Re: "I found myself wishing that Whitehead had written about a man"

1

Also, "smallened"? WTF?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
2

It's so awful being a straight male novelist; the culture just won't stop smalling me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
3

(I am assuming that Franzen wasn't alluding, in that remark, to Whitehead's being black? Which would also be grody anyway?)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
4

That is the ouroboros of terrible 20th century anxietydude fiction.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:22 PM
horizontal rule
5

Maybe Franzen had gotten confused and read I Am Charlotte Simmons by mistake?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
6

Fucking Franzen. I hate him so. The Intuitionist is great, and of all female protagonists, to accuse this protagonist of being her author's fantasy sex object is really something. And of course it is especially rich coming from Franzen, author of many terribly rendered women, all of whom will probably someday have to be portrayed by poor benighted Annette Benning, who is forever in my mind associated with portraying misogynist caricatures of women. (Sorry, Annette Benning!) In conclusion, ugghhghgh fuck him.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:24 PM
horizontal rule
7

It's so … something … that he notes this discomfiture in a review of a different book.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:25 PM
horizontal rule
8

poor benighted Annette Benning, who is forever in my mind associated with portraying misogynist caricatures of women. (Sorry, Annette Benning!)

And, worse, cursed to have her name misspelled. Sorry, Annette Bening!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
9

A Net Ben Nnngh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:27 PM
horizontal rule
10

Wow. I retroactively feel better about having been left cold by The Corrections. (I can never remember what it's called -- I loved Roddy Doyle's The Committments, and there was a band from my high school called The Connotations, and together they block the Franzen title.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:29 PM
horizontal rule
11

The last sentence of 6 says everything that needs to be said, but I do have to give Franzen credit for adapting the "I only have threesomes with two women because I am a feminist" to the cause of why he doesn't need to make women protagonists.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:34 PM
horizontal rule
12

Not just that he himself doesn't need to make women protagonists, but that it's actively unseemly for any other man to write about women. He is some piece of work. (Well, he was in 2001. I suppose he might have gotten better.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:40 PM
horizontal rule
13

So . . . is it only female protagonists written by men that give Franzen the squicks? What about female supporting characters? Or love interests of the male protagonist? How are they not "doing double duty as the novelist's fantasy sex object"?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
14

1: it's a perfectly cromulent word


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:56 PM
horizontal rule
15

I have a copy of Dale Peck's Hatchet Jobs, which I feel vaguely guilty for owning (I bought it for the infamous "Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation" review).

John Henry Days is one of the victims in that book, but it's too bad Peck never reviewed Franzen (or maybe he has an I missed it). It seems like Franzen is the ideal subject for Peck's particular talents as a reviewer.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
16

Ugh, Franzen. How is he even allowed to write in public.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 1:57 PM
horizontal rule
17

It won't surprise anyone that I've never managed to read anything by franzen!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 2:03 PM
horizontal rule
18

And now I doubt I ever will.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
19

5: I loved it when Fafblog referred to that book as I Am Easily Amazed


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 2:07 PM
horizontal rule
20

Franzen is both of poor character and not very smart. Naturally, he is a rich and famous author.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 2:12 PM
horizontal rule
21

Is there some kind of secret code here about Claire Huxtable?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 2:26 PM
horizontal rule
22

I find it kind of crushing that Franzen's reputation as a first-class sexist gives him more publicity than he would otherwise get, even with the attention-seeking rants about Twitter, etc. This seems like the opposite of what ought to happen in a just world. (Which is not by any means to suggest that I'm surprised. I know how the world works and shit. It's still an unfortunate mixture of critical acclaim and social opprobrium.)

||
If I want to cap off and send this dissertation chapter, should I stop listening to all this prog and start listening to something more... efficient?
|>


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
23

Maybe this rather than the analingus post is the one where it might be worth noting that Elizabeth Wurtzel is writing about herself again and seems to think she's now all healthy and together.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
24

