Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

 
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

    I hope its ok to add a new thread for Harry. I thought it would be better to keep it out of the 'what are you reading right now'-thread. OK?

    So finally I joined the club ;-). My book got stuck in customs, but yesterday the package arrived and I already read 100 pages. And I managed to read nothing whatsoever about who dies when and where while waiting. Puh!

    So now I started this posting, but I won't come back until I've read the whole book. But I know I'll want to talk about it when I'm through. So go on ... start without me. See you later!

  • I finished it on the day of its release. Hence why I am past chatting about it. :(

    One thing sticks out though. I love Snape. I love Snape, very much. :(

  • I also finished in a day, and there's not really anything to discuss about it (that doesn't sound like the usual Harry Potter fan crap), it's a good, simple book.

    "As one judge said to another: 'Be just and if you can't be just, be arbitrary.'" --William S. Burroughs
  • I think it's good that the Harry Potter series has influenced a generation of kids to read books, but the books themselves are fucking terrible. I read the first four when I was a kid, and I must say I liked them at the time, but in hindsight they sucked.

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    • Ott 19 2008, 16:10
    FlyingSalt said:
    I think it's good that the Harry Potter series has influenced a generation of kids to read books, but the books themselves are fucking terrible. I read the first four when I was a kid, and I must say I liked them at the time, but in hindsight they sucked.


    The Harry Potter books are the kind of books that only really good for a certain age group (about 11-16ish probably). JKR uses the word 'said' way too much and Harry Potter himself is given a personality of absolute good, which just gets tedious. From what is said in the books about Harry's father - I'd much rather read books about James Potter.

    Still, I agree that they're definitely good enough to get young kids into reading (though maybe not so much now that the series is complete - back when they were coming out every year or so it was almost like a competition between kids - who could finish the newest book first), I doubt they were ever originally intended to be marketed at adults.

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    • Ott 21 2008, 5:59

    IXNAY to Harry Potter

    I have not read these books and do not pan to. I think it is sad that the most popular books, the books that made the richest Brit Female author, are children's books.

    If you want to read great "fantasy," read Animal Farm. Talking animals. We like those right?

  • I spend a lot of my reading time in the company of serious books. I enjoy them and usually take something away. However, sometimes I need some light relief and it is then that I turn to something like Harry Potter. Sure, it isn't great literature, but as a story that holds true to itself over seven books, it's a pretty decent achievement. I always like to read them on a dark winter's night, with a hot drink and no pressing concerns. Then I can just get lost in that world. Escapism rules.

    I think it's also interesting that this has been the first big book series to grow up alongside the internet. With myriad discussion forums and websites covering everything from serious analysis to the weirdest of fanfic it has given people so much more opportunity to discuss, deconstruct and debate these books. I think it has helped breathe even more life into the world Rowling created but has also set the series up for its share of controversy and backlash. I think this is simply what we should expect of a more media savvy world.

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    • Nov 3 2008, 22:39
    Astronick said:
    I spend a lot of my reading time in the company of serious books. I enjoy them and usually take something away. However, sometimes I need some light relief ...Then I can just get lost in that world. Escapism rules.

    I think it's also interesting that this has been the first big book series to grow up alongside the internet.... I think this is simply what we should expect of a more media savvy world.


    I do not condescend toward escapism. All bookish things, be they Vladimir Nabakov or John Milton, are escapist in some way. Even the act of writing the Divine Comedy is an act of escapism. Reinaldo Arenas talks about this a bit in Before Night Falls. And I read across genres (if there are any) and appreciate fully texture in my reading zone. No problems there. My comment is not that Rowling and Harry Potter are worthless, I am more making an observation that I think it is SAD that the most popular book was so escapist and juvenile. You see? I am afraid that entertainment, juvenile reading habits (see: Umberto Eco), and escapism are too prioritized for the general good. 'Tis quite frustrating for me when I want to talk about how well read Borges seems in his writings when nobody is prepared to talk about any of that due to the fact that Quixote (for example) is not necessarily commonly read.

    Secondly, I also appreciate the culture phenomenon of the internet growing up along side HP, but that is interesting from a cultural paradigm, not necessarily from the book point of view.

    Thirdly, it is not evident to me that the populace (at least in The States) is more media savvy. They are still being led by the nose methinks too often by simplicity.

    I do not pretend to be totally correct, but I do claim these as some thinking on the topic.

    Thanks for your reply. I edited the "quote" in my post to get to some points and because aesthetically, to contain the whole quote in another post is kind of ugly and unwieldy

  • Thanks for your reply, it is interesting to get a different perspective on things. My feeling is that this confirms exactly with your typical standard normal distribution shown below.



    If this is popularity of a book then there will always be some which are very popular and some which must survive on the outer limits. This is the nature of things and should not deter us from actively seeking out discussion. My comment regarding the internet relates to this, in that no matter what you want to discuss, there will be someone else out there who wants the same.

