Compost 1

Real_Compost

Like compost, a post full of decomposing and recycled material. Possibly nourishing. Potentially fertile.  May contain shit and piss.

It’s a post that’s a combination of things.

We’re just back from a four day trip to my home state, Rhode Island, for the regionals soccer tournament. Maine teams typically get crushed, thanks to demographics and not having a strong soccer culture. The highlight was tying the 31st best team in the US. My son scored the lone goal that day (he’s a striker), and he did a Wayne Rooney style celebration. I wasn’t sure about the celebration, but I was happy to see him so overjoyed. He’s a nonfiction guy, currently reading I Am Zlatan on his ipad mini and Why Do Men Have Nipples in paper. Here’s an action shot:

davidatcoastal2013

My other little guy is having a great summer on his own terms, which means a lot of all-day-in-his-PJs, meeting his friends at the park, watching episodes of the Simpsons and playing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and Minecraft on the computer. He’s way into The Walking Dead comics on his ipad right now, but also reads a little in his paper Hitchhiker’s Guide set (he’s on book 2). He also likes to just sit and think about things. He’s a natural philosopher, as you can tell from this picture:

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In other news, I’m still working on my Penhally Bay paper. I’m very undisciplined and prone to forgetting my original research question in search of some more foundational issue. I guess it’s a hazard of being trained in philosophy. So, I haven’t even gotten to talking about the actual romance novels. Instead, I’ve written several pages on method in popular fiction studies and on the dangers of mimetic representational analysis therein.

One thing that’s helped is being part of Jo Van Every‘s Monday writing group. Every Monday we all call in to a conference line and share what we plan to work on. We work. Then we call back 90 minutes later. Over the past year I have tried a few different writing groups, coaches, apps and writing strategies. I keep meaning to write a post on that.

One of the papers I’ve read recently is a classic article in reader response theory from its heyday. The author says reading involves an interaction between self and other. The nature of that confrontation depends on the background of the reader and upon the specific text. 

She says there are three modes of reading, including the dominant pole:

The dominant pole is characterized by detachment, observation from a distance. The reader imposes a previously established structure on the text and in so doing silences it. Memory dominates over experience, past over present. Readers who dominate texts become complacent or bored because the possibility for learning has been greatly reduced. Judgment is based upon previously established norms rather than upon empathetic engagement with and critical evaluation of the new material encountered. The reader absents the text.

Second,

The submissive pole, in contrast, is characterized by too much involvement. The reader is entangled in the events of the story and is unable to step back, to observe with a critical eye. Instead of boredom the reader experiences anxiety. The text is overwhelming, unwilling to yield a consistent pattern of meaning.

Third,

Productive interaction, then, necessitates the stance of a detached observer who is empathetic but who does not identify with the characters or the situation depicted in a literary work. Comprehension is attained when the reader achieves a balance between empathy and judgment by maintaining a balance of detachment and involvement. Too much detachment often results in too much judgment and hence in domination of the text; too much involvement often results in too much sympathy and hence in domination by the text. 

The author of that article makes some claims about gender, etc., which are not my interest (namely, that men are more likely to take the dominant mode, women the submissive). I also would not characterize the three modes of reading in the way she has (her interests were pedagogical, and her readers were students). But I found it interesting to think about my own reading somewhat along those lines. for example, I just listened to a Bella Andre Sullivans book, From This Moment On, which I did not like at all. I could not get into it, and instead of enjoying the text, I kept judging the text (for example, thinking things like,  “If a computer were programmed / or a committee hired / or a focus group consulted to write a romance novel, this would be the product. Utterly bland.” Or when the heroine thought,

Oh God. He was beautiful, but so big. Bigger than her brain had computed, even though she’d seen him, felt him inside of her, more than once already.

…and my immediate reaction was “this is clearly a problem with your brain, not with his penis.”

On the other hand, I’m half way through Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do, and am so engrossed. I’m not anxious, but I am immersed and not judging, just enjoying. It’s a very funny book, and full of the kind of self-aware characters I love.

Google reader is dead. Long live Google Reader. I’m actually now a contented Feedly user, but this was my favorite tweet from today:

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A few people have noticed that my old blog, Read React Review, is defunct. The reason is simple: I stopped paying my web host. I just couldn’t stand the idea of paying for a blog I don’t update. I *thought* I had moved it over here to WP.com, but apparently not. I’m definitely pleased that people remember specific posts well enough to miss them, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

On that note, I’ve been thinking about the many significant ways Romanceland has changed since I started reading blogs (2007). I hope to write a post on it this month.

 

I hope you are having a good Canada Day or Independence Day week, or July, or whatever it is where you are. Let me know what you are up to!

10 thoughts on “Compost 1

  1. I am sad to read that ReadReactReview is no longer around. The librarian in me ponders the loss of knowledge in this digital world and how our digital heritage will be understood in 100/300/800 years. I fully understand choosing to not maintain a site you have left but I hope it is archived somewhere and that you kept your own hard copies.

    1. Thanks for that Vassiliki. I do hope to get it back up on WP.com, but I need technical help. Hopefully it will be back up sooner rather than later.

    2. It’s not all gone. I read Jessica’s post and wanted to fix the broken link on my website to a post I wrote for RRR so I went to the Internet Archive and was able to find it. However, it probably wouldn’t be so easy to find a specific post for which you didn’t have the original url and I don’t know if all the pages are archived.

  2. Let’s see. I wrote two short stories in June, which was a miracle given that it’s a horribly stressful and brain-eating time at my dayjob. I’m preparing for Readercon in Massachusetts, which happens next week – I got to re-read one of the formative fantasy trilogies of my youth (Riddlemaster) in preparation for an author-specific panel on Patricia McKillip, and am now catching up on her most recent few books. I also wrote a whole batch of book previews, and have been checking out books coming out in the fall and requesting galleys. …And, not much else. I’m on week 4 of a weightlifting program (5X5) that runs 12 weeks.

    1. Congrats on prolific writing, in a stressful period. Your comment made me fantasize for a minute about driving down to Comic Con to see you and Natalie!

  3. So that’s why!

    (I’ve been looking for a number of your posts this week and wanted to cry when I couldn’t get them)

    (On second thought, I might still cry *sniff*)

      1. I’ve been feeling that I came across as demanding and petulant, when it’s not how I meant my comment at all.

        I will be ecstatic if they can be imported over, but I absolutely understand if it’s not possible–it does make no sense to pay for something you don’t use.

        With that said: most if not all of your posts said something to me, personally, and some of the comment threads were/are important to me still today.

        1. I didn’t take it that way at all! I truly thought no one would miss it, at least that no one would notice for a while. I’m stunned by the number of DMs and emails I have gotten in the days since it’s been unavailable. I learned a valuable lesson about how interconnected all of our writing is when we do it online, and hope to have it back up soon. 🙂

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