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V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

What books, zines or other pulp are you reading? What aren't you reading? What should everyone else read?

Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:44 am

TheBookPolice wrote: And maybe you're unfamiliar with hunting, but sport hunters kill for sport. Other hunters kill for skin, or pelts, or meat. Yes, deer and dogs are both animals .


Bow hunting is a sport. I really don't make a big differentiation between dogs and deer when it comes to cruelty.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:47 am

TheBookPolice wrote:Taste and preference are two different things.....Naipaul appears to have plenty of preferences, and a shortage of taste.


Heee heee heee. I get it. Liking female writers is good taste. Liking male writers is preference.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby kurt_w » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:52 am

Huckleby wrote:Why did you shift the conversation to a long diatribe about my character? That's usually what people do when they are losing an argument, and I didn't sense your position was so desperate.


You dismissed this all as "tribalism" not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but five times in the thread. I think that's a cop-out, and I said so.

If that seemed like an unjustified "diatribe about your character", read back over your 4:40 and 5:54 comments that preceded it. Maybe you didn't intend them that way, but they sure read as condescending and dismissive to me.

You're a warrior for open-mindedness, surrounded by closed-minded rampant tribalists who, like massimo, can't possibly understand what you're saying because they're stuck in black-and-white thinking. Okay, maybe Naipaul said some mean stuff, but you see his sort of tribalism everywhere -- he's really not so different from people at A Room of One's Own -- so you're gonna let him off.

Ugh. Again, maybe you didn't mean to convey that impression, but it sure looked to me like you were setting yourself on a pedestal above all of us close-minded tribalists.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:11 am

I think bias, prejudice, and tribalism are part of human nature.

I count myself as human. Although I certainly have many god-like qualities.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby massimo » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:25 am

Huckleby wrote:My assault is on black-and-white thinking. Sexism & racism exist everywhere in shades of grey. Massimo, I won't be able to make you understand what I am saying because you demand clear condemnation.


Shit, sorry, I was actually just going for the cheap pun. I could have perhaps been more clear.

"But i hope for people to try and be more broad minded."

Move along, nothing to see here...
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby kurt_w » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:26 am

Huckleby wrote:are you arguing that men and women write the same way?


That's not even a well-constructed question. People are individuals, and write their own way.

Taken en masse, it's possible that there are semi-consistent differences between the ways that many but not all men write and the ways that many but not all women write. If such differences exist, my guess is they're due to a tangled mix of biology, socialization, and individuals' lived experiences. There will also be many exceptions to any generalization you can come up with.

If women write with the same sensibility as men, then why have a women's bookstore, or women's literature studies?


Some people would say there's no need for either. I think this might be the gist of Ralph Wiley's reply to Saul Bellow, who had sneered "Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?" Wiley's response: "Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus." Likewise, Shakespeare is the Shakespeare of women, and Austen is the Austen of men. Tolstoy's works belong to all humanity, not just those who shared his skin color. As a human being, I claim Jane Austen as part of my cultural heritage, regardless of the difference in our gender.

Others would say that because women's voices have been historically devalued, there are many women authors whose works aren't as well known as they should be, and perhaps a bookstore or a college course focusing on those works will help bring them to the attention of people who might otherwise miss them.

I can see value in both of those views. I don't think either one is particularly relevant to the question of whether Naipaul's remarks are offensive or not. The existence of A Room of One's Own doesn't let Naipaul off the hook, giving him free license to be a misogynist!

On the other hand, If men and women are different, then why should we not expect some people to have a preference for one style or the other?


There's nothing wrong with having a preference for a certain voice or style of writing. Nobody's blaming him for that. Where he goes wrong is by lumping all women writers in together, dismissing them en masse, formulating absurd and nonsensical explanations to justify his dismissal, using adjectives like "feminine" as insults, ...
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:32 am

massimo wrote: "But i hope for people to try and be more broad minded." ..

I thought you might be making that pun, but then I said to myself, "nah, you wouldn't dare." Sorry for underestimating your courage.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:44 am

kurt_w wrote: I can see value in both of those views. I don't think either one is particularly relevant to the question of whether Naipaul's remarks are offensive or not. The existence of A Room of One's Own doesn't let Naipaul off the hook

No. But it does put his views in a context where we might be a little more forgiving.

The battle of the sexes rages on.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:52 am

Huckleby wrote:If women write with the same sensibility as men, then why have a women's bookstore, or women's literature studies?

Are these serious questions?
The former exist for the same reason Booked For Murder exists.
The latter exist for the same reason any other comp. lit. courses do.

I doubt you've ever wondered why we "need" a bookstore devoted to mystery writing or why we teach courses comparing the writings of several distinct cultures. Have you? If not, what's the difference?
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:04 pm

Huckleby wrote:
TheBookPolice wrote:Taste and preference are two different things.....Naipaul appears to have plenty of preferences, and a shortage of taste.

Heee heee heee. I get it. Liking female writers is good taste. Liking male writers is preference.

Surely, you're trying to be obtuse.

If you'll allow me to frame this in another context, one that I'm inclined to revert to... Let's say I can't stand eating garlic. Is it justifiable for me to say that there's no good garlic dishes out there?

On the other hand, let's say I love garlic--especially my garlic chicken. Is it justifiable for me to say that there's no garlic dish that could possibly be as good as my garlic chicken?

Naipaul appears to be saying that there's no great female writers, or at least none that could be better than him, solely out of a sense of preference. Having good taste would at least inspire him to stud his language with fewer absolutes.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:26 pm

BookCop, I don't see how anybody with a strong preference is eligible to have good taste in your semantic world.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Huckleby » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:33 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote: I doubt you've ever wondered why we "need" a bookstore devoted to mystery writing or why we teach courses comparing the writings of several distinct cultures.

I wasn't doubting the need or purpose of women's bookstores or courses, the point of the question was just to point out the obvious - women's literature is different. Read the question again.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby kurt_w » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:42 pm

Huckleby wrote:No. But it does put his views in a context where we might be a little more forgiving.


It does? How?

How does the existence of "A Room of One's Own" make Naipaul's statements less obnoxious?

Serious question.

I'm guessing your references to "A Room of One's Own" are symbolic, not literal. (Has Naipaul ever been to Madison? Does he even know that Room exists?) You're using it as a stand-in for feminism in general.

I'd draw the opposite conclusion from yours. I'd find Naipaul's statements slightly more forgivable if he'd made them in, say, 1811 instead of 2011, before the existence of "Room" and the rest of feminism. A male author could perhaps be excused for being ignorant and prejudiced about women's writing in that context. Fortunately, we've progressed a long ways in the past 200 years. So what's Naipaul's excuse?
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:45 pm

Huckleby wrote:...the point of the question was just to point out the obvious - women's literature is different.

Different from what? From mystery writing? From Greek epic poetry? From biostatistical analysis?

I guess you missed my point. While it's possible to separate out "women's literature" from literature in general, it's an arbitrary decision to do so. A bookstore might do it to appeal to a niche market, and a university course might do it as a specific means of approaching texts, but "women's literature" is just as home on a shelf next to Faulkner as it is in a course about 19th century poetry. The only "difference" is in who is choosing to place it into what context. The average reader is not generally adept at determining the gender of most authors.
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Re: V.S. Naipaul is an ignorant jerk

Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:52 pm

Huckleby wrote:I don't see how anybody with a strong preference is eligible to have good taste in your semantic world.

Of course you don't.
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