Character_Vapor t1_jegn5gw wrote

Reply to comment by tommy_the_bat in I love this sub by tommy_the_bat

>I never understood people who enjoy arguments rather than a simple disagreements

I mean, it all depends on context, but I got in a debate about Thomas Pynchon with a friend of mine last week at a bar that culminated in him raising his voice over the table and telling the rest of the group that I was an "odious motherfucker". Those kinds of heated debates about art are way more enjoyable than worrying about making sure everyone feels validated all the time.

Yelling and arguing about your opinion (if not literally, then in spirit) about a piece of art is a great time, as long as everyone is secure enough to know that saying someone's opinion is "bad" or "tragic" or "the worst thing I've ever heard" does not mean you think those things about them as a person.

Give me some Balzac, Lost Illusions-level shit-slinging about books! Tell someone they should have been sent to the guillotine for not liking Emile Zola. Tell someone they have an unhealthy fixation on 19th Century fuckboys after they tell you they love Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Tell someone they should be tried at The Hague for not having read Toni Morrison. It's more fun that way.

Let’s bring this kind of Ebert energy back into arts discourse and maybe we can all start having a good time talking about this stuff again.


Character_Vapor t1_jefj3rz wrote

> As if it is sinful to stop reading books

There's nothing wrong with no finishing a book you're not into. Nothing at all.

Bout routinely just skipping chunks of books because you can't be bothered to put in the effort of experiencing the book the way it was written? Also fine I guess, no one will stop you, but it doesn't seem like you actually value these books as being worth your time or worth paying attention to. It's a failure of curiosity.


Character_Vapor t1_jefim66 wrote

>Particularly if you're reading for pleasure, do what pleases you!

If all I cared about was pleasure, I'd spend all my free time jerking off.

Obviously, do what you want, no one is going to kick down your door to stop you. But someone who regularly skips whole chapters or skims on the reg doesn't actually strike me as someone who genuinely cares about books or writing. They're just using a book as a dopamine button, useful only in is function to indulge themselves. It's not rooted in any sort of interest or valuing of literature as a thing to be savored and appreciated on its own terms.


Character_Vapor t1_je0xgwy wrote

You pick another book to read. I find that the most useful way to do this is to take a hard swerve. Last year, I read Greg Egan's Diaspora, which is a super-heady, diamond-hard sci-fi novel that blew my brain apart. I followed it up with W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, which is pretty much the polar opposite kind of book. I'm not trying to chase the same high, I'm just trying to feel something new.


Character_Vapor t1_jdlia3t wrote

You selecting a default for a fantasy world still has its own implications about your point of view. You get that, right? It doesn’t matter that it’s not the real world, what you choose as the baseline for your own made-up world reflects something about its creator, whether you want it to or not.


Character_Vapor t1_jch22f4 wrote

>In your opinion can a straight white man know what it’s like to be a woman?

A person can make an attempt to divorce themselves from their default programming to try to empathize with the lived experiences of other people on an emotional level. It's not about some didactic correct answer of whether anyone can truly "know" so much as it's about how people approach art and how people think about this stuff. In the US at least, people of color tend to have a better ability to do this, because it's a skill they've had to cultivate growing up in a landscape where the majority of the popular media they consumed was very much not directly speaking to their lives and experiences, in a multitude of small and sometimes big ways.

I'm a white dude, and for much of my life I was pretty much the default target audience for the majority of popular culture, but even back then (and more so now): not every single piece of art exists with the objective of pointing itself directly at me all the time, because I am not the center of the universe. Now, could I simply encounter this stuff and write it off because I perceived that gap between the art and my immediate connection to it, and dismiss it as some flaw on the part of the art itself? I guess so, but that would be pretty lazy. The more rewarding thing to do is to try to bridge that gap, to meet the art where it's at and put in the effort to think about the ways in which it might speak to experiences that are unlike my own, and then try to empathize with those experiences to the best of my ability. Engaging with art and storytelling should not be a passive process.

We all have default programming, and pre-prescribed ways of looking at the word and constructing meaning from experience. But part of the process of growing up and becoming a well-adjusted person is making the active effort to break away from that default programming, and to cultivate a more broad-minded perspective about the world and the lives of people around you.


