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Gougai! Gougai!

Hey I know you have opinions, put them in here! Translation suggestions for episodes 25-39, thanks all for your help!

ALSO!!! After the Revolution is now translated, scanlated, and ready for consumption! Thanks to everyone that's helped out! Ayu, you're awesome. Download here!

#26 | Back to Top05-24-2015 04:03:52 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2780

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

satyreyes wrote:

DD, if the answer to your question is "those works are undesirable," doesn't that exclude a whole lot of awesome and/or important literature from polite conversation?  Nineteen Eighty-Four?  Uncle Tom's Cabin?  Gulliver's Travels?  Little Women?  Candide?  His Dark Materials?  All World War I poetry?  Everything by Aristophanes?  The Lorax?

Personally, I'm not willing to get anywhere near a rule about good taste that would exclude any of the above.

It might and it might not. Someone could be in favor of some levels or usages and not others. A gradation of limitations. (Without even getting into explicitly hypocritical people/appraisals.) It's not unimaginable that someone would feel different about American Psycho as a movie, than they do about The Lorax as a book, yeah?

My personal inclination is to say, "Go for it! Go full on and make us feel like assholes for a moment. Make us cry. Make us nervous. Make us not want this thing." But... then there's Irreversible or Peter Sotos, and I... lose my resolve. I will defend someone's right to say or tell in story whatever they wish, or to misattribute quotes to Voltaire all they like, right up to the point where I won't. I'm genuinely unsure if Peter Sotos isn't fostering more damage than he's preventing, on physical and psychological levels, on sociological levels. I might, on occasion, even be persuaded that the relative rarity of his work, the niche factor, contributes to the likeliness of it fostering damage and brutality, as Sotos is generally read in isolation in a way that, say, Uncle Tom's Cabin or Naked Lunch are not.

(sidenote: I'm thinking now, though it's mostly unrelated, of Stephen King saying he can tell who has or hasn't actually read It vs just seeing the miniseries or knowing about it, because anyone who did read it is going to ask about the child gangbang.)


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#27 | Back to Top05-26-2015 03:05:10 AM

yusaku
String Theorist
From: Kansas City
Registered: 03-09-2014
Posts: 178

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

What do you all think about works that are intended as inoculation against dangerous or malignant ideas/feelings? Certain Grant Morrison comics, William Burroughs novels, Mary Harron movies, etc, have as an express purpose, inundating us with sudden, somewhat satiric jolts of unpleasantness to bolster our defenses about similar memes in other entertainment, culture, or the world at large. Is that functional? Is it just pretentious? Is it too likely to be misunderstood and taken straight, and thereby do the same damage is seeks to inoculate against?

Mike Diana tried it and got himself an obscenity conviction and one of the craziest sentences in American legal history.

(Also, why is "inoculate" spelled that way? Shouldn't there be a double-n or double-c? S'weird.)

GI JOE and Fat Albert cartoons always had a positive moral message at the end of each episode. When it comes to children I am very much for these kind of AESOP fable cartoons. Stories that reinforce positive social behavior have a high value. Entertainment is a good way to teach children. However, adults are different.

One things that draw me to entertainment is the taboo behavior. I like to live vicariously through Indiana Jones because there is no way I am going to a hostile foreign country to steal a priceless relic. Yet, is a lot of fun to see someone else do it. Plus there is the voyeuristic pleasure in seeing how other people you probably never get to know or places you have never experienced. I remember watching "OZ', a show about prison life, just to get a idea about what prison may be like. Also, there is also the nostalgic factor in certain shows. When i watched "Daria" it reminded me what high school was like.


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#28 | Back to Top05-26-2015 09:05:32 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Decrescent Daytripper wrote:

My personal inclination is to say, "Go for it! Go full on and make us feel like assholes for a moment. Make us cry. Make us nervous. Make us not want this thing." But... then there's Irreversible or Peter Sotos, and I... lose my resolve. I will defend someone's right to say or tell in story whatever they wish, or to misattribute quotes to Voltaire all they like, right up to the point where I won't. I'm genuinely unsure if Peter Sotos isn't fostering more damage than he's preventing, on physical and psychological levels, on sociological levels.

I haven't read Sotos or seen Irreversible - I had to Google them - which possibly cuts against the argument that either of them is causing massive social damage. I take it you have imbibed these works. Do you feel you yourself were morally damaged by them? Or are you just concerned that people not as steadfast as you might be?

I might, on occasion, even be persuaded that the relative rarity of his work, the niche factor, contributes to the likeliness of it fostering damage and brutality, as Sotos is generally read in isolation in a way that, say, Uncle Tom's Cabin or Naked Lunch are not.

So the reason Sotos's work is dangerous is that we are not adequately desensitized to it? That's a pretty slippery slope, isn't it? You could use that logic to justify silencing a lot of people who had things to say that the majority found disturbing. It seems perverse to say "these works are damaging because they're relatively rare, and therefore we should use social pressure to keep them relatively rare." That will just serve to keep them damaging, no?

As I said, I haven't read Sotos. I have read Lolita and its Japanese cousin Naomi. I don't feel damaged by them. Have you read those books, and how do you feel about them? Does Sotos' work differ from them, and if so, how? More graphic? Do you harbor doubts about whether he sincerely condemns the behavior he's writing about, in a way you might not doubt Nabokov or Tanizaki?

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#29 | Back to Top05-27-2015 10:00:43 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8700
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Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Apparently when Irreversible played in...Cannes? I think, about half the audience left in disgust before it finished, and the half that stayed gave it a 5 minute standing ovation. That's been my experience with it, people think it's either disgusting or amazing. I 'enjoyed' it. Definitely nihilistic and brutal, but I think that was the point. It's the kind of thing that was less 'a great piece of filmmaking' than it was 'something I'm glad someone did.' I haven't read Sotos, but judging by Irreversible, I'm not likely to be damaged by it.

