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February 22, 2007

Blog Carnival

Val, who has been more than helpful to me in the past, oh, few months, has come through again, this time hosting our little traveling carnival. Unfortunately, the beared lady got sick and the He-She couldn't come with us this time, so we're only left with Goat Boy, the Mind Reader, and the Sword Eater.

The topic for our carnival was:
How far should we allow literary criticism to seep into our lives? Should we always be so on-guard about the way we read, or are there times when the less interpretation, the better?


As soon as I saw this topic, my brain started lighting up. Some people, thus far, have been only too unlucky to have been on the end of one of my never-ending rants about things. This is one of those topics where I have kept relatively quiet, but not for lack of having something to say.

How far should we take it? Well, that all depends. I was thinking on this question on my drive into campus today. I think, at least for those of us "in the industry," we always have a little bit of criticism going through our heads. We can't help it, as its one of those things kind of hard-wired into us. And having critical theory drummed into our heads through secondary school and college, well, it then became second nature for some of us.

By the same account, though - is it a bad thing? Well, not, not always. A book, such as Alan Alda's Never Have Your Dog Stuffed was absolutely and thoroughly enjoyable as well as humorous. I found myself criticizing how he wrote the book, the order in which he placed some things, and the whole part in the middle where it just kind of droned on and on. Did it make me really like the book any less? No, not at all.

I do think, though, that for those of us studying literature, it will be hard, if not impossible, to halt criticism from seeping deep within our bones. For should we fail to practice the skills, certainly, they will be lost. I also think we should put forth an effort to have pleasure reading. I, personally, have found that in the Harry Potter series. It is, I admit, a series of books which, years ago, I disected the stuffing out of. Then I started to ask myself why I felt the need to do so? My understanding of the norse mythology and why a character was named a certain way, though a little fun, was essentially pointless.

I can't help but agree that, yes, less interpretation is better for some things. Those of us entering the Education field, well, we need to keep up on these types of things, but at the same time, if we don't read things we like just for the Hell of it, then why bother teaching about literature and writing? If one is constantly critical of what they read, they should never be able to creatively write, either, as they will find (even if it isn't there) some reason or motive as to why they should or should not do certain things with words and thoughts.

My stance, strange as it may be, is to try to remove myself from critical response when it comes to true, honest pleasure reading. There will be moments of poignancy, in which a lightbulb will go over my head and I will think of the who, what, why, when, where of a line or idea, but I will put forth the effort to refrain from over-analyzing a work.

The real litmus test will be this: after the semester is over, I have a new book the read -
The Parables of Peanuts. We'll see how I handle this one.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at February 22, 2007 4:19 PM


Finished carnival!


Posted by: Valerie Masciarelli at February 22, 2007 4:59 PM

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