Page 4 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast
Results 46 to 60 of 76

Thread: Is there any point to fiction?

  1. #46
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    My heart lives in New York.
    Posts
    1,685
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    See, now to me that supports my point: seems like a pretty poor investment for the time it takes to read an author's work to say, "well this dead guy I never met thought wealthy people weren't necessarily happy." Everybody thinks that. Who cares that F. Scott Fitzgerald did? And that it takes hours and hours to discover it. Pf.
    Is it better to just tell someone that eating lots of bacon cheeseburgers will cause a heart attack or to actually tell people the story of my uncle Joe who after a hard day's work sitting eight hours at his office desk would head to his local burger joint to pound five bacon cheeseburgers everyday -- and not satisfied with the traditional offerings he would augment the greasy monstrosity he would consume with a few slices of extra cheese and five additional strips of bacon. Unsurprisingly, he just dropped dead one day right in middle of taking a bite of one of those lovely cholesterol bombs, juice still dribbling down his cheek, his heart saturated with what he loved most in this world. My uncle was a kind fat man, a tragic Santa Klauss who always gave back to the grill-working pimpled teens of his community. They said his arteries were blocked worse than a California freeway at rush hour. Every burger I see, every fast food place, every rancid scent of fried potato brings back the specter of my uncle, reminds me of the clandestine death lurking within the tastiness of food.

    There is a reason that even nonfiction informative article writers will often include a personal story. Stories are convincing and add an emotional angle to a topic. The prolific nature of stories across cultures and civilizations suggests human beings have an ingrained need to hear and tell stories. It shouldn't be all that surprising that stories with their origin in myths extend beyond mere entertainment and become a mode of understanding our world. Myths transmit values of the culture and understandings of the nature of the world, whereas in later literature adds the function of critiquing and bringing forth problems of a particular society.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 05-01-2012 at 06:58 AM.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

    http://beyondassumptions.wordpress.com/ - my book blog!
    Feed the Hungry!

  2. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    See, now to me that supports my point: seems like a pretty poor investment for the time it takes to read an author's work to say, "well this dead guy I never met thought wealthy people weren't necessarily happy." Everybody thinks that. Who cares that F. Scott Fitzgerald did? And that it takes hours and hours to discover it. Pf.
    It doesn't take very long to work out his opinions. Besides, a lot of the enjoyment is in his beautiful prose and the entertaining stories.

    It's not simply a case of rich people not being happy- it's a case of people who have this god-like existence. They can't be happy in this world but they can't survive without it.

    You seem to be reading fiction expecting to find the answers to life. Fiction won't do that- the answers to life are not facts you can look up. It would be like me thinking "Hmm, is there a God? Let's read the Bible and find out" and then being disappointed when somebody told me that there are many books that say that God does not exist.

    I think the issue here is that you feel that you don't find the deep emotional layers/symbolism in fiction that other readers find. I'm not saying that it makes you unintelligent or that every piece of fiction is profound, but the more you read, the more you will pick up on things that aren't explicitly said but are implied.
    Last edited by kelby_lake; 04-30-2012 at 07:29 PM.

  3. #48
    Banned
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    5,046
    Blog Entries
    16
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    I just can't separate the author from their work
    Well, that's your problem then, isn't it?

    Seeing as you're pursuing an MA in creative writing, I'm assuming you've lived an impeccable life, free of any downsides, therefore making your writings worthy to be read.

    Honestly, seeing as you have such a low view of fiction and writers, I think you've chosen the wrong field to get an MA in.

  4. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandis View Post
    Honestly, seeing as you have such a low view of fiction and writers, I think you've chosen the wrong field to get an MA in.
    It does seem a little strange...

  5. #50
    Despite some of the responses here being insightful and lovely, I unfortunately lack time to read all of them so I apologize if I repeat something that has already been said.

    All literature reflects a philosophy/world-view/ideology. I personally prefer the type of literature that is aware of this fact and attempts to cohesively and coherently convey a philosophy.

    As opposed to a philosophy manifesto, the writer of fiction has at his disposal a rich toolbox from which he can withdraw immense amounts of tools (albeit limited) that allow him to do several things:
    1) saturate the world in the colors of his philosophy
    2) have characters embodying the values of philosophies
    3) through these characters, create dramatic situations that test the boundaries, extremities and limits of these philosophies and make an estimation for where they clash

    This is perhaps why the Socratic dialogues are so profound - they make use of what has become fictional tools and their characters, through dialogue (communication), arrive at conclusions to which we are privy to and invested in.

