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The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 10:37AM
Maybe I have shared this quotation before. It is so good that I want to make sure it appears here.


---“Perhaps the ideal reader is an adolescent: restless, vulnerable, passionate, hungry to learn, skeptical and naïve by turns, believing in the power of the imagination to change, if not life itself, one’s comprehension of life. The degree to which we remain adolescents is the degree to which we remain ideal readers, for whom the act of opening a book can be a sacred one, fraught with psychic risk.” Joyce Carol Oates, “The One Unforgivable Sin,” New York Times Book Review 25 July 1993, p. 3.----

Re: The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 11:43AM
Taking it at first impression, parts of it certainly *seem* to be on-point. And yet it seems like it sorta "leans" or inclines in the wrong direction. It seems to be leaning toward that tired and cliché-ed "sense of wonder" as a cosmically positive motivation.

For myself, for what's it's worth, I'm deeply skeptical, and lots of times I find a non-fiction piece--and essay or other opinion piece--simply to be food for my skepticism. I want to look all around it, see what it is, what it is made of...

[in staged Scottish accent...]

"Oh, aye, an' where's the catch?"

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 12:19PM
I think human beings are wired to tell each stories as a way of understanding themselves and the world around them better. You tend to read more when you're younger because you're as curious as you're ignorant. There's a willingness to believe in an author's infallibility because you just don't know any better. By early middle-age people tend to have formed their own opinions about life (for good or ill) and books, while being enjoyable in and of themselves, cease to exert the same influence.
Just my two cents' worth.

Re: The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 12:28PM
Oates's observation rang true when I thought of my own life. One thing for which I am indebted to authors was the enhanced receptivity to the natural world and to "old" things worked by people.

1.My best friend, an Asimov fan, felt our coastal Oregon town to be a "backwater." For me, immersed in Tolkien from age 11, with his wonderful imaginative presentation of forest, fern, woods paths, mist, it became a place with places to love.

2.Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories helped me to enjoy fog, I have little doubt.

3.A little later, Lovecraft's writing gave me, or enhanced in me, a liking for "old" buildings, etc. Living in Oregon, actually "old" houses etc. are nonexistent, but a brick building in historic Jacksonville may be relatively old. Lovecraft helped me to pay attention to such things, for which I am grateful. I actually think this sort of thing was a major draw for me in his work. The suggestions of horrible things -- dismemberment and so on -- I think never really appealed to me much.

Arthur Machen's brooding hills, woods with shadowed streams -- goodness, didn't that all appeal to me. There were such places near where I lived.

So I am thankful for such things encountered and assimilated into my youthful imagination. Incidentally they were good preparation for later when I began to read Wordsworth, the Brontes, etc.

Re: The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 01:13PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oates's observation rang true when I thought of my
> own life. One thing for which I am indebted to
> authors was the enhanced receptivity to the
> natural world and to "old" things worked by
> people.
>
> 1.My best friend, an Asimov fan, felt our coastal
> Oregon town to be a "backwater." For me, immersed
> in Tolkien from age 11, with his wonderful
> imaginative presentation of forest, fern, woods
> paths, mist, it became a place with places to
> love.
>
> 2.Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories helped me to
> enjoy fog, I have little doubt.
>
> 3.A little later, Lovecraft's writing gave me, or
> enhanced in me, a liking for "old" buildings, etc.
> Living in Oregon, actually "old" houses etc. are
> nonexistent, but a brick building in historic
> Jacksonville may be relatively old. Lovecraft
> helped me to pay attention to such things, for
> which I am grateful. I actually think this sort
> of thing was a major draw for me in his work. The
> suggestions of horrible things -- dismemberment
> and so on -- I think never really appealed to me
> much.

No, same here.

It is as if I expect it to be part of the type of story I'm reading, and so it's either tolerable, or in rare cases, essential to establish a heightened level of verisimilitude, but I'm not reading these stories for the truly grotesque--that's the "sauce"--the meat is elsewhere.
>
> Arthur Machen's brooding hills, woods with
> shadowed streams -- goodness, didn't that all
> appeal to me. There were such places near where I
> lived.
>
> So I am thankful for such things encountered and
> assimilated into my youthful imagination.
> Incidentally they were good preparation for later
> when I began to read Wordsworth, the Brontes, etc.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: The Ideal Reader an Adolescent
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2020 09:14PM
I think what HPL often was trying to do was to catch an elusive sense of mystery, adventurous expectancy -- OK, fine, but if you're writing a story something, it seems, has to happen, and so he'd fall back on sometimes lame or overly familiar tropes of pulp horror. And I suppose he really did like to read stories with such climactic material. Yet it I wonder if there was also that in him that wasn't really all that enthralled by horror as such -- and if he had had self-knowledge enough plus no need to write for money perhaps he would have realized that and found other ways to write things with romantic qualities but would have come to think that Poe was not the greatest of the Romantics, etc. One can only speculate. Being a horror story writer was a key element in his public self & his sense of what he was doing with his talent, but I'd like to think he might have got beyond that given time & circumstance. Perhaps I'm just trying to construct a "Lovecraft" such as I'd have found more appealing than that of the guy who kept writing variations on the same scenario.



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