Three Items of Note

I don’t often post links to articles rather than writing my own essays, but over the last few weeks I haven’t had a chance to write up anything and I’ve ran into two articles I find interesting, so I think I’ll make an exception.

First,  a critique of To Kill a Mockingbird. Apparently the book’s 50th anniversary is July 11th. I’ve never liked the book, and this article does a decent, though incomplete, job of explaining why. I like what Flannery O’Connor has to say about TKAM: “It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they are reading a children’s book.”

Second, an explanation of the problems with veganism. This article is written, from what I can tell, from a liberal, atheist, perspective – the guy likes Peter Singer – but it still recognizes the inherent problem with believing it morally wrong to use animal products: “Behind their beliefs is the hopeless longing for innocence. Except that there is no innocence. However delicate our moral sensibilities, it still remains that to be alive is to be a murderer.” I don’t mind people being vegans, but I do find it rather silly for them to think I am acting immorally by not adopting their eating habits.

Finally, while on vacation I had a strange dream about the nature of speculative fiction and wrote a poem about it. It’s intended to be humorous, and I certainly don’t pretend it’s great poetry. Enjoy.

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    3 Responses to Three Items of Note

    1. Artswebshow says:

      I have to say that i think the ‘to kill a mockingbird critique’ was a bit harsh.
      I’m an English guy and yes i read it in school.
      But i’ve read hundreds of books in the past and it still ranks as one of my favourites.
      My defence is that it’s a story, not a history book.
      And in the telling of that story the author reached the hearts and minds of a lot of people.
      Now forgive me if i have got it a bit twisted but that’s how i measure the success or quality of a form of artwork.
      be it a painting, poem or novel.
      Not by how accurate it is or the literary capability of the writer

    2. I don’t dislike the book because of some lack of literary capability of the writer; leaving the author entirely out of it, I dislike it because I don’t think it’s a good book, at least, not nearly as good as we like to pretend it is.

      A few complaints with it:

      First, it’s just a simple Aesop — “an ungainsayable endorser of the obvious.” The book doesn’t give any real insight into human nature, it just teaches a few moral lessons that everyone over the age of fifteen ought to know already. This doesn’t make it a bad book, but it does make it a children’s book – a book for children meant to teach them to act morally, not a book for adults meant to deepen their understanding of the world.

      Second, it’s main character is what some call a “Mary Sue.” Atticus Finch spouts out these proclamations about tolerance and justice, which everyone agrees with because of course they’re right, and the author then manipulates the other characters to bring about a situation where he can prove his righteousness. His personal merit is never tested, because Atticus Finch is perfect. Authors doing that always bugs me. I realize Atticus isn’t the main character, but I don’t think that excuses it. Mary Sue mentors are as annoying as Mary Sue main characters, especially when they’re the ones who actually do things and the main character just sits and watches them half the time.

      Third, for a book that’s meant to deliver a very specific Aesop — one about racism in the early 20th century in Alabama, and how it’s bad — it doesn’t get its facts straight. Getting the facts straight wouldn’t matter if the book wasn’t primarily about the specific situation, but this one is.

      Finally, it’s amazingly popular. This is itself not a reason to dislike the book, but in conjunction with the other three, it is. I wouldn’t have any particular dislike for TKAM, compared to any other run-of-the-mill children’s book that teaches an Aesop about racism, but for the fact that everyone else loves it. It means our society is en masse making a grievous aesthetic mistake — they’re . Which perhaps shouldn’t surprise me, but…

    3. Artswebshow says:

      well prehaps the fact that it read mostly by teenagers at school means that it was meant for children and not not for adults as you actually stated.
      Do you think maybe the fact that you maybe look at this book from a adults perspective and get a different insight than the one the author meant.
      i just appreciate it for what it is a book about racism yes.
      But also a book about a society and how they deal with such issues.
      And the cost of doing the right thing

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