Why I like Postmodern Literature and Modernist Literature

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HighLlama
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24 Dec 2018, 6:03 am

Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


Insofar as I am familiar with those people, which is not to any great extent, I have no respect for their work whatever.

In respect of seriousness, I meant serious in the sense of "seeking to establish an idea" rather than in the sense opposed to - say - "humorous". By this standard, no fiction published subsequent to 1968 or so can be considered serious, as all later writers adopted the absurd theory of post structuralism propounded by charlatans like Foucault and Derrida.


Thanks for the explanation, as far as "seeking to establish an idea." I think sometimes people assume older art is academic and serious (like the people who don't realize how dirty Shakespeare is), without seeing it for what it is. I agree about Foucault and Derrida--I don't like them either. How do you define establishing an idea, in art?


If its overall content states something about the world that has semantic value. Tristram Shandy, while a subversive and humorous novel meets this standard, because it's a satire of the intellectual pretensions and uncouth manners of British gentlemen of the eighteenth century. I don't believe Shakespeare necessarily passes this test at all events, but then I've never really liked much of Shakespeare anyway; those who pour adulation upon him unthinkingly are, I think, the sorts of pseuds the OP was accused of being. Certainly, I think Shakespeare's genius was massively inferior to that of many other national writers; Tolstoy certainly, Goethe probably and Dumas quite possibly.


Isn't Shakespeare all about semantic value? I think he wisely saw that you couldn't talk about reality without focusing on the self, since only selves express any thoughts, so he let characters speak instead of speaking himself. And in those fictional people are all sorts of insights, points of view, and self-deceptions. While their actions reveal of who they are, their words reveal so much more about who they are, and think they are, and want to be. In Shakespeare, the words are so fluid and can have multiple contexts. Hamlet's opening line, "Who's there?" refers at first to a guard, but could also be a question to God or one's parents. I never get the feeling from other writers that their work is so fluid, or can at once be literal while also as metaphorical as the subconscious.


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Prometheus18
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24 Dec 2018, 7:50 am

HighLlama wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
HighLlama wrote:
No 60s jazz? Frank Zappa? Van Dyke Parks?

No Ted Hughes?? Or Marianne Moore?

No Dorothea Lange? No Cindy Sherman?

What great art is (wholly) serious?


Insofar as I am familiar with those people, which is not to any great extent, I have no respect for their work whatever.

In respect of seriousness, I meant serious in the sense of "seeking to establish an idea" rather than in the sense opposed to - say - "humorous". By this standard, no fiction published subsequent to 1968 or so can be considered serious, as all later writers adopted the absurd theory of post structuralism propounded by charlatans like Foucault and Derrida.


Thanks for the explanation, as far as "seeking to establish an idea." I think sometimes people assume older art is academic and serious (like the people who don't realize how dirty Shakespeare is), without seeing it for what it is. I agree about Foucault and Derrida--I don't like them either. How do you define establishing an idea, in art?


If its overall content states something about the world that has semantic value. Tristram Shandy, while a subversive and humorous novel meets this standard, because it's a satire of the intellectual pretensions and uncouth manners of British gentlemen of the eighteenth century. I don't believe Shakespeare necessarily passes this test at all events, but then I've never really liked much of Shakespeare anyway; those who pour adulation upon him unthinkingly are, I think, the sorts of pseuds the OP was accused of being. Certainly, I think Shakespeare's genius was massively inferior to that of many other national writers; Tolstoy certainly, Goethe probably and Dumas quite possibly.


Isn't Shakespeare all about semantic value? I think he wisely saw that you couldn't talk about reality without focusing on the self, since only selves express any thoughts, so he let characters speak instead of speaking himself. And in those fictional people are all sorts of insights, points of view, and self-deceptions. While their actions reveal of who they are, their words reveal so much more about who they are, and think they are, and want to be. In Shakespeare, the words are so fluid and can have multiple contexts. Hamlet's opening line, "Who's there?" refers at first to a guard, but could also be a question to God or one's parents. I never get the feeling from other writers that their work is so fluid, or can at once be literal while also as metaphorical as the subconscious.


