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  1. #1
    StealDragon's Avatar
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    Default What is Literature?!

    Literary Analysis and Argumentation
    Final Essay – What Is Literature?!


    Literature is an idea. Its unfortunately it’s usually a physical thing but to me the word literature is not the words on the page it’s the ideas that come from them when recognized. It has to spark some sort of change within a person, whether positive or negative, literature has to inspire a reaction. Its not some static thing, your mind has to fold around it, encompass it, assimilate it, and move with at least some of the characteristics one discerned having been learned. First though, it has to be deciphered. The words may be as clear as the night sky over the Pacific, but unlike the stars, each person will see something different. That has to be realized in the interpretation. What the author wrote is totally up to the reader’s subjective opinion. Use that opinion, grow and move forward. That is what makes literature literature, and not just symbols defacing nature or sounds floating over a crowd.

    A cookbook could be literature if the person using it learns and attributes it to themselves, if they decide that this could impact their life or change their understanding even if its in the most minute way. Literature can be spoken, some of the greatest changes this world has ever seen were made not with the pen, but with the tongue. It would be unfair to discount the contributions of the great orators, past, present, and future.

    I think the value of literature, the value of anything, should be measured by how much it impacts the person being subjected to it. People love Shakespeare because they find it so easy to attribute to their own lives, the complexities of the characters, the dichotomies, the situations that they find themselves in. Who puts themselves in these situations and what would I do if I was there? Questions like that are the foundation of my definition of literature.

    Even the trashiest of books can be considered literature. If the lonely single woman or depressed wife needs to disappear into the Lawrence inspired characters of the sensual novellas of Duane Reade, who are we to tell her that it’s not a contribution to the advancement of literature? If a bored husband needs to excite himself, reinvigorate his imagination from his stagnant life, who says he can’t read his child’s comics and manga? Since when does the target audience of a book exclude it from the column of human achievement entitled “Literature”. What the hell is a target audience anyway?! Humanity, Western in particular has what I like to call Linnaeus Syndrome. The predisposition to assign every single thing a scalable value and then judge it and categorize it based on its physical characteristics, regardless of its intangible values. A Dr Seuss children’s book is not on the same level as the last from Ayn Rand, or even if it was it’d be in a different category somewhere off to the side. Authors don’t write books, figures don’t make speeches to an audience, they write for, they speak to, the minds.

    I wish I could detail how many metamorphoses I’ve gone through in my life. The reasons why, the work they entailed, the disappointment from not doing it to my own personal satisfactions. Most of the successful ones were changes of opinion. I’ve never been one to succumb to media. It’s … disheartening, to see people so malleable, so ready to accept what they’ve been told or shown, rather that start clean be open to everything and then form their personalities by the standards of their surroundings instead of by the standards of their own consciousness. Pick and choose what you want to be, not have it stamped into you. Put literature to use, don’t let it use you.

    ***

    Movies are not quite literature to me. Technically they should be because they are scripts, just like how Shakespeare is meant to be seen not read, the same is true for movies. Much is lost on the plays of Shakespeare due to the fact 99% of the time they’re read and not watched. But the difference between literature and film is much less is left up for interpretation. The movie has already been interpreted once, by the director. It’s his vision of the screenwriters work. You are the third in this sequence, fourth if you read reviews. That muddles the message.

    However they have a large factor going for them. Humans are a visual species, we developed, we evolved sight as a major sense. Powerful scenes are just as striking as powerful words. Sometimes emotions can be conveyed in pictures much better than they can be conveyed in words. A good movie will capture that in its most natural form. Charlotte sitting in the window over Tokyo in Lost In Translation, Chieko standing in the club unable to hear the music in Babel, Julien and Sophie happily drowning in love and concrete in Love Me If You Dare, scenes unreachable with words. The power these scenes has is what makes them literature. Something deserving of preservation, praise, and immortalization.

    Of course I meant what I said when I stated its not quite literature. I balk at the prospect of adding something like Charlie’s Angels 2 to my definition. I try to keep in mind what I’d said about the “drug store novellas” and try to apply it here, I’m sure someone somewhere enjoyed that film as embarrassing as it must be to admit. I’d guess that on that fact alone it’d have to be included.

    ***

    I try to be egalitarian and leave no idea, no angle, unaccounted for. Often that can lead to complex opinions that I welcome. If its simple it’s wrong. Nothing is simple. One of my favorite books, My Secret Garden, is a perfect example of how to complicate something. If only everything was simple and it was 1 + 1 = 2. Nope, instead take that and make sure that one actually equals one, then make sure that the equal sign signals the end of the question and is the answer the answer or is it another question in and of itself. What the hell is a number anyway?! Bite that, say no, say Q W 5 +++. Of course that’s an obtuse metaphor but it helps to show that nothing is written in stone. Hell even if it was I have a sledgehammer. Sledgehammers beat stones to pulp.

