Tuesday, November 06, 2001

I haven't been this annoyed with a book for quite some time. The last time I think I burned the book afterwards. Interestingly Thomas J. Roberts, author of An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction quotes Janice Radway's Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature:

The reaction of the Smithon women to books they are not enjoying are indicative of the intensity of their need to avoid offensive material and the feelings it typically evokes. Indeed, twenty-three (55 percent) reported that when they find themselves in the middle of a bad book, they put it down immediately and refuse to finish it. Some even make the symbolic gesture of discarding the book in the garbage, particularly if it has offended them seriously.(page 70)

Well, here's news for you both, Radway, Roberts: It's only the rigid training towards respect for the written word and the academic book (particularly with hard covers) through years of study which keeps me from discarding Junk Fiction. It starts out with an interesting argument, but it tries to address this argument through the worst case of "synsing" I have seen since the 70ties. OK, so I didn't attend a university until the eighties, but I did read the books!

"Synsing" is a very good Norwegian word which I can't really translate. It would approximately translate into thinking, feeling, meaning - but that's not correct. "Å synes" indicates a judgement, not just reporting a feeling or standing for what you mean. A meaning can normally be argued for rationally. A feeling is clearly undefendable but also safe from attack: a feeling is not supposed to be rational. Å synes is to mean something, but in an irrational way: It is a judgement, not just a subjective preferance, but it's not possible or neccessary to test it objectively.

This is what I feel Thomas Roberts does: he carries no proof to his statements, and he makes up private definitions (enjoy his definition of FUN at page 89: you thought you were having fun? Sorry, that can't have been it) of important and well-known concepts, without any other support for the definition than his own opinion. That is such an arrogant act...

At least he looks at me as a reader who can't be dismissed: since I enjoy both "junk fiction" and "canonical fiction". Well, since his reader-group consists of academics who take an interest in trash, he had better not dismiss the only people who actually pay for this... I won't call it trash, because trash denotes a quite honest genre of mass-consumer literature.... well, I think I'll stop there. Words fail me in this language, I have only been taught the polite ones.

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