I almost want to suggest that the more controversial the people behind a piece of work, the more it tends to challenge and question, not necessarily in a positive way, but there's something to be said for that. I do believe there's a place in media for things that are meant to inoculate. They may or may not be strictly entertaining because of it, but then you get to what someone considers fun or not.

Whether something should exist or be consumed carefully, rarely, or not at all is hard for me. I've never taken in a piece of media that truly disturbed me. SKU changed me, but I wonder sometimes if it was an entirely positive thing, since I didn't take the 'right' message from it. (Like Shattered mentions, having a message risks people not getting it clearly or agreeing.)

satyr, I'm actually curious about your answer to that! Has anything damaged you to take in?


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#30 | Back to Top05-27-2015 11:47:36 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Giovanna wrote:

satyr, I'm actually curious about your answer to that! Has anything damaged you to take in?

Well... I'm not immune to the sort of slow, quiet damage that media in general can do via implicitly telling us what is normal.  But that doesn't happen because of specific, controversial works like Lolita; it happens by a sort of accretion of uncontroversial works, like The Simpsons, and a Disney movie, and an advertisement, and a bunch of other media communicating, say, "men relate to women this way" or "violence is good clean fun."  That's not their intended message, it's just something they portray, but the message sinks in anyway.  But that's not really what you mean by your question, is it?  You want to know whether I've read a work that damaged me because of something it showed me on purpose.

I can't think of a work like that.  There are works that changed me, that grew me up.  SKU is one.  Nineteen Eighty-Four is another.  There are works that challenged me, made me deal with them, and by tempering me made me better even if I rejected all or part of their message: Atlas Shrugged, All About Love.  There are works that I wish I hadn't seen because they disgusted me for no good reason: Saw 3, most songs by Bruno Mars.  But something that hurt me, morally, in the long run?  I don't think so.  Worst case scenario, some intentional message I've read or seen has infiltrated my belief system and will eventually lead to me misguidedly hurting myself or someone else.  But eventually that's self-correcting, because I don't like hurting myself or other people, and when I see the result of my actions I adjust the beliefs that led to them.  If that's true, then even a really pernicious work will leave me wiser than I was when I got there, because you learn from inhabiting an idea and then rejecting it.

Now, it's possible that some message or idea is so ingrained in me that I will not reject it even if it's harmful for no good reason, no matter how often or how vividly my error is demonstrated to me.  I will reject reality before I reject my beliefs about reality.  I have beliefs and feelings that might be like this.  For example, I believe that people at large are not basically sadistic, and I can't imagine evidence that would convince me otherwise.  I can imagine a person who is basically sadistic.  I can imagine experiences that would lead someone else to believe that people are basically sadistic.  But even if I were treated sadistically many times by many persons, I would conclude that the problem is with those persons, not with people.  And if I'm wrong about that -- if people are basically sadistic after all -- then that's a belief that could be harmful to me, as well as to anyone I give advice to.  But I can't seriously imagine discarding it.  (Of course not: because I think I'm right!)  If that idea had been put in my head by a specific item of media, I guess you could make the case that that experience was at least potentially morally damaging.  But I can't think what particular book or movie or video game that would have been.  It seems to fall more into the "accretion" category I mentioned earlier.

I think that we have to trust people to be able to perform the kind of self-exegesis I just described.  I think we have to accept that some sixteen-year-olds are going to read Atlas Shrugged and become objectivists for a month or a year, or that some college sophomores are going to go on Tumblr and believe that all men are rapists for a month or a year, and trust that one way or another they'll be better for it in the end.  We also have to accept that some of them won't be better for it -- that some wingnut might read Lolita and somehow that's the thing that makes him think it's okay to rape a child -- and that this does not mean Lolita is a dangerous book that no one should read.  We have to accept this because we know that not everyone rises to every challenge and that this does not make challenges bad.  If we do not trust people to be able to evaluate their beliefs, including the beliefs they pull from media, and ultimately become better people by doing so, then we have to lock away art that is challenging, or at least encourage people to seek out only unchallenging art.  And all art is challenging to someone.  Personally, I wouldn't have predicted that The Catcher In The Rye would make a man want to assassinate John Lennon, but you never know about these things.  So what do we do?  Do we have The Party approve reading lists?  Teach kids that great literature is boring and stupid and they should only watch The Simpsons?  Lock Netflix and hand out movies only to people we think are morally stalwart enough to deal with them?  Or do we accept that media can shape people, but believe that people can adapt the messages they absorb into something resembling a functioning morality, and do our best to make sure that some of the messages they hear advocate empathy and self-respect and our other greatest values?

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#31 | Back to Top05-28-2015 02:00:04 AM

Ikarikun
Wakaba Wrangler
From: \_(ツ)_/
Registered: 04-20-2015
Posts: 12

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Intriguing questions satyreyes.  I agree with you when you say that people are generally capable of making their own decisions. But to play devil's advocate, the opposing side would say "how many John Lennons have do die before we do Something?" I've read Catcher in the Rye and agree I can't see how that could lead anyone to murder anyone, much less a celebrity. Another point that is brought up is the (unfalsifiable) hypothesis that violence in the media causes school shootings. You know, how many Colombines or Sandy Hooks--etc. Not that I believe that violence in media causes violence elsewhere, but you get the idea.

Something that's really stuck with me though, and related to your note about sadism is in 7th grade my class watched the documentary Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, and one of the lines I think which actually came from her diary has really stuck with me:
"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart..."

