Culture

It's Human, But Is It Art?

Shakespeare

If only this guy had listened to the critics of his time, he could now be obscure and ignored just like everyone the critics admired! Instead, he’s still read and performed. Hack!

I am not going to give you a link, but that great intellect for the ages (the man who has a grant for writing a novel, but hasn’t) Damien Walter, over at Al Guardian is pronouncing again.

Apparently he was all over Twitter with a cover of Jim Baen’s Universe (now defunct) claiming that these terrible covers are the reason Science Fiction isn’t taken seriously.

It’s been a long day that involved having blood drawn for medical tests, and I am old enough and tired enough that I’m not putting up with this anymore.

There are people out there who complain about Heinlein’s end to The Number of the Beast in which critics are imprisoned in a pocket universe from which they can only escape if they ever have a single, solitary creative thought.

All I can say is that those people aren’t as tired of critics and opiners on what constitutes literature or worthy literary expression as I was even back when I first read that book and snorted with glee at the ending. I was twenty one. On the other hand I had already acquired a bachelors in literature, one of those experiences likely to rip all illusion from your eyes and all forgiveness from your heart.

So, not exactly in response to Damien Walter, (who is loonier than a moonstruck moonling dancing in the moonlight) but in response to his ilk, I feel it’s time I set the record straight on what is literature, what isn’t and what is worthy and isn’t.

I will confess that part of this is in response to many people who have asked in groups I frequent – as we’re trying to build a culture away from Marxism – for “worthy” books for themselves and their children. This always devolves into a list of “approved” books, well thought of by the talking heads who are, of course, wholly-owned subsidiaries of the establishment.

No mas. Enough is enough.

So, what is literature? Should your kids read it?  Should you read it?  How can it improve your life?  And should you be worried if science fiction isn’t considered “real literature”?

Charlie has a definition of literature that involves Aristotle’s Poetics. That’s fine.  It’s way too intellectual for me, and I’ll let him talk about it. I merely have a degree in this stuff, and most of it consisted of people blathering about things that had nothing in fact to do with literature.

For my purposes I’m going to define literature as a narrative/emotional experience packaged into words.

Is it an art?

Oh, assuredly. You can still read Shakespeare, Austen and Kipling (and Dumas and fill in your own favorites) and still understand it at an emotion-level as well as a narrative-level. Which means that there is art there, to touch something essentially human across the centuries.

The problem is judging the art. This is not a problem unique to writing. We partake the same thing with the plastic arts, with music and with practically every artistic field.

The problem is this: for the last century and a bit a self-hating, sour-faced minority of the reading public, aka critics, has installed itself as the arbiters of what is and isn’t art.  And they are applying it not in terms of the emotions the story touches, or in terms of the narrative cogency, but in terms of “being socially relevant.”

In this century that has come to mean Western-hating, male-hating and most of all – and this is very important – fun-hating.

Instead of rousing tales that touch humans enough to read them for pleasure, literature has come to mean “beautiful words telling us establishment messages.”

We’ve seen this in art before. Look for instance to when French in the regency had defined what plays should be. Good plays, to be worthy, should have no blood on stage.  No panic or death or anything else should happen on stage. These were decorously relayed by messengers telling us what had happened off stage.In the more eventful plays, so many messengers crossed on stage it looked like a relay race.

The critics of the time often said that upstart, Shakespeare, would be better off imitating them and showing more class and taste.

Those other playwrights are not seen or heard from anymore. For some reason, Messenger Relay Race is less stirring than Romeo and Juliet. Who would have thought it? Other than any human being with a pulse, of course.

And therein lies the rub.

Literature happens, and we can tell when it has happened, and when it’s art. But we can only tell it’s art when it’s stood the test of time. Until then we call it “rousing good stuff.” In other words, stuff people buy and read for fun.

The first indication of art, we can take it, is the pleasure of readers in reading it.

And as for being taken seriously – by the likes of little Damien – who cares? Those are social games people play to make sure they’re in with the smart set.

They’re welcome to their games.

We’re playing for the ages.


Charlie here. Yes, you’re right, Book Plug Friday is late this week. In fact, a week late. The story of how that happened is boring even to me, but it was my fault.

Second, this is a SPECIAL EDITION because we have four of Sarah’s ebooks on sale. Go check them out.


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Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #4
By Dorothea Jensen 

Frizzy, one of Santa’s Izzy Elves, styles Christmas dollies’ hair, but misses them when Santa takes them away for delivery. She decides to change her job so she doesn’t get so attached to the toys she works. Her plan doesn’t work out exactly as she intended, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“…a highly original and wonderfully developed children’s book…appeal[s] to girls and boys alike,…the rhymes…fit into the story perfectly…full color images are superbly done…with a creative and engaging story, Jensen has succeeded at crafting a memorable Christmas story for children that is so good it’s possible it will be enjoyed year round.” -Red City Review


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Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #3
By Dorothea Jensen 

Dizzy, one of Santa’s tech-savvy Izzy Elves, knows all about his friend Tizzy’s Great Adventure and he wants to have an adventure too! When he sneaks aboard Santa’s sleigh, Dizzy finds all the adventure he’s dreamed of, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“A little elf’s clandestine adventure as a stowaway on Santa’s sleigh takes an unexpected turn in an engaging contemporary spin on the classic 19th century poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”…The author propels her present-day take on the classic Christmas poem with gentle humor and suspense…appealing energy and colorful verbal imagery…” -Kirkus Reviews


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Santa Hunk
By Kirsten Mortensen 

First of all: forget everything you ever heard about him being a fat old
guy who’s never seen a razor.

I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s immortal. A god,
basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.

The guy is gorgeous.

Those things you’ve seen about the goofy red suit and the big jiggly
belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his kids. “’Twas the
night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a nice poem.
It’s a timeless classic.

But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen Santa.

He made it all up.

Me? I have seen Santa.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him — but I’m not the one who found him.

Clare found him.

She found him — then she nearly lost him again…


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Red Queen: The Substrate Wars
By Jeb Kinnison 

Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world
of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored ‹ rather
like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people.
In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time;
only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not
unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their
smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus
freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the
world, or save it.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.

It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

April in Paris 1625. D’Artagnan, and his new friends who hide their true identities under the assumed names of Athos, Porthos and Aramis, discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France. Suspecting an intrigue of Cardinal Richelieu’s and fearing the murder will go unpunished they start investigating. But the enterprise will be fraught with danger, traps from the Cardinal, duels with guards and plotting from the king himself.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.