    Literature should be your sledgehammer. It should be the way you crush ideals. The handle of your hammer should be your measuring stick when you reconstruct them. Use the spit of your mind as the mortar and build up the bricks of your person from the sandy, pebbled remains of what you’ve been told, what you’ve destroyed. Let the head of your sledgehammer, the interpretation of the words/images/sounds, be as heavy as condensed neutrons on the densest pulsar. Fear not what may become, blueprints are for sissies. Build a home of yourself, with pieces from everywhere and from everything. If you ever feel finished, there will be something that will come along and convince you to add a new wing.
















    ...so what do you think Literature is?


    I'd like to die with the songs I love stuck in my head. I hope to make the most of these hollow bones we become.
    I raise a toast to the the souls that sang all along. I've been gathering friends to just to make some sounds,
    before the ship goes down, I've been making amends by making the rounds before the whole world ends


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  2. #2
    Urameshi-sama is offline Senior Member Community Builder
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    My definition of literature is actually quite a bit more liberal than yours. I consider Literature to be anything that conveys an idea or tries to address anything, inclusive of all forms of books, movies, debates, speeches, and other forms of expression.

    One qualm I have in your differentiation between movies and books is that the original author of the book, like the screenplay director, is also projecting their own views into the presentation of issues within the work that is being written/ directed. So, while movies which are directed by directors different from the scriptwriters may muddle the initial message through their method of portraying the story, the original story itself is a subjective depiction of how the author decides to address or portray the (mostly philosophical) issues within the work.

    For me, not all literature is necessarily invigorating, but the ones that end up having that effect on you reflect realized or unrealized beliefs or interests within yourself or raise issues or depictions that you find valuable. I suppose the characterizing feature of Lit for me would be that it provides you food for thought with regard to the issues it attempts to portray or address, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it. In the scenario where a movie is made from a book, I usually consider each independently for the very reasons you mentioned, but I still regard each as works that express ideas and views, which is Lit to me.

    Humanity, Western in particular has what I like to call Linnaeus Syndrome. The predisposition to assign every single thing a scalable value and then judge it and categorize it based on its physical characteristics, regardless of its intangible values. A Dr Seuss children’s book is not on the same level as the last from Ayn Rand, or even if it was it’d be in a different category somewhere off to the side. Authors don’t write books, figures don’t make speeches to an audience, they write for, they speak to, the minds.
    This excerpt was probably my favorite part of your paper. I really liked how you clarified the writer's generalized motive and disowned cultural perceptions of variant values of works based on stigma or reputation associated with it, it's style, and it's medium.
    It’s … disheartening, to see people so malleable, so ready to accept what they’ve been told or shown, rather that start clean be open to everything and then form their personalities by the standards of their surroundings instead of by the standards of their own consciousness.
    I think you were being a little too loose with your usage of consciousness here. It seem to be trying to address predispositions we have picked up from society/culture, but consciousness could also refer to predispositions that we inherently have (not sure whether you believe in such things, or want to address it).
    Last edited by Urameshi-sama; 05-12-2008 at 10:20 PM.
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  3. #3
    StealDragon's Avatar
    StealDragon is offline Super Moderator Community Builder
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    What word would you use instead of conciousness? Although thats not why I made the thread, I haven't submitted my paper and suggestions are welcome. =)


    I'd like to die with the songs I love stuck in my head. I hope to make the most of these hollow bones we become.
    I raise a toast to the the souls that sang all along. I've been gathering friends to just to make some sounds,
    before the ship goes down, I've been making amends by making the rounds before the whole world ends


    [Chit Chat Specific Forum Rules] // Last Update - Friday March 13, 2009

  4. #4
    Urameshi-sama is offline Senior Member Community Builder
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    ^Honestly, the sentence as a whole confused me because you basically start by describing idea 1 (accepting what's told/the environmental bias) and then contrast it to idea 2 (making conclusions without the pretext of environmental bias) and then contrast it again to idea 1. It just seems to be a tad convoluted and redundant with the re-comparison, so I think you should just cut off the sentence from "instead" onwards.
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  5. #5
    Saizou is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon
    What word would you use instead of conciousness? Although thats not why I made the thread, I haven't submitted my paper and suggestions are welcome. =)
    Very well, I'll make a few comments then.

    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon View Post
    Literary Analysis and Argumentation
    Final Essay Ė What Is Literature?!


    Literature is an idea. Its unfortunately itís usually a physical thing but to me the word literature is not the words on the page itís the ideas that come from them when recognized. It has to spark some sort of change within a person, whether positive or negative, literature has to inspire a reaction. Its not some static thing, your mind has to fold around it, encompass it, assimilate it, and move with at least some of the characteristics one discerned having been learned. First though, it has to be deciphered. The words may be as clear as the night sky over the Pacific, but unlike the stars, each person will see something different. That has to be realized in the interpretation. What the author wrote is totally up to the readerís subjective opinion. Use that opinion, grow and move forward. That is what makes literature literature, and not just symbols defacing nature or sounds floating over a crowd.

    A cookbook could be literature if the person using it learns and attributes it to themselves, if they decide that this could impact their life or change their understanding even if its in the most minute way. Literature can be spoken, some of the greatest changes this world has ever seen were made not with the pen, but with the tongue. It would be unfair to discount the contributions of the great orators, past, present, and future.
    But is there any meaning in a purely subjective definition of literature? Doesn't that simply mean that either everything is literature, or that the question itself is absurd?