That's very significant, considering she was going through one of the greatest experiments if you will in human sadism ever. And I think that someone like that who witnesses the Holocaust firsthand and Doesn't become violent or 'evil'--I think that says something. And to those who panic or want to raise the alarm about people becoming deranged, immoral killers or rapists after viewing simulated or Fake violence or horror--it says something to those people too.
As to whether or not I've been affected by an 'unsound' work, I think in a way that's unavoidable. Whether the effect is 'oh that's terrible I never want to do that and I don't want to see that' or 'hey that's kinda neat, I might wanna try that'--it should be obvious that of course for me the former has been the case. I don't think that people who are already fairly sound of mind and morals will be 'tempted' or driven to doing immoral things because of art. People whose answer is the latter are already fairly corrupt, or at least have had experiences which never allowed them to develop soundly.

I have to wonder too, what is it that people are so afraid of when viewing 'immoral' works? A Freudian might tell you of course that there is something about that person that they are suppressing, that it's a suppression response. That in a way, the 'moral guardians' are themselves attracted to art which is seductive, which is 'evil' or at least morally bankrupt. And rather than thinking it through or analyzing, they panic. They then project onto the rest of society. But I am reminded of something I learned recently in a comics ("Graphic Novels") class about spectacle, and specifically the underground 'comix' movement (roughly comparable to Japanese hentai--thought it is an imperfect comparison) which was very popular from about 1940-90s. Basically the idea is that people crave spectacle, to be shocked. It's the same reason violent, big-budget films are still so popular, and why certain people crave slasher films or the brutal violence of video games. I play Spec Ops: The Line not because I enjoy killing or anything so terrible, but because I crave to be shocked, to be appalled. I study history, and I would argue that the story of humanity is largely the story of us killing each other, or learning to kill each other faster, more efficiently, and now as a result of the technological achievements which largely developed out of war out of necessity and the Need To Kill The Enemy, I can type this and have people read it instantly over a magic freakin' box.

Is that not 'immoral art'? We live in the most peaceful era of all human history, but that only came about after thousands of years of people killing and learning to kill and developing better weapons until finally--our weapons became a bigger threat than the Enemy, and we stopped using them. It speaks ultimately to the good in people, that we stopped just short of wiping out every living thing in existence, though certainly that is no consolation to the millions who died in trenches or gas chambers or at the hands of the Huns or died in slavery... or all the other horrible things that Had To Happen, you could argue, for our comfortable lifestyle and the Internet.

But my point is that to not study the past, to not examine it through art and really Look at the horrible things that happened in the past is to deny those people's sacrifices. Similarly one could say that to not examine and look at shocking, terrible things in art is to deny that there is a darkness in people. To look away from that darkness is a greater moral failing than illuminating that darkness by bringing it out in art. In books like Lolita, in obscure manga like Narutaru, in graphic novels like Black Hole...one must I think look at the darkness, in order to come away with a greater understanding of human Goodness, in a perverse way.

Sorry for the super long post, I was inspired and just kept writing...


For the revolution of the world, I won't give up on love!

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#32 | Back to Top05-28-2015 10:31:59 AM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
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Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Ikarikun wrote:

Intriguing questions satyreyes.  I agree with you when you say that people are generally capable of making their own decisions. But to play devil's advocate, the opposing side would say "how many John Lennons have do die before we do Something?" I've read Catcher in the Rye and agree I can't see how that could lead anyone to murder anyone, much less a celebrity. Another point that is brought up is the (unfalsifiable) hypothesis that violence in the media causes school shootings. You know, how many Colombines or Sandy Hooks--etc. Not that I believe that violence in media causes violence elsewhere, but you get the idea.

Or "how many kids have to commit suicide before we ban Dungeons and Dragons," and so on.  Mmm hmm.  There is this temptation to say "if it saves even one person's life, it's worth it!"  But we don't actually believe that.  I know because the CDC says that smoking causes about half a million deaths each year, and that 34,000 people die in traffic accidents, yet almost no one asks how many people have to die before we ban smoking or cars.  By contrast, three thousand people die on September 11 and our response is to spend a decade fighting a bloody and expensive war.  Part of the reason for the difference is probably our sense of the tragic: we notice Columbine and 9/11 in a way that we don't notice car crashes or lung cancer.  But another part of the reason might be that deep down most people don't like shared sacrifice.  We don't want to give up cigarettes or driving.  Whereas it's easy for the majority who doesn't play violent video games to demand that violent video games be banned, or for the majority who will not serve in the military to demand war.  I'm not saying that we have to fix all the big problems before we look at the small ones.  I'm just saying, let's keep some perspective.  The fact is that we are willing to accept some deaths in exchange for being able to do certain things.  And if smoking can be one of those things, why not enjoying art, which costs a tiny fraction as many lives no matter how you count?

"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart..."

That quote did go through my mind while I was writing my last post.  It made an impression on me for exactly the reasons you describe, as it makes an impression on a lot of people.  I think reading her diary was just one of many experiences that led me to believe what I believe, which is why I didn't credit/blame Anne Frank for what I believe, but yeah, it's a piece.  Can you imagine someone wanting to ban Anne Frank's diary for promoting the dangerous idea that people are good at heart?

I play Spec Ops: The Line not because I enjoy killing or anything so terrible, but because I crave to be shocked, to be appalled.

Spec Ops: The Line is an unexpected example!  That's a game that gets you to do monstrous things and then shames you for it.  There's a scene where an NPC is talking to the main character but looking at the camera, and says, "The truth, Walker, is that you're here because you wanted to feel like something you're not: a hero."  That's a gut punch aimed at Call of Duty players, you know?  That game is making a statement, is making art, as surely as Apocalypse Now is.  If you play that game and you still want to blow people up with white phosphorus, that's as may be, but the game is making you accept that you chose to do this.  No one made you.  Few shooters problematize violence the way Spec Ops does.

There are a few other games that belong to the the-only-way-to-win-is-not-to-play genre.  Save The Date is a small free game in a sort of Groundhog Day vein; something bad happens and you replay the game looking for a different outcome.  I won't spoil the specifics, but I recommend it.

