Re: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison

From: david david (
Date: 30 Aug 2006

as the (at least) fourth and newest vegetarian on the list, i think this is a good time to chime in. first, maybe it's soymilk on that grocery list-- now there's a moral but definitely not entertaining choice (if by entertaining one means tasty). the handcuffs would help if one wants to get the kids to drink it.

does fiction entertain or teach? one way to approach this is to ask a different question: under what conditions does it become possible for the terms
"entertain" or "instruct" to enter discourse? every instance of relationship between writer and reader is so context bound, so saturated in complexity, possibility, and power relations, that defining what we even mean by "entertaining" may be just as useful
(or useless) as trying to figure out what we mean by
"moral." in other words, entertainment is another name for the sanctioned fetishization of codes and commodities backed up by the threat of force: the right to tell stories, to distribute them, to consume them, the very existence of what we call fiction is the political fabrication of the individual, of property, the reinvention of the state. if by moral, we mean contributing to the social construction of sanctioned behaviors, then storytelling is, of course, always already moral by virtue of the nature of its social production. and this, friends, is how i was trained to write in grad school. sounds seductive doesn't it? fuck it. i'm with Al. i want a book full of sex and danger, rain-soaked streets, whiskey, ambiguity, and a big fat question mark hovering over everything like the eye of a dead god. (sings) that's entertaaaainment!!

--- Allan Guthrie <> wrote:

> I know of at least three vegetarians on the list.
> Don't know about any ecologists, rabbis, etc.
> No sure about this 'implicit quest for good against
> evil'. The best noir reveals complexity of character
> rather than polarising good and evil.
> Entertainment may not be the final goal, but it has
> to be the primary goal. If the reader isn't
> entertained sufficiently by the story, they're not
> going to turn the pages so any loftier ambition
> won't be realised.
> Al
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: E. Borgers
> To:
> Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 12:21 PM
> Subject: RE : Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Name Your Poison
> Ask the ecologists, the vegetarians for your list
> !
> Even rabbis, mahometans, hindus, if you have
> enough time...
> Nothing coming from humans is innocent.
> Reality is a myth as we all know, and IMO good
> fiction uses a part of it to reach something of a
> higher order. Maybe "natural" moral, not a
> systematized one as organizations, states, religions
> try to impose.
> The best fiction carries something of the same
> essence as poetry: more than the written word,
> speaking to the "feelings", in noir and others of
> exceptional quality IMO it touches the same inner
> area in the person as metaphysics do.
> On the other hand, very few things are universal,
> the same for all humans. The list is short: life and
> death, fear, love, basic psychology and instincts...
> Good and bad is also a constant, but outside its
> "natural" essence, application is always a
> manipulation by society.
> So speaking of morality in fiction is a double
> level of speculations, entering the territory of
> highly speculative ideas. In noir lit. the implicit
> quest for good against evil is something constant,
> its existential essence, what is found behind the
> transgressions or the apparent follow up of a
> "clasic" moral code (product of a society).
> And I'm not convince at all that "entertainment"
> is the final goal of lit.
> My views on this "moral" issue.
> E.Borgers
> Allan Guthrie
> I can see how you can derive a moral theme from a
> shopping list (bread, milk, handcuffs, tape, spade),
> if you're so inclined, but that's -- as I said
> before -- the reader's interpretation. It's very far
> from giving a moral lesson. A lesson requires intent
> on the part of the author to instruct the reader.
> Long live ambiguity,
> ---------------------------------
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