- To all:
I have been a member of this email list for one day
and I'm just about ready to pull the plug! :)
Instead of just adding one more letter to the pile, I
actually did want to share something that relates to
this whole issue:
In my humble opinion, art and artists should not be
compared. There is not one author who is 'better,'
'worse' or 'equal to' another. We are all individuals
who express ourselves in different ways and enjoy
different authors and books. Comparing our art is
like comparing ourselves. Aren't we all equal?
Different, but equal? Let us allow the same God given
right to our cherished authors and books! :)
Thank you for your time! I know it is valuable. If
anyone has any comments for me, please send e-mail to
my personal box. Thanks! Let's not beat a dead
- At 08:46 PM 9/23/1999 -0700, you wrote:
>From: Scott <strand73@...>Scott;
>In my humble opinion, art and artists should not be
>compared. There is not one author who is 'better,'
Let me break this to you gently: This is one of the main purposes of this.
Art and artists ARE compared. The purpose of the discusions is critical
analysis of literature, specifically fantasy (and some science-fiction).
Authors are of varying skill and talent, their works will be of varying
quality. We explore this.
Daffyd ap Morgen
- Scott [strand73@...] wrote:
> In my humble opinion, art and artists should not beThere are a few things here I'd like to respond to -- hopefully tying it all
> compared. There is not one author who is 'better,'
> 'worse' or 'equal to' another. We are all individuals
> who express ourselves in different ways and enjoy
> different authors and books. Comparing our art is
> like comparing ourselves. Aren't we all equal?
> Different, but equal? Let us allow the same God given
> right to our cherished authors and books! :)
into fantasy literature by the end.
First, I don't think anyone has implied that one should not be allowed to read
what one wants. That's not really the issue here and is just a straw man.
Rather, what we're discussing is the idea of quality: are the works of some
authors better than the works of others? Scott's assertion (above) is that,
no, they're all equal in quality, using the old adage of 'different but
equal.' However, one must look at that a little more deeply. Scott, are you
*really* insisting that all people are un-comparable? That we cannot say that
Hitler was more evil than Ghandi? If so, then the argument stops here coz we
cannot even give a value-judgment to David Bratman who started this whole
thread with his comment about Tolkien, LeGuin and Eddings. If we are equal,
then David's opinion is equally valid and we find ourselves in a recursive
argument that spirals into oblivion.
But if we *can* discern different levels of quality, then we must ask, 'what
*are* those aspects that make a work 'better' than another work?' That's
really what most structuralist or formalist criticism comes down to:
discovering why a work is more effective as art than another piece. Without
such distinctions, my 3-year-old's drawing of 'Daddy, Granddad, and Mummy' is
as equally 'good' as Picasso's Guernica.
What we've had so far on the list has been a lot of expression of opinion --
and let's face it, a lot of folks in the Society don't like Eddings (and let's
not even get started with Jordan). But recent posts have also brought us into
the realm of actually discussing the reasoning for those opinions. I see only
good of this if we realize one thing: just coz it's our opinion doesn't mean
Let's take a case in point that's occuring in another MythSoc forum. In
Butterbur's Woodshed, David Bratman and I commented in almost perfect
opposition about the effectiveness of a book. I didn't like it. David did.
That's all fine and well. However, we also commented on whether it 'worked' as
a piece of literature, and came up on diff't sides. Now, we could just back
down and say, 'can't we all just get along?' but of what value would that be?
We'd have missed a great opportunity to actually analyze our presuppositions
about literature and perhaps grow a bit. I'm quite willing to say, 'I was
wrong. This book really *is* better than I thought,' or 'I was wrong. This
book is much worse than I thought.' That's part of growth, and one of the
purposes of literature is to cause us to grow.
If we just sit back and say, 'well, that's your opinion and this is mine' and
never examine those opinions, then we just become a mutual admiration society
and our discussion becomes 'This book rocked!' and 'No! This book sucked
eggs!' Instead, since joining the Society I have been challenged many times to
re-examine my opinion about a book and in the process re-examine my ideas
about what 'good' literature is. And I think I've grown from that.
So let's not sweep our differences under the carpet. Instead, let's look at
them, discuss them, and hopefully learn from them.
Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
"I am always positively delighted to get feedback, even if it starts by
identifying me as mud-sucking pond scum in the opening sentence."
Currently reading: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
- Two brief comments from this corner of SW Pennsylvania:
1. My response to Matthew Winslow's comments are a very emphatic "Amen!"
2. The post that prompted David Bratman's response used the word "master",
implying the mastery of some art form. To evaluate mastery is, in itself, a
comparison. Had Stacy used the phrase "well known" or "widely read", there
would have been little to disagree about. Regardless of what I or anyone
else thinks about Eddings or Jordan, we can't deny that both authors are
well known and widely read. But Stacy chose to describe those three
individuals as masters....and regardless of whether her decision was based
on marketing or a description of an article, her comment is a comparison
that invites disagreement (as any comparison does).
What bothers me about the reasoning that Stacy described is that it seems to
imply that number of books sold or read simply equates to impact on the
field and mastery. That may not have been what she meant to say, but that's
how it came across to me.