I'm going to google this and find that she's marrying Tom Green or Gary Busey or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 5:50 PM
horizontal rule
25

I stand by my love for The Corrections, a love that has earned me brickbats in these parts before, but Franzen's public statements put him somewhere in the neighborhood of Ezra Pound's wartime broadcasts for Fascist Italy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
26

I liked the bird movie.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 9:55 PM
horizontal rule
27

Oddly enough, Franzen's first wife Valerie Cornell was the granddaughter of Pound's lawyer in that treason case.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
28

QED


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 9:59 PM
horizontal rule
29

I wish you hadn't used that word, Thorn. Now I have a perverted Garcia earworm -- "Your rain falls like analingus". This is not helping my attempts to write about why creationism seems a uniquely immoral form of ignorance.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 09-23-14 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
30

Getting pissed of about what an writer you don't like said in a book review of a book no one remembers 13 years ago is the Internetiest thing ever. That Tolstoy joke in the link is funny though.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 6:12 AM
horizontal rule
31

25: You can comfort yourself by thinking how it's not nearly as offensive as some of the anti-semitic stuff Dostoyevsky wrote in his self-published diary.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
32

22: aphex twin


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:16 AM
horizontal rule
33

32. Mix it up with a shuffle among Nina Nastasia, Tania Tagaq, and Amede Ardoin


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
34

Oh and Franzen's 27th City, which I think is actually pretty good, has a female protagonist for a bunch of chapters. Franzen seems to be an idiot in this review and in interviews, definitely.

But for instance, the bit with earning a living by writing fake copy for financiers trying to find suckers to invest in Baltic companies was pretty good, among other pieces. This seems to come up pretty often here, where a book gets dismissed because the author is personally objectionable.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
35

I should mention in the interest of completeness that I stopped reading The Corrections because it irritated me ages before I learned that Franzen was a doofus extra-authorially.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
36

34: Oh, right. The mayor? Who is of South Asian descent? I remember liking that book too -- I don't remember it that well, except that it was enormously weird.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
37

"Personally objectionable" doesn't really apply when criticizing a writer for things he writes, like book reviews.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
38

36. Police chief, I think, possibly also a hottie. Possibly JF has a problem with drink or drugs?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
39

I should mention in the interest of completeness that I stopped reading The Corrections because it irritated me ages before I learned that Franzen was a doofus extra-authorially.

Me too!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
40

36: It's funny that Franzen ended up as the darling of the middlebrow "literary" set when The 27th City was basically a potboiler.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
41

37. Disagree that a review is the same as his own work. Even if one includes it, some bad work doesn't in my mind distract from good work. That said, I haven't read anything JF wrote since The Corrections, not in a hurry to either. He's a competent realist when he's writing well, basically.

I haven't read Whitehead though his books look interesting-- anyone here like him?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
42

40: well, see also Lethem, Chabon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
43

40. So was White Teeth which I also enjoyed, and which also made Zadie Smith popular.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
44

I feel vaguely bad that I've not read any Chabon. Not bad enough to read a whole novel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:45 AM
horizontal rule
45

30: Ok, first of all, I don't think no one remembers John Henry Days. Secondly, I, at least, am less pissed off than flabbergasted. Where was the editor on this? Who could possibly have thought this was appropriate?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:47 AM
horizontal rule
46

Thing is it's close to being a good point. If he'd just said "John Henry Days is better because, among other things, this guy isn't very good at writing convincingly from a female point of view, so it's a pity his last one didn't have a male narrator too" then fair enough. But then he had to go all weird.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:50 AM
horizontal rule
47

One interesting thing is that literary fiction is now almost as specifically a female genre as are Harlequin Romances (something between 80 and 90 percent of literary fiction sold is bought by women). So you'd have to guesstimate that 75%, maybe more, of people who have bought and read The Corrections are women, and also that Franzen knows this. A lot of what's going on with him is probably gender anxiety about his audience.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
48

42: How dare you call Gun, with Occasional Music a potboiler!!!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
49

