6 January 2014

Possibly the dumbest thing said on the internet, ever

Judging from the use of language, diction and presentation, the person who said this was educated, naturally.  The topic under discussion is classic science fiction and fantasy when Anonymous (also naturally) chimes in.   Revel in the glorious stupidity.

Another thing to consider: so much of what is Classic or Seminal in this genre (along with many others) is problematic or inadequate in some fashion. You mentioned the sexism in one story, which is enough to keep me from reading it. You can get past it, perhaps, because sexism doesn't affect you the way it would me. And that's fine and I'm not pointing fingers and calling you a name, I'm just saying it would be a bigger problem for me.

And then there's racism, homophobia, antisemitism, and any number of other bigoted attitudes lurking in those old stories and stories. No, thanks.

Then there's the issue of how much early SF/F is decidedly Western. Euro-centric, US-centric, and all about the superiority of anglo white men. These days there are so many amazing novels and stories that arise out of non-European/non-Western modes of thinking and folktales or myths, why would I bother soaking myself in a history that erases or ignores such things?

I agree that an understanding of the history of this genre is important, but that doesn't mean having to actually read that stuff.

To recap: this person has just said they don't need to read a book or even a bunch of books to know what is/are  in it/them.

Mike Flynn has already taken a shot at how they are wrong about much of the genre,  my own comment is in a different direction,  I know where this comes from: back in the day when I was a young man with promise working towards a never achieved PhD in English, we used to speak of Theory and Approaches to Reading, and opined that people did not work towards an understanding of what is to be seen in a book, but rather worked from an understanding of what was always already to be found in it to begin with.  (we were fond of the phrase "always already" back in the day.) At the time we seemed to think that this was what happened to other people, but then we slowly began to have the realisation that the "people" who had a "theory" of what was "always already" to be found in any given text (another buzz word of which we were fond) was in fact us.  From that realisation it is but a short step to celebrating what we originally thought of as a bug.  And hence the person above, who claims to have no need to read any given text of the genre, as they already know what is to be found inside.  All the knowledge of the world is always already inside our heads, because we have decided what that knowledge is without seeking it.

Can you imagine someone saying: "I agree that an understanding of Shakespeare is important, but that doesn't mean actually having to read his stuff."?  No, snookums.  Having an understanding of Shakespeare exactly means having to actually read the stuff. 

All of which confirms what I always already know, gleaned from my overlong experience in academia:  there are certain levels of stupidity only the truly educated can ever even hope to achieve.  To most ordinary people, understanding the history of the genre, or any other genre would exactly mean actually reading the stuff. But Anonymous knows better, and knows they know better. I would like to offer this anonymous my congratulations.   For something that blindly and arrogantly dismissive and oblivious, they should have lots and lots of academic abbreviations following their name.

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