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slewisoh
08-01-2010, 09:30 PM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value, but I can't seem to find anything that interests me. I've tried classic and contemporary works in a variety of genres, including: mystery, romance, sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and poetry. I've explored plays, short stories, poetry, and novels. Very little peaks my interest.

I just completed Jane Eyre, reading it only out of a sense of obligation. While I appreciated the social commentary, the underlying themes were comparable to what you might find on any afternoon soap opera. If I find those shows trivial, how can I find "classics" like Jane Eyre to be worthwhile?

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information. I really enjoyed The Not So Big House and God & Your Stuff. I find the newspaper to be enthralling. :)

So why do you read fiction?

decades
08-01-2010, 09:55 PM
so we can get smart like you are. you use a lot of big words like enthralling....

Larrysümmers
08-01-2010, 09:57 PM
i think it is for entertainment value. i am not a fan. ive read the series of unfortunate events and harry potter..and books we have to read in school. but id rather read a biography or something rather than fiction, but that is me

flyinghippos101
08-01-2010, 10:12 PM
To each his own I guess, but it's a shame you don't enjoy any fictional works, a bulk of my favourite novels are fiction. I read fiction it immerse myself in a imaginary character's universe.

norbac
08-01-2010, 10:46 PM
I really enjoying reading in general, though most of the books I own are fiction. Just got like 6 novels I've yet to read. I personally really enjoy the descriptions, and envisioning the world the author has created.

justsomeguy
08-01-2010, 11:12 PM
I've read many hundreds of fiction books. I used to get into an author and then read everything they'd written. James Clavell and John Steinbeck were a couple favorites.

That was then.

Now, I haven't read a fiction novel in over 10 years. I also haven't watched a TV show with any regularity in years. I am bored by all of it, and would rather spend my TV time watching sports or learning new things via the History or Science channels.

Last movie I saw in the theaters was Episode 3. When was that movie out? I haven't rented a movie in 4 years, and pay for no movie channels with Directv.

Fiction, whether books, TV, or movies just has no place in my life anymore. I love my life. I guess escapism is for those who don't.

aceX
08-01-2010, 11:37 PM
Fiction, whether books, TV, or movies just has no place in my life anymore. I love my life. I guess escapism is for those who don't.

So a professor of english literature doesn't love his/her life? What a joke.

Good fiction is the presentation of ideas and philosophies through a medium that is easily accessible.

GetBetterer
08-01-2010, 11:53 PM
Fiction tends to have symbols in their "imaginary" characters and events, which make it funn(y/ier) or sad(der).

ollinger
08-02-2010, 05:52 AM
Fiction has adaptive value -- like other works of imagination, it helps promote the development of creativity, which has value for solving various sorts of problems one encounters.

justsomeguy
08-02-2010, 06:04 AM
So a professor of english literature doesn't love his/her life?.

How should I know? I was talking about escapism, not what teachers do or do not enjoy. Do you think they love their lives just because they get to read fiction books? What a joke.

r2473
08-02-2010, 08:19 AM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value,

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information. I really enjoyed The Not So Big House and God & Your Stuff. I find the newspaper to be enthralling. :)

So why do you read fiction?

The question is similar to asking "Is a liberal arts degree useful"?

Sadly (in my opinion), most people would say "No".

My undergraduate degree was in philosophy. I read mostly classic literature these days, concentrating and taking seriously the many themes these works present and many questions these works ask. (Much of classic literature is simply philosophy "dramatized").

I would say that these works add depth to one's character, but only if you read them with an understanding of the themes and you take the time to take them seriously.

So to answer your question, if you read fiction strictly for entertainment value and you are not being satisfactorily entertained, then of course fiction has little value for you and you ought to look elsewhere for your entertainment.

sureshs
08-02-2010, 08:29 AM
I hardly read fiction any more, maybe only some science--oriented mysteries once in a while, and even then I sometimes cannot finish the book. Too many things are contrived and slapped together - the main theme + politics + social attitudes + stereotypes + relationship problems etc. In reality, life is boring and all things don't happen to all people. Moreover, what is the point of being part of someone else's imagination? Why do people read Stephen King? What he writes cannot happen according to known scientific laws. Why bother then? My favorite King episode is the real-life one in which he was unfortunately hit by a car near his home. While I do feel very sorry for him, I can't help thinking - nothing supernatural came and saved you, eh? And nothing supernatural hit you either - just a lousy driver.

max
08-02-2010, 09:59 AM
You know, I chiefly read nonfiction. But fiction can be very good; try some Jane Austen (REALLY!), or if you want something less intellectual, go with John Le Carre or Graham Greene.

Mansewerz
08-02-2010, 10:07 AM
I think an important discussion is escape v.s interpretation fiction as well.

albino smurf
08-02-2010, 10:15 AM
Generally speaking, the point of fiction would be to set up a scenario to illustrate the author's point. I prefer non fiction as well, but there are some great fictional stories. Have you read War and Peace? Read some existentialist fiction. It is more thought provoking and less entertaining than the standard fare, exploring peoples motivations.

Polaris
08-02-2010, 11:54 AM
I love reading fiction. In answer to why I read fiction, it really isn't a choice as much as a way of life, but if pressed the reasons would be:
1. Out of love of language, thought and culture.
2. Out of love for well-crafted characters.
3. Out of the desire to be immersed in an unusual experience.
4. To make myself a better person.

However, I am not partial to fiction and am equally happy with non-fiction for nearly the same reasons. As a researcher by profession, my own output has been exclusively non-fictional :) .

Polaris
08-02-2010, 12:01 PM
I've read many hundreds of fiction books. I used to get into an author and then read everything they'd written. James Clavell and John Steinbeck were a couple favorites.
[...]
or learning new things via the History or Science channels.
[...]
Fiction, whether books, TV, or movies just has no place in my life anymore. I love my life. I guess escapism is for those who don't.

I submit that John Steinbeck contains less escapism and more "love of life" than any episode of the History ("war") Channel. But that is just my opinion.

JRstriker12
08-02-2010, 12:18 PM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value, but I can't seem to find anything that interests me. I've tried classic and contemporary works in a variety of genres, including: mystery, romance, sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and poetry. I've explored plays, short stories, poetry, and novels. Very little peaks my interest.

I just completed Jane Eyre, reading it only out of a sense of obligation. While I appreciated the social commentary, the underlying themes were comparable to what you might find on any afternoon soap opera. If I find those shows trivial, how can I find "classics" like Jane Eyre to be worthwhile?

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information. I really enjoyed The Not So Big House and God & Your Stuff. I find the newspaper to be enthralling. :)

So why do you read fiction?

Just wondering - do you only watch documentaries or news? By the same point, you can say, what's the point of watching fiction?

I'm not bashing your taste, but I kind of find it strange to only point at fictional books and leave out other sources of fiction.

I know I can't convince you to like fiction, since tastes in books, TV shows, music, etc. tend to be very personal. But, IMHO - there are a lot of reasons to read fiction.

-It can be entertaining, maybe even humorous.

-Believe it or not, some writers of fiction are actually pretty good and produce some compelling stories or have a captivating style.

-Fiction can be an interesting way to discuss or take a look at a certain topic in a way that's just not possible in a book of history or bio. If you're only looking at facts and you don't know - then you might have to use elements of fiction, supported by what you do know to take a best guess or fill in the gaps.

-Fiction is a great away to discuss what isn't but what could be and take a look at how society might handle that invention or event. I like science fiction or alternative history stories in this regard.

Anyway, if that's not your thing, than that's fine. I'd also say that reading a book out of "obligation" (fiction or non-fiction) rarely leads to enjoyable reading.

slewisoh
08-02-2010, 01:14 PM
Perhaps I should rephrase the question, because I'm not trying to create a fiction vs. non-fiction conflict.

What I really want to learn is how to enjoy fiction. For those who enjoy it, what elements are important to you? Who do you think does a good job developing characters or narrating an interesting story?

The only fiction I've truly enjoyed is Flannery O'Conner's short stories because there are no wasted words. I find I have to read carefully because every phrase adds critical meaning to the story. With most fiction I find myself skimming pages to find important info. Kind of a blah blah blah blah IMPORTANT blah blah blah blah blah IMPORTANT approach to reading...very undisciplined, I know.

I thoroughly enjoy essays, such as E.B. White's One Man's Meat or personal narratives that record someone's observations or viewpoint. A Sand County Almanac is a beautiful work that explores the author's relationship with the farmland he inhabits and all the living creatures he co-exists with.

Real life is so interesting and complex...it baffles me that writers feel compelled to create a story. :) So who does it well? Recommendations?

albino smurf
08-02-2010, 01:18 PM
Herman Hesse

Cindysphinx
08-02-2010, 01:54 PM
Oh, Slewisoh. We are identical twins separated at birth.

I am in a book club. Most of the people prefer fiction -- not crappy fiction. Good fiction. I do my best to read these books, but fiction just doesn't interest me "Ooooh, you made up a story. Bully for you."

Non-fiction, though. It takes real talent to wring interest and drama from The Truth. Not every set of events has the ending you might like. The author has to do so much to write a good non-fiction book, because life doesn't always cooperate.

My favorite non-fiction book is "Essex: Tale of the Sea," by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is the true story of the most well-known shipping disaster (before the sinking of the Titanic stole the spotlight).

That said, there is one fiction book that comes to mind as having been Something Special: "The Life Of Pi." My daughter and I still debate what really happened in that book.

In the meantime, I will check out the non-fiction you listed above.

Cindysphinx
08-02-2010, 02:06 PM
Just wondering - do you only watch documentaries or news? By the same point, you can say, what's the point of watching fiction?


I don't watch the news much because the news stink nowadays.

Documentaries, though, are my favorites. I would prefer to see a documentary over a fiction piece any day.

