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Re: [mythsoc] Ursula K. Le Guin,

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  • SusanPal@aol.com
    My favorite of Le Guin s statements on Tolkien is in her essay The Child and the Shadow, which I routinely teach; I don t have in front of me at the moment,
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 8 12:08 AM
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      My favorite of Le Guin's statements on Tolkien is in her essay "The Child and
      the Shadow," which I routinely teach; I don't have in front of me at the
      moment, though, so I can't quote it. She deals directly with the "fantasy is
      simple" misapprehension.

      But while I'm honored that David thinks I should write a letter to Sherry
      Turkle, I'm wondering if there's really any point. I suppose I've gotten
      weary of arguing with anti-fantasists, largely because I've never found any
      argument that would convince them. It's a lot like discussing faith with
      non-believers: they just Don't Get It, not because they're bad people, but
      because their brains don't work that way, or something. It's like playing a
      piece of gorgeous music for someone who's tone-deaf; it's a perception or
      processing problem.

      Also, Le Guin's preaching to the converted, and the anti-fantasy folk to whom
      I''ve given her work have had the same negative reaction to it that they had
      to fantasy in the first place, perhaps because she tends to insult them.
      "What marvelously simple minds they must have!" Well, even if the people on
      this list agree with that statement, is it likely to do anything other than
      annoy Sherry Turkle? How would you feel if someone told you that you had a
      marvelously simple mind? (Well, we know how we feel when Sherry Turkle
      accuses us of it, right?)

      In short, this is a really thorny rhetorical problem. If anyone's found a
      way to convince anti-fantasists that they should give the stuff a try (and
      stop dissing it in the meantime), I'd love to hear about your experiences!
      (And maybe *you* should write to Sherry Turkle.)

      But perhaps I'm just discouraged after an evening of reading really bad
      undergraduate essays.

      *Sigh*

      Susan
    • David E. Cote
      ... From: To: Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 3:08 AM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ursula K. Le Guin, ... and ... is ... I
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 8 6:56 AM
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <SusanPal@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 3:08 AM
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ursula K. Le Guin,


        > My favorite of Le Guin's statements on Tolkien is in her essay "The Child
        and
        > the Shadow," which I routinely teach; I don't have in front of me at the
        > moment, though, so I can't quote it. She deals directly with the "fantasy
        is
        > simple" misapprehension.

        I have read some of these essays- are they collected anywhere?

        > Also, Le Guin's preaching to the converted, and the anti-fantasy folk to
        whom
        > I''ve given her work have had the same negative reaction to it that they
        had
        > to fantasy in the first place, perhaps because she tends to insult them.
        > "What marvelously simple minds they must have!" Well, even if the people
        on
        > this list agree with that statement, is it likely to do anything other
        than
        > annoy Sherry Turkle? How would you feel if someone told you that you had
        a

        Why isn't that worthwhile per se? :)
      • Margaret Dean
        ... THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT collects that one and a number of others (including the famous From Elfland to Poughkeepsie ). I don t know if it s still in
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 8 7:54 AM
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          "David E. Cote" wrote:
          >
          > From: <SusanPal@...>
          >
          > > My favorite of Le Guin's statements on Tolkien is in her essay "The Child
          > > and the Shadow," which I routinely teach; I don't have in front of me at
          > > the moment, though, so I can't quote it. She deals directly with the
          > > "fantasy is simple" misapprehension.
          >
          > I have read some of these essays- are they collected anywhere?

          THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT collects that one and a number of
          others (including the famous "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie"). I
          don't know if it's still in print, but it couldn't hurt to check
          Amazon, or failing that, Bibliofind.


          --Margaret Dean
          <margdean@...>
        • SusanPal@aol.com
          In a message dated 3/8/2002 7:00:25 AM Pacific Standard Time, ... THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT, as Margaret mentioned; also DANCING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, a
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 8 8:31 AM
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            In a message dated 3/8/2002 7:00:25 AM Pacific Standard Time,
            davidecote@... writes:


            > I have read some of these essays- are they collected anywhere?
            >
            THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT, as Margaret mentioned; also DANCING AT THE EDGE OF
            THE WORLD, a more recent collection.


            > > Also, Le Guin's preaching to the converted, and the anti-fantasy folk to
            > whom
            > > I''ve given her work have had the same negative reaction to it that they
            > had
            > > to fantasy in the first place, perhaps because she tends to insult them.
            > > "What marvelously simple minds they must have!" Well, even if the people
            > on
            > > this list agree with that statement, is it likely to do anything other
            > than
            > > annoy Sherry Turkle? How would you feel if someone told you that you had
            > a
            >
            > Why isn't that worthwhile per se? :)

            Um, because the first rule of intellectual argument is that you don't
            (deliberately) insult the people you're trying to convince, because then they
            won't listen to you?