(I really like that book.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
50

"I dreamt as a lad of penis jousting with Norman Mailer, but the soccer moms of NPR paid for my Brooklyn townhome" is a lot of what's going on.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
51

Not all dreams.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
52

I can believe that the majority of literary fiction is bought by women, but 80-90%?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
53

48 & 50 are spot on, and also speaking from the edge of the target demographic his anxiety is not misplaced. I find him ludicrous and easily missable.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
54

I was told 88% by someone at Hachette a few years ago, when I asked.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
55

50 is great.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
56

50: in fact, what launched him into celebrity was the Oprah book club contretemps.

OT: Oh, look, another philosophosplosion.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
57

41: Yes, I liked The Intuitionist.

47: You can strike "now": male anxiety about working in a female-coded genre (and, differently expressed, female anxiety about working in a female-coded genre) is basically the history of the English novel, maybe excepting an anomalous period in the mid-twentieth century.

48: Is it truly insulting to callGun, With Occasional Music, which I also like, a good and inventive potboiler? I haven't read many such.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
58


male anxiety about working in a female-coded genre ... is basically the history of the English novel, maybe excepting an anomalous period in the mid-twentieth century.

The English novel was coded feminine in the age of Defoe? Swift? Fielding? Walter Scott? I'm no expert, but I am skeptical of that assertion.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
59

58: My impression is that the reading audience for novels was mostly women from very early on. I think some of the earliest criticisms of novels by public moralists and scolds had to do with their supposedly bad influence on their female readers.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
60

48, 49: I was thinking of Motherless Brooklyn (which I liked a lot) because I haven't read Gun, With Occasional Music but... it is, right? I should really read it.

I'm currently reading the new David Mitchell so, you know, my brow charts a measured course.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
61

57, 58, 59: Paging AWB. AWB to the white courtesy phone...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
62

57.3: no, I was being facetious.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
63

And yes, it is. Sifu, I'm surprised you haven't read it; it seems like it would be up your alley.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
64

Erm, 63 to 60.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
65

My better half has a date to go hear Mitchell give a talk tonight, suffice to say he didn't choose the event. But there was full disclosure when he was asked, so I'm confident he'll be polite in his post-talk chit chat! Not clear to me the asker knows he was far off the mark in selecting the event, but they're both are UKians so not sure if that argues for mutual impenetrability or some kind of telepathy?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
66

63 gets it right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
67

The new Mitchell's pretty readable, I dunno. I feel like maybe the movie retroactively made his books stupider? I choose to reject that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
68

59. categories of novel over time, from Moretti. Nautical and Military show up in 1820.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
69

Speaking of books, Halford, do you have a recommendation for best paleo book?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
70

67: I'm glad to hear that. I'm fifth on the library's list or something, but still looking forward to it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
71

69: This should get you started.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
72

That was delicious, thanks.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
73

67: I dunno, I liked it fine, but "Cloud Atlas" was pretty stupid even before the movie came out.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
74

58: Yes. I'm not the specialist in the period that AWB is, but off the top of my head, that was also the age of Eliza Haywood, Aphra Behn, Fanny Burney, Ann Radcliffe... not that dudes weren't writing, but that particular dudely "Rise of the Novel" canon was assembled by a later age. Even sticking to hyper-canonical works, all the meta conversation in Northanger Abbey is a perfectly good document of how feminized the form was. Nathaniel Hawthorne's complaint about the "damned mob of scribbling women" has many precursors.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:43 AM
horizontal rule
75

I quite liked The Intuitionist, thought John Henry Days was pretty meh, and skipped Whitehead's zombie book. Franzen is a peen and a bad novelist and can go stick his dick in a blender for all I care, although then perhaps we'd miss his fecundity.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
76

I read Cloud Atlas mostly because it was so highly praised in these parts, and eh, it was okay. And then I read several of his other books, and they were also basically fine, except for Jacob de Zoet one, which was puzzlingly terrible.

