The OF Blog: There's something twisted about all this...

Friday, January 08, 2010

There's something twisted about all this...

I alternate between being amused and annoyed by certain trends I've noticed in my blogging, or rather in the reactions/comments to my blogging.  Posts that deal more directly with books and the book publishing industry get far fewer comments than those almost-throwaway musings about "whoring" one's self out, group associations, and other matters of self-consciousness.  While each of these are invitations to explore possible approaches to certain topics, there never really is anything prescriptive (and certainly nothing resembling a proscription) in these reflective essays.

Let I see another post has been posted recently where someone takes an incidental comment of mine (one which moved quickly onwards to another specific example before addressing a more global concern) and makes it seem as though that were the central part of my writing.  It wasn't, or else I wouldn't be bothered to note this in passing.  I'm an advocate by nature and to a degree by training.  Advocates don't tend to avoid ruffling feathers on occasion and while I certainly will not condemn anyone for having opinions contrary to my own, I certainly will question and challenge them on occasion, as much to learn from the probing as in any attempt to sway or dissuade another.  That's about as much justification as I'll give, since it usually is a waste of time to justify at length things that really aren't all that important in the longue durée

But at the same time, it is odd to have (as in those links provided above) so many comments that attempt to justify a stance or position.  Is my opinion that valuable or challenging that dozens of comments have to be made?  Or are these more conversations where each participant attempts to understand another's viewpoint?  If it's the former, it might be a sign of self-doubt, but the latter could be an example of self-faith that does not stray over into inflexibility.  Perhaps it is a bit of both or nothing of each. 

All I know is that it's rather strange and twisted to have more reactions from people when I touch upon incidental issues that are of importance to maybe a dozen people combined than when I'm blogging about trends and stories that should have greater exposure.  But perhaps that's just human nature to center things around the Self and not consider as much areas that don't impact one's own self as much?


Jeff C said...

Larry: I probably wasn't clear enough, though I thought I stated it a couple of times. But since writing clearly isn't my greatest strength, I probably botched it. I wasn't directing my post at you specifically. My post was a reaction to comments I see quite often on blogs and message boards. Your post just happened to give me something i could use to quote and respond to. My arguments weren't even supposed to be about me, but about reading in general. I'm sure that I let myself get caught up and put more of myself into the argument than I meant to. This particular topic has bugged me a couple of years now, and I've tried various ways to defend it. If I was a better writer (or was better at gathering my thoughts and getting them into words) I probably wouldn't have needed to rant about this topic several times in the last 18 months. The only thing I am really trying to do is take the other side. There is a fairly vocal "judgement group" on the internet..not just in our specific genre. They like to impose their views on others and look down on those that don't see things they way they do. So the example I used was folks, indirectly or otherwise, implying that it is "sad" or "strange" if folks just settle for reading for entertainment. Along these lines, the same folks will make disparaging or condescending remarks to readers who claim to enjoy reading Terry Brooks or David Eddings. While you will see lots of people "jump on the bandwagon" of ridiculing people who enjoy those don't see many people try to defend it..probably because they know it will just lead to more disdainful comments. So, sometimes I get "fed up" and try to say its just fine for people to like what they like, and they shouldn't be judged as "lesser" readers, or even less intelligent readers (basically to make a case for the other side, the ones that don't speak up). Does that make any more sense, or am I just making it worse?

Harry Markov said...

You nailed it with the last sentence and I am constantly amazed how sth that should be disregarded such as the latest angry burst from some random person is discussed wide and at length or visited upon almost immediately, while what interests me as works [for example] is not even acknowledged.

Aidan Moher said...

It's comments like THIS that Jeff and I were responding to.

Unknown said...

Aidan - is that really an unreasonable comment from Niall Harrison? FIVE people draw up a list, and Jacqueline Carey is the only woman worth mentioning (Although I love Carey)? With two more in the "honourable mention" lists for fantasy, and none for SF. Clearly women only write YA and vampire stuff.

This is not to say the list is consciously biased, but come on - it reflects a very narrow section of the genre.

As for your general point, Larry - everyone has an opinion, informed or not. Its easy to comment on opinion essays. Not everyone will have read the books you're reviewing or writing essays about, so I'm not surprised there are fewer comments.

Aidan Moher said...

Eddie, my further argument to Harrison is that the problem doesn't lie with the bloggers making the list, but rather with the genre as a whole and the manner in which publishers buy/publish/market/position from female authors. I get sent A LOT of books, only a small percentage of those are by female authors, and even smaller percentage if you disclude the paranormal romance. Of course, I don't base my reading list solely on what is sent to me, but that seems to indicate that the majority of authors being published and promoted in the Fantasy field are male. Accordingly, the amount of female authors to appear on a list such as that will be smaller.

It's grating to have a list I'm included in (albeit with only one selection) brushed off by someone like Harrison because we enjoyed novels by men more than we enjoyed novels by women.

Larry, to your original point, people like controversy and they'll pick out the most interesting piece of a post and focus on that. If an 'incidental comment' has the most meat to grab onto then that is where the discussion will likely head. That's a lesson I once learned from you.

I'm not sure why you would think to post something controversial/of a strong opinion if not to get your readers commenting avidly about their own experiences with the subject.

Aidan Moher said...

Reading over my comment again, the following paragraph came out wrong:

'It's grating to have a list I'm included in (albeit with only one selection) brushed off by someone like Harrison because we enjoyed novels by men more than we enjoyed novels by women.'

Rather, it should have something like:

It's grating to have a list I'm included in (albeit with only one selection) brushed off by someone like Harrison because the novels we enjoyed most this decade were written by men, rather than women.

Larry Nolen said...


While I understand the reasons why you do defend your stances, perhaps sometimes it would be better not to acknowledge those people at all? There are plenty of people whose opinions annoy me, but I often refrain (although not enough, I fear) from responding, due to the strong possibility that no true discourse could take place.


I think that sentiment is why the SHINE anthology got started in the first place (although I did not agree with many of the motivations behind that, though). Sometimes, people want to wallow in the muck, I guess.


Didn't know about that until now (couldn't, since it wasn't posted until today, right?). But Niall's take isn't anything combative, but rather questioning if the participants were aware of a whole host of subgenre works of quality. That is what I thought when I read it earlier, that the list just didn't reflect several of the more creative and "important" developments of the 2000-2009 period. No steampunk, no New Weird, no real in-depth look at the graphic novel/YA sections, despite a few of the latter being cited. While such questionings might take on an ad hominem tone at some point, the questioning itself is very valid.


Yeah, I know. I just raised the issue to (hopefully) spark a few self-questionings. Sometimes, wondering why the sky is blue and investigating further can lead to greater enlightenment.

Aidan Moher said...


That's a very valid concern about the list and also one of the reasons that I made the last minute addition of [b]The Shadow of the Wind[/b], to give the list a smidge more variety than the traditional fantasties. I just wasn't impressed that Harrison's first response was to dismiss the list because of the gender of authors included, instead of giving some sort of thought to what was included on the list, and perphaps which novels he felt were unjustly left off.

In the end, any list like that is justs a person (or a group of people) shooting the shit and coming up with a few novels that most impressed them. Rarely are they meant to be any serious analysis of the genre and its sub-genres.

Martin said...

the problem doesn't lie with the bloggers making the list, but rather with the genre as a whole and the manner in which publishers

It is pretty pathetic to abdicate all responsibility like this.

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