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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
nicholas.westmiles@gmail.com

Of literary criticism in general, Sanderson in particular, and MYOB.

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"it's valid to undermine the little things"

 

Valid, but completely ineffective and not conducive to a solid, substantive debate. It comes off as shallow and petty and lends little to the discussion. It's the most rudimentary of debate skills.

 I have provided arguments to address the points in this thread, you have not.

 

And of your most recent posts, rest assured I have nothing to complain about.  In point of fact, however, I'm not the only one that got edited.  Mr. Ares did as well in the other thread, as even he admits.  Nor should I have to ask for justification of someone who's constantly making digs about providing justification, when I'm the only one who has even made the attempt, as Mr Ares seems to think is reasonable. If one side is constantly making those digs, and refusing to respond to the main point, while only attacking peripheral points, there are some rather evident conclusions that can be drawn about one's intent to engage in discussion. There's quite a bit that can be said about that style of discussion.  As for the courtesy thing, if the shoe fits, fine.  If not, why so concerned?  All I've done is ask for courtesy.  Why complain about such a reasonable request?  At least take the time to see why I might be asking that.  If both of you have actually been attempting to be polite and courteous (as I'm sure you have been), can you honestly say that there is NO way to construe your posts in another fashion?  Try looking at it from a different perspective.

It strikes me that all these points could be made to you with equal validity - your justifications and your courtesy are lacking, yet you insist on calling others out on the lack. You've not responded to my points - what does that say about your intent to engage in discussion? You take advantage of every opportunity to make digs, and erroneous statements about what I have said or assumed that bear little relation to the the points I've actually made.

 

 

@Mr Ares:  The qualifications of a speaker don't matter in any objective sense.  If you read my last response with a little more care, I think it will become more obvious exactly where I stand on that.

Except my point was why does it matter to you? Saying that it doesn't matter in any objective sense is to once again miss my point - as I say, you seem to be making a habit of it.

Ultimately, it's mainly a sufficient condition for me to actually take the opinion of some random person on the internet as seriously as I take the broadly accepted opinion of the industry.

But, again, why? Does the one random person on the internet make a good point? There are probably significant sections of the industry that share his opinion as well. And what is the "broadly accepted opinion of the industry" anyway?

If you honestly think that I'm not justifying my point, I submit again that you're missing the forest for the trees.  I have made exactly ONE point here, which you haven't responded to at all.

You've made several points. In your opening post you even say outright "I'm going to touch on 4 different points here:  First, regarding the field of literary criticism in general, which I feel is naught but the expression of one's own opinions, and that preferences, as such, only have truth insofar as they touch on one's own perspective.  Second, I want to discuss what credentials I personally feel are relevant to my own estimation of the value that someone's criticism has to me.  Third, to clarify for the peanut gallery the aspects of Sanderson's art that I appreciate, and why I think it's important to take an author for who they are, and appreciate their individual strengths and weaknesses, and for the overall nuance to the plot.  And last, to point out that this entire discussion has, at it's root, something important to say about manners, respect, and one's general character." Four points. I've touched on three of them. The only one I have yet to touch on is point three, and I will have done so by the end of this post.

 

Since you ask, I'd love to see more justification on why you think a Hugo award is meaningless, since that seems to contradict Suttree's argument regarding "broadly accepted standards."  If there is, in fact, a broadly accepted standard for writing skill in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, I'd say the Hugo has to rank pretty high.

Firstly, I made the point that I apply the same standard to any award - most of them are not awarded based on broadly accepted definitions of merit so much as a variety of factors that might include merit, politics, etc., and frequently the voting body has no requirement to familiarise itself with all the works up for vote. In the case of the Hugos, they are awarded by the people who went to a convention - there's no requirement for having read all the books, for any knowledge of literary criticism, for any justification as to why it is the correct choice. You could even vote because you like Brandon as a person without actually having read the work up for vote. The whole thing just becomes a popularity contest, rather than one based around "broadly accepted standards" of merit. Given that there is no requirement for any knowledge, it's difficult to see the award as a whole having merit as a sign of quality, although it can still be appreciated as a sign of recognition. If you polled the Hugo voters individually, then why they voted the way they did might tell a very interesting story. Lacking any knowledge of why they voted the way they did, we have only a limited knowledge of what their opinion is. How can I dismiss their opinion if I have no way of knowing it? How many voters had read all five novellas? Why did they feel that Brandon's was the most deserving of a vote? Was it closely run between five excellent novellas, or was it close between five terrible books, or was there one that was clearly head and shoulders above the others? Just because there are broadly accepted standards, doesn't mean they were applied - were they, or not? (By the way, if awards are so meaningful, it's worth noting that the nominees for the latest batch of DM's own awards - specifically, the category of master debater - included Suttree and myself. So we were two of the four best debaters on these forums over the course of 2013. While I appreciate the recognition, I don't think that that award nomination is itself reason enough to accept what I'm saying as truth - but I'm just one random guy on the internet, so if you want to disagree with me and listen to the voice of the masses... the voice of the masses says Mr Ares is really good at debate.