    At the heart of these 3 points (although there are certainly several more), is undeniably, but not regretfully - manipulation.

    Manipulation, the word, has nasty associations but we should not strictly consider it as such. It is what allows us to virtually inhabit the fictional world (if it is successful in its endeavors) and better grasp it. However, we are freely thinking and critical beings that still reserve liberty to kindly reject all it has to offer - we do not have to be victims of propaganda.

    Even "bad" literature does this because at its essence lies communication - truly a sacred thing and a human need.

    Essentially, fiction is not so much different from our daily experiences - interweaving both truth and lies.

    Fiction is just so much better.

  6. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    The point of fiction is to textually experience things that we have not experienced in real life. You can feel the lust, pain, and guilt of an older man falling for an underage girl in Nabokov's Lolita, or you can be a Lolita in your mind feeling or textually experiencing how it is to be desired and lusted for by an older man. For teen readers, that's enough an experience. They don't have to go on dates with grandpas and retirees.
    I agree that it must be one of the genuine purposes: acquiring an ability for indirect thinking. Very fruitful!

  7. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    Perhaps you might find pleasure in trolling the internet and posting inane questions guaranteed to inflame others. You could then sit back and laugh at all the time wasted by those earnestly attempting to answer your question.

    In other words... "what is the point of this thread?"
    Trolling? Inane? Nu-uh: these are what's known as "genuine thoughts" - ie, inquiring into something rather than swallowing the party line. You might not agree with me, but that doesn't mean I'm only doing it to wind you up. I'm not.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    The point of fiction is to textually experience things that we have not experienced in real life. You can feel the lust, pain, and guilt of an older man falling for an underage girl in Nabokov's Lolita, or you can be a Lolita in your mind feeling or textually experiencing how it is to be desired and lusted for by an older man. For teen readers, that's enough an experience. They don't have to go on dates with grandpas and retirees.
    That's an interesting point. I wonder if it's true? Whether it's "experience" or "imagination" that you're talking about. I'll have to have a think. Though I guess anything that saves 14-year-olds needing to go on dates with grandpas is probably a good thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drkshadow03 View Post
    Is it better to just tell someone that eating lots of bacon cheeseburgers will cause a heart attack or to actually tell people the story of my uncle Joe who after a hard day's work sitting eight hours at his office desk would head to his local burger joint to pound five bacon cheeseburgers everyday -- and [...] dropped dead one day right in [the] middle of taking a bite of one of those lovely cholesterol bombs?
    And yet, that's exactly what I've been saying - that real-life examples and non-fiction and all that kind of thing are useful in teaching and learning and inspiring and demonstrating the actual possibilities, and that fiction perhaps isn't. 'Cos in fiction Uncle Joe might not necessarily die, or could be superfit, or any other thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    It's not simply a case of rich people not being happy - it's a case of people who have this god-like existence. They can't be happy in this world but they can't survive without it.

    You seem to be reading fiction expecting to find the answers to life.

    I think the issue here is that you feel that you don't find the deep emotional layers/symbolism in fiction that other readers find. I'm not saying that it makes you unintelligent or that every piece of fiction is profound, but the more you read, the more you will pick up on things that aren't explicitly said but are implied.
    1. Yes, but again that's not real "rich people", it's make-believe rich people from one guy's head, so what's the use in that? Surely you have to agree that it would be far more beneficial to gain an opinion on this topic from, say, a psychological study or a non-fiction analysis of a large number of "rich people"?

    2. That's true. Or rather, I was, but that has changed somewhere in the unfolding of this thread. See: BREAD MAKER.

    3. That's nice that you're not saying I'm unintelligent. Thank you. I think I've read plenty and been through that stage of seeing deeply into fiction - and now I'm suggesting that there's a stage beyond that. Or are you suggesting that the stage you're talking about is the ultimate height?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandis View Post
    Well, that's your problem then, isn't it?

    Seeing as you're pursuing an MA in creative writing, I'm assuming you've lived an impeccable life, free of any downsides, therefore making your writings worthy to be read.