Favorite documentaries:

"Murder on a Sunday Morning"

"Food Inc."

"Bowling for Columbine."

"Super Size Me"

"The Fog of War"

sureshs
08-02-2010, 02:53 PM
I don't watch the news much because the news stink nowadays.


Me neither. It has just become the equivalent of blogging and sensationalism. Opinions passed off as news and no room for dignified discussions. Political discourse has become nothing but mud-slinging and acting.

WildVolley
08-02-2010, 03:05 PM
Most people read fiction for entertainment. Fiction can also have educational value in terms of historical events, philosophy, religion, economics, politics, sociology, etc.

I think it is a positive thing that you read at all. Coming from a family of readers and spending a little time in academia where everyone reads, I was shocked to find how little the majority of the world reads these days. In my experience, the majority of high school students are barely literate and many have never read a book written at the college level (Harry Potter doesn't count).

A high school student was complaining to me that his grandmother had given him a Kindle because, as he says, who reads books these days! If it isn't on video he's not interested.

r2473
08-02-2010, 03:49 PM
^^ I am thankful that I am not being "educated" in this generation.

spacediver
08-02-2010, 03:59 PM
i think reading fiction is good for the imagination, visual, emotional, and otherwise.

Anyway, I challenge you to read some of Roald Dahl's short stories (the dark and twisted ones for adults) in your bed at night and tell me you don't appreciate the experience.

sureshs
08-02-2010, 04:08 PM
Reading is overrated, except for work stuff. The world today is fast-paced and action oriented. There are many opportunites to travel and experience stuff yourself, rather than reading about them. You can create your own virtual worlds with avatars instead of reading work by long-dead authors. You can also social-network in real-time with real people instead of spending time with fictional characters. You can also watch lots of TV and surf the net.

Cindysphinx
08-02-2010, 04:18 PM
Reading is overrated, except for work stuff. The world today is fast-paced and action oriented. There are many opportunites to travel and experience stuff yourself, rather than reading about them. You can create your own virtual worlds with avatars instead of reading work by long-dead authors. You can also social-network in real-time with real people instead of spending time with fictional characters. You can also watch lots of TV and surf the net.

You're joking, right? I'm picking up some sarcasm, but I could be mistaken . . . .

ollinger
08-02-2010, 04:21 PM
What sureshs is trying to say is that you can spend your life re-inventing the wheel rather than benefit from the printed wisdom and experience of people who may be brighter and vastly more experience than yourself. Yes, you can social network!! Learn much from that? OK, watch TV and learn from living people like Snookie and The Situation instead of dead authors.

Polaris
08-02-2010, 04:30 PM
Real life is so interesting and complex...it baffles me that writers feel compelled to create a story.
I disagree. A good writer does not feel compelled to create a story - that is only a proximate characterization of his mental process; Basically, he feels compelled to express himself. That form may, according to the writer's strengths, desires, etc., take the form of a short story or an essay or a novel or a poem.

Real life is indeed interesting and complex, but there are always correspondences between the real life and the imagined one. Created stories have more to do with real life than you give them credit for.

:) So who does it well? Recommendations?

Gabriel García Márquez. There are writers and writers. Then, there is Gabo.

PCXL-Fan
08-02-2010, 04:44 PM
Its about escapism, stimulating the imagination, experiencing, understanding metaphor, imagining hypothetical situations. Just because something isn't real doesn't mean it can't be captivating and interesting. The modern world can be boring.

When you read a scifi book for example or watch a scifi movie, you are putting yourself in the shoes of the main character, and experiencing this interesting other world full of adventure.
Enjoying fiction is about letting yourself go, and getting involved in the emotional peaks and valleys of the story.

Perhaps could I ask why you watch sports? What are the myriad of reasons you watch sports?

fed_the_savior
08-02-2010, 05:39 PM
Its about escapism, stimulating the imagination, experiencing, understanding metaphor, imagining hypothetical situations. Just because something isn't real doesn't mean it can't be captivating and interesting. The modern world can be boring.

When you read a scifi book for example or watch a scifi movie, you are putting yourself in the shoes of the main character, and experiencing this interesting other world full of adventure.
Enjoying fiction is about letting yourself go, and getting involved in the emotional peaks and valleys of the story.

Perhaps could I ask why you watch sports? What are the myriad of reasons you watch sports?

Well articulated answer. And funny avatar.

sureshs
08-02-2010, 05:48 PM
You're joking, right? I'm picking up some sarcasm, but I could be mistaken . . . .

hehe yes some sarcasm there but most of it is not ....

I personally don't have time to read due to work pressures. Even on vacation, I check my email every day. In such a state, I cannot bring myself to "curl up with a book" like I used to do in my childhood. Any spare time is devoted to tennis. So when can I read?

sureshs
08-02-2010, 06:02 PM
I didn't reveal the real reason I don't read fiction/non-fiction etc any more. It is because I want to discover the purpose of life and the Universe before my time is up. So I focus on scientific and philosophical/metaphysical/religious stuff only, hoping to see if anyone has the Answer. I am not interested in Stephen King's dark nights in isolated mansions in Maine. Useless stuff as far as I am concerned. I also don't want to know the "real" story behind some incident involving the US forces in some remote area of Afghanistan. I am interested in anything which will reveal to me the secret of existence.

Like I saw a Science channel program recently about some cutting-edge physics theories and there was this guy who has speculated that we are just characters in an animation created by our super-intelligent descendants, and that, just like a computer animation breaks down into chunky pixels if you zoom down enough, the quantum nature of the world shows when the simulation breaks down. Then there is another guy who stimulates a particular part of the brain and reproduces religious experiences, and speculates that this technique will enable anyone to experience religious ecstasy.

r2473
08-02-2010, 06:06 PM
^^Do you take drugs?

sureshs
08-02-2010, 06:11 PM
^^Do you take drugs?

Yes, I have to. Doctor wants me to take even more. Also herbal supplements.

r2473
08-02-2010, 06:19 PM
Ah, herbal supplements :wink:

slewisoh
08-02-2010, 09:10 PM
A few more non-fiction recommendations:

The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher This is a collection of essays by Lewis Thomas, MD. I was especially impacted by "Death in the Open"

The Courage of Turtles by Edward Hoagland. Another collection of essays by a nature writer.

Beautiful Swimmers: Waterman, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay by William Warner. Succinct yet flowing prose about the Maryland blue crab and the watermen whose lives revolve around this creature.

I guess that settles it. I prefer to read about the natural world...how it works, how we interact and impact it, how we are impacted by it. And as someone pointed out, at least I'm reading!

I think the only way I will be able to enjoy fiction is by finding a good book club. Unfortunately, many of the groups I've encountered read gossipy crap. I would love to discuss War and Peace or One Hundred Years of Solitude with people who love fiction and who can teach me to properly read a work of fiction. They must be out there!

TheLoneWolf
08-02-2010, 09:32 PM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value, but I can't seem to find anything that interests me. I've tried classic and contemporary works in a variety of genres, including: mystery, romance, sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and poetry. I've explored plays, short stories, poetry, and novels. Very little peaks my interest.

I just completed Jane Eyre, reading it only out of a sense of obligation. While I appreciated the social commentary, the underlying themes were comparable to what you might find on any afternoon soap opera. If I find those shows trivial, how can I find "classics" like Jane Eyre to be worthwhile?

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information. I really enjoyed The Not So Big House and God & Your Stuff. I find the newspaper to be enthralling. :)

So why do you read fiction?
I'm the opposite. I hate newspapers. They are only good to beat dullards on the head with or to swat flies. Who gives a crap whether the Democrats are losing the House or Chelsea Clinton has to postpone her wedding due to catastrophic hemorroidal infarction? Reality, for the most part, is a bunch of BS. The period of time where interesting things were happening is well behind us. Paris Hilton's exploits have replaced Madame Curie's discoveries in the columns of newspapers, and the rest is a bunch of lies anyway.

Good fiction is at least as real as historic literature. Winston Smith is just as real (if not more) to me as Napoleon Bonaparte.

JRstriker12
08-03-2010, 07:02 AM
I don't watch the news much because the news stink nowadays.

Documentaries, though, are my favorites. I would prefer to see a documentary over a fiction piece any day.

Favorite documentaries:

"Murder on a Sunday Morning"

"Food Inc."

"Bowling for Columbine."

"Super Size Me"

"The Fog of War"

I as just thinking that some documentaties almost border on fiction. Not in the sense that they were made up, but that the director has a point to get across and they do their best to stitch together scenes and facts to create a narrative to fit their world view, and exclude other facts that don't fit that world view.

I like Michael Moore's movies, but I would have to agree with people who would say that his movies aren't unbiased. He'll definitely work to manufacture a scene or a clip he can use to further his narrative.

max
08-03-2010, 08:15 AM
If you're into nonfiction, two really great writers are Simon Schama (who does history) and John McPhee.

It CAN be an art form.

sureshs
08-03-2010, 08:46 AM
The purpose of literature is to explore the human condition

Cindysphinx
08-03-2010, 08:55 AM
Yes, much documentary film has a point of view. I mean, we all knew that the creator of "Supersize Me" wasn't going to make an infomercial for McDonalds.

Still, which is more interesting? A fictional story about the Vietnam War, starring Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, or "Fog of War," about what really happened in the Vietnam War told by the guy who was there?

JRstriker12
08-03-2010, 09:44 AM
Yes, much documentary film has a point of view. I mean, we all knew that the creator of "Supersize Me" wasn't going to make an infomercial for McDonalds.

Still, which is more interesting? A fictional story about the Vietnam War, starring Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, or "Fog of War," about what really happened in the Vietnam War told by the guy who was there?

Depends. If they guy spent the war digging latrines, the fictional story may actually be more interesting. ;)

BTW - I'm not really arguing that one is better than the other. It think there is room in this world for non-fiction and fiction. Taste for one or the other is very personal.

Hapless
08-03-2010, 10:38 AM
Perhaps I should rephrase the question, because I'm not trying to create a fiction vs. non-fiction conflict.

What I really want is to learn is how to enjoy fiction. For those who enjoy it, what elements are important to you? Who do you think does a good job developing characters or narrating an interesting story?

The only fiction I've truly enjoyed is Flannery O'Conner's short stories because there are no wasted words. I find I have to read carefully because every phrase adds critical meaning to the story. With most fiction I find myself skimming pages to find important info. Kind of a blah blah blah blah IMPORTANT blah blah blah blah blah IMPORTANT approach to reading...very undisciplined, I know.

I thoroughly enjoy essays, such as E.B. White's One Man's Meat or personal narratives that record someone's observations or viewpoint. A Sand County Almanac is a beautiful work that explores the author's relationship with the farmland he inhabits and all the living creatures he co-exists with.

Real life is so interesting and complex...it baffles me that writers feel compelled to create a story. :) So who does it well? Recommendations?

O'Connor's stories are amazing, but they're from a very specific genre (American Gothic). They're also flat-out hilarious, but in an intelligent-ironic way.

There's no set "way" to enjoy fiction, because there are dozens of styles of fiction. Personally, I find it hard to finish some mainstream novels (Dan Brown), because the plots are so hackneyed. Likewise, Big-L literature (Oprah's books, Canadian authors) turns me off, because I just don't the point of reading something that wants to make me slash my wrists (from depression or boredom).

However, authors like Clavell or Michener write phenomenal historical novels, which is a genre in its own right.

Or if you want a laugh, "Lamb" by Christopher Moore or "No Way to Treat a First Lady" by Christopher Buckley (who wrote Thank You For Smoking) are both laugh-out-loud novles.

Then again, if you only like Flannery O'Connor, you can simply look up Amazon "customers also bought XYZ" lists, and explore your local library from there.

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 11:55 AM
From the group's recommendations, I've picked up the following titles:

The Control of Nature by John McPhee
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christs's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse

In spite of life's obligations, I want to demonstrate to my family that reading is a worthwhile endeavor. We've set a goal in our family to read 20 minutes a day, 5 of 7 days. That may seem laughable, although for different reasons. For the book lovers, it will sound outrageous that one has to even set a goal to do something that is as natural as breathing. To the book shunners, it will be an "old school" approach to learning about the world. Why read when all you need is readily available via the internet?

Since sharply limiting access to tv and the internet, the quality and quantity of time spent with my kids has increased dramatically. This morning my 14 year old sought me out to work on a crossword puzzle together. She had no idea such things were found in newspapers.

The internet is a wonderful way to connect with people in the world, but the danger is in forgetting to personally connect with the people around you. In our home, reading is providing that bridge.

sureshs
08-03-2010, 12:44 PM
I also limit the time my son plays videogames and surfs the web, but the future is there, not in books. Videogame proficiency will soon be mandatory as job training goes virtual. Internet surfing and social networking will create the next successful entrepreneurs as they use their experience to discover new paradigms.

albino smurf
08-03-2010, 01:13 PM
Fog of War was pretty damn fictional.

LuckyR
08-03-2010, 01:14 PM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value, but I can't seem to find anything that interests me. I've tried classic and contemporary works in a variety of genres, including: mystery, romance, sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and poetry. I've explored plays, short stories, poetry, and novels. Very little peaks my interest.

I just completed Jane Eyre, reading it only out of a sense of obligation. While I appreciated the social commentary, the underlying themes were comparable to what you might find on any afternoon soap opera. If I find those shows trivial, how can I find "classics" like Jane Eyre to be worthwhile?

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information. I really enjoyed The Not So Big House and God & Your Stuff. I find the newspaper to be enthralling. :)

So why do you read fiction?


A couple of ideas:

1- What form of entertainment (not just literature, movies/TV/theatre/net are OK too) do you find better than "trivial"?

2- Are you part of the group who wish that formal education can ditch stuff like Art and Music so we can fit in more Readin', Ritin' and 'Rithmetic?

3- What sort of things pique your interest?

4- Are you religious?

FedererUberAlles
08-03-2010, 01:23 PM
Why would you let facts get in the way of a good story? I'm sure no one here has, at least once.

r2473
08-03-2010, 01:44 PM
Ah well, horses for courses I guess.

I graduated from high school about 20 years ago. Before the computer / internet boom. Even at that time I sensed that reading (literature) and "the arts" in general were not as popular or deemed as important as it once was.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".

Previous generations of students were exposed to literature (lead to water) the problem is, most didn't like it much (can't make them drink).

These days, students just simply aren't "lead to water" anymore. Problem solved.

This isn't really a new problem. The unexamined life is really not worth living, says Socrates, the wisest man in ancient Greece. His credo has become the basic tenet of the philosophical quest.

At his trial in 399BC by the citizens of Athens, Socrates declared that from his incessant questioning, he found his contemporaries spend their lives pursuing various goals -- money, ambition, pleasure, physical security -- without asking themselves if these were important. Unless they raised such a question and seriously sought the answer -- through careful reflection, alert observation and critical arguments -- they would not know if they were doing the right thing.

They might be wasting their energy, time and money in useless or even dangerous pursuits.

How do we believe what we believe? How do we arrive at our underlying set of beliefs (which includes assumptions, prejudices and convictions)? It is important that we examine the process to determine if we have acquired the correct set of beliefs because they influence our thinking and motivate our action.

sureshs
08-03-2010, 01:57 PM
Ah well, horses for courses I guess.

I graduated from high school about 20 years ago. Before the computer / internet boom. Even at that time I sensed that reading (literature) and "the arts" in general were not as popular or deemed as important as it once was.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".

Previous generations of students were exposed to literature (lead to water) the problem is, most didn't like it much (can't make them drink).

These days, students just simply aren't "lead to water" anymore. Problem solved.

This isn't really a new problem. The unexamined life is really not worth living, says Socrates, the wisest man in ancient Greece. His credo has become the basic tenet of the philosophical quest.

At his trial in 399BC by the citizens of Athens, Socrates declared that from his incessant questioning, he found his contemporaries spend their lives pursuing various goals -- money, ambition, pleasure, physical security -- without asking themselves if these were important. Unless they raised such a question and seriously sought the answer -- through careful reflection, alert observation and critical arguments -- they would not know if they were doing the right thing.

They might be wasting their energy, time and money in useless or even dangerous pursuits.

How do we believe what we believe? How do we arrive at our underlying set of beliefs (which includes assumptions, prejudices and convictions)? It is important that we examine the process to determine if we have acquired the correct set of beliefs because they influence our thinking and motivate our action.

Previous generations of students also studied Shakespeare in the original. I myself had to study Julius Caesar and Richard II in the original. Looking back, it wasn't important. For most middle-class people, I would say such books are irrelevant. That is why the shift was towards more practical and realistic stories. For example, while my son's English book has the obligatory Robert Frost and Tennyson, it also has writings by agricultural laborers in California.

Once upon a time, English schools taught grammar and Latin (hence the name grammar schools). Today we have moved away from it.

What is needed is more science in the curriculum in order to make people think criticially.

r2473
08-03-2010, 02:02 PM
Previous generations of students also studied Shakespeare in the original. I myself had to study Julius Caesar and Richard II in the original. Looking back, it wasn't important. For most middle-class people, I would say such books are irrelevant. That is why the shift was towards more practical and realistic stories. For example, while my son's English book has the obligatory Robert Frost and Tennyson, it also has writings by agricultural laborers in California.

Once upon a time, English schools taught grammar and Latin (hence the name grammar schools). Today we have moved away from it.

What is needed is more science in the curriculum in order to make people think criticially.


I think you are confusing "form" and "substance".

Form can influence substance, but substance is what is important.

I'm not sure I can agree with you that Shakespeare is irrelevant and impractical. But like many things, if you believe it, then it will be true for you.

I might suggest that you re-read Shakespeare, now that you are older. You apparently might be surprised how applicable and practical the themes are. You might also be surprised how little the human condition really changes (despite the fact that we are now so "advanced").

sureshs
08-03-2010, 02:12 PM
I think you are confusing "form" and "substance".

Form can influence substance, but substance is what is important.

I'm not sure I can agree with you that Shakespeare is irrelevant and impractical. But like many things, if you believe it, then it will be true for you.

I might suggest that you re-read Shakespeare, now that you are older. You apparently might be surprised how applicable and practical the themes are. You might also be surprised how little the human condition really changes (despite the fact that we are now so "advanced").

Now that I am older, I can see how misogynistic and anti-Semitic his writings were. Jews were money-hungry cheaters and women were emotional, untrustworthy characters who kept fainting.

Many "great authors" were like that - not so great. Their pompous statements which became famous quotes were a result of their ego and their insensitivity towards others. Many of their themes have no resonance with modern life today.

r2473
08-03-2010, 02:17 PM
Now that I am older, I can see how misogynistic and anti-Semitic his writings were. Jews were money-hungry cheaters and women were emotional, untrustworthy characters who kept fainting.

Many "great authors" were like that - not so great. Their pompous statements which became famous quotes were a result of their ego and their insensitivity towards others. Many of their themes have no resonance with modern life today.

Does this accurately summarize your views on Shakespeare and other "great authors" or are you just getting carried away in the heat of the argument?

Awesome
08-03-2010, 02:43 PM
Literature is a form of art like any other. What worth is there then in film or dance or painting or sculpture? It's a form of expression and a canvas for the human condition. In fiction we have, practically, the sum of human understanding. It's presented in a medium that is meant to elicit some sort of emotional response so as to make the themes have weight. It's one thing to just say all these things in exposition, and another to craft a whole narrative with it. We could, and do, just say the themes and messages and go "here they are." But what of that do we take away? It's just information and hardly knowledge.

There are countless little clusters of information out there. It's streaming in front of our eyes all the time: common sense we dub it but how common is it really? We say the world isn't black and white. We say it's shades of this or that and yet here is this world, stricken in black and white. Knowledge, needs at least an intellectual and emotional component in order to ever really make an impression. It's like reading all there is to know about love. You can read every article about what it's like but if you've never experienced it, how could you ever really know? Experience and regret are often the factors that harden information into knowledge in most of us. I can't see too many ways in which that will change.

We get older and have so many more definitions set in stone. We become far, far less malleable and in a way, that's a necessary step in order to ever go anywhere at all. Every choice is a sacrifice in some way, after all. Still, to say that fiction is only useful as an escape or for entertainment or to so condemn it for those reasons, as if entertainment is such a terrible thing, is just a self explanation. Where does that really go? I mean, we can seek to disprove and reinforce our own ideas as much as we please that hardly goes anywhere at all, and mostly just serves to keep us where we are.

We could be people who won't feel anything when reading and these stories will just remain stories and that's fine. But it is another avenue to explore and care about and try to shake off those vestiges of apathy that the modern world seems to latch onto us. Fiction can be representative of the times, and carry with it the feel and culture and history of what it was and what it sought out for the future. We stand on the shoulders of giants after all. Why not climb on up

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 02:54 PM
A couple of ideas:

1- What form of entertainment (not just literature, movies/TV/theatre/net are OK too) do you find better than "trivial"?

2- Are you part of the group who wish that formal education can ditch stuff like Art and Music so we can fit in more Readin', Ritin' and 'Rithmetic?

3- What sort of things pique your interest?

4- Are you religious?

1) Interaction with humans, not computer and tv screens. Hoisting a glass of wine over a meal shared with friends. Board games where we sit face to face or in a circle. Taking in a live concert, exhibit, or show as opposed to seeing it online or in a you tube video.

2)Quite the contrary. In fact it is primarily through art that I learn history and ponder the human condition.

3) Just about everything is interesting on some level, with the exception of philosophy and physics (sorry sureshs).

4) Yes, very liberal Christian

sureshs
08-03-2010, 03:05 PM
Does this accurately summarize your views on Shakespeare and other "great authors" or are you just getting carried away in the heat of the argument?

BTW, your friend Jiddu is also lots of crap. All he could finally say is "Fear is the root cause." At least he was honest and did not invoke God.

mtommer
08-03-2010, 03:21 PM
Its about escapism, stimulating the imagination, experiencing, understanding metaphor, imagining hypothetical situations. Just because something isn't real doesn't mean it can't be captivating and interesting. The modern world can be boring.

When you read a scifi book for example or watch a scifi movie, you are putting yourself in the shoes of the main character, and experiencing this interesting other world full of adventure.
Enjoying fiction is about letting yourself go, and getting involved in the emotional peaks and valleys of the story.

Perhaps could I ask why you watch sports? What are the myriad of reasons you watch sports?

Nicely said (well, written actually I guess :D).

Fiction fires the imagination. Imagination allowed man to fly in heavy metal contraptions that sink in water. The idea for the Sear's tower was nothing but fiction in someone's mind. Fiction can absolutely become reality and reality is often of our making through fictitious ideas and meanderings; people seeking to achieve what they desire yet deemed to be silly or impractical (often meaning impossible).

Reality is fiction limited by non-fiction.

LuckyR
08-03-2010, 03:29 PM
1) Interaction with humans, not computer and tv screens. Hoisting a glass of wine over a meal shared with friends. Board games where we sit face to face or in a circle. Taking in a live concert, exhibit, or show as opposed to seeing it online or in a you tube video.

2)Quite the contrary. In fact it is primarily through art that I learn history and ponder the human condition.

3) Just about everything is interesting on some level, with the exception of philosophy and physics (sorry sureshs).

4) Yes, very liberal Christian


Thanks.

1- My guess is a well told story told over a glass of wine is part of the enjoyment of your interaction. That is, of course the origin of storytelling and hence literature. Just as most fiction has a touch of reality either historical or personal within it, most well told stories among friends are not strictly factual. Thus many if not most enjoy reading fiction just as you enjoy hearing the latest story from your buddy.

2- Since you enjoy the visual arts, I find it odd that you can't understand that the sense of emotion evoked by art exhibits, can be evoked in others through poetry, the theatre, motion pictures, TV and video games. They are all branches of the same tree.

3- See #2.

4- You are aware that the Bible is only the most obvious example of the power of fiction to move people.

r2473
08-03-2010, 03:35 PM
BTW, your friend Jiddu is also lots of crap. All he could finally say is "Fear is the root cause." At least he was honest and did not invoke God.

I responded by asking a question because I was sure your "Shakespeare" and "great authors" comments were only made to provoke a (strong) reaction from me. I thought you were taunting / teasing me.

I'm not really invested in trying to convince you (or anyone else) of the importance of "the arts". I just added my comments to the thread as far as I thought they might be relevant.

sureshs
08-03-2010, 03:46 PM
I responded by asking a question because I was sure your "Shakespeare" and "great authors" comments were only made to provoke a (strong) reaction from me. I thought you were taunting / teasing me.

I'm not really invested in trying to convince you (or anyone else) of the importance of "the arts". I just added my comments to the thread as far as I thought they might be relevant.

Sorry was just pulling your leg :-)

r2473
08-03-2010, 03:54 PM
^^^My liberal arts training told me that just might be the case :)

Cindysphinx
08-03-2010, 04:10 PM
4- You are aware that the Bible is only the most obvious example of the power of fiction to move people.

Yes, in that Christ's parables were powerful and moving.

But non-fiction can also be powerful and moving, as in the Passion.

Which once again proves the Bible is remarkable!

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 05:42 PM
2- Since you enjoy the visual arts, I find it odd that you can't understand that the sense of emotion evoked by art exhibits, can be evoked in others through poetry, the theatre, motion pictures, TV and video games. They are all branches of the same tree.

4- You are aware that the Bible is only the most obvious example of the power of fiction to move people.

2) It's not that I can't understand that others are impacted by literature...it's that it doesn't impact me personally in that manner. And even with art, it's more about gaining a fuller understanding of a time period as opposed to evoking emotion. The exceptions are works by Rothko, which for some reason produce an emotional response.

4) I guess that depends on your view of the Bible and the role it plays in people's lives. Some believe it is the literal word of God while others believe it is merely a collection of tales. I personally don't think that's the debate God wants me to engage in - more important questions to pursue.

Juges8932
08-03-2010, 05:53 PM
It's entertaining and promotes creativity and imagination. It's not some great mystery what is appealing to people, even if you don't like the genre. I love reading informational stuff as well. I am an engineering major, so I love math/science as well, but there is much to be provided with fiction. The real world is serious and boring enough by itself, and being consumed by a great story, set in a fictional world, with things that are mind-bending to think about being real is a nice escape from the seriousness of life. TV shows, movies, books, etc are all art forms that appeal to people because of that. It's really interesting to see how other people's minds create these fantasy worlds.

It comes across as arrogant that you can't seem to understand the simpleton interests in this genre known as 'fiction'. Let's be real- I am not big into painting or paintings themselves. Same with photography. It isn't my thing- doesn't mean I don't understand how somebody could derive pleasure from doing/observing such. Maybe YOU don't find those same pleasures in reading fiction, but it doesn't mean you can't/don't see/know what it is that attracts others to it.

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 06:00 PM
It comes across as arrogant that you can't seem to understand the simpleton interests in this genre known as 'fiction'.

Certainly not trying to judge those who enjoy fiction so forgive me if that's the impression I'm leaving here. I see it as a deficit in my own life, and am trying to figure out how to remedy that.

tricky
08-03-2010, 06:05 PM
I would love to discuss War and Peace or One Hundred Years of Solitude

100 Years of Solitude is great. LOTS of inappropriate sex in that one! :D

Great, great book, as well as the ultraismo movement. If you don't have a lot of time, check out Jorge Luis Borges. Short, short stories, but each one takes you out of the matrix.

Polaris
08-03-2010, 06:34 PM
Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information.
While there is nothing wrong with having a utilitarian approach to reading, do you think that this approach interferes with your enjoyment of fiction?

tricky
08-03-2010, 06:50 PM
While there is nothing wrong with having a utilitarian approach to reading, do you think that this approach interferes with your enjoyment of fiction?

I feel it does for a lot of people. They expect to read an exposition rather than a narrative. Probably moreso in the Internet era.

The great thing about Borges is that his short stories are essay-like and still entertaining. It's as if he summarizes the plot in order to get straight to the mind-bending stuff.

TheLoneWolf
08-03-2010, 07:47 PM
Previous generations of students also studied Shakespeare in the original. I myself had to study Julius Caesar and Richard II in the original. Looking back, it wasn't important. For most middle-class people, I would say such books are irrelevant. That is why the shift was towards more practical and realistic stories. For example, while my son's English book has the obligatory Robert Frost and Tennyson, it also has writings by agricultural laborers in California.

Once upon a time, English schools taught grammar and Latin (hence the name grammar schools). Today we have moved away from it.

What is needed is more science in the curriculum in order to make people think criticially.
If by "think" you mean "compute and calculate" I guess you are right. By my work (Computer Science) I'm exposed to goons who can barely construct simple sentences.

If there is anything we need is more grammar and philosophy.

There is way more to life than science (and this comes from someone with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science.)

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 07:47 PM
While there is nothing wrong with having a utilitarian approach to reading, do you think that this approach interferes with your enjoyment of fiction?

I distinctly remember getting swept up in stories when I was a child. I was Heidi in the Swiss Alps and Alec riding the The Black Stallion... As an adult, I have not had the same experience. Perhaps I'm so darn happy in real life that I don't feel the need to escape through literature.:)

I think learning to analyze literature in college may have something to do with my approach to reading fiction. For example, when a new character is introduced, I'm thinking ahead to how I expect that person to affect the plot line, the conflict, etc. By the time I hit Chapter 3 I've formed an idea of how I expect the story to play out. Clearly, what I've been reading has not been sufficiently interesting to get me past analyzing. I'm hoping to turn that around.

Utilitarian...that smarts!

TheLoneWolf
08-03-2010, 07:56 PM
Now that I am older, I can see how misogynistic and anti-Semitic his writings were. Jews were money-hungry cheaters and women were emotional, untrustworthy characters who kept fainting.

Many "great authors" were like that - not so great. Their pompous statements which became famous quotes were a result of their ego and their insensitivity towards others. Many of their themes have no resonance with modern life today.
Every person is a product of his time. Did you expect Shakespeare to be politically correct and not offend anyone? To promote equal rights for everybody? Don't make me laugh. Equal rights, by the way, is a bunch of BS because it is an impossible goal.

In many ways, the world we live in today is far less honest than the world Shakespeare lived in. People get screwed every day, just like they got screwed back then. It's just different people. If you don't fall into a special interest group, you are probably getting screwed somehow. Because we live in such a "civilized" world, though, we convince ourselves that we are an advanced society where everyone is taken care of, respected, and valued. But in reality we are just the same as we always were. Everybody seeks any means to achieve benefit for himself or for that group he identifies himself with most. And if someone doesn't, they are just being politically correct goons. Democracy is an illusion. The difference is that now you are just getting screwed with a smile in your face. By the king or by the majorly uneducated throngs of people allowed to vote, it doesn't matter. Screwed nonetheless.

Polaris
08-03-2010, 08:05 PM
Perhaps I'm so darn happy in real life that I don't feel the need to escape through literature.:)
I don't know if happiness (or lack of it) correlates with the amount of fictional reading. It would be an interesting and challenging study to conduct: "Are people more likely to read fiction when they are unhappy?". From my personal experience, I certainly write more often in my journal when I'm sad or dissatisfied rather than when I'm happy. But, this trend hasn't carried over to reading. I seem to have read roughly the same amount of fiction over the past five to ten years, irrespective of my state of mind - and I've certainly not been uniformly happy during that time!

Utilitarian...that smarts!
It wasn't intended to smart. I just used a word which accurately reflected what I gathered from the post.

SoBad
08-03-2010, 08:13 PM
Perhaps I'm so darn happy in real life that I don't feel the need to escape through literature.:)

I think you got it – you answered your own question! Reading fiction is for losers who are miserable in real life and therefore feel the need to escape through literature!

But you have to understand those people, too – it takes more for some to achieve happiness in life, than it does for others. Please have some compassion for those poor dim souls who don’t find newspapers “enthralling”, will you.

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 08:32 PM
i think reading fiction is good for the imagination, visual, emotional, and otherwise.

Anyway, I challenge you to read some of Roald Dahl's short stories (the dark and twisted ones for adults) in your bed at night and tell me you don't appreciate the experience.

I wasn't even aware that he had written adult stories! My kids devoured everything he wrote. When we go through the bookcase to select books for donation, the Roald Dahl books always land in the keep pile.

Dark and twisted can be good!

slewisoh
08-03-2010, 08:40 PM
I think you got it – you answered your own question! Reading fiction is for losers who are miserable in real life and therefore feel the need to escape through literature!

But you have to understand those people, too – it takes more for some to achieve happiness in life, than it does for others. Please have some compassion for those poor dim souls who don’t find newspapers “enthralling”, will you.

Please don't quote out of context.

I'm making an honest effort to understand why I don't enjoy fiction and am in no way criticizing those whose tastes differ from mine.

I wish I could escape through literature - it just doesn't happen for me.

tricky
08-03-2010, 08:40 PM
There is way more to life than science (and this comes from someone with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science.)

I would empathize with Sureshs if it weren't for his . . . threads. I mean, it's killing your own argument about wasting time when somebody is literally taking General Pro Players to new levels of ****.

mtommer
08-03-2010, 09:11 PM
Please don't quote out of context.

I'm making an honest effort to understand why I don't enjoy fiction and am in no way criticizing those whose tastes differ from mine.

I wish I could escape through literature - it just doesn't happen for me.

If it just doesn't happen for you then don't worry about it. We're not all the same. I would say that if you had a problem finding enjoyment in general that you should seek professional help but I see your problem as one "Why can't you like Star Trek? I do." Different interests, different tastes..... :D ....different strokes to move the world.

TheLoneWolf
08-03-2010, 09:20 PM
I would empathize with Sureshs if it weren't for his . . . threads. I mean, it's killing your own argument about wasting time when somebody is literally taking General Pro Players to new levels of ****.
The whole point is that he's achieved that through sound and systematic application of the scientific method.

Step 1: Post some outrageous thread with the sole purpose of annoying people.
Step 2: Observe the reactions of people to such post.
Step 3: If the reactions are not strong enough, up the ante by adding something even more stupid. If the reactions are as expected, make entry in little notebook and carry on with the next post.

Cindysphinx
08-03-2010, 10:20 PM
The other thing that is difficult about fiction is that I rarely like the ending on any fiction I read.

I mean, you are making up ever character, every trait, every event. Yet you can't deliver a whopper of an ending?

If non-fiction fizzles, well . . . that's life.

Cindy -- who made it about 18 pages into the Da Vinci Code and then tossed it aside because the debut of the female character was such a hack job

Ken Honecker
08-04-2010, 03:34 AM
My Name is Ken and I'm a Reader. Of fiction almost entirely. While I read the paper and consider myself somewhat of a WW II buff pretty much everything I read is for enjoyment. I read one or perhaps 2 books a week on average with scifi and fantasy comprising the bulk. While I'm still as much of a genre fan as I was in my youth I find myself a bit more picky now since I doubt if I'll be able to reread all the 4000 novels in my library.

As for what I gained from fiction was a love of language and a pretty extensive vocabulary. Edgar Rice Burroughs filled my youth, along with Stan Lee and enabled me to always score in the 90+ percentile of vocabulary tests.

max
08-04-2010, 04:08 AM
From a male perspective, I've found novels VERY useful in helping clearly see and better identify emotions and emotional relationships.

I think disregarding an author because the author repeated the biases of his days is very limiting. . . you need to bracket that stuff aside, if it's tangential to his work, and get to the meat of the matter. I'm referring to the notion that we should toss aside Shakespeare. Clearly his work, and essential works of all human cultures, would be thrown out with the bathwater if one used this method of throwing out stuff you disagree with. That's the kind of intellectual bullying that can lead to book burning.

sureshs
08-04-2010, 04:28 PM
Every person is a product of his time. Did you expect Shakespeare to be politically correct and not offend anyone? To promote equal rights for everybody? Don't make me laugh. Equal rights, by the way, is a bunch of BS because it is an impossible goal.

In many ways, the world we live in today is far less honest than the world Shakespeare lived in. People get screwed every day, just like they got screwed back then. It's just different people. If you don't fall into a special interest group, you are probably getting screwed somehow. Because we live in such a "civilized" world, though, we convince ourselves that we are an advanced society where everyone is taken care of, respected, and valued. But in reality we are just the same as we always were. Everybody seeks any means to achieve benefit for himself or for that group he identifies himself with most. And if someone doesn't, they are just being politically correct goons. Democracy is an illusion. The difference is that now you are just getting screwed with a smile in your face. By the king or by the majorly uneducated throngs of people allowed to vote, it doesn't matter. Screwed nonetheless.

I think if you lived during the time of the Founding Fathers who had recent knowledge of how people lived under a King, your prespective would be different. That is why they sought a more equal society. One in which your head would not be cut off because you did not bow to the King in a particular way.

It has been shown that with democracy, there are no famines. It is a well-researched topic. Food shortages in which millions perished were actually due to centralized control and hoarding by the few.

Democracy is not just literally the right to vote. It also implies freedom of information and a general dissemination of ideas.

Your point about the uneducated majority is well taken. I also agree that living with a bunch of morons is no fun. That is why more people must educate themselves about the scientific method (which has nothing to do with whether they are working in a scientific field or not).

sureshs
08-04-2010, 04:32 PM
The whole point is that he's achieved that through sound and systematic application of the scientific method.

Step 1: Post some outrageous thread with the sole purpose of annoying people.
Step 2: Observe the reactions of people to such post.
Step 3: If the reactions are not strong enough, up the ante by adding something even more stupid. If the reactions are as expected, make entry in little notebook and carry on with the next post.

That reminds me to start a "Should Federer retire" thread.

Dedans Penthouse
08-04-2010, 04:55 PM
just imagine if you will...

TheLoneWolf
08-04-2010, 09:36 PM
I think if you lived during the time of the Founding Fathers who had recent knowledge of how people lived under a King, your prespective would be different. That is why they sought a more equal society. One in which your head would not be cut off because you did not bow to the King in a particular way.

It has been shown that with democracy, there are no famines. It is a well-researched topic. Food shortages in which millions perished were actually due to centralized control and hoarding by the few.

Democracy is not just literally the right to vote. It also implies freedom of information and a general dissemination of ideas.

Your point about the uneducated majority is well taken. I also agree that living with a bunch of morons is no fun. That is why more people must educate themselves about the scientific method (which has nothing to do with whether they are working in a scientific field or not).
Superficially what you are saying is right. Unfortunately, it doesn't stand any serious amount of scrutiny.

Governments will continue to screw their own citizens given the adequate chance and motive. People have been murdered, justly imprisoned, and experimented with by democratic governments, and will continue to be so. Power corrupts whether it comes from birth right or from the polls. In a way you can argue that democracy is just as dangerous as a dictatorship given the right circumstances, as it lends its subjects an undeserved degree of comfort and trust which can be betrayed way too easily by those in power.

Above all, as we can see everyday, it turns out that if subject A is richer than subject B, subject A is actually more free in a democracy than subject B. You can definitely not compare the luxury of being able to afford a group of powerful lawyers to defend you with the right of being represented by a public defender. If your freedom depends on the amount of money and resources that you have, it is a false freedom.

Finally, there are infinitely more effective ways to control a people than brute force and coercion. You can force someone to do or not to do something, but that results in an unstable equilibrium (often resulting in civil unrest and revolutions.) It's only when you truly convince someone that doing something is in their best interest (which in democratic terms means "the best interest of the majority",) when you actually change their thought processes, that you have achieved complete subjugation of a people.

And, for the record, I also favor democracy (at least in practical terms,) as it is the least imperfect of systems. Its current implementation in the U.S. can be improved upon, however.

TheLoneWolf
08-04-2010, 09:37 PM
That reminds me to start a "Should Federer retire" thread.
You, sir, are a master of mass manipulation. :)

sureshs
08-05-2010, 09:01 AM
And, for the record, I also favor democracy (at least in practical terms,) as it is the least imperfect of systems.

Obviously no system can be perfect. If you favor democracy, I don't see the point of all your previous posts. There will be abuses in any system. Just because your car could break down under some conditions should not prevent you from driving.

max
08-05-2010, 09:15 AM
. . . frankly, I'm a bit surprised at all the weight you believe the scientific method can carry.

slewisoh
08-05-2010, 10:12 AM
Decided to take on War and Peace while I'm waiting for my recent purchases to arrive.

:shock:

After the first chapter, I had to sit down and map out all of the characters...a quick internet search reveals 124 total characters, although the primary characters number perhaps 15-20.

I've only completed part 3 of 16, but it feels like I've already completed a novel. Many novels within the novel, I suppose.

sureshs
08-05-2010, 10:18 AM
How many of you use an e-reader?

slewisoh
08-05-2010, 10:33 AM
How many of you use an e-reader?

I've wondered about this too. I've been eyeballing a Kindle, but relatively few non-fiction books are available in that format.

There is also the issue reading in the bathtub...If I drop my paperback in the tub, no big deal. Don't think the Kindle would fare too well.

sureshs
08-05-2010, 01:15 PM
I've wondered about this too. I've been eyeballing a Kindle, but relatively few non-fiction books are available in that format.

There is also the issue reading in the bathtub...If I drop my paperback in the tub, no big deal. Don't think the Kindle would fare too well.

I would imagine it would be the other way.

I look forward to the day when kids just carry an e-reader/laptop to school with the entire K-12 curriculum loaded on it.

r2473
08-05-2010, 01:20 PM
I look forward to the day when kids just carry an e-reader/laptop to school with the entire K-12 curriculum loaded on it.

I look forward to the day that this same future student actually looks at any of it.

sureshs
08-05-2010, 01:30 PM
I look forward to the day that this same future student actually looks at any of it.

You seem very negative about the present generation. What have the great readers of previous generations given us? War, terrorism, and environmental destruction.

Have you tracked the entry GPAs and AP-level courses of incoming freshmen into the UC system? A higher level of scholarship than ever before. This is the generation that will save us. The old generation with its prejudices and egos won't. It is better it disappears as quickly as possible.

Every generation thinks the next generation is crap. Actually it is the opposite.

r2473
08-05-2010, 01:42 PM
^^ Have you ever taken a course in argumentation / logic?

Your above statements are a bit difficult to nuance, rather sweeping, and could really be made to be either true or false to suit anyone's particular prejudices.

EDIT: In an ironic sort of way (as you are from the inferior previous generation), your method of argumentation actually supports your point. Very clever!!

......of course, if you did that on purpose, that would make you smart, and undermine your point.

A paradox.

You are such a little sly boots.

LuckyR
08-05-2010, 06:11 PM
I've wondered about this too. I've been eyeballing a Kindle, but relatively few non-fiction books are available in that format.

There is also the issue reading in the bathtub...If I drop my paperback in the tub, no big deal. Don't think the Kindle would fare too well.

Actually the book will be toast, it is just less expensive. Though my guess extremely few people take baths, let alone read books there.

TheLoneWolf
08-05-2010, 07:07 PM
Obviously no system can be perfect. If you favor democracy, I don't see the point of all your previous posts. There will be abuses in any system. Just because your car could break down under some conditions should not prevent you from driving.
Of course my previous posts have many points:
1. Democracy must be perfected. There are many different ways you can implement the idea of democracy.
2. Democracy shouldn't be glorified as the perfect system, but rather tolerated as the least imperfect system under most conditions.
3. Democratic governments should be untrusted just as much as any other types of governments.

There are plenty of other points I could make, but I don't feel like it right now. For example: Take the right to vote away from morons and dishonest people. That should leave you with about 25% of the population, and maybe I'm being generous. LOL.

I guess the whole thing is that distrust of governments is not bad, but rather necessary, and that a government which relies on pleasing the biggest amount of people can't be good in an era where people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are adored by the masses. LOL. What a bunch of goons. You people take your special interest money and shove it. LMFAO.

TheLoneWolf
08-05-2010, 07:14 PM
You seem very negative about the present generation. What have the great readers of previous generations given us? War, terrorism, and environmental destruction.

Have you tracked the entry GPAs and AP-level courses of incoming freshmen into the UC system? A higher level of scholarship than ever before. This is the generation that will save us. The old generation with its prejudices and egos won't. It is better it disappears as quickly as possible.

Every generation thinks the next generation is crap. Actually it is the opposite.
No, it is not. People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else (including elementary skills like spelling.)

Above all, any generation that hasn't gone through great hardships such as war will always suck more than a generation that has. There is a reason they call my grandpa's "The Greatest Generation." My grandpa had to deal with being dropped in a parachute inside enemy lines in WW II and lived to tell the tale. Some goons nowadays become a nervous wreck whenever their cellphone battery dies or some other thing equally stupid and uneventful happens to them.

And the greatest geniuses (Newton, Kant, Aristotle, Einstein, etc) belong to past generations. We haven't even f*cking invented the cure for the common cold yet. LOL.

ollinger
08-05-2010, 07:15 PM
Yes, take the vote away from morons, like the ones who use "untrust" as a verb, the illiterate unwashed.

TheLoneWolf
08-05-2010, 07:26 PM
Yes, take the vote away from morons, like the ones who use "untrust" as a verb, the illiterate unwashed.
According to you I am a moron because I have a typo in an argument whose depth you could never match? LOL. You are an idiot, but then again, you probably already suspected as much. Don't distrust my insight. Accept it and folk off.

slewisoh
08-05-2010, 10:00 PM
Actually the book will be toast, it is just less expensive. Though my guess extremely few people take baths, let alone read books there.

I guess that makes me a rare bird...There is nothing like a hot bath to ease the chill of a Cleveland winter. Glass of wine, good book...Ahhhhhhh

Rippy
08-06-2010, 05:36 AM
And the greatest geniuses (Newton, Kant, Aristotle, Einstein, etc) belong to past generations. We haven't even f*cking invented the cure for the common cold yet. LOL.

We still have geniuses now; I think it's just there's less fundamental massive leaps in science to make now, unlike with Newton for example, where there were vast swathes of fundamentals left to work out. Now, the developments will be more specialised within particular fields.

Of course, throughout history, science has sometimes thought they'd worked everything out, when that was far from the truth, but in our generation we have had vast improvements in technology, and there have been high-profile scientists, such as Hawking and Feynmann.

No, it is not. People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else (including elementary skills like spelling.)

Also, just when you mention poor spelling, this has been bugging me about your posts for a while. Your full stop should be outside the bracket. (You make that mistake a lot. :p ) :)

max
08-06-2010, 06:57 AM
How many of you use an e-reader?

I really like the variety that you get with books, in terms of art, size, shape, feel.

I really like being able to toss a book here and there. I like being able to read it on a couch, in bed, out on the porch, and then throw it in the car.

It's a handy format for text, and cheap, too.

TheLoneWolf
08-06-2010, 08:25 AM
We still have geniuses now; I think it's just there's less fundamental massive leaps in science to make now, unlike with Newton for example, where there were vast swathes of fundamentals left to work out. Now, the developments will be more specialised within particular fields.

Of course, throughout history, science has sometimes thought they'd worked everything out, when that was far from the truth, but in our generation we have had vast improvements in technology, and there have been high-profile scientists, such as Hawking and Feynmann.



Also, just when you mention poor spelling, this has been bugging me about your posts for a while. Your full stop should be outside the bracket. (You make that mistake a lot. :p ) :)
LOL. I didn't know the full stop needed to be outside the parentheses. By full stop, do you mean periods which finish paragraphs, or what? I used to put all periods outside the parentheses, but was told in my English college classes to put them inside. Those uneducated b@stards will hear from me soon (I hope this is better).

TheLoneWolf
08-06-2010, 08:26 AM
I really like the variety that you get with books, in terms of art, size, shape, feel.

I really like being able to toss a book here and there. I like being able to read it on a couch, in bed, out on the porch, and then throw it in the car.

It's a handy format for text, and cheap, too.
I'm also for bound materials (especially of the centerfold kind.) Maybe I'm old school. :)

r2473
08-06-2010, 09:16 AM
No, it is not. People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else (including elementary skills like spelling.)


According to you I am a moron because I have a typo in an argument whose depth you could never match? LOL. You are an idiot, but then again, you probably already suspected as much. Don't distrust my insight. Accept it and folk off.

I don't mean to interfere with your genius, but I have a simple (minded) question.

How do you reconcile in your own mind the difference between your "typos" (and your sustained genius) and others "elementary errors" (indicating that they pretty much suck at everything)?

Please, don't get defensive with your response (if you choose to respond). Simply explain your logic here.

(And please use words that us peasants can understand. We aren't all at your level of genius)

Rippy
08-06-2010, 09:54 AM
LOL. I didn't know the full stop needed to be outside the parentheses. By full stop, do you mean periods which finish paragraphs, or what? I used to put all periods outside the parentheses, but was told in my English college classes to put them inside. Those uneducated b@stards will hear from me soon (I hope this is better).

Sorry, I'm English lol. A full stop is the same as a period.

You can put them inside, but then you'd have to have a full stop at the end of your normal sentence as well.

You said this:
People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else (including elementary skills like spelling.)

If you want to keep the final full stop inside brackets, you'd have to do it like this:
People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else. (Including elementary skills like spelling.)

Of course, you could also write the sentence like this:
People are becoming more and more specialized and compartmentalized. Many people excel a something very specific and can make a life out of it, but suck at pretty much everything else (including elementary skills like spelling).

Because if you put the full stop inside the brackets, but don't have one at the end of the sentence, then the sentence doesn't have a full stop at the end. So everytime I read that in your posts, I felt sad for the poor sentence which just sort of drifted away with no end to it. :p

I think I'm right with that. I will feel like a complete moron if you've been right all along, and my niggle of annoyance everytime you did it was misplaced. :)

sureshs
08-06-2010, 01:12 PM
Surprising how ungrateful people are. They make use of the latest advances, enjoy longevity, freedom from diseases which maimed and killed previous generations, and yet go about with a chip on their shoulder about how great previous generations were. Sounds like they are disgruntled old men who cannot cope with change. That is why I avoid old man doubles as far as possible even though those guys keep calling me, and play singles with young people instead. My generation is an embarrassment to me. I am playing singles with a young person tonight, and another one on Sunday.

r2473
08-06-2010, 01:26 PM
^^ You want to play some dubs this weekend?

We'll be reading Shakespeare after the match. Bring your BOOK.

Hope to see you there.

GetBetterer
08-06-2010, 02:06 PM
slewisoh:
What I really want to learn is how to enjoy fiction. For those who enjoy it, what elements are important to you? Who do you think does a good job developing characters or narrating an interesting story?

That cleared up sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.

Well, to add to the reading list you made up, I want to add this:
How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

It's non-fiction, but it shows you how to understand symbols, imagery, and why some characters are the way they are. It can make stories funny, or really sad.

Personally, a short story of mine was The Rocking Horse Winner and it was sad, I read that book (the Lit. like a Professor one) and it ruined my view. It said the little kid was...touching himself. :'(

TheLoneWolf
08-06-2010, 11:55 PM
I don't mean to interfere with your genius, but I have a simple (minded) question.

How do you reconcile in your own mind the difference between your "typos" (and your sustained genius) and others "elementary errors" (indicating that they pretty much suck at everything)?

Please, don't get defensive with your response (if you choose to respond). Simply explain your logic here.

(And please use words that us peasants can understand. We aren't all at your level of genius)
There are 2 possible explanations:

1. Maybe there is a slight difference between an occasional typo and consistent butchering of the language, both grammatically and in terms of spelling.

2. I'm just a jerk who is unable to tolerate in others the very same faults he is afflicted by.

Choose whichever one you like. Reality will probably be a combination of both factors. I'm leaning towards 99.99% of explanation 1 and 0.01% of explanation 2, with a margin of error of 0.01%.

I hope this answer was not too defensive for you. Ironically, you sounded rather defensive yourself, especially with that "peasant" comment in your post. Many peasants are quite intelligent and insightful. As a matter of fact, many of the people I would take away the right to vote from are what you would consider successful in a corporate environment. It's amazing how far some people can get with appropriate training in a very limited set of skills.

TheLoneWolf
08-06-2010, 11:59 PM
Sorry, I'm English lol. A full stop is the same as a period.

You can put them inside, but then you'd have to have a full stop at the end of your normal sentence as well.

You said this:


If you want to keep the final full stop inside brackets, you'd have to do it like this:


Of course, you could also write the sentence like this:


Because if you put the full stop inside the brackets, but don't have one at the end of the sentence, then the sentence doesn't have a full stop at the end. So everytime I read that in your posts, I felt sad for the poor sentence which just sort of drifted away with no end to it. :p

I think I'm right with that. I will feel like a complete moron if you've been right all along, and my niggle of annoyance everytime you did it was misplaced. :)
Fair enough. I actually appreciate your zealous approach. :)

I used to do it the way you do it in your third example. In college I was told that was improper (that you needed the period within the parentheses.) <-See? They did a rather good job brainwashing me. LOL.

TheLoneWolf
08-07-2010, 12:09 AM
Surprising how ungrateful people are. They make use of the latest advances, enjoy longevity, freedom from diseases which maimed and killed previous generations, and yet go about with a chip on their shoulder about how great previous generations were. Sounds like they are disgruntled old men who cannot cope with change. That is why I avoid old man doubles as far as possible even though those guys keep calling me, and play singles with young people instead. My generation is an embarrassment to me. I am playing singles with a young person tonight, and another one on Sunday.
Nonsense. How are all current advances a product of the current generation? Besides, I think that gratitude is dangerous. Electronic computers (which seems to be the most important advance in technology as far as its impact on society) were invented in the early 1940s by a German scientist. The bulk of the American space program was only possible due to the "recruitment" of Werner Von Braun (the rocket scientist that created the V-2 flying bombs used by Germany during WW II.) Do you still gratitude is a good idea? :)

r2473
08-07-2010, 09:18 AM
Ironically, you sounded rather defensive yourself, especially with that "peasant" comment in your post. Many peasants are quite intelligent and insightful. As a matter of fact, many of the people I would take away the right to vote from are what you would consider successful in a corporate environment. It's amazing how far some people can get with appropriate training in a very limited set of skills.

You tied the thread together nicely with your idealization of the peasant. Much the same as Tolstoy (which the OP is now reading) and Shakespeare (with his frequent portrayal of the wise, cunning (though often morally deficient) servant and the foolish master)).

Polaris
08-07-2010, 08:17 PM
To OP, if you want something shorter than One Hundred Years of Solitude, I highly recommend Of Love and Other Demons by the same author. An angry, sad, and beautiful story.

slewisoh
08-08-2010, 12:59 PM
To OP, if you want something shorter than One Hundred Years of Solitude, I highly recommend Of Love and Other Demons by the same author. An angry, sad, and beautiful story.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Shorter is looking good right now, as I have been reading like a fiend all week and am only 2/3 through War and Peace. Previous poster's comments about peasants are finally making sense.

max
08-08-2010, 05:29 PM
I can really recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude; great contemporary novel. Tom Wolfe's novels are also very good.

slewisoh
08-09-2010, 09:47 PM
Completed War and Peace yesterday. Feel like I should have a "I survived Tolstoy" bumper sticker or tee shirt.

Thoroughly enjoyed the multitude of stories within the story, the well-crafted characters, the historical backdrop, and the many themes covered. Particularly liked the notion that the fighting spirit far outweighs logistics - whichever party is most vested in the outcome will most likely win the battle.

I can see using this lesson in daily life to walk away from situations, as in "Hmmm....they obviously care far more about this outcome, so like the French, I should simply walk away." Had not really thought in those terms before.

I thought it would have been more interesting with some storylines involving the merchant and/or peasant class. This was a study of the aristocracy and after a while I stopped caring about their so called struggles. I guess that was the point.

I found the ending to be awkward and unsatisfying. I thought to myself, "Really? After all of this marvelous story-telling, you end it like this?" It wasn't credible in my mind.

All of that being said, I am happy to have read something that held my attention and that was not completely predictable.

r2473
08-10-2010, 11:32 AM
^^You are a very fast reader. I think this took you less than 2 weeks to finish.

Completed War and Peace yesterday. Feel like I should have a "I survived Tolstoy" bumper sticker or tee shirt.

Unfortunately, I think this is the general attitude most people have when they read classic literature. I believe most people feel they are "forced" to read "worthless" books when they are in school and never "recover" from the experience.

Another problem most people have with literature (and many other things for that matter) is that they like to ask, "What good will this ever do me in real life"? And what they are looking for is a very direct benefit.

Literature (and a liberal arts education in general) doesn't really appeal to this type of attitude. The lessons learned and benefits are a bit more indirect.

I guess I would simply end by saying that you probably didn't "suck all the marrow" out of War and Peace. I don't think reading it hurt you, but it probably wasn't much benefit to you either. I also don't think it helped to foster a love for this type of literature (I think quite the opposite in fact).

I think think through your own experience you have answered your original question "Why read fiction"?............Probably you shouldn't. This isn't really a criticism either. I just think you have reinforced your original thought that it really isn't worth your time and I think you are correct.

sureshs
08-10-2010, 12:40 PM
Another problem most people have with literature (and many other things for that matter) is that they like to ask, "What good will this ever do me in real life"? And what they are looking for is a very direct benefit.


Some like me don't do that. Rather we ask: why bother with someone else's imagination especially when it is contrived, and not original or path-breaking. Also, much of literature is depressing. There is enough negativity in life as is, why go for more of it?

r2473
08-10-2010, 12:54 PM
Some like me don't do that. Rather we ask: why bother with someone else's imagination especially when it is contrived, and not original or path-breaking. Also, much of literature is depressing. There is enough negativity in life as is, why go for more of it?

Can you do a compare / contrast for us?

One one side, choose a work of literature you are familiar with as an example for your comments above.

One the other side, give us an example of something that is "worth reading" along with reasons for its worth.

(If there isn't anything worth reading, perhaps you could dazzle us with your nihilistic viewpoint. This always appeals to the teenagers).

It's one thing to argue in an undefined manner ("Literature" [black box] is not worth reading, but "something else" [black box] is worth reading). It is another thing to add substance to your argument by providing specific examples so your audience can understand specifically what you are arguing in favor of / against.

EDIT: You don't need to confine yourself to literature or fiction for what is "worth reading". Just choose whatever you feel has the "most value". It can be anything. Some people would choose the bible. Some might choose something dealing with engineering or mathematics or computers. You can choose anything you want.

r2473
08-10-2010, 01:50 PM
What is the purpose of reading fiction? I assume it must be for entertainment value

Much to my friends' amusement, I read to obtain information.

So why do you read fiction?

I think your opening post should be enough to tell you that literature isn't for you. You main goal in reading anything is "to obtain information". And while there is plenty of information to be obtained through literature, it is clearly not the type of information you are looking for (or you simply aren't seeing and/or understanding the information contained in what you are reading).

Note: I am substituting the word "literature" for "fiction". I am doing this only because of the books you have chosen to read (Jane Eyre & War and Peace). Much of fiction is purely for entertainment value (much like a motion picture). And here I agree with you. I don't find much fiction or many movies entertaining, so I don't read/watch them.

Anaconda
08-10-2010, 01:56 PM
I like reading fact books, sharks, cars and electronics particularly. Fiction is ok, because you can kind of change certain things, unlike films where you have to except what's going on....

sureshs
08-10-2010, 04:23 PM
Can you do a compare / contrast for us?

One one side, choose a work of literature you are familiar with as an example for your comments above.

One the other side, give us an example of something that is "worth reading" along with reasons for its worth.

(If there isn't anything worth reading, perhaps you could dazzle us with your nihilistic viewpoint. This always appeals to the teenagers).

It's one thing to argue in an undefined manner ("Literature" [black box] is not worth reading, but "something else" [black box] is worth reading). It is another thing to add substance to your argument by providing specific examples so your audience can understand specifically what you are arguing in favor of / against.

EDIT: You don't need to confine yourself to literature or fiction for what is "worth reading". Just choose whatever you feel has the "most value". It can be anything. Some people would choose the bible. Some might choose something dealing with engineering or mathematics or computers. You can choose anything you want.

I have not met many people who seem to have been positively impacted by literature. Some who read come away with a sad or dark view of life. Others seem to create their own little world based on what they read, and expect life to follow accordingly. They expect too much from people and themselves and have some unrealistic romantic notions.

That is why when I keep hearing about children needing to read, I think it is overdone. There seem to be plenty of people who are always reading and that is considered good. Why is it good for a child to read a lot of fiction or literature? Maybe it improves language skills, but doing math would improve math skills and playing tennis will improve tennis skills. I would rather a child focused on more critical thinking activities and sports activities.

Seems there are too many people who can articulate their thoughts very well but are unwilling to work hard or learn more.

slewisoh
08-10-2010, 05:07 PM
^^You are a very fast reader. I think this took you less than 2 weeks to finish.

I was reading > 6 hours per day.

Unfortunately, I think this is the general attitude most people have when they read classic literature. I believe most people feel they are "forced" to read "worthless" books when they are in school and never "recover" from the experience. I can see why you would draw this conclusion but it's not really what I meant to convey. I've never read anything of this caliber...it's a real accomplishment for me.

Another problem most people have with literature (and many other things for that matter) is that they like to ask, "What good will this ever do me in real life"? And what they are looking for is a very direct benefit. It was complex. It was interesting. It made me think. Isn't that enough of an effect?

Literature (and a liberal arts education in general) doesn't really appeal to this type of attitude. The lessons learned and benefits are a bit more indirect.

I guess I would simply end by saying that you probably didn't "suck all the marrow" out of War and Peace. I don't think reading it hurt you, but it probably wasn't much benefit to you either. I also don't think it helped to foster a love for this type of literature (I think quite the opposite in fact).

Very true. I think I would get much more from this if I had someone to discuss it with.

I think think through your own experience you have answered your original question "Why read fiction"?............Probably you shouldn't. This isn't really a criticism either. I just think you have reinforced your original thought that it really isn't worth your time and I think you are correct. I disagree! But that's okay.

slewisoh
08-10-2010, 05:25 PM
I think your opening post should be enough to tell you that literature isn't for you. You main goal in reading anything is "to obtain information". And while there is plenty of information to be obtained through literature, it is clearly not the type of information you are looking for (or you simply aren't seeing and/or understanding the information contained in what you are reading).

Note: I am substituting the word "literature" for "fiction". I am doing this only because of the books you have chosen to read (Jane Eyre & War and Peace). Much of fiction is purely for entertainment value (much like a motion picture). And here I agree with you. I don't find much fiction or many movies entertaining, so I don't read/watch them.

I grew up in the South, and for us, history stopped with the Civil War. I never studied American history beyond about 1875 and took only one European History course in college. I have a HUGE void in my knowledge of history so I especially enjoy books that help fill that gap. The fact that I gained knowledge by reading War and Peace is a critical component to my enjoyment of the piece.

So while you may feel that I've proven that fiction has no place in my life, I feel this process has helped me identify historical fiction as a genre that interests me.

TheLoneWolf
08-10-2010, 08:27 PM
I have not met many people who seem to have been positively impacted by literature. Some who read come away with a sad or dark view of life. Others seem to create their own little world based on what they read, and expect life to follow accordingly. They expect too much from people and themselves and have some unrealistic romantic notions.

That is why when I keep hearing about children needing to read, I think it is overdone. There seem to be plenty of people who are always reading and that is considered good. Why is it good for a child to read a lot of fiction or literature? Maybe it improves language skills, but doing math would improve math skills and playing tennis will improve tennis skills. I would rather a child focused on more critical thinking activities and sports activities.

Seems there are too many people who can articulate their thoughts very well but are unwilling to work hard or learn more.
You have got to be kidding.

Literature is about the most superior form of entertainment there is (along with music.) It forces the reader to collaborate with the author in the creation process. When you watch a movie you are pretty much given everything up front, so it is a much more passive endeavor (and it requires less effort, which is why people on average will spend whole years of their life in front of a TV, but barely weeks, and that only if forced during their school years, reading literature.)

Also, what is this thing about "art or science"? Ironical use of false dichotomy reasoning from someone who claims to see scientific training as a way to hone people's logical abilities. LOL.

slewisoh
08-10-2010, 08:53 PM
A liberal arts education would have been wonderful endeavor. I was supposed to study music in college. I love art, history, law, political science, government, biology, psychology, languages, and some literature...:)

However, at 18 I was completely on my own and felt it was necessary to choose a course of study that would ensure my financial independence going forward. So a degree in finance was obtained, followed several years later by a graduate degree in accounting and the CPA designation.

My plan is to joyfully pursue independent study of these neglected areas of interest that could not be covered in my business studies. This old dog can learn a lot of new tricks!

TheLoneWolf
08-10-2010, 09:04 PM
A liberal arts education would have been wonderful endeavor. I was supposed to study music in college. I love art, history, law, political science, government, biology, psychology, languages, and some literature...:)

However, at 18 I was completely on my own and felt it was necessary to choose a course of study that would ensure my financial independence going forward. So a degree in finance was obtained, followed several years later by a graduate degree in accounting and the CPA designation.

My plan is to joyfully pursue independent study of these neglected areas of interest that could not be covered in my business studies. This old dog can learn a lot of new tricks!
That is excellent, slewisoh! I am confident you will be successful in anything you try. Formal education's importance is overplayed. There is nothing to prevent you from doing whatever people do in college independently, even better. Books are your friends (along with your brain.) Teachers can be good, but are by no means necessary.

r2473
08-10-2010, 09:05 PM
a degree in finance was obtained, followed several years later by a graduate degree in accounting and the CPA designation.

My plan is to joyfully pursue independent study of these neglected areas of interest that could not be covered in my business studies. This old dog can learn a lot of new tricks!

We have had similar educations. I first completed a philosophy / econmics / german language undergraduate degree. My goal was to be a philosophy professor. When I learned that I was too stupid for that (it is very competitive) I went back and got masters degrees in both accounting and management information, and got my CPA as well.

I still read a lot of philosophy and literature. I was embarressed however by my lack of understanding of music, so I studied that independently for a number of years as well as learning to play the piano. I have a decent understanding of music but I am horrible at the piano.

My next area of study is going to be art. I don't think I will try painting however.

Good luck with your literature pursuits and congrats on trying to instill a love of reading into your family.

Rui
08-11-2010, 04:44 PM
If you're not reading because someone told you to, then it's all entertainment.

sureshs
08-13-2010, 12:08 PM
That is excellent, slewisoh! I am confident you will be successful in anything you try. Formal education's importance is overplayed. There is nothing to prevent you from doing whatever people do in college independently, even better. Books are your friends (along with your brain.) Teachers can be good, but are by no means necessary.

Very good points. My own journey in Science started long after a formal education in something else.

College years are stressful and basically you are a pawn, being moved from class to class, and trying to graduate. No time to sink your teeth deep into a subject. It is more of a balancing act and shrewdness is more useful than knowledge. What to study, how much to study, how to do well in exams, how to develop contacts, how to apply for jobs - these seem to be the main priorities.

Teachers are essentially knowledge middle-men, except the few who do original research. If you are capable of getting the knowledge from books, go for it. Of course, many books are written by teachers, so that is why the academic system is necessary. Many who say that they don't need teachers forget that the books they read were written by teachers with many years of experience, so they are essentially learning from teachers.