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let me rephrase that...

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  • ERATRIANO@aol.com
    So if we re not altogether sick of the subject, let s see if I can fine-tune my quest a little bit. Setting aside my personal religious beliefs (aside from
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 31, 2000
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      So if we're not altogether sick of the subject, let's see if I can fine-tune
      my quest a little bit. Setting aside my personal religious beliefs (aside
      from the hypocrisy/optimism issue), if I write more or less in the Christian
      fantasy tradition, but don't always "believe myself," is that hypocrisy? Or
      is that working on what I believe is a higher good despite a few spiritual
      horseflies?

      Who out there is older than I am and has gone through this, ah, wasteland of
      the thirties? (I only want to hear from you if you tell me there's a light
      ahead LOL). Is it mostly due to a lack of reading, or is it some kind of
      sign of an aridity and bitterness to maturity? I'd prefer the former,
      thanks. ;-)

      Or something like that,

      Lizzie
    • Julia Palffy
      Lizzie wrote: Setting aside my personal religious ... Suppose it s not you asking this question. Suppose you are a musical genius, one of the most famous
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 31, 2000
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        Lizzie wrote:

        Setting aside my personal religious
        > beliefs (aside
        > from the hypocrisy/optimism issue), if I write more or less in
        > the Christian
        > fantasy tradition, but don't always "believe myself," is that
        > hypocrisy? Or
        > is that working on what I believe is a higher good despite a few
        > spiritual
        > horseflies?

        Suppose it's not you asking this question.
        Suppose you are a musical genius, one of the most famous composers of your
        time, and you find yourself turning irreversibly deaf, losing your most
        precious sense, the one that gave your life its whole meaning and joy, in
        spite of all your efforts to preserve it. Suppose this makes you, naturally
        enough, irritable, unsociable and gloomy to the point of depression.
        Suppose that, being stone deaf and depressive, your imagination still allows
        you to write a hymn of joy that you will never hear played in your life,
        except in your own mind, but that will live on, though you do not know it,
        to become one of your most famous works, to stir and inspire and cheer
        thousands of other people that you will never even know of.
        Suppose all this - it really did happen: this is the story of Beethoven's
        Ode to Joy - and ask your questions again.

        So was Beethoven a hypocrite when he wrote the Ode to Joy? Or was he
        working for a higher good?

        Do these questions still have a point? Obviously, they may have different
        answers depending on the point of view you look at them from, but
        imagination allows considering things from different angles...


        Julia Palffy
        Zug, Switzerland
        jupalffy@...
      • LSolarion@aol.com
        In a message dated 08/31/2000 9:51:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time, ERATRIANO@aol.com writes:
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 3, 2000
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          In a message dated 08/31/2000 9:51:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
          ERATRIANO@... writes:

          << if I write more or less in the Christian
          fantasy tradition, but don't always "believe myself," is that hypocrisy? Or
          is that working on what I believe is a higher good despite a few spiritual
          horseflies? >>

          I wouldn't casll it hypocrisy; daring, perhaps, in the sense that it is
          tricky to write convincingly in a viewpoint one has never held. It can be
          done, I think, and there is no reason not to, so long as you present that
          viewpoint as honestly as you can, and not to set up a straw man to be knocked
          over by another viewpoint. If your characters are Christian, for example,
          make them Christian in all its complexity; make them doubt and wonder,
          question their sufferings, pray and resign themselves according to the level
          of faith you give them; make them real people, not cardboard caricatures or
          sloganeering posterboards for whatever you might not like about a certain
          kind of Christian, so your other characters can knock it iver easily..
          Mind, I'm not saying you do this, or would do it. And I have seen examples on
          both sides of the theological fence. I think Keats wrote in one of his
          letters about a quality called "negative capability," or something like that;
          what it means is the ability to take on viewpoints foreign to your own and
          present them convincingly in literature. That is an artistic virtue. For
          fiction is virtual reality; it holds a mirror up to nature. What matters is
          not how accurately your characters echo your sentiments, but how accurately
          they mirror real life in concentrated form, as a magnifying glass
          concentrates a diffused light into a more powerful beam. So, in short, it is
          a good thing to portray characters whose views differ from your own, as long
          as those views are presented honestly, as if by someone who actually holds
          them. It takes some empathy, but if you haven't got that, you are probably
          better off not trying to write at all.
          Does this help any?
          Steve
        • Trudy Shaw
          Steve s insights are good ones for writing about other points of view. It can certainly make for boring reading, at least, if all the good guys agree with the
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 4, 2000
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            Steve's insights are good ones for writing about other points of view. It
            can certainly make for boring reading, at least, if all the good guys agree
            with the author's personal beliefs and all the bad guys oppose them. It
            also doesn't force the author to explore or question his/her own ideas --
            which can make for shallow reading.