I loved The Intuitionist. Then someone gave me a copy of Sag Harbor and jesus, that was all but unreadable.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
77

73: I am not denying that, particularly. But it might be stupider now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
78

I sustained mild interest in Cloud Atlas all the way up to the midpoint when it started cycling back, at which moment, in a blinding instant, the remaining structure of the book was made clear, and I foresaw that nothing remained save some hand-waving at a concept of interconnection... of different lives... across time and space...

Also, choosing Riddley Walker as one of your targets of pastiche is really playing with fire.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
79

choosing Riddley Walker as one of your targets of pastiche is really playing with the Littl Shynin Man, Mr. Clevver


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:09 AM
horizontal rule
80

73/6: It was one of two books I've read that inspired people to come talk to me about how deep and fantastic it was while I was reading it in public. The other was a Dan Brown book. People who interrupt my reading have odd taste. The guy almost "spoiled" it, but, like lk in 78, I'd gotten the drift.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:13 AM
horizontal rule
81

Now this thread is making me introspect about whether I think the new David Mitchell is stupid independent of any movies that might have been released and... I might think it's quite stupid. Oh well. I'll still finish it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
82

The genderedness of reading interruption is interesting. Based on my anecdata, women who read Ulysses in public are always getting accosted, while men who read Ulysses in public are shunned.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:20 AM
horizontal rule
83

The resurgence of "peen" around here has caused "ball-peen hammer" to keep echoing in my head.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
84

John Henry Days was quite good and well worth the remaindered hardcopy. I also liked the NYer excerpt from his (memoir? roman a clef?) about Hamptonsing while black.

27 and 50 have made terrific contributions to my morning. Anyone who doubts 47-50 should recall the great Franzen-Oprah affair, where he managed to snob his way out of being in Oprah's book club.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
85

Speaking of men writing female characters, have we discussed Norman Rush here? A novelist friend recommended Mating to take along on my (first) honeymoon, saying it was one of the best female characters ever written by a male novelist. I loved the book, and have recommended it to three women who, shall we say, did not find the main character especially lifelike. I have come to suspect that Norman Rush, as much as I love him, writes female narrators who are one-notch-more sophisticated wish-fulfillment machines.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:26 AM
horizontal rule
86

Counter-anecdote! Mating was independently recommended to me by two Ladies who liked the Narrating Lady. Also, I remember an odd interview where Rush explained he had repeatedly run all his drafts by his wife to get stamped with Feminine Authenticity.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
87

86: Amazing! I am beginning to suspect that contrary to everything written to the contrary, not all women are the same. Psychology will have to be revised!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
88

78.2/79 are damn true, and that pastiche might be even worse than the Riddley Walker pastiche in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

82 is highly plausible. Presumably the shunned men are the ones accosting the accosted women.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
89

contrary to everything written to the contrary

Well-said, peep!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
90

Getting pissed of about what an writer you don't like said in a book review of a book no one remembers 13 years ago is the Internetiest thing ever.

This made me laugh.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
91

Despite what "even worse" might suggest, I like that section of Beyond Thunderdome, or remember liking it, not having seen the movie in yonks.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
92

Mating was recommended to me by a lady!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
93

I'm reading this in links, which doesn't support italics, so comments like 92 are more suggestive than they would otherwise be.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
94

Thought you'd all want to know!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
95

"I dreamt as a lad of penis jousting with Norman Mailer, but the soccer moms of NPR paid for my Brooklyn townhome" is a lot of what's going on.

This made me laugh, too. It's like Dave Chappelle for weeny white guys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
96

Mating was recommended to me by a lady!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
97

82: I read Ulysses on the bus for a few months. If I'm remembering correctly, I was accosted twice -- not sure if that's the right word -- at different times, two men started talking to me about it -- I recall one asking if I planned on reading Finnegan's Wake. I didn't sense any romantic intent. (for those keeping score, who have failed to keep score until now, peep is a cis-gendered male).