We read a great deal, in our modern narcissism, into Shakespeare that quite simply isn't there, though we've been doing this since the eighteenth century, so I suppose it becomes a matter of blind tradition. Shakespeare was really only considered a second rate dramatist in his day - rather like Ben Elton today - good, but nobody saw him as a genius. I think the idea of Shakespeare as a genius is a modern invention, presumably inherited from that arch-blockhead Samuel Johnson, whom Schopenhauer rightly condemned as such.

I didn't say that Shakespeare is wholly without a point to make, however, but not nearly as often as the intellectual sponges in our social science and English departments today would make out. I think you've also read meaning into the Hamlet passage above which isn't there, though I don't blame you for this.



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24 Dec 2018, 8:54 am

Prometheus18 wrote:
[We read a great deal, in our modern narcissism, into Shakespeare that quite simply isn't there, though we've been doing this since the eighteenth century, so I suppose it becomes a matter of blind tradition. Shakespeare was really only considered a second rate dramatist in his day - rather like Ben Elton today - good, but nobody saw him as a genius. I think the idea of Shakespeare as a genius is a modern invention
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Thomas Middleton was a second rate dramatist in that time. If Shakespeare were only considered second rate, why would bootleggers ascribe other plays to him, using his name to sell plays he hadn't written? Why would he be such a target for jealousy, as he was by Robert Greene?

And just because Shakespeare wasn't considered a genius in his day (thought Ben Jonson may argue with you), doesn't mean that he wasn't. Was every scientist who was burned at the stake a fraud because they weren't understood in their time?

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presumably inherited from that arch-blockhead Samuel Johnson, whom Schopenhauer rightly condemned as such.


Insulting Samuel Johnson doesn't refute Shakespeare's talent or intelligence.

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I didn't say that Shakespeare is wholly without a point to make, however, but not nearly as often as the intellectual sponges in our social science and English departments today would make out. I think you've also read meaning into the Hamlet passage above which isn't there, though I don't blame you for this.


That line establishes a theme of order in the universe: our need for it and our need to believe we're central to it. It's not something I'm imagining--the place deals with the afterlife and political and familial order, and what happens when our sense of truth and order are disrupted. Do you really think all these elements were put into the play accidentally? That I find harder to believe. Shakespeare consistently introduces the themes of his plays through what appear to be throw-away lines, then uses the play to think through these themes. However, he tends to illustrate, rather than state, universal truths. A lesser writer would spell them out, and probably try to create a system of thought through their writing. That Shakespeare never tried to create or peddle "Shakesperianism" is a sign of intelligence, not hazy thinking. Like nature, his work is expansive and ambiguous, rather than reductive and literal. This is a strength, not a weakness. Philosophies become displaced by subsequent generations, but how does one displace Shakespeare?

Like reality, his is meant to be interpreted, but that doesn't mean all interpretations are equal or valid. He was a good psychologist who, through his work, created a mirror rather than a guide to life. That is what makes him so satisfying. A lesser writer would be more eager to show what (they think) they know.


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Prometheus18
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24 Dec 2018, 10:03 am

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Thomas Middleton was a second rate dramatist in that time. If Shakespeare were only considered second rate, why would bootleggers ascribe other plays to him, using his name to sell plays he hadn't written? Why would he be such a target for jealousy, as he was by Robert Greene?



I don't know anything about the history of literary counterfeiting, though you're almost certainly right. That doesn't prove Shakespeare was a genius, however, any more than the fact that there are counterfeit versions of Camel cigarettes means that those cigarettes are superlatively good. The same can be said in respect of jealousy.

While we're on the topic of counterfeiting, however, I have to say that I'm reminded of the story told by Cobbett in his Advice for Young Men about the forgery Vortigern written, presumably, towards the end of the eighteenth century. A young man got some papers and inks in the Elizabethan fashion, produced a second rate imitation of Shakespeare which the critics were sure COULD NOT HAVE BEEN WRITTEN by anybody other than the bard himself and subsequently had the play performed at the Globe to an audience that laughed it off the stage. Those same critics then sought to destroy the young man who had exposed their philistinism. These are the intellectual ancestors of those who pour undue adulation upon the man today. I recommend that you read the passage in Cobbett (it's in letter number two); it made me roar with laughter the first time I read it.

By the way, I don't mean to say that Shakespeare wasn't a good writer - even a great one - only that our cult of Shakespeare is a product of unthinking tradition rather than of the bard's literary merit itself. This is ironic, given that modern literary critics are so comically obsessed with "debunking" tradition as bourgeois. I suppose that's only when the tradition is useful.