We live in the most peaceful era of all human history, but that only came about after thousands of years of people killing and learning to kill and developing better weapons until finally--our weapons became a bigger threat than the Enemy, and we stopped using them. It speaks ultimately to the good in people, that we stopped just short of wiping out every living thing in existence, though certainly that is no consolation to the millions who died in trenches or gas chambers or at the hands of the Huns or died in slavery... or all the other horrible things that Had To Happen, you could argue, for our comfortable lifestyle and the Internet.

Well, one thing about history is that it isn't over.  Historians should be wary of using the past tense to say things like "we stopped using nuclear weapons," no?  But I see what you mean.  I'm not sure I agree with you that horrible things Had To Happen for us to get where we are -- or that where we are is necessarily worth the price that people who aren't me paid to get us here -- but that's a topic for another thread.  But I definitely agree with you that using art to examine the darkness helps us understand it and perhaps avoid it.  I don't mind that Call of Duty exists, but if it does, I want Wilfred Owen and Kurt Vonnegut and Bob Dylan to exist as well.

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#33 | Back to Top05-28-2015 12:16:11 PM

purplepolecat
Atlantean Singer
From: Vancouver, B.C.
Registered: 03-26-2007
Posts: 570

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

I usually don't contribute to these discussions because 9 times out of 10, Sat will say what I wanted to say, but way more eloquently and with better insight.

This time I will throw in a few thoughts w.r.t. making the "sacrifice" of removing a recreational entity from society, in order to save lives and protect our children.

The USA did this with alcohol. It didn't work very well. Most countries are still doing it with drugs. It's not working very well. Many countries would like to do it with cigarettes, but know that it wouldn't work very well, for the same reasons as Prohibition. It's a practical problem, and boils down to the fact that people want stuff, and if you stop them getting it, they will thwart you. The only really successful cases of banning a substance are when no-one really wants it, e.g. lead paint.

Censorship of media is even more problematic, because modern technology makes it so easy to distribute. Could you really ban a book now? How about a movie?


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#34 | Back to Top05-28-2015 12:32:57 PM

ShatteredMirror
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From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 8858

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

purplepolecat wrote:

The USA did this with alcohol. It didn't work very well. Most countries are still doing it with drugs. It's not working very well. Many countries would like to do it with cigarettes, but know that it wouldn't work very well, for the same reasons as Prohibition. It's a practical problem, and boils down to the fact that people want stuff, and if you stop them getting it, they will thwart you. The only really successful cases of banning a substance are when no-one really wants it, e.g. lead paint.

This is totally nitpicking, but hey, we're Utena fans, we love to nitpick. I think the distinction with lead paint isn't so much that people didn't want it, but that there was a totally acceptable substitute in the form of lead-free paint available. Banning drugs is not quite the same, because the attempt is to ban all drugs. If heroin stayed banned but morphine was easily accessible, I think most people who wanted heroin would be willing to make do with morphine, but such is not the case.

It may be a dangerous argument to make, because then you can get someone who argues that it's not a big deal to ban just a few books, because there are lots of other books that you can still read. But then again, anyone who wants to ban 1984 will probably want to ban Animal Farm too.


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#35 | Back to Top05-28-2015 12:49:18 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

ShatteredMirror wrote:

I think the distinction with lead paint isn't so much that people didn't want it, but that there was a totally acceptable substitute in the form of lead-free paint available. Banning drugs is not quite the same, because the attempt is to ban all drugs. If heroin stayed banned but morphine was easily accessible, I think most people who wanted heroin would be willing to make do with morphine, but such is not the case.

Can I nitpick back at you? emot-wink  I can't think of anyone who wants to ban all drugs.  Banning alcohol, for example, is a nonstarter today.  You roll your eyes: "I didn't mean alcohol, you know what I meant."  But I think what you meant is that the attempt is to ban all illegal drugs, which is a tautology.  Drugs are illegal because they're banned.  You can easily imagine a world where alcohol was banned and marijuana was legal, and in that world people would argue about whether alcohol should be legalized but everyone would agree marijuana was okay.  And yet the ready availability of alcohol has not stopped a large percentage of people from toking up.  Marijuana and alcohol are similar in some ways but different in others, and people understand that one is not a great substitute for the other.  I think they're equally capable of understanding that books are not great substitutes for each other.  If I take The Catcher In The Rye out of your hands and say "Here, read Gatsby instead, it's less controversial," most people get that what I've done is a kind of censorship, and that I have decided that some content is fit for you to read and other content is not: that these books are not substitutes.  Some of them might think it's a good idea anyway, but not because all books are basically the same.

In this metaphor, Catcher appears to be marijuana and Gatsby is alcohol, which I think is exactly appropriate.  emot-biggrin

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#36 | Back to Top05-28-2015 01:42:37 PM

ShatteredMirror
Yaoi Pet #1
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 8858

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Totally okay to nitpick right back. emot-wink

I think the only reason banning alcohol is a non-starter is that it's already been tried and failed, there are still people who would like to ban alcohol. They're just resigned to the fact that it's not going to happen.

But actually what I was getting at with heroin/morphine is that when you ban one drug, enterprising chemists will attempt to design an adequate substitute: a drug that replicates the banned drug's desired effect but is different enough by whichever criteria necessary to circumvent the ban. Which works for a little while, but eventually the new drug will be banned too, or at least more strictly controlled, and the cycle continues. Sometimes there's collateral damage, as is the case with the strict regulation of Sudafed to prevent the manufacture of meth (which also has substitutes in the form of Ritalin and Adderall). It strikes me that there are two basic ways to get or keep a drug un-banned: either make it so prevalent that banning it is for all practical purposes impossible, such as was the case with alcohol and increasingly is the case with cannabis; or make a drug that nobody wants to ban, which incidentally is a drug that has no potential for recreational use (paracetamol/acetaminophen can be quite deadly, but it's not fun, so nobody's trying to ban it).