 

Now, my response to the idea that every author should be taken on their own merits is... fine, that's what we were doing anyway. The criticism of Brandon does point out what he does right as well as what he does wrong. Taking an author on his own merits doesn't excuse the bad elements of their writing, nor does it excuse you from justifying your opinion.

 

Edited by Red2111
took out the off topic portions

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Well, evidently there are interested parties that would like me to respond to this further.  I didn't really feel that this last post really merited a response from me, since it seemed to me to add nothing further to the topic in question.  I started this post to specifically cover a few points, and haven't yet bothered to get much past the first two, since there's been little to no response to the first one.  If you're wondering why I haven't justified my opinions on the other points, it is because I feel that there has been no discussion on the first one worth the name, aside from a few excellent points made by Suttree.  I'm not going to move onto the other points until and unless that point actually gets discussed to everyone's satisfaction.  In fact, I haven't even presented more than the first point, and some peripheral discussion about the second one.

 

So no.  I did not respond to your points because I felt they were off-topic and lacked substance.  In the most recent post, you provided literally NO examples, or any further explanation or substance.  You had said that if I wanted further substantiation, to ask.  I did, and yet you declined, yet again, to respond to the FIRST point, despite clarification of such, and a request to do so.  I believe that tangential, unsubstantiated attacks on peripheral points do not a debate make.  Now, I want to be clear I don't mean that to be an insult.  You are more than welcome to respond to whatever you want, and I don't mean to criticize what points you've made.  I mean merely to explain to you why I'm not discussing the other points I mentioned in my OP, since you brought it up, and to clarify for the record that I will NOT respond to anything more until and unless I feel that we are clear on each prior point.  Each builds off of the others, so until I am convinced we all understand each other on each point, I do not intend to proceed further.  If we actually WANT to continue, that is.

With regards to your debating award, I haven't been here long enough to know how much a debating award on a relatively quiet internet forum means.  So I'll just say, congratulations on that front.

 

On to business.  With respect to the one point that you made that I think was marginally on-topic (that is, with respect to the writer's qualifications), I suspect you and I are operating from a disconnect.  You seem to be taking me to mean that the aforementioned is fact or absolute truth, when in fact it's just my personal opinion.

 

Fact is, we all have different standards for what we'll take to apply more than a grain of truth to a dissenting opinion, if we do even that much.  In my experience, many people are so utterly and ridiculously convinced of their own certitude that they are unable to recognize elements of truth in an opinion that doesn't match their own in all respects.  I personally dislike those sorts of people.  That type of attitude, to me, speaks loudly of lack of moral and mental flexibility.  Now, I'm certainly not intending that description to refer to anyone on this forum, or in this thread.  It's just an observation about the occasional people I've encountered on forums of various sorts. It is an example of WHY I made that particular statement.  And as such, when I make a particular claim, it's generally just going to be my opinion.  I think we all know a number of sayings about opinions.

 

I will be clear:  I do NOT mean to say that it is a necessary condition for a person to be an author to be able to make valid criticisms of an author.  I DO mean to say that, if you are a total stranger, I will be a lot more likely to take you seriously if you have demonstrated mastery of the craft, art, etc, that you are critiquing.  That means no more than a single example of what I personally would take to incline me to a more positive attitude to the opinion of a stranger than I normally grant them.  I'm a cynic by experience when it comes to forums and opinions in general.  Very few people really take the time to think through their beliefs with any kind of consistency, and those that have, are usually so convinced of their rectitude that they are utterly unable to see truth in another's opinions.  As such, I take most opinions, particularly unsubstantiated ones like the one that spawned this whole thing, with a grain of salt.

 

So yes.  We can agree that a person does not need to be a great author to make valid points about a work of literature.  That was never my intent to say.  But nothing I've seen thus far inclines me to take the opinions offered about Sanderson with more than that customary grain of salt.  I've explained in great depth exactly why I believe that.  I have argued that rankings are by nature based on opinions and subjective preference, and as such, aren't representative of any more than subjective truth.  And to date, I think that only Suttree has given me any kind of debate on that topic.  I appreciate his willingness to debate the topic at hand and I suspect we'll just end up agreeing to disagree.  But again, that entire point comes down to a single example of what I personally would take to be a viable demonstration of mastery.  I believe a relevant term would be "expert testimony."  I certainly don't mean to imply that such is the ONLY thing I would take, or the ONLY thing that is necessary.  I believe I've said that before, but may be mistaken, and don't care enough because I take that to be an utterly minor point.