There is nothing - not one thing - that Shakespeare said that hasn't been said better since by another author - or before, for that matter. Hamlet was an existentialist three hundred years before existentialism as invented, and that fact is of deeply fascinating historical and cultural importance, but we have existentialists who have stated their position formally and coherently now, so how can Hamlet survive as much more than a - deeply moving - historical curiosity? Hamlet's position is also prefigured in antiquity by - for one - the writer of Ecclesiastes, who stated it far more movingly and articulately, in my opinion.

Quote:
That line establishes a theme of order in the universe: our need for it and our need to believe we're central to it. It's not something I'm imagining--the place deals with the afterlife and political and familial order, and what happens when our sense of truth and order are disrupted. Do you really think all these elements were put into the play accidentally? That I find harder to believe.
Shakespeare consistently introduces the themes of his plays through what appear to be throw-away lines, then uses the play to think through these themes.

I sympathize with what you're saying, and yet I can't understand why you chose that particular line from Hamlet rather than - say - Hamlet's soliluquoy. It's impossible to say that the opening line is anything other than a conventional motif without labouring a point to the point of absurdity. I don't want to sound insulting, but I think you're guilty of pareidolia here; it's so easy to read meaning into something that isn't there, and I'm certainly guilty of it myself from time to time, but respectfully, I think you're just wrong, here.

Quote:
However, he tends to illustrate, rather than state, universal truths. A lesser writer would spell them out, and probably try to create a system of thought through their writing. That Shakespeare never tried to create or peddle "Shakesperianism" is a sign of intelligence, not hazy thinking. Like nature, his work is expansive and ambiguous, rather than reductive and literal. This is a strength, not a weakness. Philosophies become displaced by subsequent generations, but how does one displace Shakespeare?


I agree completely with everything but for the last sentence; western philosophy has never got over Plato or Aristotle, but that's another matter.



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25 Dec 2018, 6:02 am

Thank you for giving me some things to think about :)


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Prometheus18
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25 Dec 2018, 11:21 am

HighLlama wrote:
Thank you for giving me some things to think about :)

You're welcome, and you've shown yourself to be a decent sort of man by being willing to do so; a lot of people here would have just shouted at me unthinkingly once I contradicted their position. I'll try to think over the things you've said, too.



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25 Dec 2018, 6:10 pm

TUF wrote:
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'. 1 Not too bad to do that as an aspie then... (I like having the same experience) and 2 I never actually get the same experience when I read something like Ulysses or House of Leaves. Once I have the same experience, I abandon a book and take it to a charity shop so someone else can get their multiple reads out if it. 3 I love that a book earns its keep, so many books cost over £5 these days so they really shouldn't be single read things like magazines are.


Is it really that strange to reread one's books? I have a small library of books that I reread regularly, because as you said it's never quite the same. If I read the same book twice several years apart, usually my life and my outlook has changed a little with the passage of time and with experience, so my experience of the book will be slightly different on the second reading. Sometimes on a second or third reading I will notice something I didn't notice before. And some stories I just love so much that it's a joy to revisit them over and over again. Isn't that pretty normal, for people who love to read?



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30 Dec 2018, 6:28 pm

karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
TUF wrote:
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'. 1 Not too bad to do that as an aspie then... (I like having the same experience) and 2 I never actually get the same experience when I read something like Ulysses or House of Leaves. Once I have the same experience, I abandon a book and take it to a charity shop so someone else can get their multiple reads out if it. 3 I love that a book earns its keep, so many books cost over £5 these days so they really shouldn't be single read things like magazines are.


Is it really that strange to reread one's books? I have a small library of books that I reread regularly, because as you said it's never quite the same. If I read the same book twice several years apart, usually my life and my outlook has changed a little with the passage of time and with experience, so my experience of the book will be slightly different on the second reading. Sometimes on a second or third reading I will notice something I didn't notice before. And some stories I just love so much that it's a joy to revisit them over and over again. Isn't that pretty normal, for people who love to read?


I've read it's a sign of an aspie woman.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

In the old days I was the same about VHS tapes. In the days of YouTube and iPlayer I'm different though. So much out there to watch now.