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:37 AM
horizontal rule
98

Just read some Kojin Karatani on "Origins of Modern Japanese Literature" and his mention of Naoya Shiga, father of the "Watakushi shōsetsu" and then the fifty pages available of This Excellence at google books.

As usual, much to learn about the West from the Japanese experience. The Japanese literati had a lot of trouble in early Meiji adapting to and understanding the Western tradition of the novel, because with few exceptions narrative prose and what might be encompassed under the rubric of "The Everyday" was relegated to kana, triviality and humour, and women's writing. Real manly men wrote essays, philosophy and philology, and especially lyric poetry, e.g., haiku.

Naoya Shiga managed to recreate the novel-short story in a form and content that viewed the everyday under a lens of zen, without psychology, character and growth or any larger social context and set a pattern that endures today. A masculine Japanese modernism.

One hesitates to gender this stuff, and of course it's all dated now, but a case has been made that the Western novel prose fiction-form at its modernist peak was dedicated to the quotidian:Bloom frying kidney and looking for Sweets of Sin under Molly's bed; Hemingway fishing; Castorp basking; Dalloway planning.

The gendering is about whether or not the domestic and quotidian is itself "gendered," and whether styles themselves are gendered, if only perhaps within the enforced roles of patriarchy. I prefer "Cloacal" (Joyce) vs "Phallic" (Pound) myself.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
99

92 - Rfts is a woman, but she's no lady.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
100

99: Please note that I kindly left that joke for you to make, snark.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
101

OK, good. Now I can revise my estimation in favor of Rush and to the detriment of the women I recommend books to.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
102

56.2: And look! On one side it's Leiter being both a dick to people but probably also on balance more right than wrong. And on the other side it's people disingenuously presenting themselves as standing up for inclusiveness and civility in order to attack him. Yet again! What fun!

Oh, and also people who already have some preexisting grievance (see: "being a dick, Leiter") piling on in silly ways.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:04 AM
horizontal rule
103

I wonder why Leiter thinks the (putative, granted arguendo) fact that "ethical" has no cognitive content means that calling someone unethical can't be defamatory.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
104

||

Question for oudemia:

4711 eau de cologne sounds to me like it would be delightful, fresh and clean. I don't have a good place to test it locally. So be honest, would I spell like a grandma?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
105

My grandmas were excellent spellers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
106

Based on my anecdata, women who read Ulysses in public are always getting accosted, while men who read Ulysses in public are shunned.

It was one of two books I've read that inspired people to come talk to me about how deep and fantastic it was people used as an excuse to chat me up while I was reading it in public.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
107

My grandma smelled like Estee Lauder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:18 AM
horizontal rule
108

103: Because then it couldn't be true or false, and hence couldn't be a false claim, which is required for defamation? I have no idea, really.

If that's what he thinks, though, I really hope someone takes him to court over it. That's not because because I think he should get sued or anything, but because I would really, really love to see a court case that required the judge to rule on whether or not "ethical" has cognitive content. Think about what the poor judge would have to read! Think about the effect it would have on the debate if one side could appeal to a judicial decision! I can't see any downside here at all, to me.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
109

No, he was advising someone not to call him "unprofessional", but rather to call him "unethical", since &c. So it wouldn't come up directly, unless the person he was suing claimed that "unprofessional" also lacked cognitive content.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
110

"ethical" has no cognitive content

What on earth would this mean, anyhow?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
111

Cognitive content usually means something like propositional content, or a representation expressible through propositions, or something along those lines. I don't really have any interest in know what Leiter specifically means (there are any number of alternatives), but it could be that "ethical" is just an expression of an emotion (like "ow!" or "RRRAAAAAGGHHH!"), or a prescription (making "this action is ethical" the same as "do this action"), or something along those lines.