 

That being said, I don't believe that it's not an unreasonable point to make.  No, it doesn't have any kind of absolute truth to it, but, in my estimation, neither does most anything else.  Experience and mastery of a topic, for many people, do incline others to take their opinions more seriously.  And LACK of mastery also is telling.  The internet is especially problematic because we never know anything about our fellow posters.  Anyone can say, or claim, anything on the internet.  Truth rarely enters into it.  Everyone has opinions, and I, for one, and more than willing to let people have their own opinions without attempting to force my own preferences or opinions upon them.  I consider that arrogant and rude, and do not personally wish to engage in such.  I find it interesting that you take my requests for courtesy to be discourtesy.  I have not ONCE tried to tell you or anyone else that you are not entitled to your own opinions, and in fact have done the exact opposite.  With respect to that, all I have done is ask for you to respect my right to my own opinion, which I take to be, not only a matter of common courtesy, but also part of the forum rules:

 

"4. Remember that Reasonable People Can Disagree. There are certain things that are black and white, of course: bigotry won’t be tolerated, favoritism is wrong, American football is better than soccer. But most disputes don’t fall within these realms of incontrovertible truth; more often, there are shades of gray, and reasonable people acting in good faith can and will take different positions even when looking at the same set of facts. As a general rule, people who come into a discussion of issues with this in mind tend to be able to find a mutually agreeable resolution much more often than people who don’t."

 

With regards to the courtesy and personal attacks issue, perhaps you don't mean for your posts to come off as discourteous or combative.  I assure you that they come off that way to me, particularly in context of accusing me of discourtesy, without any examples at all, in response to a simple request to follow the forum rule I reposted.  I will say for myself that I certainly don't intend to be rude.  I don't think this post is rude either, as I mean it SOLELY as an example of something I have personally taken offense to, and I am more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt with regards to your intent.  I could, of course, be wrong, because I only know how I intend it.  Perhaps, if you don't mean to be discourteous, you might go back through your posts and consider why I might feel that way?  I would have provided an example, as I did previously, but evidently providing examples of things I personally took offense to counts as a personal attack, and I don't want it edited out again.  If you feel that anything I have said is discourteous or a personal attack, please send me the relevant text in a PM, and I would be happy to review them so that I can avoid offending your sensibilities in future, and I would be happy to apologize.

 

I do absolutely agree that taking an author on his own merits doesn't excuse the "bad" elements of their writing.  However, the very term "bad" isn't absolute.  What you personally take to be bad, another person might actually appreciate.  I might, for instance, be utterly bored by an author's propensity to describe clothing in immense detail, and consider it a distraction from the story.  And yet another person might think that the aforementioned descriptions provide great visuals and enhance her ability to visualize the story.  I don't think either of us is wrong to make those claims, because we approach the story from very different backgrounds and perspectives, and those same details mean very different things to each of us.  I think the forum rule I mentioned earlier said it well:  "reasonable people acting in good faith can and will take different positions even when looking at the same set of facts."  I extend this further to suggest that, especially when it comes to what they personally find meaningful, they may well be RIGHT to do so.  And I believe that is where you and I may part company.  You take the things you don't like to be examples of bad writing in a very absolute sense, and I'm less convinced of that.  Certainly you will be able to find some examples that you and I will agree with.  But that could also be explained by a similarity in our particular preferences relative to that quality as easily as we could make an expression of absolute truth.

 

And this point is precisely why I don't move on to the next points.  Because until this one gets hashed out, the discussion will run the risk of getting too convoluted for anyone to know what anyone else is talking about, and that would be a waste of my time, if nothing else.

 

Where we may be able to speak more profitably is in context of generally shared preferences and perspectives.  That's about as far as I personally consider truth to extend.

 

I personally don't care to consider what I read in more than just what I like and don't like, and what I think others will like and dislike based upon the preferences they've expressed to me.  I think anything else is ultimately meaningless, and means that I may miss something important about the reading experience.  You may feel differently, and that's okay.  From my view, it just means that you get more out of the act of critiquing a work than I do.  It doesn't, however, make you right in any absolute sense. And, if you read the link I posted earlier, you'd see some distinct examples of why I believe it's important to do so.  But again, what I've said thus far indicates merely my own personal views.  I suspect a large portion of our disagreement stems from the possibility that you may have been misconstruing what I'm saying as fact or absolute truth.  I am not.

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Well, evidently there are interested parties that would like me to respond to this further.  I didn't really feel that this last post really merited a response from me, since it seemed to me to add nothing further to the topic in question.  I started this post to specifically cover a few points, and haven't yet bothered to get much past the first two, since there's been little to no response to the first one.  If you're wondering why I haven't justified my opinions on the other points, it is because I feel that there has been no discussion on the first one worth the name, aside from a few excellent points made by Suttree.  I'm not going to move onto the other points until and unless that point actually gets discussed to everyone's satisfaction.  In fact, I haven't even presented more than the first point, and some peripheral discussion about the second one.

I've given my response to the first point. If you would care to address that, you've had ample opportunity. If you're not going to address the points I make in response to you, then really the discussion cannot progress. Going on at greater length is therefore redundant.

 

On to business.  With respect to the one point that you made that I think was marginally on-topic (that is, with respect to the writer's qualifications), I suspect you and I are operating from a disconnect.  You seem to be taking me to mean that the aforementioned is fact or absolute truth, when in fact it's just my personal opinion.

Wrong, I've said clearly that I wanted you to justify your opinion. Which means it was clearly understood on my part that you were voicing your opinion.

Edited by Mr Ares

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I would like to know what objective, universally-recognized standards exist for evaluating the quality of fantasy writing, since some posters have claimed that they exist (and are able to apply them), but seem oddly shy about actually discussing those standards.