    Honestly, seeing as you have such a low view of fiction and writers, I think you've chosen the wrong field to get an MA in.
    1. I wouldn't necessarily say it was a problem: but I suppose it is the less conventional way of looking at things. I guess part of it stems from certain writers being trumpeted and heralded as geniuses when I just think, hm, you stick your head in an oven while your kids are in the room next door I don't much care how nicely you can string a sentence together, you flopped as a human being. It's a bit like some playwright I was exposed to recently - quick google reminds me it was Sarah Kane - wherein even after half a scene I was like, I bet this person killed themselves or at least was severely troubled. Et voila, I was right. To me, you show your professor or some friend some material the like of which she was producing and there should be no sense of people applauding you and encouraging you to publish or whatever, it should be like, hell's bells, you need some help, we're gonna do what we can for you, but you're a mess. And that's what I find weird about the society we live in: that people don't think, Christ, you're seriously whacked, someone needs to sit you down and try and sort you out, we put them on the stage and say, you're great, you're a genius, and then talk about tragedies when those people throw themselves out of windows.

    2. Regarding the MA, I'm mainly doing it because: a) I used to want to be a writer - for like a really long time - but now I'm mostly over it; and b) because I got all my fees paid for by the university and so it was kind of a no-brainer. Who wouldn't toss out half a dozen pieces of work and go back to glorious lazy student days for a couple of letters after their name?

    Quote Originally Posted by the facade View Post
    I personally prefer the type of literature that is aware of this fact and attempts to cohesively and coherently convey a philosophy. This is perhaps why the Socratic dialogues are so profound - they make use of what has become fictional tools and their characters, through dialogue (communication), arrive at conclusions to which we are privy to and invested in.
    I can dig that. I think it's a far cry from general dramatic fiction or whatever I suppose I mean when I say "fictional literature." Ya know, just stories. Variations on a theme. Something to fill the brain-time. Philosophy can bring newness. Until, I suppose, you've exhausted that too. I almost wouldn't even include philosophical writings in the area of fictional literature. It's like one guy's ideas dressed up in fictional characters - but it's not as though it would be such a stretch, or even produce such a different effect on the reader, if it were presented as pure philosophy. I'm thinking of the book "Ishmael" which has some very interesting ideas stuck into the mouth of a make-believe gorilla. But I'd still find the ideas just as interesting if the author lost the gorilla and said, "this is some stuff I've been thinking about." Same with Plato, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by the facade View Post
    Essentially, fiction is not so much different from our daily experiences - fiction is just so much better.
    Are you saying your actual life is not as good as reading fiction? That's sad. :-(
    Last edited by rubsley; 05-03-2012 at 11:01 AM.

  8. #53
    Rubsley--

    Is this for a thesis? A dissertation which questions the value of fictional literature before a lit panel would be a tough sell, but I'd have to admire the courage in it anyway.

  9. #54
    Something's gotta give PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    8,742
    Blog Entries
    1
    I'm tempted to ask What is the point of your original question? Some stories, indeed, will have been motivated by the author's wish to make a point, often of a moral nature. The 'point' of many or most others is simply to tell an interesting story or to acquaint us with interesting characters and to bind us into a community.

    If you experienced an incident which you later narrate to a friend of yours, what is the point of doing that?

  10. #55
    Bibliophile Drkshadow03's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    My heart lives in New York.
    Posts
    1,685
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    And yet, that's exactly what I've been saying - that real-life examples and non-fiction and all that kind of thing are useful in teaching and learning and inspiring and demonstrating the actual possibilities, and that fiction perhaps isn't. 'Cos in fiction Uncle Joe might not necessarily die, or could be superfit, or any other thing.
    Except you're agreeing that option # 2 is more convincing and I don't have an uncle Joe. It was just a fictionalized account. So bringing up the possibility that a fiction story could present Uncle Joe as not necessarily dying in the end or being super fit is just a different story, ultimately with a different message it is trying to convey. It's not just that fiction says things we already know, but precisely by the fact that it's fiction it helps us see those important issues in a new light by making the familiar unfamiliar. Plus there is also the advantage of it being a fun way of doing so.

    Sure, I can read a nonfiction article about a particular topic to learn about it, but reading about a fictionalized character that I develop an emotional connection with struggling through a problem (related to the topic) is more convincing (because now I'm seeing the issues involved in said topic tested in a hypothetical fictional situation), I have an emotional connection (because I'm connected to the characters struggling through said problem), and it's an entertaining way to go about exploring the topic.

    I think the bigger problem, though, is that there isn't one single thing that all literature necessarily does. Some literature provides wisdom, while other literature is an aesthetic experience, and yet other works are valued for both.
    Last edited by Drkshadow03; 05-05-2012 at 07:12 AM.
    "You understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or bitter. If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too." - Herodotus

    http://beyondassumptions.wordpress.com/ - my book blog!
    Feed the Hungry!