To keep my post at least marginally on topic, I think you're absolutely correct when you point out that Gatsby isn't really a substitute for Catcher (it's better, but if you actually want to read Catcher for some reason, it's not a substitute emot-tongue). Nor is Animal Farm for 1984 really, even though they're by the same author and talk about a lot of the same topics. I don't think it's a stretch to argue that no book can be a true substitute when what you want is a different book.


Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.

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#37 | Back to Top05-28-2015 02:40:37 PM

Ikarikun
Wakaba Wrangler
From: \_(ツ)_/
Registered: 04-20-2015
Posts: 12

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

I don't mind that Call of Duty exists, but if it does, I want Wilfred Owen and Kurt Vonnegut and Bob Dylan to exist as well.

Of course i feel the same way. And you're right when you say historians should be wary of using the past tense--my mistake emot-wink

On the note of censorship, I think of the society ("Community") in The Giver, where people have created a utopia free of pain and suffering, which is a good thing, right? emot-wink But Of Course, eliminating war and famine are objectively good--what's bad about the Community is that it is a form of thought control, and denial. Essentially, the Community has the ability to deny the darker parts of the human psyche--as is evidenced by the Receiver of Memories and the Giver himself; the idea as I understood it was that people needed a place to put those memories of the past, but not only did they end up erasing the Bad but also everything Good--like family, love, seasons, colors etc.

To clarify though: I don't quite mean that massive suffering Had To Happen for us to live as we do now, but the idea is that technology advances largely through competition--and warfare is competition on steroids at the nation-state level. For example the Internet is predicated on code-breaking and telecommunications technology, things which were developed largely because of big nations 'needing' to wage war with massive armies. Well, that and economic 'need'; if I can garner more economic power through for example expanded political organization, boom--writing ("record keeping"). Another example could be the rocket or jet engine. These things could possibly exist without the massive historical wars which happened, certainly--but the need for them lies largely in warfare, you could argue.


For the revolution of the world, I won't give up on love!

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#38 | Back to Top05-28-2015 04:27:06 PM

Yams
Eternal Eschatologist
From: Crystal Millenium
Registered: 02-13-2007
Posts: 953

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

satyreyes wrote:

In this metaphor, Catcher appears to be marijuana and Gatsby is alcohol, which I think is exactly appropriate.  emot-biggrin

This gets a thumbs-up from me.


http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i232/YamPuff/im%20holllowz_zpsx9ddh2gp.png~original

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#39 | Back to Top05-28-2015 09:37:22 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8700
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

satyreyes wrote:

In this metaphor, Catcher appears to be marijuana and Gatsby is alcohol, which I think is exactly appropriate.  emot-biggrin

Hahaha etc-love etc-love etc-love Thanks for answering my question, hun. I'm not surprised you've never been 'injured' by something, I think we take in things in a similar way so I was curious if there was something that hit you wrong. (Because I would have then gone after it, haha.)

I want to say, intuitively, that societies that control consumption of anything seem to do worse with the 'anything,' than ones that don't. I don't believe that without strict moral guidelines, people will essentially turn into savages. We do that as we like with moral guidelines in place or not. Besides, history has shown us time and again that the worst thing you can do is try to control art. It's going to backfire spectacularly, to the point that I wonder sometimes if the disapproval of the governing body isn't the absolute best way to get your message across or known. The Marquis de Sade earned the wrath of two completely different 'governments' and is legendary now because of it. We consider that evidence that he is worth reading.

I think there's a lot of agreement on various versions of controlling the availability of books and media being 'problematic,' but here's a different question: what about that the current larger society has so much control over which media are consumed? Most of us read 1984 as a requirement in school. Given its message regarding the dangers of government dictating what media is consumed, this is to say the least ironic. Or is it? I think there's something to be said for strategically normalizing ideas that would otherwise be dangerous. We're so used to thinking BOO GOVERNMENT that there's no danger or controversy in the thought, the way there would be if we were never openly exposed to it.

Similarly to how in countries that legalize certain drugs, consumption actually goes down. There's a power in the illicit that tends to create a demand you can often curb by just making it available. Kind of like how if you want your teenager to stop doing something, as a parent, you should do it. It's now so horrifyingly uncool you'll never worry about it again.

By the same token, I don't think it's a good idea to let young minds seed themselves as they like, since some things should be experienced but might not be voluntarily. For example, I voluntarily read a book by a Jewish doctor forced to practice in Auschwitz. I did this a year before I was forced to read Anne Frank's diary, which to be honest I wouldn't have read, probably, on my own. As a (lol disturbed) child, I chose to expose myself to documented horrors, abuse, force, and graphic depictions of completely horrific experiments done for the sake of being able to do them. I, however, had to be forced to read the book that includes the line "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart..." An argument can definitely be made that this was for the best.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#40 | Back to Top05-28-2015 11:05:25 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

ShatteredMirror wrote:

To keep my post at least marginally on topic, I think you're absolutely correct when you point out that Gatsby isn't really a substitute for Catcher (it's better, but if you actually want to read Catcher for some reason, it's not a substitute emot-tongue).

Haha.  I'm told that, just like there are cat people and dog people, or chemistry people and biology people, there are Gatsby people and Catcher in the Rye people.  My friends whom I've talked about it with are asymmetrically Gatsby people.  I am a Catcher in the Rye person.  Gatsby's a good book, it deserves to be a classic, but it felt sterile to me because I didn't identify with anyone.  But I like Holden, oh yes.  I understand Holden.

