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On Reading

YYW
Posts: 36,391
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9/1/2013 12:01:52 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
There is something remarkable about literature, in that once you read a book, if you genuinely allow yourself to interact with it, it changes your life. There are some texts that I have read, albeit I am more well read from the western cannon than any else, that to walk away from is impossible. If a book has not changed you for having read it, then as a reader you have not lived up to your end of the bargain.

But, that is the tragedy of modern education. Literature is broken down, dissected into intellectually compartmentalized parts as if a story were a frog to be cut open by the penetrating blade of a reader's scalpel. In the moment that a book is regarded in that way, the value of reading fiction, indeed the very purpose of literature itself is lost not because the exercise of critical analysis itself kills literature -but because when only a student assigned to read a novel reads the novel with the sole purpose of answering questions about it, that which is most fundamental about literature is lost.

Being able to pick out literary devices, pick up on linguistic style, summarize plots and interpret meaning is all valuable -but they are not the ends of reading. The purpose of reading is to be changed; it is to be opened to a world beyond our own and to experience from those typed words something more. It is the opportunity to peer into the past, to see into the future, and to view the present through eyes not our own.

I fear that that experience is the opportunity cost of modern literary education; that the most quintessentially human aspect of a story is lost in the exercise of understanding it; and if either are the case, I can say only that the loss is nothing less than one of the greatest academic tragedies of our time. I hope I am wrong. I hope that the accounts of those who are taught english are not representative of the whole, but I can only hope...

That is all.
Tsar of DDO
Fractals
Posts: 38
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9/1/2013 2:19:40 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Or, alternatively, Lit studies are designed to enable the student to fully comprehend the joy and beauty that comes from fully understanding the structural layers of a novel. *shrug* It probably depends on the capabilities of the teacher.

It is not by default a ruining experience.
DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
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9/1/2013 12:38:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I disagree about the whole "dissection," thing. I mean, I love holistically looking at literature as well, but I think actually looking at literature in its basest form - word by word - is also something very magical and beneficial too. We are able to see and appreciate exactly HOW a literary artist was able to achieve the effects s/he achieved. We are able to closely analyze and understand the power that very specific, but seemingly mall, choices make in determining an overall outcome. There's an appreciation in closely analyzing literature that the smallest aspects of something can lead to a whole that is GREATLY affected by those small aspects, while also remaining much greater than the sum of its parts.

I'd agree in the sense that how something is taught is highly important. But I think writing off close analysis is fairly hasty, and frankly not correct.
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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9/1/2013 1:04:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
That's excessively romanticized. Not everyone likes literature. Also, appreciation of art is subjective, and a function of personality. No sort of teaching or knowledge exists that will make me enjoy fiction as you do.

I'd say I have a scientific mind with which I reason "facts or go home".
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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9/1/2013 1:09:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/1/2013 1:04:55 PM, 000ike wrote:
That's excessively romanticized. Not everyone likes literature. Also, appreciation of art is subjective, and a function of personality. No sort of teaching or knowledge exists that will make me enjoy fiction as you do.

True. You don't enjoy fiction because you have no soul.

I'd say I have a scientific mind with which I reason "facts or go home".

Lol
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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9/1/2013 2:15:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I have similar sentiments. I read a lot when I was younger. It wasn't until we started doint analysis on a high school level that it was, in essence, ruined for me. I still read, but now I find it much more difficult to pick up the book in the first place. Though I certainly see the value of critical reading, I feel as though more understanding would come simply by igniting the love of reading and helping the students to just read more and more on their own, rather than forcing literary dissection on them.
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