So (I assume off the top of my head) if that were true, unprofessional would be something you could argue by appeal to recognized professional norms (see, especially, law), but unethical wouldn't be because it's would be like arguing that someone was saying something false when they said "ow!". And that's impossible since "ow!" doesn't describe a way that the world could be.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
112

god, analytic philosophy is terrible why would that be "cognitive" content?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:35 AM
horizontal rule
113

I would have thought that something's being defamatory would be assessed at least in part according to whether one's fame was deëd, and to assess that one would have to consider whether or not most people think that "ethical" lacks cognitive content (my guess: most people do not think that). Though I suppose that if the truth of an otherwise defamatory statement is a defense, the non-truth-aptness would also be a defense? Maybe? "Sure, what I said about X isn't true, but it doesn't even really make a claim about the world anyway, so …".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
114

Because it's the stuff we use to do cognition? (Allegedly, is disputed, philosophers talk about this, and so on down the list of synonyms possible here.)

I don't know if you could blame this one on analytic philosophy though, since this sort of thing predates it by a fair bit. (Or at least it does to the extent that "analytic philosophy" means the early 1900s stuff that first got the term. If you mean the way the term mostly ends up used today, to mean "philosophy", then yeah ok.)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
115

Calling someone "unethical" can certainly be defamation, if there's a reasonable or accessible set of standards to determine ethical from unethical in context. There are cases and everything.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
116

I once accosted someone in public because he was reading Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand and I had until that very moment believed that no one in all of flyover country besides me had ever even heard of it. I did not chat him up; rather, I babbled unclearly and enthusiastically about the book and had he ever read any other Samuel Delany and if so what did he think about it all? He was nonplussed. But later we stopped being strangers and he moved into my house, where he lives to this very day. It turned out that he hadn't read any other Samuel Delany and I've never really gotten an opinion out of him about Stars In My Pocket, but he pays his rent and has told me shocking things about the interior workings of science fiction fandom.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
117

Because it's the stuff we use to do cognition?

Yeah, that's the part that ain't right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
118

If you give a science fiction fan a place to sleep...


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
119

"cognition" is also a term of art.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
120

It's terms of art all the way down!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:52 AM
horizontal rule
121

It's true. We got tired.


Posted by: Opinionated Turtles | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
122

104: I love 4711 and wore it in high school. I think it was something of a swinging 60s rocker scent -- Pete Townshend wore it? It's nice. No spelling like a grandma.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:02 PM
horizontal rule
123

122, con't: Caveat! I haven't sniffed it since my high school bottle from the drug store and it may well have been totally reformulated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
124

I believe the usage goes back to this:

http://www.calstatela.edu/sites/default/files/dept/phil/pdf/res/Carnap-Elimination-of-Metaphysics.pdf


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
125

104: I think 4711 is great! My wife and I both wear it, although not at the same time.

As added value, we visited the shop this summer, and what seems like would be kind of a dumb tourist destination (the cologne shop in Cologne) turned out to be great. Vintage ads! Fantastic MCM shop design! A brass faucet endlessly streaming cologne!

Also, it's right near an unbelievable church, Madonna in the Rubble, where a bomb-blasted old church has been incorporated into a Modern chapel, named after the statue found intact in the rubble.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
126

124 to "cognitive content" subthread


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
127

Sifu, it's pretty much just the standard Cognitive/Conative/Affective distinction. The relevant part about content is that cognitive states (arguable/supposedly/blahblahblah)* represent the world in a certain way (content => representational content). As a result (of their doing that/of the way they're doing it/etc.)* they can be true or false, and be used to justify the truth of other claims, and so on. Desires (conative) aren't true or false so you can't use a desire to justify some claim about the world. (You can, obviously, use a description of a desire, which might or might not be true, to do that.) You can see a version of this in, say, Hume (where it's really important), but it's pretty standard stuff at this point.

I mean, whether (some kinds of) thinking involves a manipulation of representations of the world in certain ways is a disputed statement, but the overall distinction is pretty standard stuff.

*Philosophy! Land of the impossible to generalize without caveats because everyone disagrees about stuff!