            Susan



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • David S. Bratman
            Susan - I m not interested in persuading Turkle to enjoy fantasy, I just want her to stop mischaracterizing it. I didn t think that particular quote by Le
            Message 5 of 8 , Mar 8 10:26 AM
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              Susan -

              I'm not interested in persuading Turkle to enjoy fantasy, I just want her
              to stop mischaracterizing it. I didn't think that particular quote by Le
              Guin was on the mark, it was just the one I had handy. But it shouldn't be
              difficult to find relevant quotes that show that Tolkien is subtler than a
              mechanistic computer game and that women can find his work rewarding.

              You note a strong allergy among science-fiction writers to the most
              innocent fantasy tropes. I suspect they've developed this allergy through
              fear of their hard-wired technophilic future-oriented literature being
              taken over by medievalist fantasy, much of which is very bad, and which has
              cast a retroactive shadow over even Tolkien. Have you seen China
              Mieville's interview in the new Locus? This is a guy who wouldn't be
              attuned to medievalist fantasy in the first place - I mean, he's a Marxist
              activist - but he disses Tolkien in terms that make it sound as if all he
              actually knows are the cheap lousy imitations.

              Some times ago, I told some science-fiction readers that while I preferred
              fantasy, I thought that bad fantasy was right now a much bigger threat to
              the quality of the imaginative-literature/spec-fic/whatever field than bad
              science-fiction is. And they said that I was the only fantasy reader they
              knew who admitted that there WAS such a thing as bad fantasy.


              Trudy -

              Anybody who might enjoy _Lives of the Monster Dogs_ would have no trouble
              with fantasy per se, though they might find both Le Guin and Tolkien to be
              too much sweetness-and-light. Strange as such a judgment might seem to
              anybody else.


              David Cote -

              You want, as others have mentioned, Le Guin's essay collection _The
              Language of the Night_. This contains "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", "The
              Child and the Shadow", "The Staring Eye", and "Science Fiction and Mrs.
              Brown", four of her five major statements on Tolkien (though most of these
              are not _just_ about Tolkien). The fifth is in the new book _Meditations
              on Middle-earth_ edited by Karen Haber. There is, as I recall, little or
              nothing about Tolkien in Le Guin's other essay collection, _Dancing at the
              Edge of the World_.


              - David Bratman
            • ERATRIANO@aol.com
              ... Um, because the first rule of intellectual argument is that you don t (deliberately) insult the people you re trying to convince, because then they won t
              Message 6 of 8 , Mar 8 10:41 AM
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                > Why isn't that worthwhile per se? :)

                Um, because the first rule of intellectual argument is that you don't
                (deliberately) insult the people you're trying to convince, because then they

                won't listen to you?

                Not just that, but annoying people is really best done in person...

                Lizzie ;-)


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • David E. Cote
                ... From: To: Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 11:31 AM Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ursula K. Le Guin, ... OF ... Thanks!
                Message 7 of 8 , Mar 8 12:57 PM
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                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: <SusanPal@...>
                  To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Friday, March 08, 2002 11:31 AM
                  Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Ursula K. Le Guin,


                  > In a message dated 3/8/2002 7:00:25 AM Pacific Standard Time,
                  > davidecote@... writes:
                  >
                  >
                  > > I have read some of these essays- are they collected anywhere?
                  > >
                  > THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT, as Margaret mentioned; also DANCING AT THE EDGE
                  OF
                  > THE WORLD, a more recent collection.

                  Thanks!

                  > > > Also, Le Guin's preaching to the converted, and the anti-fantasy folk
                  to
                  > > whom
                  > > > I''ve given her work have had the same negative reaction to it that
                  they
                  > > had
                  > > > to fantasy in the first place, perhaps because she tends to insult
                  them.
                  > > > "What marvelously simple minds they must have!" Well, even if the
                  people
                  > > on
                  > > > this list agree with that statement, is it likely to do anything other
                  > > than
                  > > > annoy Sherry Turkle? How would you feel if someone told you that you
                  had
                  > > a
                  > >
                  > > Why isn't that worthwhile per se? :)
                  >
                  > Um, because the first rule of intellectual argument is that you don't
                  > (deliberately) insult the people you're trying to convince, because then
                  they
                  > won't listen to you?

                  Have to polish up my use of irony apparently.
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