Character_Vapor t1_jcgxb7w wrote

>The idea that white men only possess the capacity to understand what it’s like to be a white man and nothing else

I don't think this is true at all, but what I have encountered time and time again is white men who have little to no interest in putting in the effort to understand what it's like to be a non-white person. Their white-dudedness is the default POV for everything, and if a piece of art doesn't speak to them in that capacity, it must be the fault of the art.


Character_Vapor t1_jad2j63 wrote

>Artificial Intelligence is a thing now.

No, it isn't. Chatbots are not AI, at least according to the traditional definition. They're clumsy plagiarism machines that are efficient at trawling the internet. That's it. There does not exist an artificially created intelligence that "thinks".

Ted Chiang has a great piece about this that everyone needs to read, because the discourse and understanding around this stuff has been absolutely abysmal lately.


Character_Vapor t1_j6o7qdm wrote

It's not pedantry to point out that it's possible to have a completely different reaction to a text when you hear someone else read it vs. reading it yourself. I don't make that distinction to shut people down or make a value judgement (I've made that clear multiple times), I make that distinction because it has the potential to give two people even more to talk about when it comes to a given book.

Do you have any interest in actually responding to anything I've said with elaboration of your own, or are you just going to repeat the "pedantry" thing over and over again with zero substantive analysis? It seems like you're just throwing that out because you have a reflexive disinterest toward the idea that anyone would even consider a book in that way, so you respond by just dismissing it entirely as pedantry. It's akin to someone wanting to talk about the way that decanting wine can affect the taste, and you just writing it off as irrelevant and tedious fussiness solely because you've never thought about wine in that way yourself.


Character_Vapor t1_j6o5bfq wrote

Are you seriously comparing the complete experience of a continuous, immersive text like a novel to reading a text message? I've already elaborated in another comment to you why I think the distinction is relevant in terms of the two formats, so I'm not sure why you're trying to flatten down all nuance by equating the entire thing to snippets of text on your phone.


Character_Vapor t1_j6nuiq9 wrote

>So if someone asks me "have you read x" you're saying that you expect me to respond with "oh no, but I have listened to the audiobook.

"I listened to the audiobook" is exactly how I respond, and then we get on with talking about it. Doesn't seem that strange to me.

Anytime you sit down to read a book, you are making a bunch of internalized decisions as a reader: the pace at which you move through the prose, how you imagine each character sounds, the tone and rhythm and inflection (akin to the "performance" of an actor) of how dialogue is delivered, the emphasis (or lack thereof) you give to different elements of the text, etc. This is the interpretive work between a reader and a text that actually constructs the narrative in front of you.

When you listen to an audiobook, you are still of course experiencing that text, but you're handing over the interpretive work of its construction to a third party. You are listening to someone else perform the book, and that person is the one making all of those interpretive choices I described above. This is not inherently inferior or "lesser" a process, but it can lead to fundamentally different outcomes, because there's an additional outside element being brought into a process that would otherwise be pretty insular. I've listened to audiobooks that I've hated, only to then read the book and have the complete opposite reaction. Conversely, I've tried to read books that I couldn't stand, only to then listen to an audiobook and have everything click into place, because the narrator was offering me a way "in" to the book that I couldn't quite find on my own.

These are all interesting and worthwhile things to consider when we're talking about the experience of literature. Clarifying the specifics of each experience is not some sort of value judgement on the so-called "validity" of each format, it's just a way to approach things with more nuance and hopefully generate further discussion.


Character_Vapor t1_j6nsle6 wrote

>Then your a pedantic ass. No one cares how you consumed the book, they want to talk about the story you both are familiar.

It's not pedantry. Clarifying the format will lead to a better discussion, because it's context that can be kept in mind as you discuss your individual responses to a book.


If I listened to an audiobook, and you read it, we are of course on equal footing to talk about the text, but we experienced that text in different ways. I've had discussions with friends about novels where it eventually became clear that the divide in our perceptions of it came down to the fact that one person listened to it (and therefore experienced a third party's performance of the text instead of doing that interpretive work directly), and one person read it themselves, and it affected how each of us responded to it.