Also I think it's because these women I was talking to wanted to moan about being close to death even though they're only like 50 so realistically they can expect at least 30 more years. If someone reads something at 50 and she first read it at 18, I bet the experience will be totally different...

Technically we'll never read everything. We'll never experience everything. We'll never eat all the food in the world or go everywhere. I could go on like this ad infinitum. But that shouldn't preclude us from having experiences which we enjoyed the first time, after all, you can never step into the same river twice as the old saying goes.



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30 Dec 2018, 6:39 pm

karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
TUF wrote:
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'. 1 Not too bad to do that as an aspie then... (I like having the same experience) and 2 I never actually get the same experience when I read something like Ulysses or House of Leaves. Once I have the same experience, I abandon a book and take it to a charity shop so someone else can get their multiple reads out if it. 3 I love that a book earns its keep, so many books cost over £5 these days so they really shouldn't be single read things like magazines are.


Is it really that strange to reread one's books? I have a small library of books that I reread regularly, because as you said it's never quite the same. If I read the same book twice several years apart, usually my life and my outlook has changed a little with the passage of time and with experience, so my experience of the book will be slightly different on the second reading. Sometimes on a second or third reading I will notice something I didn't notice before. And some stories I just love so much that it's a joy to revisit them over and over again. Isn't that pretty normal, for people who love to read?


I reread books many, many times over. I even have rituals about when to read each one. I have always reacted differently to each book every time I read it. I started my Brontë obsession at age 15 and have read them about 20 times each, with the exception of The Professor. They are new every time. I'm actually 'afraid' of new books because they're unfamiliar.



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30 Dec 2018, 7:22 pm

You can get a different impression of a novel even the next day.



karathraceandherspecialdestiny
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30 Dec 2018, 10:56 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
karathraceandherspecialdestiny wrote:
TUF wrote:
I was talking at book club and I was the only one who likes rereading books. People said 'why do that, you just get the same experience'. 1 Not too bad to do that as an aspie then... (I like having the same experience) and 2 I never actually get the same experience when I read something like Ulysses or House of Leaves. Once I have the same experience, I abandon a book and take it to a charity shop so someone else can get their multiple reads out if it. 3 I love that a book earns its keep, so many books cost over £5 these days so they really shouldn't be single read things like magazines are.


Is it really that strange to reread one's books? I have a small library of books that I reread regularly, because as you said it's never quite the same. If I read the same book twice several years apart, usually my life and my outlook has changed a little with the passage of time and with experience, so my experience of the book will be slightly different on the second reading. Sometimes on a second or third reading I will notice something I didn't notice before. And some stories I just love so much that it's a joy to revisit them over and over again. Isn't that pretty normal, for people who love to read?


I reread books many, many times over. I even have rituals about when to read each one. I have always reacted differently to each book every time I read it. I started my Brontë obsession at age 15 and have read them about 20 times each, with the exception of The Professor. They are new every time. I'm actually 'afraid' of new books because they're unfamiliar.


I do that too, the ritual of when to read certain books. Watching the LOTR trilogy and then rereading all my Tolkien has become a Christmas tradition with me.



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31 Dec 2018, 6:04 am

...Well, since I didn't "truly " go to college or go to uni at all, I guess, in a sense, I should give up the " pretenses " of being " well-being educated - Perhaps the me that subcribed to the New Yorker and New York Review of Books was pretending/aspiring to regain the status he thought he once had.
Maybe I'll never go to uni now. :cry: . J didn't really get " proper " English- ajor credits in my high school years eitherSo, now, why bother :cry:.
I hardly read real prose, on pages, anymore, more articles on the Web. I get distracted by my pain, and it is hard to find a comfortable position in which to read, and the phonei s lit from behind :(. Even in the motel room :D , I could not find a comfortable, and well-lit enough to read, reading position. At times when I can get that... :(.

n who likes Victorian literature myself. And American Realism.

I find some Modernist literature to be purposely obtuse, abstruse, and experimental just for the sake of being experimental. I find some to be fine, however.
The
I don't like too much dissonance in music---so I don't tend to go for "experimental" music. Though some of it, if it sounds pleasant, can be at least all right.

I wouldn't say I would have a negative reaction to someone who likes Modernist/Postmodernist things---as long as that person is a nice person.

You have nice conservatives, and nasty liberals. There aren't too many nice Nazis around, though.[/quote]


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31 Dec 2018, 7:04 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
You can get a different impression of a novel even the next day.


