THE OTHERS,
          FIGHT CLUB, THE SIXTH SENSE, and PSYCHO are all very different movies
          when viewed by those in the know as opposed to those coming to them
          fresh without preconceptions, and some of them are so well known that
          they can no longer be seen with the original impact.* So, where plot
          is the major element in a story's overall effect (rather than, say,
          worldbuilding/setting), spoilers do matter.
          I'm fairly inured to spoilers myself, because in all my years
          studying literature I often had the experience of reading about a
          book before actually reading it. I can therefore usually enjoy a
          story even if I already know far more about it than the author
          intended; I can at least watch to see how it's done. But then I
          often, when deciding whether or not to read a book, open it up and
          read a passage out of the middle: if that makes me want to find out
          who these people are and how they got into that situation, I start
          from the beginning and read all the way through; if not, I'm not
          likely to like it any better no matter where I start. Similarly, I
          have no compunction about reading a book out of the middle of a
          series, or starting with the middle book of a trilogy. Not everyone
          is lucky enough to be able to enjoy books this way, and even I rarely
          read introductions to "classics" unless they're by the original
          author (even then I find it's usually better to read them as
          afterwords); they invariably give away too much of the plot and get
          in the way of reading and deciding what you think about the book
          yourself.
          My wife's experience is very different, and she actively avoids
          spoilers whenever possible. This can be very difficult, since they
          bombard you from newspaper headlines, ads on tv, et al., but she
          makes the effort and is more successful than not. Others I know
          deliberately seek out every tidbit of information and make a kind of
          game out of knowing everything possible before the book or film is
          released; they also tend to be the people who try to see a movie the
          day it's released. I think they want the comfort of re-reading from
          the very first exposure, but if that works for them it's fine with
          me, so long as they respect the wishes of those who actually enjoy
          the feeling of something new; the latter of course is just basic
          courtesy.

          --John R.



          *I just went back and re-read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and
          Mr. Hyde" for the first time in years, and realized that no one can
          now read that book the way Stevenson intended.
        • John D Rateliff
          From the following news story I conclude that those who want to see the LORD OF THE RINGS play in Toronto had better do so soon. Short version: you can t tell
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 29, 2006
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            From the following news story I conclude that those who want to see
            the LORD OF THE RINGS play in Toronto had better do so soon.

            Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently and
            completely in three and a half hours of stage time.

            Long version: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/theater/
            275671_lordoftherings29.html


            --JDR
          • David Bratman
            ... Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue) DB
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 29, 2006
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              At 10:17 AM 6/29/2006 -0700, John D Rateliff wrote:

              >Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently and
              >completely in three and a half hours of stage time.

              Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue)

              DB
            • Walter Padgett
              Yes. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mr. Rateliff. I loved all the movies you mention. It s interesting that two of them have to do with notions of the
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 29, 2006
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                Yes. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mr. Rateliff.

                I loved all the movies you mention. It's interesting that two of them have
                to do with notions of the afterlife. The characters in both THE OTHERS and
                SIXTH SENSE did not realize they had died early on in the story, and the
                audience was not supposed to discover this very important aspect of the
                setting of the story until it became known to the characters, themselves.
                This knowledge was to be revealed to the characters and the audience at the
                same time. For me, it worked. I totally did not realize that the
                characters played by Bruce Willis and Nicole Kidman were dead until the end
                of those movies. Then they were suddenly and blatantly transformed
                into statements about what happens when a person dies.

                FIGHT CLUB was also one of my favorites, partly because of the same kind of
                revelation, where the audience finds out the characters are dual aspects of
                the same mind at the same time that the Edward Norton character does. That
                sudden revelation changes the meaning of everything in the movie, and it
                becomes a statement (for the imaginatively sympathetic, anyway) about the
                psychotic experience of split personality disorder. I did not have the same
                experience with PSYCHO, however. And I think it's because I was too young
                to really get it the first time I saw it, but I had enough memory of what
                was going to happen with the old lady at the end that there wasn't any
                surprise in it for me when I did have the metacontextual knowledge capable
                of being impacted by the movie.

                I think the main thing that can be spoiled is the surprise twist or ending.
                If it's not a surprise, then I don't think we're talking about it being
                spoiled, at least in most cases.

                That seems like it would take some skill setting up, to create a subtle
                backcloth of apparently mundane meanings, or simply little hint details that
                don't sync up with the preponderance of what is evidently the meaning of the
                story, and then triggering the surprise that is going to make those little
                hints overwhelmingly relevant the instant the reader's expectations are not
                met.

                Thanks, Walter.