Giovanna wrote:

I think there's a lot of agreement on various versions of controlling the availability of books and media being 'problematic,' but here's a different question: what about that the current larger society has so much control over which media are consumed? Most of us read 1984 as a requirement in school. Given its message regarding the dangers of government dictating what media is consumed, this is to say the least ironic. Or is it? I think there's something to be said for strategically normalizing ideas that would otherwise be dangerous. We're so used to thinking BOO GOVERNMENT that there's no danger or controversy in the thought, the way there would be if we were never openly exposed to it.

I'm not sure one way or the other, but -- as a data point -- I somehow escaped high school without ever having to read 1984 (whose title I am going to stop typing out, because fuck the system).  I didn't read it until I was almost through with college, and I did it without prompting, because it was an important cultural reference point and I was interested in the subject matter.  And it had a lot more of an impact on me than it seems to have on most high schoolers who read it in class.  Is that, as you suggest, because 1984 has less of an impact when Big Brother is the one who hands it to you?  Or is it just because I was older?  I don't know.  But I can say that my gut reaction to the suggestion "you shouldn't enjoy this work because it is morally unsound" is "your mom is morally unsound, I'm going to enjoy this work."

By the same token, I don't think it's a good idea to let young minds seed themselves as they like, since some things should be experienced but might not be voluntarily. For example, I voluntarily read a book by a Jewish doctor forced to practice in Auschwitz. I did this a year before I was forced to read Anne Frank's diary, which to be honest I wouldn't have read, probably, on my own. As a (lol disturbed) child, I chose to expose myself to documented horrors, abuse, force, and graphic depictions of completely horrific experiments done for the sake of being able to do them. I, however, had to be forced to read the book that includes the line "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart..." An argument can definitely be made that this was for the best.

Or -- to continue my train of thought from a moment ago -- an argument can be made that important messages just don't have the same impact when you're compelled to read them.  Born-again Christians know this, right?  You can love Jesus because you were brought up with him, but no one loves Jesus like someone who found him.  I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you.  I think students should definitely have to read literature, great literature, challenging literature, stuff that introduces them to the idea that art can matter and that it can be rewarding to think about it, have opinions about it, love it, hate it.  But the job of actually designing that curriculum -- deciding which art, which ideas, students will be exposed to -- is a job that feels above my pay grade.  Anne Frank's diary is probably a good choice.  It hits a lot of important bases.  And if it's handed to us in middle school as a sort of vicarious inoculation against cynicism, well, that seems like a pretty good cultural reference point for us to share.

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#41 | Back to Top05-29-2015 11:36:23 AM

ShatteredMirror
Yaoi Pet #1
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 8858

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

I think that being given a copy of 1984 by Big Brother himself absolutely lessens the impact. I read it voluntarily when I was in 8th grade, and loved it. I actually read it back to back with Huxley's Brave New World, which really added a lot to the experience. If I recall, Orwell himself said that Brave New World was a totally plausible future for the world of 1984. Of course, I also read Catcher voluntarily around the same time, and hated it. Part of why I hated it so much was that everything I'd read about it led me to believe that I'd identify with Holden and let's just say I very much didn't.

I wasn't required to read either Catcher or 1984 in school. It's kind of too bad, I could've written some kick-ass essays on both of them.

Being forced to read something can absolutely suck the joy out of the experience, but at least for me it won't kill my enjoyment of a book that I would have enjoyed if I'd chosen it for myself (Gatsby, The Things They Carried). But choosing a book for myself is no guarantee that I'll enjoy it either (Catcher, Lord of the Rings). From an education perspective, I think reading lists are a good idea - the kind that say, "Here's a list of 20 books, pick 5 and read them."


Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.

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#42 | Back to Top05-29-2015 09:42:01 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8700
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Here's something fucked up for you guys: I've been told so many times that I would hate Catcher that I didn't even know it was set in NYC, which is interesting, because most people would sell a book to me on that alone. emot-gonk I've actually never had any interest in it until now, because I want to stubbornly read it and Gatsby and see which kind of friend I am to satyr. emot-biggrin

I thought everyone had to read 1984 in school! Most of the kids I knew had to, but I was in the gifted program at the time and though the rest of the school read 1984, the gifted English classes had to read Animal Farm. Now that I think of it...that's....interesting, given the place in society gifted students are told they will take.

I think at the end of the day, there are books you should 'have' to read, but that reading lists are probably more constructive in the long term for personal development. I realize reading something like Orwell in school is the school system's attempt to foster critical thinking; it's a developmental milestone when someone can read a book like that and relate it to current reality. The thing that seemed off to me about it, is I never met anyone in school, regardless of the Orwell book they read, that actually did that at the time. Which is where the cynical Big Brother putting thinking where you'll reject it thing comes in.

I hated Animal Farm in school, because I resented having to read anything. I was already at the time a huge reader, so I felt very put out that my reading list kept getting interrupted. Which was contrasted to the way I used to read 'difficult' texts because I was a massive suckup and it made me feel special. I actually blew myself out on this joyless reading so much that after I stopped reading, it took me over a decade to return to it. There are a lot of classics I've avoided based on the memory of frankly never enjoying any of the ones I did, but I should probably stop being such a shit about it.