That's true although I'd say it either requires active effort, a change in one's life circumstances (for eg when I moved house suddenly far away things seemed near and nearby things seemed far away) or study of the texts (for eg when I went to uni I found myself coming in with books I read and hated that morning and the lecturer convinced me of the value of the text then I came home again and read it and got something out of it).

By the way, I'm not such a sexist that I'd believe men can't do this. It's a stereotype to say it's only a female thing just as it's a stereotype to say that memorising the serial numbers of trains is a male thing. Anyone who's a reader, especially anyone aspie who's a reader, can have these experiences.

I do think it's an aspie thing in adulthood though. I think NTs are driven by such seeking of novelty that they sometimes feel as if they can't enjoy the same things twice. They're wrong, of course, but that's what they tell themselves and convince themselves of.

It's enjoying something deeply rather than having a broad range of interests.

I'm saying they're wrong because who is it that we all know loves the same stories over and over? Children. Preschool children, of all neurotypes, are such novelty seekers in other things but every night they find the story they love and ask daddy to read it to them, over and over again until daddy gets bored (because it's Spot the Dog and not a novel for adults) and hides the book. This shows it's not just an aspie trait but a human trait which some people are shamed/socialised out of as they grow up.



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31 Dec 2018, 5:36 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Thanks for your explanation. I'm still a bit confused about one thing. Who are these people who think you are "showing off"? People in a library are among them?! That's so absurd! Why would someone be offended by what you choose to read? Why is postmodernism published and made available in the library if you aren't allowed to like it?

I study Victorian, Romantic and Gothic Literature, Literary Criticism and Biographies of 19th century authors. Never in my life have I been told that's pompous. I'm sure some people think it sounds drab or they conjure stereotypes about the genres, but to the best of my knowledge no one thinks I'm showing off. They know I'm an academic and that literature is also my special interest, as a person on the spectrum.

I'm sorry you encountered such bigotry and all I can say is ... keep reading.

That is exactly why I was so afraid to join the Wuthering Heights group. I've never been in a crowd that reads like I do - maybe with exceptions as to genre, but an acceptance of whole-hog reading. I remember summers when women took all summer to read Five Smooth Stones - the current romance with chocolate bars package. They carried it prominently to the beach, on the bus, on the commuter train. Maybe that's how they met new friends. I had to hide my books. In my world, somebody reading a book needs to be rescued.



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31 Dec 2018, 6:28 pm

Claradoon wrote:
IsabellaLinton wrote:
Thanks for your explanation. I'm still a bit confused about one thing. Who are these people who think you are "showing off"? People in a library are among them?! That's so absurd! Why would someone be offended by what you choose to read? Why is postmodernism published and made available in the library if you aren't allowed to like it?

I study Victorian, Romantic and Gothic Literature, Literary Criticism and Biographies of 19th century authors. Never in my life have I been told that's pompous. I'm sure some people think it sounds drab or they conjure stereotypes about the genres, but to the best of my knowledge no one thinks I'm showing off. They know I'm an academic and that literature is also my special interest, as a person on the spectrum.

I'm sorry you encountered such bigotry and all I can say is ... keep reading.

That is exactly why I was so afraid to join the Wuthering Heights group. I've never been in a crowd that reads like I do - maybe with exceptions as to genre, but an acceptance of whole-hog reading. I remember summers when women took all summer to read Five Smooth Stones - the current romance with chocolate bars package. They carried it prominently to the beach, on the bus, on the commuter train. Maybe that's how they met new friends. I had to hide my books. In my world, somebody reading a book needs to be rescued.


I'm so sorry to hear this! I thought that at the very least you live in an urban University city which is also known for academic vigour and a rich, literary history. I'm shocked that the women treated you this way. Did they show overt judgement toward your choices, or did you just feel awkward for being different?

Maybe I'm deluded about no one judging me, as I stroll around with literature in protective satin cases in my handbag. lol. I'm glad I've never noticed anyone's judgement, but perhaps I'm unable to pick up on bigotry or non-verbal clues. I wish I lived closer to you and we could hang out together, discussing novels full time. I hope you liked the WH thread once you started and yes, I'm planning to start one for Prufrock if you are still interested!

((Hugs)) and Happy New Year, Claradoon.