 

"If you're not going to address the points I make in response to you, then really the discussion cannot progress. Going on at greater length is therefore redundant."

 

Looking at the history of the thread, the substance of the points in response to crimsonfalcon seem to be "I just don't agree with you", with nothing of substance beyond that.

 

"With regards to your debating award, I haven't been here long enough to know how much a debating award on a relatively quiet internet forum means. So I'll just say, congratulations on that front."

 

Didn't IshamaelForsaken win the debating award?

 

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I've given my response to the first point. If you would care to address that, you've had ample opportunity. If you're not going to address the points I make in response to you, then really the discussion cannot progress. Going on at greater length is therefore redundant.

False yet again.  And yet again, despite requests, this post remains utterly unresponsive to the first point.  You provide no examples, and address the argument not at all.

 

Let's look through.

 

Post #10.

 

 

 

But knowing what you are talking about and being able to do better are different things. Why the former is relevant is clear, but why the latter? If I was a bad writer, how would that invalidate my views on the deficiencies of the skill of another? If I bought a pair of shoes and they wore through in a matter of weeks, does my not being a cobbler mean I shouldn't say they are bad shoes? Why not take the argument on its own merit? From my perspective, I don't think there's any fact I could learn about your personal life that would be relevant to the point here - even if you were Brandon Sanderson offering a rather strange defence of himself, your point stands apart from that. Whether you're a plumber or a professor doesn't matter to me, only what you say does. On the other hand, it would appear to be important to you to know my background in order to judge my comments. I might have a Nobel Prize for Literature. That would indicate that I can write with some skill indeed. Given that my literary awards and accolades are currently unknown to you, by your reckoning whether or not I can criticise Brandon Sanderson is up in the air. Can I be taken seriously? And does this only apply to bad writing? If we are to say that Brandon is good, surely that can only be determined by his superiors? Those who awarded him those Hugo awards, what have they written? Are they all fit judges?

 

This portion of the post is entirely about the side point from the previous one about qualifications, and is utterly off-topic.  It touches NOT AT ALL on my point about the subjective nature of literary criticism, which to date is the point of the thread.

 

 

 

Especially with novels, or epics as long as Jordan's or Sanderson's, there are so many words (millions), that it is inevitable that even the most careful reader will miss something (viz, Mr Ares missing, in only a single sentence, the word "some"),

No, I didn't. Apparently you missed that I didn't respond to that point at all, I only said that I didn't identify with Feist's characters. The sentence I responded to had a someone in it, but not a some. You've basically invented a point to respond to.

Or, to use my favorite example, if you're out on a date, and you tell a girl that when you look into her eyes, time seems to stop, she may find that romantic.  However, try telling her that her face will stop a clock.  Same literal meaning, but one is DEFINITELY going to get you slapped.

Actually, they have different literal meanings. A clock isn't time, it's a device for measuring the passage of time - it being broken doesn't mean that time has stopped passing, or even seemed to, it means the device you use to measure the passing of time seems to have stopped. This is by the by, really, but I had to point out, as a literal minded person, that your figure of speech didn't work.

 

 

Fair enough.  I understand where you are coming from, and while I find it somewhat naive, as always, you are entitled to believe whatever you want, and it's really no skin off my back.  I would, however, like to point out something else that I think is important here.  Suppose I were to get tired of playing this game, and you were to find out that you are talking to a professor of literature at Princeton University, among other qualifications.  Would I then be entitled to my own opinion, without some person not long out of an undergraduate program second-guessing what I choose to read for pleasure?

You would be no more or less entitled. Your opinion is judged on its own merits, not on the merits of the person giving it. The same is true of all of us. Thus, while I know nothing about you, there is nothing I need to know.

 

The rest of this is another inaccurate statement, conveniently covered by editing from the mods, another off-topic "attack" on a figure of speech having literally nothing to do with the topic, and a rather rude statement that you need to know nothing about me, despite NO attempt by you to touch on the topic at hand.  Mods, this is a statement of FACT about this post.  I do not believe that it constitutes any more of a personal attack than the quoted post.

 

Your next post, #17:

 

 

 

To date you haven't responded at ALL to the point I was trying to make.  The problem with your argument is that you're focusing in on little things you take to be flaws and missing the main point.  I take that to be true of many people who are "trained in literary criticism" to begin with.  When you get educated about different writing styles (which is always people second-guessing authors after the fact and attempting to shove their work into categories, that, in many cases, the author never gave serious thought about as such to), you tend to focus on what you know.  And that's fine.  But what I've seen is that a lot of people miss the forest for the trees.  And that's exactly what's happening here.

I respond to the points I want to respond to. And as a way of arguing, it's valid to undermine the little things. You use these little points to support your argument, after all, so if I take away all the support of your argument, then where does that leave your argument? What point of yours have I missed? Well, I didn't address your claim that people are stating opinions as facts. I shall do so now: they're not. It's largely redundant to qualify every opinion as such when generally it's quite clear. By the same token, I wouldn't expect anyone to qualify every fact they state as such either.