    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon
    I think the value of literature, the value of anything, should be measured by how much it impacts the person being subjected to it. People love Shakespeare because they find it so easy to attribute to their own lives, the complexities of the characters, the dichotomies, the situations that they find themselves in. Who puts themselves in these situations and what would I do if I was there? Questions like that are the foundation of my definition of literature.
    I also wonder about your definition of value. Is value also subjective? This is unclear, as you seem to assign a high value to the writings of Shakespeare based on the fact that people love them. And by talking about "people" you seem to make an generalization, which means that the value of a literary work is an aggregate of the opinions of the readers, and thus not purely subjective anymore.

    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon
    Even the trashiest of books can be considered literature. If the lonely single woman or depressed wife needs to disappear into the Lawrence inspired characters of the sensual novellas of Duane Reade, who are we to tell her that itís not a contribution to the advancement of literature? If a bored husband needs to excite himself, reinvigorate his imagination from his stagnant life, who says he canít read his childís comics and manga? Since when does the target audience of a book exclude it from the column of human achievement entitled ďLiteratureĒ.
    Here you may be assigning too much value to a word. Does it really matter whether manga can be considered "literature" or not? What does that have to do with the enjoyment a person can get from it?

    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon
    I wish I could detail how many metamorphoses Iíve gone through in my life. The reasons why, the work they entailed, the disappointment from not doing it to my own personal satisfactions. Most of the successful ones were changes of opinion. Iíve never been one to succumb to media. Itís Ö disheartening, to see people so malleable, so ready to accept what theyíve been told or shown, rather that start clean be open to everything and then form their personalities by the standards of their surroundings instead of by the standards of their own consciousness. Pick and choose what you want to be, not have it stamped into you. Put literature to use, donít let it use you.
    This paragraph seem slightly off-topic, as it deals with the use of literature, and not the definition. I don't know what exactly your professor is after, but based on the title of the essay, I would consider editing it.

    Due to lack of time, I won't be commenting on the rest right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by StealDragon
    ...so what do you think Literature is?
    I would say that literature is a written work that has the specific purpose of conveying ideas and/or emotions to the reader, and that successfully manages to do so in the intended way (or at least to the majority of readers).

    A good summary of my opinion would be the old saying: "A writer doesn't write because he wants to say something, he writes because he has something to say". If the writer's message comes across, then he has created literature.

  6. #6
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    child_of_serenity is offline Senior Member Always Around
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    Your last two paragraphs are so Derrida-esk it makes me sad.

    I disagree with your statement "literature should be your sledgehammer." Because I think that it should be enlightening and not simply to "crush" ideas and "reconstruct" them, but also imbued with the power to create them. Again I guess this is Nietzsche-esk in your formation of a sledgehammer.

    On the cultural paragraph, I just think that it is important that we all remember than even if you are think outside of your cultural learnings many of your framings will still have elements of your culture, ie. language.

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    barny21 is offline Senior Member Regular
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    I try to be egalitarian and leave no idea, no angle, unaccounted for. Often that can lead to complex opinions that I welcome. If its simple itís wrong. Nothing is simple. One of my favorite books, My Secret Garden, is a perfect example of how to complicate something. If only everything was simple and it was 1 + 1 = 2. Nope, instead take that and make sure that one actually equals one, then make sure that the equal sign signals the end of the question and is the answer the answer or is it another question in and of itself. What the hell is a number anyway?! Bite that, say no, say Q W 5 +++. Of course thatís an obtuse metaphor but it helps to show that nothing is written in stone. Hell even if it was I have a sledgehammer. Sledgehammers beat stones to pulp.
    I do more technical writing than creative. I find this paragraph on simplicity a little hard to comprehend. Are you establishing that literature is complex or are you describing your views on the opinions given to you?

    "One of my favorite books, My Secret Garden, is a perfect example of how to complicate something."

    It would be better if you describe how it complicated something since every reader have their own perception, it might be off topic though.

    As to what literature is to me:

    Literature is a creation made to trigger a reaction, emotion, another creation. A stone is not literature neither is a sledgehammer. If you tell somebody how to hold the sledgehammer to crack the stone. That's literature. No matter the medium, a video clip, an audio file, a boring written instruction, picture book, name it. That's literature.

  8. #8
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    I also think you misused the word egalitarian.

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    I belive this should belong in the CW section, as literature is a form of art.

  10. #10
    StealDragon's Avatar
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    Ok. This is not about my essay. Read the title. I didn't ask for help with my essay I posted the question and my answer.


    I'd like to die with the songs I love stuck in my head. I hope to make the most of these hollow bones we become.
    I raise a toast to the the souls that sang all along. I've been gathering friends to just to make some sounds,
    before the ship goes down, I've been making amends by making the rounds before the whole world ends


    [Chit Chat Specific Forum Rules] // Last Update - Friday March 13, 2009

 

 
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