[LMB] Paladin discussion questions?

Elizabeth Holden azurite at rogers.com
Wed May 16 16:28:42 BST 2012

"BlueRose"<stacey at xtra.co.nz>  wrote:
> *snip*
> 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".*snip*

As a good thing, or a bad thing?

The word "therapy" gets thrown around in a pejorative way, but if you define it simply as "things which help us", it's a wide field.  Anything can be therapy if you want to make it so - that is, we can and should learn something from whatever we encounter.  Consciously or not.  It doesn't mean something is wrong. It means we want to understand what we experience, including ourselves.

>  That is, I don't always read with an eye to pure escapism 

I'm not sure what 'pure escapism' would be.   In the abstract, it would be reading things with no relation to our world at all, but that is pretty much impossible - books use words, all of which have connotations; books have plots, which echo plausible actions; books have themes, characters and ideas all taken from our world. If they did not, they would be unreadable nonsense.

And isn't there a lot of value in thinking about such things?  Otherwise there would be no English literature studies, no email discussion lists... and my life would be a lot more boring.

>   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.  *snip*

Yup. Me too. And I've never been that bored.

> 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. 

I find it's often the reverse - "I like this character because they did just what I would do in that situation."

> "I like this character so I want to be just like them!" which is how it
> feels like you may be interpreting this. 

And if it were the case, would that be a bad thing?  To look to a fictional character as a touchstone for inspiration?  Sometimes I don't want to go to the gym. I tell myself, "Bruce Wayne would do his workout," and I find the idea amusing, and it make me move.  This seems to me a very good thing.


> I can see clearly that we have very different approaches to reading. 

There are many, many different approaches.  Different tastes, too. As many as there are people, multiplied by the number of books read.

>  For you analysing the actions and motivations of the characters within the book is an intrinsic part of your reading process.

I do it too, not always consciously.  And sometimes I do it as a study in writing: Is this character psychologically plausible?  How did the writer get his thoughts across to us?

>  I read a book, enjoying it for what it is, and I put it down and go on to the next one.  Same with movies. 

For me, thinking about a book or movie, and discussing it afterwards, it part of the entertainment.  Not always to be taken to seriously, but... The other day an acquaintance told me she'd been to see "The Avengers". I asked her if she'd liked it.   She proceeded to  talk about her reaction to the use of 3D.  I was disappointed: I wanted an assessment of the characters, or the story, or the world it's set in - something more text-based than technology.  I didn't know her well enough to press the issue.

> yes you can and almost certainly do learn but as far as I am concerned, for the vast majority of people, its by osmosis, not a deliberate choice. 

You think so?   Maybe, maybe not.  I haven't seen documented studies, nor would they necessarily reveal the truth.  This is a function of a lot of things. I think many people may consciously learn from their reading (less so from movies, probably) and not talk about it.

> For example, religious people deliberately read their religous text to learn and receive guidance from.  Another example is self help books :) 

And everyone who ever read a book in school.  I think people are more likely to read fiction without thought as to content (except for whether it's entertaining or not), but I suspect they still usually "get something" from it.  (Usually this equates to the intelligence of the writer.)

> Fiction books offer opportunities to learn, especially social dynamics and relationship stuffs, as well as good vs bad etc.  But reading fiction 
> to deliberately analyse it for these things and specifically compare them to your choices? This is a WTF situation for me :)

I am surprised at your surprise. Entertaining may be my primary reason for reading, but analysis and food for thought is part of the process - which is to say, I enjoy a book more if the material in it is substantial enough to encourage thought.

Some people are simply not self-reflective.  You may be one of them.  That's okay, too.

Why else would we want to discuss the works of Lois McMaster Bujold on a list, if not to think about the material?


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