 

As for opinions in general, the link I provided in the last thread addressed that point quite eloquently. Given that, saying anything more seemed largely redundant at that stage. Just because you're sharing an opinion, doesn't mean that's enough. Yes, you can tell us what you like and what you don't like, but if we - any of us here - are trying to have a discussion, then we don't really get very far if someone says that something is good but is unable to offer a reason why. Even if all literary criticism is opinion, and there are no objective standards of quality, even if we accept that, so what? Why not justify your opinion, so we can actually have a discussion? Even if I cannot "prove" that Brandon is a bad author and you cannot "prove" that he is good, by explaining what you like about him I might gain a deeper appreciation of his work, or just a deeper appreciation of your viewpoint.

 

Not only that, but you make such a big deal about how arguments can stand on their own merits, and yet provide no justification for your own.

I provide justifications when they are needed. If you wish me to expand on a point, just ask, and I'll see what I can do.

 

 

Here we see your SOLE contribution to the topic at hand.  A reference to a link in the previous topic (https://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978), which is entirely about justifying one's opinion, and is unresponsive to the point about literary criticism.  And more, you criticize me for not providing justification for my opinions, and yet provide none for your own.  You address the notion that literary criticism is, at its core, dependent upon personal preference NOT AT ALL here, and provide NO justification for the little you DID say that is theoretically on topic.  Then you say that YOU don't need to provide justification while criticizing the fact that I haven't justified my opinion (FALSE, since I've to date provided far more justification on the two points I've presented in this thread than you).  Pot calling the kettle black much?  And again, I certainly hope that's not considered a personal attack, since, as I hope is evident, all I've done with that post is point out the inherent inconsistency in that you have spent the entire thread calling me out for not justifying my opinions, and that you claim that you don't have to do me the same courtesy.  If a statement of FACT is a personal attack, I suspect I will not be able to post further on this forum.

 

 

 

 

You know less than nothing about me OR the justification of the opinion that you and Suttree attacked me for.

But, as I've already said, while I know nothing about you, I still know enough, because who you are is unimportant to this. It doesn't matter if you're my best friend, or Brandon Sanderson, or the Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, not even a little. Now, if you were Brandon you would know things about your writing process and the choices you made that I, as an end-user, don't, and you would likewise know more about your series, your books, the Cosmere, and so on. But, if none of the things about which you have specific knowledge are under discussion, that fact that you know things I don't wouldn't be relevant. I feel that there are problems with the end product of AMoL. Knowing why Brandon made the choices he did, knowing more about the constraints he was under, might give me a better appreciation of how hard he had to work to get it as good as it was, and show me that he had no option but to produce a flawed end product, but it wouldn't change the fact that I feel the end product was flawed. And if I know less than nothing about the justifications you have for your opinions, that's your fault. It would be for you to provide those justifications, if you felt they were relevant.

 

Here we see you again saying that you don't care who you are talking to.  Again, a peripheral point, which ignores the main one, and also jumps in on a portion of the conversation in which you were not involved, taking things out of context.  And in fact, you ignore the post I made in the previous thread in which I say that I too was unhappy with Brandon Sanderson's work in AMOL.  So you're attacking me for an opinion I have yet to make, and from the substance of this post, one that you evidently agree with, at least as far as the poor quality of AMOL goes.

 

 

 

 

As for the personal qualifications, my point was that if you're going to try to make a ranking of an author based on more than just a personal preference, if I'm going to take someone seriously on the internet, they had better be able to do better.

And my point was, why? Why does it matter? What relevance does it have? By the same token, I could say I wouldn't take seriously any criticism that came from someone who wore odd socks. OK, I can do that, but it's still a very strange reason to dismiss them.

The MAIN idea behind that is that Sanderson has been well-recognized for his talents by a far more broadly recognized standard.

A Hugo says nothing about talent. Same with any award. It's still possible to appreciate the recognition behind the award without thinking it says anything about quality, though. Brandon's a popular author. People keep buying his books. Those people who voted for him, how many of them voted because they'd read all the works in the category and thought his was the best? How many had read some but not all? How many had read just his? How many hadn't even read that, but voted for him because he's a great guy? I'm not saying Brandon doesn't deserve awards, I'm just saying that awards, by their nature, are less about quality and more about recognition.

 

Considering that neither you nor Suttree have offered so much as a single factual justification for your own opinions, while I've gone into great depth to explain my own stance, perhaps we should just leave it at that.

I'd say your depth is lacking. You explain what your stance is, but not why you hold it. You offer very little to stand on. And when I ask questions, you don't answer most of them. You dodge the point. I've written long points asking you to justify your position, and you haven't. On the other hand, you haven't asked me to justify mine, but I've offered some justifications anyway. And, as I've said, if you want to know more just ask. Pick up on an apparent flaw. Address one of my points. My arguments will become clearer over the course of the discussion, if you do that.

 

The figure of speech was mainly intended for humor value.

Yes, as was my response. I did point out that my response was by the by.

