Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 29 Aug 2006

I honestly don't think writers (particularly those writing from character-specific points of view) do a lot of instructing, intentionally or otherwise. More likely, readers do a lot of interpreting. The reader may interpret a moral message from a story, but it certainly doesn't mean that the author intended it. That's even assuming that the author's in agreement with his point-of-view character's worldview, which is often not the case.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Kerry J. Schooley
  Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 5:59 PM
  Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

  At 05:16 PM 29/08/2006 +0100, you wrote:

>A 'lesson', you say, Kerry? I'm sure there are many novelists who would be
>mortified to hear that they're giving lessons in morality. I certainly am.
>I hate didacticism. Apart from which, I'm unqualified as a moralist, being
>as how I'm a sick bastard. Doesn't stop me telling stories, though.
>Probably helps a little.

  Sorry Al, you can't get around it. Your work reflects values from your
  culture, either reinforcing them or challenging them as a consequence. You
  might not have intended to instruct me that nice guys don't hit their
  friends with a baseball bat, but you did. Mind you, that pretty much
  confirmed suspicions I already held, but then I tend to empathize with
  innocent victims even though I don't believe such a creature exists in
  "real" life.

  Of course, I could be wrong about this. Maybe being nice doesn't matter,
  and folk can get ahead by threatening their friends with a baseball bat and
  that's all that counts, but I don't think your "Kiss Her Goodbye" supported
  that idea. Of course, I could be wrong about that too.

  I don't mean to suggest that writers intend to instruct. Only that any
  literature (and I use the word broadly- anything that has been published in
  one form or another) inherently reflects values from its culture,
  positively or negatively. If the baseball bat had no purpose of effect in
  Kiss Her Goodbye, you wouldn't have used it, because then the book would
  have been as entertaining as it was. Kevin might have argued that it is
  unreal to have people threaten their associates without some weapon at
  hand. Or otherwise.

  A shameless attempt at self-promotion, even by a sick bastard, affirms the
  value of shameless self-promotion, by it's mere existence. I could debate
  that further, of course, but it would simply be more of the same. You're
  right about didacticism though. The tone's off-putting (he said didactically.)

  one sick bastard to another,

>----- Original Message -----
>From: Kerry J. Schooley
>To: <>
>Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 4:25 PM
>Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison
>At 07:52 PM 28/08/2006 -0400, you wrote:
> >And, of course, there's entertainment. It's awfully puritanical to
> >claim literature must give a moral lesson.
>I don't think the question is whether literature should give a moral lesson
>so much as that it does and unavoidably so.
>Literature is produced within a culture and one way or another it addresses
>the values of that culture, often by assumption, as it must to be taken as
>"real" or "meaningful" or even "entertaining" by its consumers.
>Culture defines reality or truth for its members. Morals are the guidelines
>for dealing with those realities. These truths and morals vary from culture
>to culture, and in large, complex cultures, there is room for variation
>within as well. Specific morals may prove to be wrong and the culture carry
>on, but in the long run, any culture without sufficient values and morals
>to support its survival will disappear, along with its literature.
>Individuals that leave their culture, never to return, are dead to that
>culture. If they do return and write about their experiences, they've
>returned to the debate about cultural values.
>Among the prime values of western civilization are those that support
>communication. The culture of communications has grown so large and complex
>it supports increasing numbers of competing truths, values, morals. By
>understanding that its content is composed of these "competing truths" or,
>if you prefer, lies, fiction becomes the only truthful literary form.
>my two cents and welcome to it,
>Literary events Calendar (South Ont.)
>The evil men do lives after them
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

  Literary events Calendar (South Ont.)
  The evil men do lives after them

  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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