                On 6/28/06, John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                >
                > I think the situation with "spoilers" is rather complicated.
                > Certainly there are some stories in which there are plot twists and
                > surprises, prior knowledge of which significantly changes the
                > experience of reading or viewing that work. For example, THE OTHERS,
                > FIGHT CLUB, THE SIXTH SENSE, and PSYCHO are all very different movies
                > when viewed by those in the know as opposed to those coming to them
                > fresh without preconceptions, and some of them are so well known that
                > they can no longer be seen with the original impact.* So, where plot
                > is the major element in a story's overall effect (rather than, say,
                > worldbuilding/setting), spoilers do matter.
                > I'm fairly inured to spoilers myself, because in all my years
                > studying literature I often had the experience of reading about a
                > book before actually reading it. I can therefore usually enjoy a
                > story even if I already know far more about it than the author
                > intended; I can at least watch to see how it's done. But then I
                > often, when deciding whether or not to read a book, open it up and
                > read a passage out of the middle: if that makes me want to find out
                > who these people are and how they got into that situation, I start
                > from the beginning and read all the way through; if not, I'm not
                > likely to like it any better no matter where I start. Similarly, I
                > have no compunction about reading a book out of the middle of a
                > series, or starting with the middle book of a trilogy. Not everyone
                > is lucky enough to be able to enjoy books this way, and even I rarely
                > read introductions to "classics" unless they're by the original
                > author (even then I find it's usually better to read them as
                > afterwords); they invariably give away too much of the plot and get
                > in the way of reading and deciding what you think about the book
                > yourself.
                > My wife's experience is very different, and she actively avoids
                > spoilers whenever possible. This can be very difficult, since they
                > bombard you from newspaper headlines, ads on tv, et al., but she
                > makes the effort and is more successful than not. Others I know
                > deliberately seek out every tidbit of information and make a kind of
                > game out of knowing everything possible before the book or film is
                > released; they also tend to be the people who try to see a movie the
                > day it's released. I think they want the comfort of re-reading from
                > the very first exposure, but if that works for them it's fine with
                > me, so long as they respect the wishes of those who actually enjoy
                > the feeling of something new; the latter of course is just basic
                > courtesy.
                >
                > --John R.
                >
                > *I just went back and re-read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and
                > Mr. Hyde" for the first time in years, and realized that no one can
                > now read that book the way Stevenson intended.
                >
                >
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Wayne G. Hammond
                ... And yet the version of the musical to open in London next year is to be cut back to only three hours. Wayne [Non-text portions of this message have been
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 30, 2006
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                  John and David wrote:

                  > >Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently and
                  > >completely in three and a half hours of stage time.
                  >
                  >Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue)

                  And yet the version of the musical to open in London next year is to be cut
                  back to only three hours.

                  Wayne


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Berni Phillips
                  From: Wayne G. Hammond ... Now, I can see them doing that. You just make cuts. You don t really need 4 hobbits: two, or at
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 30, 2006
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                    From: "Wayne G. Hammond" <Wayne.G.Hammond@...>


                    > John and David wrote:
                    >
                    >> >Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently and
                    >> >completely in three and a half hours of stage time.
                    >>
                    >>Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue)
                    >
                    > And yet the version of the musical to open in London next year is to be
                    > cut
                    > back to only three hours.

                    Now, I can see them doing that. You just make cuts. You don't really need
                    4 hobbits: two, or at the most three, is enough. Cut Lothlorien -- it's
                    just Rivendell with tree branches. Then you can skip Galadriel and those
                    gifts. Cut the whole middle book -- it's just filler. You cut the nine
                    riders to maybe four. And there's no ring other than The Ring.

                    <ducking and running>
                    Berni
                  • Joan.Marie.Verba@sff.net
                    ... From: Mike Foster ... The Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator has set no policy about spoilers, primiarly because I
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 22, 2007
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                      --- Original Message ---
                      From: "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...>

                      > 'Spoiler alert' is indeed always apt. In my Tolkien course, I mandated
                      > that discussion could not advance beyond the texts covered so far, so
                      > that no one could spill LORD OF THE RING beans when "Riddles in the
                      > Dark" chapter in THE HOBBIT was being discussed.

                      The Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator has set no policy about
                      spoilers, primiarly because I generally prefer to know the endings to books or
                      movies before I read/see them. If people want to voluntarily issue spoiler
                      warnings, that's fine; if not, that's fine, too.

                      > Oh, and in "Murder on the Orient Express," the murder was committed by.

                      Well, that's an exception. It's the one movie I'm glad I didn't know the
                      ending to in advance, because I determined who dunnit all by myself!

                      (By the way, yes, the Friendly Neighborhood etc. has been keeping watch on the
                      Tolkien vs. Jackson debate and was about to issue advisories when the tone
                      started to become more moderate. My thanks to those who have voluntarily
                      moderated their posts.)

                      Carry on.

                      Joan
                      Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator
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