[LMB] Paladin discussion questions?

beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com
Thu May 10 14:44:56 BST 2012


"BlueRose" <stacey at xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> On 10/05/2012 10:20 a.m., beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com wrote:
>> *snip*Question for you. Why on earth would anybody read a story in
>> which they *don't* identify with at least one of the characters on
>> some level? What would be the point? Why not just read a piece of
>> nonfiction or a poem or something?
>
> I can 'relate' to characters, absolutely.  Do I consider that I
> 'identify' with them.  No, no I do not.

Hm.  I think there is a difference in what you and I would count as
"identifying."  Do I mean "La!  I am Ista!" absolutely not.  I mean
identifying that I have certain traits in common with some of the
characters, that there is something about *their* experiences that I
recognize from *my own* experiences.  Not the gods and going to war, but
other bits, having family struggles and trying to find your place in the
world.

>> Given that, an exploration of which characters you identify with and
>> why can help with two very important things. It can help you sort out
>> the ways in which your own identity may be adding to/subtracting from
>> the text, so that you can see more clearly what is happening in the
>> story, which is a good goal for any book discussion.
>
> Nods, if there was a particular point or action that I struggled with,
> yes I could see how some robust discussion might help open the worldview
> a bit. One of my pet peeves is characters who do things that are
> completely implausible in the real world, or completely out of character
> for them in the book, or are forced to such a circumstance because of
> bad plot points or ridiculous story twists.
>
>> It can also help you sort out your own internal life and self-image,
>> and how you react to things, by showing you someone similar in some
>> way, and how they deal with it, and how *you* react to them/their
>> situation and why, which may point out some things about your own
>> patterns of thought or behavior that you had not noticed before. Which
>> is a good goal for life in general.
>
> This is where I am coming unstuck, while I agree that self learning is
> never a bad thing, to me this feels like "book club = group therapy".  I
> never analyse a book this way.  For a couple of reasons, first I don't
> feel the need to be that self involved.  I read for entertainment and
> escapism and magic.

A couple of things, here.  First, I don't understand why you can't have
*both* entertainment/escapism/magic *and* self learning from the same
book.  You speak as if only one or the other is possible, and in my case
they are almost never separate.  That is, I don't always read with an eye
to pure escapism, but I often do (at least the first time through a book).
 However, a book that doesn't have enough substance that I can analyze it
like that *later* after I've read it once or twice usually doesn't have
enough substance to it that I would bother finishing it, unless I was
really bored.  For me, analysis is a component of the enjoyment of a book
or movie or television show.  It's like, you go to a movie with friends. 
If it's a movie you like, you often come out talking about all the things
you liked and didn't like, right?  For me, that's what the basis of all
analysis is.

As to identification, If I don't identify with the characters at least a
little bit, I couldn't care less what happens to them.  Because they are,
as you point out just fictional beings that someone made up, not real
people.  The only reason to care about what they do or what happens to
them, for me, is if I identify at least a little bit with them or their
situation.  Which is why I asked my original question, which was if you
*didn't* identify with a character (in your terminology this probably
means "relate to"), why on earth would I bother to read a story about
them?  Why not read non-fiction or a poem or something?

> Second, and more disturbing to me, the implication that you can learn
> positive self worth development from a book of fiction, a book that is
> made up out of somebody elses head.  From comparing your thoughts and
> opinions against those of made up characters, with a moral center
> dictated ultimately by the author who wrote it.

Here's the big difference between characters in a book and the inside of
our heads: inside our heads, things are not linear, and they are not
obvious.  Our subconscious and our habits determine far more of what we
say and do and think than we realize.  A lot of the things we do, we don't
actually know why we do them even when it may be obvious to the people
around us.  Characters in books are different.  Characters in books, we
have to know why they're doing what they're doing, we have to have some
plausible motivation for them, or it's not a very satisfying book.  We may
find out the motivation later in the book than the action that happens,
but we do find out.  So.  If you identify with a character, you can look
at their actions and thoughts and go, I might do (or have done) something
like that in similar circumstances.  Is that *why* I would do that?  And
it might be and it might not, but either way it helps you consider your
own actions and motivations from a new light.  It has nothing to do with
"I like this character so I want to be just like them!" which is how it
feels like you may be interpreting this.  It has to do with "I am a little
like this character, what does that mean and in what ways am I similar and
different?"

Beatrice Otter



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