Just tried to find lists for required reading in schools currently, and found several articles saying the books we were taught don't meet Common Core standards of difficulty, using a value based on sentence length and word difficulty. Which is...fucking staggering. The most mentally challenging books I've read almost universally would score low on this scale. I'm not sure I could immediately illustrate a better way to challenge kids, but it's definitely not that. I realize reading skill probably has to be forced to some degree on some children--I am able to read complex material because I read so much as a kid, but that was all voluntarily done, and not everyone will do that. But at the same time, teaching kids to resent reading or feel like stuffy classics have to be jammed down their throats? LAME. I remember having read Romeo and Juliet in class. It was taught as OMG SHAKESPEARE which so gloriously missed the point of the play, or anything appealing about it, that I've hated the shit out of it until I recently watched John Green's Crash Course Lit on it and got some context. I forced myself to read the Divine Comedy as a kid...I hated it. Current me asks 'How the fuck did you hate a book that's a big Italian snobby trollfest????' I had no context. And that's where I got into trouble with reading as a youngster--The Scarlet Letter just being picked up and read without a context because it's on a summer reading list is a very good way to hate a book. (I hate that book.) Anyway this is getting offtopic, sorry. emot-redface

Back to topic, Anne Frank should definitely be read in schools...my experience of it wasn't a 'vicarious inoculation against cynicism' but rather 'bad people are bad and you should feel badder because Anne Frank.' I think an inoculation against cynicism is a better context for the book. But then...should the opposite hold? Should kids have to read something based on its being morally unsound, or extremely challenging? I'm not sure exactly in what context I mean, whether I should have had to read the Marquis de Sade in school or what. But to what degree should younger people be challenged by what they read, given that they're going to deal with this material later and often have no capacity to handle it or think critically about it?

PS. Just thought of a book someone should have made me read in high school. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. etc-love
PPS. Oh oh and another one. The Little Prince. No no, in high school. I'm serious.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#43 | Back to Top05-29-2015 10:17:59 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Giovanna wrote:

PPS. Oh oh and another one. The Little Prince. No no, in high school. I'm serious.

When you said that thing about some of the classics not meeting Common Core standards of difficulty, the very first thing I thought was "oh my God, I am going to write such a screed about how The Little Prince is one of the most important, dense, and challenging books I know in spite of being a children's book."  I am so pissed that you beat me to it.  emot-biggrin  It would be a great addition to a high school curriculum, as long as it's understood that the purpose of literature classes is not primarily to make students better at understanding sentences, but to make them better at understanding ideas presented through fiction.  The first is absolutely important too, but some classroom discussions are going to be way more productive if the teacher can take for granted that the students understand what the book literally said.

ShatteredMirror wrote:

"Here's a list of 20 books, pick 5 and read them."

I like that, except that when you haven't read the books yet you don't know which ones you're going to find worthwhile -- or is having the choice all that matters, even if you're basically choosing at random? -- and that you can't really run a classroom discussion on a book that some students read and others didn't.  I think discussion is really valuable, maybe the most important part of high school reading.  Honestly, if a student were going to choose to either read the book and skip class, or ignore the book and participate actively in class discussions about it, I think mostly they'd get more out of the latter than the former.  Good English teachers are magicians.

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#44 | Back to Top05-30-2015 04:35:44 AM

Snow
Troublesome Insect
From: in the wolf
Registered: 09-30-2013
Posts: 642

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

This is a huge discussion that I've only read snippets of when I had the time, but I feel the need to chime in when highschool lit is the topic. Surprisingly enough, the situation in my country is not too different. I went to a tech school, and there they're a bit lax with the number of required books, but the classics were still there. So I'll speak of the books that were on our lists and not those I read on my own volition.

The funny thing with regional literature here is that 9 out of 10 authors were part of some kind of a revolutionary, political or social movement, so no matter what you make required reading, a portion of the population will think you're forcing morally unsound material at kids. There is often no valid reason for outcry as most books have merit on their own, without political background. But when you take into consideration that, due to various historical predicaments that have plagued the region since time immemorial, allegory and metaphor were often the only way to express your ideology without getting yourself shot, the subversive underlining is present much more often than not, if you scratch below the surface. Thus, there is always a group of paranoids somewhere convinced that children will be subconsciously swayed in a certain direction by works of literature, and the government even got accused of furthering a political agenda with the list of required books for schools emot-rofl. Needles to say, I live in an interesting place.

And I have to say that Animal Farm annoyed the shit out of me, mainly because it was so blunt with it's allegory. Works like Catcher and Old Man and the Sea had a more lasting impact on me, hitting a bit closer to home at that age. Politically engaged books always read a bit silly to me, there tends to be too much foaming and not enough finesse. Also, authors on a roll of political bloodlust tend to comically miss the bigger picture, something that the passage of even a little time makes embarrassingly obvious. You could say that they serve a necessary purpose at their moment in history, but age really, really bad. Not to say that they are without their qualities, but that's often despite, not because, their political message.
Anne Frank is a book that defies such categorization, mainly because it was not written as a political manifesto. You could blank out the names and the book would still hit hard. Even if you didn't know what happened to Anne later, the abrupt way it ends still sends shivers down your spine. It definitely is much closer to a rally against cynicism, even if the author (obviously) didn't intend for it to be read that way. So here it's more a case of what it represents to you, rather than what it truly is.

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#45 | Back to Top05-30-2015 09:52:30 AM

ShatteredMirror
Yaoi Pet #1
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 8858

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

satyreyes wrote:

ShatteredMirror wrote:

"Here's a list of 20 books, pick 5 and read them."

I like that, except that when you haven't read the books yet you don't know which ones you're going to find worthwhile -- or is having the choice all that matters, even if you're basically choosing at random? -- and that you can't really run a classroom discussion on a book that some students read and others didn't.  I think discussion is really valuable, maybe the most important part of high school reading.  Honestly, if a student were going to choose to either read the book and skip class, or ignore the book and participate actively in class discussions about it, I think mostly they'd get more out of the latter than the former.  Good English teachers are magicians.

I got that kind of assignment as a summer reading list, where I think it's a little more practical. You're not necessarily choosing at random unless you have to immediately commit to which ones you're going to pick without a chance to do any research first. Some of the books on my list I'd heard of already and thought sounded like they'd be worth reading (The Autobiography of Malcolm X; another that I can't recall now). One I chose because my mother recommended it (The Handmaid's Tale). For the rest, I Googled titles that sounded interesting until I found ones that looked like they'd be a good read. A less invested student could just pick five titles at random without doing any research, but even in that case they're still no worse off than if someone else picked for them.