 

As for me "inventing" a point to talk about, the relevant part of your post that I was responding to with that was removed for personal attacks.  Since the evidence has neatly vanished, we'll just let that one drop as well.

I made no personal attacks. Not by any reasonable definition of "personal attacks", anyway. But the missing part of my post was not about Feist's philosophy, nor was the word "some", which I apparently overlooked, included in the missing quote. This is easily verified by looking where the removed section in my post is, and comparing those chunks of text in your own posts. As I say, I have not made any personal attacks yet, and I don't intend to.

 

ETA:

"Your opinion is judged on its own merits, not on the merits of the person giving it. The same is true of all of us."

 

I am glad that we all agree that whether someone has a lit degree is completely irrelevant, and the degree or the program that provided it should in no way be relied upon in determining the strength of someone's argument. People should never rely on such a qualification in supporting their arguments, don't you agree?

 

But I hope you see that you have missed the point that crimsonfalcon is making. When an opinion is given, and it is pure opinion without an argument or evidence to back it up, the qualifications of the speaker should ABSOLUTELY be vetted. That's what you have missed in this discussion, and it is critical to understanding the point of the debate. We all already know that opinions that are actually argued should stand on their own strength (everyone here has read about logical fallacies and the amateur Internet rules of argument), but opinions that are not backed up cannot stand upon their own strength because the speaker has not yet made an actual argument to analyze. In those circumstances, crimsonfalcon is 100% correct to point out that the qualifications of the speaker matter. Since you have not yet attempted to back your opinion, it is fair game to inquire about your qualifications. So, I ask, what are they?

You've still not explained why the qualifications of the speaker matter. When an opinion is offered with nothing to back it up, then either it is the sort of opinion that needs no back up, or back up should be provided. "I enjoy Brandon's books" would be an example of the former - it says nothing about their quality, only that you happened to enjoy them, regardless of what that quality might be. It stands on its own strength regardless of the speaker. "I don't think Brandon is very good", with nothing further to back it up, would be an example of the latter - it doesn't stand on its own, and the person saying it still doesn't matter. Regardless of their qualifications, a discussion about either opinion wouldn't work, because the meat of the discussion is absent. Both opinions have their uses - if someone was asking for book recommendations, knowing who some one likes and who they've already read is helpful - knowing why they liked a given author can help to further refine selections, but isn't necessary. Opinions of the latter sort serve as a starting point - but without justifications afterwards, there is no discussion. In neither case does knowing the qualifications of the person stating their opinion give something to analyse - it's just meaningless fluff. As I have backed up my opinion, and as my qualifications would not be relevant to the discussion regardless of whether I had or not, I will therefore refrain from offering a straight answer to your question. Of course, as your opinion hasn't been backed up, then I would ask, what are your qualifications?... Or, I would if it was even the slightest bit relevant. As it isn't, I would instead ask that you provide a justification for your view.

 

 And now we have more stuff about qualifications, flawed attacks about an argument I haven't even made yet, stuff about the Hugo, and more stuff about qualifications.  Again, nothing in here is actually on topic.

 

And then we get to the two more recent posts which I have already responded to in detail.  To date, your ONLY on-topic contribution is this:

 

 

Even if all literary criticism is opinion, and there are no objective standards of quality, even if we accept that, so what? Why not justify your opinion, so we can actually have a discussion? Even if I cannot "prove" that Brandon is a bad author and you cannot "prove" that he is good, by explaining what you like about him I might gain a deeper appreciation of his work, or just a deeper appreciation of your viewpoint.

 

 

Yup.  All you say is "so what."  And I've explained thoroughly, and in great depth, exactly why I think it's important, in every post I've made.  You have responded to none of those points.  The links that *I* provided, which you have not yet responded to, answer your question here eloquently.  

 

And with regards to Sanderson, and I'll make the point again because it's important:  you don't even know what my opinion IS about Sanderson.  It seems to me rather premature for you to be complaining about justifications.  The only things I believe that I've said about Sanderson to date are that I disliked AMOL, and thought The Last Battle was too rushed, and lost a lot of its emotional content as a result, and that I find that disappointing because I think that Sanderson is a superb author, especially with regards to world-building.  Most of that seems to be quite in line with the massively long thread that Suttree linked.  Which again makes me think that you are missing quite a bit in my posts.

 

And I'll ask you the same question.  To what end?  Your main beef in this thread has been to criticize me for not "justifying my opinions," when in fact I've thoroughly justified the two opinions I have actually presented.  The other points I haven't even stated my position on, so your entire contribution, such as it is, to this thread, revolves around opinions that haven't been stated, and thus, for the purposes of this thread, don't exist.  If you're mainly interested in my opinions about Sanderson, you could either wait until I've stated them, PM me, or otherwise stay out of the conversation, rather than taking it off-topic, as has been the case thus far.  I have stated, and justified several times, exactly why I think the first points need to be resolved.  If you missed those justifications, go back and reread as I just did with yours.