            Besides empathy and fair-mindedness, it also takes a good deal of
            observation of human nature and *research* -- especially if you're not
            intimately familiar with the religion/culture/philosophy you're writing
            about.

            I had this experience with a new member of our writing critique group some
            months back. He'd made the main character in his novel a member of the
            clergy in a religion he obviously didn't know much about -- without
            realizing he had a minister and a teacher of that religion sitting in the
            group (we don't wear badges). The character wasn't entirely negative, but
            was definitely stereotypical and both the theology and daily way of life
            were completely misunderstood. We asked the author a few simple questions,
            which hadn't entered his mind, and recommended he do some research into the
            character's background. Interestingly, we haven't seen him again since that
            particular meeting.

            This was especially illuminating since shortly before that I had read a book
            by an author who had attempted the same thing -- and I was surprised to find
            out she'd never been a member of my religion. I *wasn't* surprised, though,
            when I later heard her speak and she talked about how much research she'd
            done. The "grunt work" of research that we "creative types" sometimes hate
            to do can make the difference between believable and stereotypical
            characters.

            -- And to go one step back to the message before the one I'm actually
            replying to -- the image of "spiritual horseflies" is absolutely wonderful!
            And I doubt if any of us could write from *any* spirituality, our own or
            not, if we had to wait until we didn't have any of those annoying creatures
            buzzing around our heads! Often I discover something about my own beliefs,
            or find them deepening, while I'm trying to write about them (often in
            pieces I don't plan to share with anyone). Don't avoid writing about
            something because you're "not there yet" -- who of us really is?


            -- Trudy



            ----- Original Message -----
            From: <LSolarion@...>
            To: <mythsoc@egroups.com>
            Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2000 8:34 PM
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] let me rephrase that...


            >
            > In a message dated 08/31/2000 9:51:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
            > ERATRIANO@... writes:
            >
            > << if I write more or less in the Christian
            > fantasy tradition, but don't always "believe myself," is that hypocrisy?
            Or
            > is that working on what I believe is a higher good despite a few
            spiritual
            > horseflies? >>
            >
            > I wouldn't casll it hypocrisy; daring, perhaps, in the sense that it is
            > tricky to write convincingly in a viewpoint one has never held. It can be
            > done, I think, and there is no reason not to, so long as you present that
            > viewpoint as honestly as you can, and not to set up a straw man to be
            knocked
            > over by another viewpoint. If your characters are Christian, for example,
            > make them Christian in all its complexity; make them doubt and wonder,
            > question their sufferings, pray and resign themselves according to the
            level
            > of faith you give them... So, in short, it is
            > a good thing to portray characters whose views differ from your own, as
            long
            > as those views are presented honestly, as if by someone who actually holds
            > them. It takes some empathy, but if you haven't got that, you are probably
            > better off not trying to write at all.
            > Does this help any?
            > Steve
            >
            > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
            >
            >
          • ERATRIANO@aol.com
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 4, 2000
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              << So, in short, it is a good thing to portray characters whose views
              differ from your own, as long as those views are presented honestly, as if
              by someone who actually holds them. It takes some empathy, but if you
              haven't got that, you are probably
              better off not trying to write at all.
              Does this help any? >>

              Um, yes, I think so. I think the hypocrisy question has been answered
              satisfactorily, and I'm getting a lot of things to chew on from this group.
              (Besides HP, which I'm heartily sick of hearing about, having found it no
              more outlandish or unique than, say, a book about children growing up in the
              city, which was equally bizarre to my childhood outlook.)

              Back to the spirituality in fiction theme... I guess it's not that I would
              be trying to write about characters who are, in some terms, meant to be
              Christian, or Christian themes, while I am a total non-Christian, because I'm
              nominally a member of the Church. Or that I would be writing of something I
              know nothing of -- an interesting concept, that someone would run on so much
              ignorance, but then again, I'm sure not every horse book is written by a
              horse person, nor every steamy romance by ah, uhm, let's try again to get
              back to that other theme.... I was an altar girl for many years and worked
              for a short time at the Episcopal Church's national HQ in NYC. I love
              churches and liturgy and considered attending, even interviewed at, General
              Theological Seminary. But I still fail at the whole maintaining the belief
              myself thing... and I would want my characters to get through and succeed at
              their faith. If I can make them; we know how independent-minded those
              fictional people can be.

              I have totally lost whether there is a point to this line of thought so I'll
              shut up now. Happy Labor Day everyone...

              Lizzie
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