I read The Scarlet Letter in class, at the same time as we were studying the Puritan colonies in US History. I liked the book okay, but the class discussions were not altogether unlike this:

Laurie Halse Anderson wrote:

Rachel/Rachelle, my ex-best friend: "Who cares what the color means? How do you know what he meant to say? I mean, did he leave another book called 'Symbolism in My Books'? If he didn't, then you could just be making all of this up. Does anyone really think this guy sat down and stuck all kinds of hidden meanings into his story? It's just a story."

Hairwoman: "This is Hawthorne, one of the greatest American novelists! He didn't do anything by accident he was a genius."

Rachel/Rachelle: "I thought we were supposed to have opinions here. My opinion is that it's kind of hard to read, but the part about how Hester gets in trouble and the preacher guy almost gets away with it, well, that's a good story. But I think you are making all this symbolism stuff up. I don't believe any of it."

Hairwoman: "Do you tell your math teacher you don't believe that three times four equals twelve? Well, Hawthorne's symbolism is just like multiplication once you figure it out, it's as clear as day."

I certainly learned more about symbolism (and other literary devices) discussing SKU with y'all than I ever did in a high school English class. And a couple of my teachers were actually quite good.


Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.

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#46 | Back to Top02-22-2017 08:29:33 AM

zeedikay
Sunlit Gardener (Prelude)
Registered: 02-22-2014
Posts: 169

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

Well, this is a thread that I'm surprised hasn't been posted in recently. I'm not quite sure why I'm doing this, since most of my thoughts on the subject seem to have been discussed already in detail by other people, but I'll take a crack at this.

One of my high school english teachers absolutely hated the Scarlet Letter, and made no effort hiding it. We still were taught the book, but honestly it made it a lot more interesting than if I read it straight through on it's own. I also ended up reading Invisible Man as an assigned book, which I figured was because I was in the advanced class, and I was honestly sort of unsettled, but impressed by it. And yes, the subject matter of it fits with the idea that the smarter kids go onto higher, more influential jobs, but I sort of want to read To Catch a Mockingbird in case I really did miss out on something. Another book I ended up reading in middle school was actually Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things oddly enough. It was about halfway though me reading the book, the teacher ended up realizing that a novel in which caste and general power struggles cause pain and discord in a family, including several scenes of child labor and abuse, might not have been the best for middle schoolers. It might have been a little better if they tried to explain why they wanted us to stop reading it, but I settled for finishing the book so I could get ice cream for it. It helped I was sort of engrossed by the book anyways...

It's a good book, and it certainly was impactful, but I sometimes have to wonder why it was chosen for a reading list in a rural 7th grade english class. It did show a view into another culture that was different from my own, and upon retrospect, I can see several instances where it could help someone thinking about their own situations. It even has a lot of thematic similarities to SKU, and actually do suggest checking it out if you can! Maybe if it was presented to an older set, say a high school class, there could be a bit more of an acceptance showing it to students, but the elements that did cause controversy when it was a newer book still would have to be discussed.

Also Arundhati Roy's going to have a new novel of hers coming out sometime in June this year too!

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#47 | Back to Top05-23-2017 03:12:07 PM

LadyButterflyNebula
Rose Smilee
From: Arkansas
Registered: 03-23-2017
Posts: 121
Website

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

YamPuff wrote:

Honestly, if we ignored any work of art wherein the creator had some kind of issues/ problems/ was a general weirdo our library of good stuff would be decimated.

Agreed.  Not to mention most of the world around us.  As time marches forward things that were ok in their time have found themselves on the chopping block of history. 

It's like the removal of founding fathers' names being removed from buildings and etc in the USA because they owned slaves.  Yeah, owning slaves was not cool, but they did create an entire nation.  Should we undo the whole nation? (With Trump in office he'll take care of that any way).  ((also as a Yankee stuck in the south I'm all for the removal of monuments that celebrated slavery, which is not very popular at all.  Just add it to the list of things people in the south hate me for... female... independent... bisexual... pro-choice...etc))

Probably a classic example for literary purposes would be Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  Other than his whimsical creation he is known for owning child porn, calling it art, and it is debated if he molested the girl for whom he named Alice. 

So should we walk away from this literary master piece because he was a monster?  No.  It did change my prospective but the body of work remains unchanged.  I would call his work great, but not the man himself.


Usubeni midarete manatsu no yo no yume yume
Tobitatsu kagerou koi kogarerou
Anata wo omoeba yume ni yume ni yume miru
Afureru yorokobi towa ni towa ni

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#48 | Back to Top05-24-2017 04:48:14 PM

Decrescent Daytripper
Best Disney Princess
Registered: 04-09-2007
Posts: 2780

Re: Should we enjoy works created by the morally unsound?

There's a risk in received wisdom and official versions, as well. It's not as if you can't Richard the Lionhearted a Richard III, or Richard III a Lionhearted. Jesse James was a man... and all that.

LadyButterflyNebula wrote:

Probably a classic example for literary purposes would be Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  Other than his whimsical creation he is known for owning child porn, calling it art, and it is debated if he molested the girl for whom he named Alice.

For example, none of that's really true, but his family certainly did reinforce it in our brains after he died to protect his good name. Plus, nude photos of kids look weird to us, in our age, even though the ones he took are blatantly not erotic and photography, as a thing, was just a very different animal at the time.

His family thought that, rather than be known as someone closely allied with Decadent artists and writers, who nearly lost his job more than once over sexual liaisons with other adults of note, it would be better to popularize that he was afraid of adult women and never touched the stuff. Because at the time, from their perspective, that would look totes cleaner.

If there's one thing Dodgeson, Poe, and two out of three Brontes prove, it's that you should try hard to outlive all relatives, especially if they might write your bio later. school-eng101


My Brain is the Wakaba and Shiori Funtime Hour. With limited commercial interruption.

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