"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.
RARA-AVIS home page: http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/
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