Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

Date: 29 Aug 2006

Al wrote:

"I honestly don't think writers (particularly those writing from character-specific points of view) do a lot of instructing, intentionally or otherwise."

It's impossible not to. In presenting a world as "real," you are presenting culturally constructed values as natural. For instance, in showing the interactions of characters of different gender, race, sexuality, class, etc, a writer addresses the "nature" of those groups and the relationships between them. But those relationships can vary widely, comparing them across time and/or culture, it's easy to see that much (but not all, biology also plays role) of what is thought of as natural is actually socially constructed. Whether a writer means to or not, a culture's ideology is being presented. An appearance of being ideologically free actually just means that the values presented are so taken for granted that they are not noticed. I think of it as "coloring inside the lines," often without even realizing the lines are there.

"More likely, readers do a lot of interpreting."

Both the writer and the reader are willing participants in this. If the fictional world holds no relation to a culture's socially constructed values, the reader will not recognize it, and will probably reject it as not being the "real" world. Like the writer, the reader is so integrated into a society's values that they are taken for granted, only noticed when they are not "normal." A culture's mainstream ideology is the red lines in a painting viewed through red lenses; it is no longer visible, but it's still there.

All art contains ideology, but that doesn't mean the ideology must be the point of art. Didacticism, which also bores me, happens when all other aspects of art -- plot, character, entertainment, etc -- are manipulated in order to call attention to, usually to sell, a specific ideology.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Aug 2006 EDT