Reading and Writing, a few fun links


Political/SJW Glamor:

The enchantment of the “cool kids” is the glamor of social approbation and of opinions as positional goods.

People who have bought into an hierarchy of opinions, with some of the opinions “politically correct” no matter how factually wrong, have agreed to put themselves under the arbitrary power of others, and to subsume their reason and thought to them.

In other words, they have agreed not to think or see for themselves, because if they do they will be cast out of the “cool kids” and treated as pariahs or the enemy. And they’ve seen what happens to those (us) the calumnies, the big lies, the personal character destruction.

They’re so scared of it, that they’ll do anything and say anything and believe anything. Including changing their opinions on a dime, as the opinions of the “in crowd” change.

It’s hard to break enchantments. Particularly enchantments as ambitious as this, which attempts to make an entire culture see what isn’t there and ignore what is.

Author Larry Correia has a mostly chatty little post about a business trip he took to New York to schmooze with publishers and book-sellers, and I found this bit pretty interesting:

There were also some interesting political conversations. The vast majority of the publishing folks live around and work in New York and are usually politically liberal. Everybody is nice, but at party conversations, people like me are a weird fly-over, red state curiosity. No, really, I do own like that many guns. 🙂 I had a fascinating and too brief conversation about how Simon & Schuster realized after Bush’s reelection that there were actually lots of people in America who are not liberal and did not think that way, and maybe they should start some imprints to publish conservative political books, and New York publishing was all like no way, nobody believes that stuff. But S&S started some imprints aimed at conservative audiences and shockingly enough, made buckets of money.

I know all of you guys in the rest of America are like, well, yeah, obviously the other half of us like to read too… But it is hard to explain. It’s like for many of them most of us who live/believe differently don’t even register. It isn’t malicious at all. It is just a cultural blind spot of an industry that overwhelmingly swings one way and lives in one region.

If you’re at all interested in the craft of writing, you really must read all of this post. Here’s an extract:

The trouble is that if one ‘just writes’, one will very soon find that nobody ‘just reads’. Readers are horribly utilitarian animals; they like value for money, and insist upon value for time, and they like to read about something. They flee from people like the intolerable youth in Punch; they prefer the fuddy-duddy attitude of the sixteenth century, when it was a truism that writers ‘ought to please and instruct’. At the very least writers ought to please or instruct, and not merely amuse themselves at the expense of the reading public. No doubt this is a philistine attitude; then again, the whole Western literary tradition was more or less invented by the Greeks, and the Philistines, it now appears, were probably Greeks themselves. I am afraid the intolerable youths just can’t win.

There is a very interesting discussion here in the lair of the evil Vox Day and his wicked hounds, the Dread Ilk, about what makes a good story- mainly about what makes a good science-fiction story, but most of it applies to more than one genre.

For example, discussing whether character or story matters more (from comment 81): “Story first. Get that right and your tale might well be immortal. No one reads Dante because they identify with the main character or because they’re passionate supporters of Otto of Brunswick.”

I remember discussing the Harry Potter series with a friend who had not let her children read them yet, not so much because of the wizardry, but because she had heard from people she trusted that the writing was not that great. She, like me, admires really well crafted writing. She wondered then, why we were reading the series. I had to think about it, and I concluded that I did agree that Rowling is really just a journeyman author, she is a Homeric story teller. She was very good with characterization as well, but
the story telling in the HP series is what we came back for, again and again.

Speaking of writing…. there’s Wikipedia. I am an editor there, although I don’t do all that much editing. I’ve done a lot of work on a handful of articles to do with homeschooling and education in general. Mainly, I signed up as an editor to make it easier to make grammatical corrections way back when. It turns out, I’m in a distinct minority there- only about 9% of Wikipedia editors are females.

There’s a very long and thought provoking article about it here. Now, I don’t think the gender imbalance is the biggest issue Wikipedia has- I think it’s the political lock down on certain topics. But still- it’s kind of funny, how do you argue about gender egalitarianism and equivalence while at the same admitting that the Wikipedia editing culture is not conducive to women signing on? The discussion kind of reminds me of this Federalist article on the HBO show Silicon Valley and the balance they are trying to find between handling criticism about their handling of gender issues and being funny and realistic:

Jared: There’s a distinct overrepresentation of men in this company. Look around. I think it would behoove us to hire a woman.

Gilfoyle: I disagree, OJ. We should hire the best person for the job, period.

Dinesh: And Carla is the best.

Jared: Right, let me rephrase, I think having a woman in the company is important, but hiring someone only because they are woman is bad. I would never compromise Pied Piper.

Richard: All right, but just to be clear, our top priority is to hire the most qualified person available.

Dinesh: But it would be better if that person was a woman, even though the woman part of that statement is irrelevant.

Another reason I mention Wikipedia is because if you have an aspiring writer, particularly one with an interest in nonfiction, or journalism, or any other factual field, it might not be a bad idea to sign up together for an editor’s user name and work on a few articles- start with editing established articles, and then maybe work on creating some of your own when you come across gaps.

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