 

I think it should be clear just from this exchange exactly why it is important to resolve the first points before jumping on.  Without understanding those points and why I've made them, you will NOT be able to understand my stance on Sanderson, and with 4 points floating around, there will be even further room for confusion.  Look how far off-topic you've gotten with only TWO points in the mix!  I don't think that asking to finish one discussion before we move into the next is unreasonable.  I set this thread up in an organized fashion in the order mentioned for precisely that reason.

 

So I'll say again.  Can we stay on topic, or should we consider this discussion over?  I see no point in continuing an entirely tangential discussion with you.

 

-edit-  @InfiLuminous, to be fair, he said that he and Suttree were both nominees, not that he won.  I do think that we're dealing with a rather different degree of worth here between being nominated for a debating award on an internet forum, and WINNING arguably the most prestigious award in science fiction/fantasy.  And the entire point of bringing up the Hugo in the first place (which went entirely unaddressed) is that, as long as we're going to make ranking claims based upon subjective preference, why should the unsubstantiated opinions of some random guy on the internet trump the rather more prestigious award of the Hugo?  One of these things is not like the other.  I made no claims whatsoever about either being absolute truth.  But EVEN IF I take the point that there's truth to be found in literary criticism seriously, that still supports my point, since presumably the Hugo is more based on that truth than a lone opinion from a stranger on the internet.  I don't, in fact, take that point seriously, for reasons already stated (again rendering all of Mr. Ares' points on that regard irrelevant to my own point), but even if I DID, it would weaken the claim that Sanderson is a middle-tier author.  So many flaws with the argument, but in all fairness, claiming to have won the debating award when he did not, in fact, is not one of them.

Edited by crimsonfalcon07

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I've given my response to the first point. If you would care to address that, you've had ample opportunity. If you're not going to address the points I make in response to you, then really the discussion cannot progress. Going on at greater length is therefore redundant.

False yet again.

 

No, it's not. Given that I have responded to the first point, and you hadn't responded to that response, there really was nothing more for me to say. 

 

The rest of this is another inaccurate statement, conveniently covered by editing from the mods, another off-topic "attack" on a figure of speech having literally nothing to do with the topic, and a rather rude statement that you need to know nothing about me, despite NO attempt by you to touch on the topic at hand.  Mods, this is a statement of FACT about this post.  I do not believe that it constitutes any more of a personal attack than the quoted post.

It's not rude to point out that i don't need to know anything about you, it's a simple fact. And pointing out your lie - and I showed it to be such - is not an inaccurate statement, it's another simple truth.

 

Here we see your SOLE contribution to the topic at hand.  A reference to a link in the previous topic (https://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978), which is entirely about justifying one's opinion, and is unresponsive to the point about literary criticism.

It's very responsive. If there is, as Suttree argues, an objective standard of literary criticism, then that can be applied. But if there isn't, as you argue, that doesn't absolve you of offering a justification of your opinion. X is a good author, X is a bad author, he does this well, she does that badly, whatever, whether the standard is objective or subjective you still need to justify your opinion. So I put the question to you, what difference does it make either way? What does it matter whether or not its objective? And you still haven't answered. Now just because I have approached this from a direction other than "Here are the objective standards" or "I completely agree with you, it is all just opinion" doesn't mean I haven't addressed things, and it is absurd to claim I haven't backed up my opinion. I gave you a starting point for a discussion, and you've persistently avoided starting that discussion.

 

 

You know less than nothing about me OR the justification of the opinion that you and Suttree attacked me for.

But, as I've already said, while I know nothing about you, I still know enough, because who you are is unimportant to this. It doesn't matter if you're my best friend, or Brandon Sanderson, or the Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, not even a little. Now, if you were Brandon you would know things about your writing process and the choices you made that I, as an end-user, don't, and you would likewise know more about your series, your books, the Cosmere, and so on. But, if none of the things about which you have specific knowledge are under discussion, that fact that you know things I don't wouldn't be relevant. I feel that there are problems with the end product of AMoL. Knowing why Brandon made the choices he did, knowing more about the constraints he was under, might give me a better appreciation of how hard he had to work to get it as good as it was, and show me that he had no option but to produce a flawed end product, but it wouldn't change the fact that I feel the end product was flawed. And if I know less than nothing about the justifications you have for your opinions, that's your fault. It would be for you to provide those justifications, if you felt they were relevant.

 

 

Here we see you again saying that you don't care who you are talking to.  Again, a peripheral point, which ignores the main one, and also jumps in on a portion of the conversation in which you were not involved, taking things out of context.  And in fact, you ignore the post I made in the previous thread in which I say that I too was unhappy with Brandon Sanderson's work in AMOL.  So you're attacking me for an opinion I have yet to make, and from the substance of this post, one that you evidently agree with, at least as far as the poor quality of AMOL goes.

 

Again, you state things which were plainly untrue. I did not attribute any opinion to you. Not the ones you haven't stated, nor even the ones you have. Nothing either way. I certainly didn't attack you for anything. As for whether the point is peripheral, does it matter? There's nothing wrong with addressing peripheral points, especially if they're the ones that interest me.

 

Yup.  All you say is "so what."  And I've explained thoroughly, and in great depth, exactly why I think it's important, in every post I've made.