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
128

I think the flavor of my objection isn't coming through.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
129

123: They say it's still the same formula. They have made newer products too. Thank you.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
130

The English novel was coded feminine in the age of Defoe? Swift? Fielding? Walter Scott? I'm no expert, but I am skeptical of that assertion.

Walter Scott on Jane Austen:

Also read again, and for the third time at least, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of _Pride and Prejudice_. That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!

And yes, the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English novel was definitely coded feminine, seen as a feminine genre.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 7:12 PM
horizontal rule
131

And 25 really speaks to me, because I loved The Corrections too, even though its author is obviously a major d*ck. I think Halford nails it in 47.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
132

I was told 88% by someone at Hachette a few years ago, when I asked.

That was just their polite way of declining to buy the rights to a novel about a crossfit trained supervillain who sends out a team of bikini clad bodyguards to hunt down bread-eaters for sport and meals.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
133

130 &pf:

Many men today are said to report female majorities in groups with 20%, 30% women; earlier centuries were even poutier. Which leads to boy flight & the DC reboot, eventually.

88% for litfic makes me wonder what the breakdown for other genres is. Also, do men read more romance ebooks because the Cover Problem is gone?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:19 PM
horizontal rule
134

This thread also reminds me:

1. I've been meaning to read The Secret History of Domesticity but it's really long and I'm no longer an academic. And I haven't read many English novels.

2. In college one of the philosophy classes I took was basically a survey of a few topics from Descartes to Hume. I was really struggling to come up with a paper topic and I went to my TA's office hours and one of the things he suggested was I could write about something related to cognition and Locke and maybe Sapir-Whorf was in there somewhere. I thought, not only haven't we covered anything along these lines except reading one text by Locke, but I would probably end up making a bunch of unsupported claims about other fields of research if I headed down that path.

I ended up writing something about Locke, I think, but I don't remember what it was. It was pretty much purely an analysis of arguments and stayed away from making any claims about cognition.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 09-24-14 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
135

Is "unethical" defamatory?

Yes. It's a damaging statement. Unethical, in common parlance, means that your behaviour isn't according to a code of ethics, just as 'criminal' means that your behaviour breaks explicit laws. These codes of ethics in many cases (medical ethics, academic ethics etc) exist objectively, just like the Highway Code; you can look them up online and everything. So it's a statement that can be objectively true. If I say "nosflow is unethical" it's legitimate for you to ask "what's he done that's unethical?" and expect a factual answer.

Frankly it doesn't matter, really, whether some philosopher thinks that "ethical" has no cognitive content unless that philosopher is the only audience for the statement. Conversely, if I were to say "nosflow is a coracle-snuggler" it would not be defamatory, unless it were made to an audience which understood what coracle-snuggling was, and believed it to be evidence of moral turpitude. Or if I were to insult nosflow in an invented language, it would not be defamatory as long as no one who knew the language heard the statement.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-25-14 1:59 AM
horizontal rule
136

133: By "DC reboot" do you mean the New 52? Were they losing male readers before that?

I suspect scifi and fantasy readers are now majority women, and recent political fights are in response to the shift.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-25-14 5:22 AM
horizontal rule
137

I suspect scifi and fantasy readers are now majority women, and recent political fights are in response to the shift.

Best guess (based on a bit of googling around) is that it's pretty much 50-50 - slightly more men than women read SF (55% of SF readers are male), and slightly more women than men read fantasy. That mirrors the spread of writers - Locus reports that 54% of the books it receives for review are by men, 43% by women, and the rest are either joint-authored or by entities of unknown sex.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-25-14 5:36 AM
horizontal rule
138

I believe Leiter "unethical" shtick was an attempt to be funny.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 09-25-14 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
139

136.1: AFAIK they'd gained some female ones. Before.

136.2, if ajay is right, is illustrative : maybe-50% feels like a majority. I don't know if there's any room between sparse presence by a marked group, which is denied to its face & forgotten repeatedly, and a presence not-sparse enough to cause those political fights.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 09-25-14 12:18 PM
horizontal rule