Lit-Crit

one of the dangers about criticising a piece of literature one has never read is criticism of an issue which is mistakenly assumed to be present in the books. my classical lit lecturer, a white woman who holds a doctorate, was talking about the percy jackson books during lecture as an adaptation of the greek classics and one of the issues she had with it was that athena had children and she emphasised that that wasn’t possible because athena was a virgin goddess, ergo the books had messed up and the author didn’t know what he was doing. however, if she had read the book, she would’ve known that athena never has sex— her children are a product of the “meeting of minds” and thus people like annabeth are literally the brainchild of athena and whoever the other mortal of the union might be. this fact is not fleetingly mentioned; there are whole paragraphs dedicated to it when percy jackson himself, the protagonist, asks annabeth how her birth was possible and annabeth proceeds to explain. criticism of a piece of lit which one has not read is unreliable because it is not criticism of the whole text— it is merely criticism of the parts that the “critic” knows about, and the critic then proceeds to mistakenly apply a broad brush criticism to the whole text.

Sorting Hogwarts: Charting a Deeper Meaning to the Four Houses

Part One: The Problem of A Single Sorting

Let us recognize on the outset is that The Harry Potter Narrative is just that—Harry’s school story. Harry is Sorted Gryffindor in the first book and aside from some Parseltongue drama in Chamber, his status is never really in doubt. Since it’s a boarding school story, the characters surrounding and upholding Harry are almost all exclusively those from within his House, Gryffindor. That’s where the first challenge to the Textual Sorting arises.

Rowling is a great writer of character when she sets out to sketch someone she wants to spend a great deal of time with. She wants you to care. So if all of her primary characters all acted and sounded alike, you’d get bored, REAL BORED, real quick. So there’s a diverse and abundant set of Gryffindor characters that travel with you from beginning to (in many cases, untimely) end. (RIP Remus Lupin. RIP Fred Weasley.). We’re told on the outset that Gryffindor means Courage (“Where dwell the brave at heart,/Their daring, nerve, and chivalry/Set Gryffindors apart;”) and so condition ourselves to interpret this diversity through that one lens.

The problem?

Keep reading

In rereading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) for the first time in some years, I was astonished at the sense of effort, of pains taken, of dogged tentativeness, in the tone of that essay. And I recognized that tone. I had heard it often enough, in myself and other women. It is the tone of a woman determined not to appear angry, who is willing herself to be calm, detached, and even charming in a roomful of men where things have been said which are attacks on her very integrity. Virginia Woolf is addressing an audience of woman, but she is acutely conscious–as she always was–over being overheard by men: by Morgan and Lytton and Maynard Keynes and for that matter by her father, Leslie Stephen. She drew the language out into an exacerbated thread in her determination to have her own sensibility yet protect it from those masculine presences.
—  Adrienne Rich, Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations
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Creating the Innocent Killer

Over the years I have told a number of friends that, if I had had access to a nuclear device when I was in seventh grade, there would be a huge crater in upstate New York centered on what used to be West Seneca Junior High School.

       Had Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game existed then, I might have been one of its biggest fans. I would have been enraptured by the story of the innocent who is persecuted despite his innocence, perhaps even because of it.  The superior child whose virtues are not recognized.  The adults who fail to protect.  The vicious bullies who get away with their bullying.  That was the world as I saw it in seventh grade.  Apparently this is a story that still appeals to many people:  Ender’s Game is probably the most popular science fiction novel published in the last twenty years.

      In relating Ender Wiggin’s childhood and training in Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card presents a harrowing tale of abuse.  Ender’s parents and older brother, the officers running the battle school and the other children being trained there, either ignore the abuse of Ender or participate in it.

      Through this abusive training Ender becomes expert at wielding violence against his enemies, and this ability ultimately makes him the savior of the human race.  The novel repeatedly tells us that Ender is morally spotless; though he ultimately takes on guilt for the extermination of the alien buggers, his assuming this guilt is a gratuitous act.  He is presented as a scapegoat for the acts of others. We are given to believe that the destruction Ender causes is not a result of his intentions; only the sacrifice he makes for others is.  In this Card argues that the morality of an act is based solely on the intentions of the person acting.

      The result is a character who exterminates an entire race and yet remains fundamentally innocent.  The purpose of this paper is to examine the methods Card uses to construct this story of a guiltless genocide, to point out some contradictions inherent in this scenario, and to raise questions about the intention-based morality advocated by Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.

Let’s celebrate the release of the Ender’s Game film by refreshing ourselves on why it’s a pretty terrible book.

There’s been some dialogue lately about whether or not we should hold Orson Scott Card’s gross views against this film, which many say is, itself, squeaky clean. The answer is yes, because it’s not!

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So I found this Grunt who added a single dialogue line that grants a lovely bit of understatedness to the otherwise pretty over-the-top villain speech.

The themes of XY, as I’ve understood them, are the problem of limited resources, the idea of wealth and social class is touted but we don’t see much in regard to poverty. I think the message is very mixed at best, mostly because with a problem so real and so complex, there’s no satisfactory answer. They just say “it’ll work out” and I don’t really like that glibness. It ignores the argument entirely. And the idea IS important. Resources ARE limited and we can’t just pretend that problem won’t be solved without hard work. Someday our children might be fighting over things as simple as clean water.

So I choose more to focus on the little things, rather than the intended theme. The Grunt’s statement after Lysandre’s speech just tugs at my heartstrings much more, and I find it more effective. I think it’s very human to be blind to your successes and obsessed with your failures. That’s what evokes the most empathy from me in this.

I would have loved to see that focused on. To have someone point out to him that working hard for the greater good IS noble, but that we need to have perspective. One man can’t save the world. No matter how rich he is. I wish just ONE character pointed out something like “By inventing the Holo-caster you created a way for people to communicate that might help us solve more problems together, so that we don’t have to face problems alone.” To drive home this idea of community, an idea that I feel is built well with O-Powers and the whole PSS system.

Pokemon has connected me to people all over the world, even back in Gen 4. By having common ground together, we’ve become friends. Those connections bring us compassion and understanding for people thousands of miles away. It’s easy sometimes to shut your eyes and not see the vastness of the world. Maybe it’s easy to ignore, for example, glaciers melting. Maybe you live so far from the ocean that you don’t even think about it. But maybe, just maybe, something as simple as Pokemon allows you to meet a friend who lives on an island where rising ocean is a much greater concern. It helps you to open your eyes and understand why it’s important to solve these problems. So the fact that they didn’t try to offer merit to Lysandre’s proposed problem with the world bugged the heck out of me.

And this doesn’t mean I don’t like the game. I love it. I really do, I feel closer than ever to people all over the world. So thank you Pokemon. And I hope you all do your best to connect to each other. I truly believe that connection and compassion is what can save the world. And I’m so happy Pokemon contributes to that.