No, you haven't. You've talked around the point at great length, but you haven't actually addressed it. Even the link you provided to that Mark Twain thing didn't say anything. Well, other than saying that Twain operates under the misapprehension that understanding why things are a certain way makes you unable to see their beauty, but that's not on topic at all.

 

Which again makes me think that you are missing quite a bit in my posts.

When will people learn not to say this? A good rule of thumb is if you think I have misunderstood what you have said, go back and read what I said more carefully. But no, time and again people insist on saying the same thing, and more often than not end up with me pulling the quotes from my response that show I did understand and I did respond. Just stop it.

 

So I'll say again.  Can we stay on topic, or should we consider this discussion over?  I see no point in continuing an entirely tangential discussion with you.

Frankly, I've seen it as being over for a  long time, as you've shown no real interest in engaging with what is being said. The ball is in your court, as the saying goes, and it has been for a long time.

 

-edit-  @InfiLuminous, to be fair, he said that he and Suttree were both nominees, not that he won.  I do think that we're dealing with a rather different degree of worth here between being nominated for a debating award on an internet forum, and WINNING arguably the most prestigious award in science fiction/fantasy.  And the entire point of bringing up the Hugo in the first place (which went entirely unaddressed) is that, as long as we're going to make ranking claims based upon subjective preference, why should the unsubstantiated opinions of some random guy on the internet trump the rather more prestigious award of the Hugo?

See, again, you keep claiming I haven't addressed points that I have. Maybe not in the way you wanted, but I have. Awards are worthless, at least in regards to quality. All of them. From the Oscars down to the Empys. They are about recognition. As I pointed out, you don't know why those people who voted for Brandon did so. You don't know which of the eligible books they read. They could have voted for him because he was the best of a bad bunch, because he's the only guy the'd heard of, because they think he's awesome, because they enjoyed the Emperor's Soul, because it was really good... It says nothing about quality. So as they're all worthless, we're not dealing with a difference in worth - it's nothing either way. Both of these things are exactly like the other. I appreciate the recognition, as I'm sure Sanderson does, but that's it, and that would be true if I had a string of wins rather than just a string of nominations. Why should the unsubstantiated opinions of a bunch of guys at a convention trump the unsubstantiated opinions of a bunch of guys on the internet, just because one set of unsubstantiated opinions happen to come with a trophy? And no response. "Presumably the Hugo is more based on truth". Why would you presume that? Because random convention goers who offer no justification for their opinion are better informed than random internet users who do offer some justification?

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i'm going to ask one simple question here.  what exactly is the point of this thread?  because to me, it just seems like people trying to lecture other people on how to properly debate on internet forums and imo that doesn't warrent a thread and is better taken to private PMs.

 

 

edit - also, if you two cant keep a conversation civil then I'll put you both in time out.

Edited by Red2111

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"See, again, you keep claiming I haven't addressed points that I have. Maybe not in the way you wanted, but I have. Awards are worthless, at least in regards to quality. All of them. From the Oscars down to the Empys. They are about recognition. As I pointed out, you don't know why those people who voted for Brandon did so. You don't know which of the eligible books they read. They could have voted for him because he was the best of a bad bunch, because he's the only guy the'd heard of, because they think he's awesome, because they enjoyed the Emperor's Soul, because it was really good... It says nothing about quality. So as they're all worthless, we're not dealing with a difference in worth - it's nothing either way." Now you're just repeating yourself. In claiming that "awards are worthless" and then attempting to justify that belief, you are making o many assumptions that the argument itself cannot be said to have nay merit. You believe that the awards are being decided on something other than quality. Why do you believe that? Where is the evidence? Why do you believe they are only about recognition? You haven't established that at all. The description of the Hugo Award is as follows, from the Hugo Awards website: "The Hugo Awards, to give them their full title, are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy." Excellence, in this instance, is a measure of quality. It says nothing about voting for "recognition." The onus is on you to give us evidence that votes are made for some other reason. Actual evidence, not mere conjecture about other possible motives in the universe of all possibilities. Have you spoken to anyone who voted for Brandon for the Hugo who based their vote on something other than excellence/quality, which, as I have established, is the entire purpose of the award as noted in the definition supplied above? This really shouldn't be too difficult for you to understand. And again, you've completely ignored and failed to engage on the entire point of the thread - what benchmarks apply in this so-called "objective standard of literary criticism" that you espouse? You've been remarkably silent on this point, as anyone who reads the thread can clearly see.

"Because random convention goers who offer no justification for their opinion are better informed than random internet users who do offer some justification?" The justification is contained in the purpose of the Hugo Award itself. You're assuming they are ignoring the stated purpose of the award, which is silly.

Edited by Red2111
to merge double posts. please use the edit function instead of double posting.

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We'll consider this one ended.  The point of the thread was to remove a discussion of literary criticism from another thread which was getting hijacked, and hopefully have a civil discussion in this one.  That seems not to be possible here, and I'm frustrated that I'm being told I'm not being civil for merely stating facts about the content of another person's posts.

 

Please lock this thread.

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