  11. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    1. Yes, but again that's not real "rich people", it's make-believe rich people from one guy's head, so what's the use in that? Surely you have to agree that it would be far more beneficial to gain an opinion on this topic from, say, a psychological study or a non-fiction analysis of a large number of "rich people"?
    Well, they were based on actual people, so not entirely make-believe.

    Who wants to read a non-fiction analysis of a large number of "rich people"? You'd be trying to pass off as "truth" only the experience of a percentage of "rich people". Fiction admits that it is limited by the personal perspective; non-fiction doesn't admit it. Besides, the whole thing would be terribly dry.


    3. That's nice that you're not saying I'm unintelligent. Thank you. I think I've read plenty and been through that stage of seeing deeply into fiction - and now I'm suggesting that there's a stage beyond that. Or are you suggesting that the stage you're talking about is the ultimate height?

    No, you're not suggesting there's a stage beyond that. You're negating the validity of seeing deeply into fiction because you have impossible demands from it. By all means, you can focus on the philosophical elements the writer is conveying but these are not the "answers to life".

    I understand your not being able to enjoy a piece of fiction if the writer is not somebody you would admire as a person, but their personal problems do not disqualify them from writing. If anything, it's interesting to hear from people. Nobody is going to read Sylvia Plath's poetry and think "Hmm, a role model for me! I'll just go stick my head in a gas oven", but they might appreciate the emotions in it and find a personal relevance there.

  12. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by rubsley View Post
    I wouldn't necessarily say it was a problem: but I suppose it is the less conventional way of looking at things. I guess part of it stems from certain writers being trumpeted and heralded as geniuses when I just think, hm, you stick your head in an oven while your kids are in the room next door I don't much care how nicely you can string a sentence together, you flopped as a human being.
    Nobody's saying that the writers were wonderful people. I doubt there are many writers that are a paragon of goodness. We don't praise them- we praise their work. And to be honest, who are you to be a moral judge? She and Sarah Kane both had serious depression, I believe, and despite all the factual information we can read about their lives, we don't really have any idea what it was like to live that life. If you have had serious depression, I apologise in advance, but the same thing applies to pretty much anything.

    And that's what I find weird about the society we live in: that people don't think, Christ, you're seriously whacked, someone needs to sit you down and try and sort you out, we put them on the stage and say, you're great, you're a genius, and then talk about tragedies when those people throw themselves out of windows.
    How do we know people didn't? You are right in asking whether there is a desire to push already fragile people to create more art and thereby prolonging their pain so we can benefit from their work. That is a reasonable question to ask, rather than throwing out moral judgements.


    Are you saying your actual life is not as good as reading fiction? That's sad. :-(
    Very few people's lives are as interesting as fiction, and if they were, they would probably end up being unsatisfying anyway. It's only sad if somebody sees their life as unliveable because it is not as exciting as fiction.

    This is perhaps the "point" of fiction.

  13. #58
    Knight's Aide
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    The United Kingdom
    Posts
    181
    Blog Entries
    6
    For the most part the point of reading fiction is to experience life from a different perspective or even a different world entirely, wheras the point of writing it could be an innate desire for control of an invented world or a wish to explore and explain a worldview in a fictional, or semi-fictional setting. Geore Orwell and Philip K. Dick are obvious examples of the latter of these, even though Dick's references are occasionally rather too obscure and eccentric to be understood by mere mortals.
    "Mere flim-flam stories, and nothing but shams and lies." - Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote, pt. 1, bk. 3, ch. 11 (1605)

  14. #59
    Outlook Gloomy Neely's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Sheffield, England
    Posts
    4,177
    Blog Entries
    9
    I like vegetables.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
    Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

    Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

  15. #60
    Well, if anything, literature has trained my brain not to consider joyless, death-obsessed fanatics like Jesus and Buddha enlightened, so I guess it was useful for something.

Page 4 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Why isn't science fiction taken seriously?
    By Red-Headed in forum General Literature
    Replies: 71
    Last Post: 10-09-2012, 03:10 PM
  2. Best Historical Fiction
    By Sulla in forum General Literature
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 01-13-2011, 04:25 AM
  3. Fiction vs. philosophy
    By African_Love in forum Philosophical Literature
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 09-16-2010, 11:49 AM
  4. Dream and point of reference
    By The Good Doctor in forum Through the Looking Glass
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 04-07-2009, 12:10 PM
  5. Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz
    By Scheherazade in forum Write a Book Review
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-04-2008, 08:38 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •