Author Topic: Pseudopod 197: Set Down This  (Read 39076 times)

Bdoomed

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Reply #75 on: July 07, 2010, 09:53:44 PM
I would appreciate it if you left your pretentious quotes at home.

Hey there, if you are talking about the quote at the end of his post, he always (or almost always, I don't know) puts quotes at the end of his posts.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Millenium_King

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Reply #76 on: July 07, 2010, 10:04:24 PM
Given the massive amount of violence and suffering in the world, any "horror" topic pales in comparison. It's an asinine argument, in my opinion  (find one of those Africans and see if they care a whit about Lovecraft's cosmic horror).  Given the widespread existence of systemized rape and genital mutilation in the Third World, would a story about the rape of a middle-classed, teenage American girl seem "whiny"?  Howabout a story with someone discovering the growing popularity of videos of these rapes and mutilations that occur in the Third World, amongst American youngsters?  "Whiny"?

This. Yes.

I grew up with parents who are controlling to the point of abuse, but they never hit me or raped me. Does that mean that it would be "whiny" for me to write a story about dealing with controlling parents? Would it be "whiny" for me to seek therapy and write about my experiences? I was fed, clothed, and loved. Nobody hurt, raped, or mangled me. There are children in third world countries being sold into sex slavery - how dare you feel bad about your mother throwing out your fantasy novels and RPG character sheets to the point that you had to carry them with you everywhere you went! What's wrong with you?

Pain is relative. That's the point of art - it allows us to understand someone's experience out of context with the rest of the world and experience the world through unfamiliar eyes. It's silencing to say "I judge your pain as 'whiny' because someone else's pain is worse."

I guess I'm just not effectively conveying what I mean to say:

The author of this story does not effectively characterize the protagonist. Therefore, the existential angst comes across as whiny, rather than poignant.

I did not see the "relative" nature of the protagonist's pain in this piece.  That is precisely why I felt it failed as art.

You are free to disagree, but I just hope I am making my point clear.

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Millenium_King

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Reply #77 on: July 07, 2010, 10:05:24 PM
I would appreciate it if you left your pretentious quotes at home.

Hey there, if you are talking about the quote at the end of his post, he always (or almost always, I don't know) puts quotes at the end of his posts.

Yeah, I know.  But the one he used seemed a little spot-on.  I'm just saying.

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Sgarre1

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Reply #78 on: July 08, 2010, 01:43:51 AM
Quote
I think you missed my point: the story is "whiny" because it focusses on the topic, not the character.  I believe I pointed that out earlier.  Had it made me feel the character struggling with his existential angst, I would have been impressed.  But instead, it just reads like a lecture that attempts to inflate, what some might consider, an unimpressive societal problem into a world-spanning horror.  Ie. "whiny."

Well, your actual statement was:

Quote
On the other hand, if the story had created a realistic character and gotten me (the reader) immersed in his existential angst and struggle with the impersonal nature of modern warfare (Jarhead, comes to mind) then I would have actually enjoyed the story.

Which I ignored because, despite your pushing the point yet again, I don't believe "modern warfare" (like Jarhead) is the point, it's the videos showing violence (they just happen to be war videos) and the fact that they were collected.  In your suggestion, you were asking for another story, then unhappy you didn't get it.

But, sure, got it.  No more fruitful discussion there, then.

Quote
As politely as I can manage: if you believe I am being narrow-minded, please feel free to state it outright.  I would appreciate it if you left your pretentious quotes at home.

If I take your lead and call this story "experimental" in style, then you would do well to remember that experiments sometimes fail.  I believe this one has.  I might also, very politely, ask you not to make sweeping generalizations about people you know very little about.  I have enjoyed experimental stories in the past, just not this one.

I don't believe you are being narrow-minded.   I would have said so if I thought so.  The quote (which isn't in itself pretentious, although I may certainly be pretentious in using it, that's subjective, although I'd wear it as a badge of honor at this point in my life) was included because it lays out a clear pattern by which the effort to reach the highest of goals (critical judgement of creative work) can go astray through the best of intentions, and I felt it summed up nicely the danger in holding up experimental texts to standards they aren't attempting to emulate.  And that related to the discussion.  I apologize if you took it personally, but it was meant as a summation (which was why it was spot on).

As for "sweeping generalizations", I did say "if that serves".  If it doesn't, you're free to ignore it.  But if you feel that that doesn't mitigate it being a sweeping generalization, again, I apologize for insulting you.

May I also ask you, in turn, to not make sweeping generalizations/reductions in your interpretation of the SUPPOSED intent of stories (whether "Set Down This" as "war is bad", "Wave Goodbye" as "white liberals should feel guilty for not helping the Third World enough" or "The Undoing" as "Torture is bad") in the future?  You're more than welcome to your opinion, and we want to hear those opinions (you're obviously a thoughtful individual), but none of these stories would have passed muster if they'd been that simplistic and it's an insult to both the writer and the editors to suggest so. Maybe none of these stories succeeded in getting it's point across to you and, if so, that's a failure on the writer's part - this isn't meant as a statement that your opinion is wrong - but, instead, suggesting that the story was intending only to convey a puerile message (and especially in the case of "Wave Goodbye", when other readers can point out in-story elements that seriously undermine that reductive assumption, all it takes is giving the writer a little credit and not reading in "reactionary" mode) at which it failed or succeeded, isn't very productive or, as I said, respectful to the author.  "Set Down This" was cast with the expectation that it would not be for everybody.  But one can dislike a story without resorting to rhetorical, reductionist strawmen to be easily knocked over.  Classic stories as varied as "Duel", ""The Small Assassin" and "The Shunned House" may be critiqued for various elements, but "Truck drivers are mean", "Babies are evil" and "A Giant Elbow is scary" (respectively) aren't honest summations of those stories.

Thanks for listening

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« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 01:52:53 AM by Sgarre1 »



Scattercat

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Reply #79 on: July 08, 2010, 03:53:28 AM
Dude.  Giant elbow means giant piledriver.  Talk about The People's Elbow!  I'm scared already...



Millenium_King

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Reply #80 on: July 08, 2010, 06:15:56 PM
May I also ask you, in turn, to not make sweeping generalizations/reductions in your interpretation of the SUPPOSED intent of stories (whether "Set Down This" as "war is bad", "Wave Goodbye" as "white liberals should feel guilty for not helping the Third World enough" or "The Undoing" as "Torture is bad") in the future?  You're more than welcome to your opinion, and we want to hear those opinions (you're obviously a thoughtful individual), but none of these stories would have passed muster if they'd been that simplistic and it's an insult to both the writer and the editors to suggest so.

Politely: not a chance.  If I feel a story is "simplistic" or "peurile" enough to be reduced to a single sentence, then that is my critique of the story.  As for "SUPPOSED intent" - all I can give is what I suppose the intent was.  There is no "objective" intent (we can argue literary crit schools later) - hence, I can only give my subjective interpretation of what I saw as the intent.

I don't subscribe to the school of thought that giving a bad review instantly means I think the author and editors are colossal idiots.  They obviously felt the story succeeded, but I did not.  I don't mean to go on a rant here, but this is a topic which absolutely drives me nuts: if you like chocolate icecream and I say I hate it, that is not an insult to you.

Maybe none of these stories succeeded in getting it's point across to you and, if so, that's a failure on the writer's part - this isn't meant as a statement that your opinion is wrong - but, instead, suggesting that the story was intending only to convey a puerile message...

I'm sorry, but again (and I'll qualify this for the 1000th time) in my opinion all those stories conveyed was a "peurile" or "simplistic" message.

(and especially in the case of "Wave Goodbye", when other readers can point out in-story elements that seriously undermine that reductive assumption...

I did not agree with their assessment.  I likewise did not agree that the "in-story elements" they pointed out "seriously undermined [my] reductive assumption."  For example: some people felt the dead white woman was not a cardboard cutout; I did not.  Some people felt the little girl added tension; I never considered her a serious obstacle.

...all it takes is giving the writer a little credit and not reading in "reactionary" mode) at which it failed or succeeded, isn't very productive or, as I said, respectful to the author.

The point I think you're missing is that, while it's totally possible for a writer to attempt a story which transcends an otherwise simplistic message - it's also possible for a story to fail at transcending that message.  Am I not justified in saying "this story failed to transcend its message?" Is that an invalid critique?  You seem to be implying it is.  You furthermore seem to be implying that such a critique amounts to calling the author a moron.

"Set Down This" was cast with the expectation that it would not be for everybody.  But one can dislike a story without resorting to rhetorical, reductionist strawmen to be easily knocked over.  Classic stories as varied as "Duel", ""The Small Assassin" and "The Shunned House" may be critiqued for various elements, but "Truck drivers are mean", "Babies are evil" and "A Giant Elbow is scary" (respectively) aren't honest summations of those stories.

Going back to what I said above: those three stories effectively transcend their otherwise simple themes.  "Set Down This" et al, do not (in my opinion).

Again: you may feel this story transcendantly dealt with huge themes, but I did not.

EDIT:

I just wanted to add that I apologize if I am coming across as a jerk.  It is possible I am misinterpreting your point, but this is one of those subjects that drive me crazy.  If I do not like a story, then I simply say so.  In the past, others have also insinuated that this is tantamount to insulting the author and editor personally - that is absolutely not what I mean and it bugs me when people imply such (again, apologies if I am misinterpreting you).

I frequently find myself unable to enjoy a story within the constraints it has set up.  To me, a story fails or succeeds.  Period.  I don't give it much leeway based on style. Ie. "This is an 'experimental' story, so I'll judge it from a different perspective."  You seem to have an ability to appreciate a broader variety of literary styles - which is not a talent I share.  As the famous saying goes: "I don't know art, but I know what I like."  I certainly appreciate your viewpoint and have been pleased in the past with the spirited defense you have put up in the past regarding certain stories which may not have been suitable for everyone's palette.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 07:23:13 PM by Millenium_King »

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gelee

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Reply #81 on: July 08, 2010, 08:35:55 PM
If I might make a suggestion, maybe you could just tone down some of the negatives a smidge.  A lot of your story feedback comes across as either blithely dismissive of other peoples opinions or very strongly reactive.  Specifically, I've noticed several instances where you use the phrases "I don't care," or "I hate X."  That kind of language is off-putting at best, and discourages real discussion of the story.  Instead, we end up talking about how you said something, rather than what you said, or why you said it.
If you're sincere in not wanting to come off as a jerk, that might be a good place to start.  I'm just about ready to write you off as a Troll, but every now and then you'll point out something really interesting or insightfull and I start reading your posts again.  You're obviously a bright person, and I'm interested in hearing what you think about these stories, but I'm having a hard time hearing past the passion of your negativity.
Sure, writers miss the mark.  Sometimes stories don't work for part of the audience, and that's a totally valid thing to talk about.  This particular story didn't work for me, either, but there are better ways to say that than "I hate this story," or "If that was the intended point and I missed it, I don't care."  Hostility, real or percieved, doesn't advance the discussion at all.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 08:39:07 PM by gelee »



Millenium_King

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Reply #82 on: July 08, 2010, 08:59:04 PM
I appreciate your feedback, thanks.

However, I am beginning to feel that I am de-railing this thread.  Unless someone has any specific questions for me regarding this story, I think I'm going to politely "close the book" on my review of it and ask that anything else be sent PM to me.

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Fenrix

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Reply #83 on: December 29, 2010, 07:47:18 PM
Yes, the story is political. It's talking about a big issue - a war - so that's political. What the story isn't is partisan. The story does not, itself, espouse a political opinion.

This is a significant part of why I enjoyed the story, unlike the terrible "Dubya is a werewolf" story. I thought it did a good job of being political but not partisan screed. I think the author was thought provoking while not being ham handed.

Hell, I forgot to credit the closing music.  Fixed now.

Good pick. It fit well.

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Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #84 on: January 21, 2011, 10:07:13 PM
I think the narrator is sort of snapping towards the end, and the implication is that that might be the correct response to witnessing these sorts of things. The horror of the story lies in why we don't.

I would consider this horror, although I could see why some people don't.  I will add (a bit late) my voice to the chorus of people who are extremely glad Pseudopod is willing to take risks like this. 

As to how much I liked it, I'd say I'm in some kind of weird zone of liking this about as much as I possibly can while still not liking it enough to recommend to anyone else.  It's right at that limit of "glad I read it" and "want to make my friends read it".  I don't quite like this enough to pass it around to the people I regularly email podcasts to, but I don't "want an hour of my life back" or anything.  (I listened to the podcast 3 times for this one.)  Could have used a little more to the story, but I did actually enjoy it.

I would also like to say that I REALLY like the music at the end, I like the standard music too, but this just seemed so appropriate for this episode.  All chaotic and high tech.  Very much like the story and/or our world today.

This may be my own personal biases, but did anyone else get the impression that his brother may have been dead, and going through his computer and musing on the files was part of figuring out who he really was, as a man?  I'm reading a lot into the "negative space" story here, but why weren't there any interruptions, even with sleeping and getting up in the middle of the night to be haunted by dead imaginary people.  Most brothers want to use their computers to watch youtube (or play diablo or whatever) by themselves at some point.  You'd think he would have got kicked off or interacted with him during the course of several days...
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 10:13:23 PM by Umbrageofsnow »