    With regard to escapism, I agree that all literature is a form of escapism. I guess I would term Harry Potter ultimate escapism as its moral compass is very black and white and that you can't really take anything from the book and extend it into the real world. That isn't to say I didn't find the books emotional, merely that the characters were painted with such strong brush strokes that there was no room left for our own interpretation - this is certainly the weakness, in my opinion, of Rowling's work; for surely her imagination and ability to hold together a story stretching over many hundreds of pages is to be commended.

    It is perhaps sad that a book aimed at around 11-14 years old has gained such a popular audience amongst other ranges, but perhaps you could also argue that as a generation grew up with the books (I read the first when I was 14 and was not on any account going to stop simply because, in waiting for the next book, I had grown out of the target age range) they brought the books with them to a wider age range. This is a similar argument as to why video games can be so popular amongst the 18-30 age range when arguably this too should be the realm of teenagers.

    Apologies for my somewhat rambling arguments - it is still quite early on a Saturday morning.

    • Herewulf ha detto...
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    • Dic 4 2008, 3:14
    Astronick said:
    Thanks for your reply, it is interesting to get a different perspective on things. My feeling is that this confirms exactly with your typical standard normal distribution shown below.



    If this is popularity of a book then there will always be some which are very popular and some which must survive on the outer limits. This is the nature of things and should not deter us from actively seeking out discussion. My comment regarding the internet relates to this, in that no matter what you want to discuss, there will be someone else out there who wants the same.

    With regard to escapism, I agree that all literature is a form of escapism. I guess I would term Harry Potter ultimate escapism as its moral compass is very black and white and that you can't really take anything from the book and extend it into the real world. That isn't to say I didn't find the books emotional, merely that the characters were painted with such strong brush strokes that there was no room left for our own interpretation - this is certainly the weakness, in my opinion, of Rowling's work; for surely her imagination and ability to hold together a story stretching over many hundreds of pages is to be commended.


    Interesting posts I seem to have missed until now. I have not read the Harry Potter books myself, but recently, upon the request of my roommates, I did watch the first two movies. I agree that its moral compass is very black and white, though I could say the same for some of fantasy's great classics. The Chronicles of Narnia are the most obvious example, though the case of the LotR is a little more complex. Even though all three display a very distinct battle between good and evil, Tolkien was able to give a more realistic take on human behaviour as not strictly good or bad by placing Bilbo in juxtaposition with the tormented Gollum, though there is no sympathy for the "pure evil" of Sauron there is still an explanation.

    I know that movies are not a good way to judge literature, but from what I gathered from the two Harry Potter movies I watched there was no explanation for the good or the bad, it was simply "the way things were". Some were good, some were bad and none displayed any existence between the two.

    I question your attribution of "ultimate escapism" to the Harry Potter books. I do not think the books are necessarily as escapist as the LotR series. I think the Harry Potter series may represent the commercialization of escapism. Though the rules of morality are absolute, it is not far off from the way the mainstream of society think. Though nobody is ultimately good or bad, the majority seem to identify themselves with the good and look down upon the bad. Only the good in film and popular literature are typically seen as sympathetic characters. Harry Potter is not, in my opinion, an escape from human society, but is a popularly perceived "escape" framed within popular views. To me, the ultimate escape is the book that allows us to truly escape from human society, at least for those of us who feel somewhat alien to it.

    As for escapism itself, I see nothing wrong with it. As Tolkien wrote: "I dislike the tone of scorn or pity with which 'escape' is so often used: why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison walls?" To me, books like Harry Potter seem confined within those prison walls, while there are authors more properly present us with an escapist work capable of taking us beyond those walls.

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    • Dic 4 2008, 6:25
    Astronick, I like the standard deviation model...as a joke. Statistics of deviation have no bearing. Popularity does not determine the good or evil of the books (or the escapist nature of reading). It just says that most books suck and entirely too many people read THOSE. And...about video games...this is ROT. Toss them into the inferno and burn away!

    Herewulf, we AGREE. I do not condescend toward escapism. I READ and that is escapist. no problem I accept that. But I am not so sure that Narnia is a black and white world. Lewis is way too smart for that. But as I have not read these books in quite a few years, specific comments may lack here. And even as I read Tolkien's LotR and escape, there is certainly nothing of the black and white of morality in that set of narratives.

    I do wonder for a clearer connection between B & W morality and escapist reading.

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    • Dic 6 2008, 2:54
    Jester-US I should clarify since I wrote my last post in a bit of a rush. First off, I wasn't suggesting that either of you were necessarily being condescending toward escapism, and I understand what it is you both were saying, but I tend to be a little nitpicky about terminology and such. There are the two bits I took some issue with:

    My comment is not that Rowling and Harry Potter are worthless, I am more making an observation that I think it is SAD that the most popular book was so escapist and juvenile.

    Now, I agree that the Harry Potter books are juvenile, and I also agree that it is sad that they've reached such popularity ( though not surprising given popular interests in film and music. It's quite typical). But your inclusion of escapism as being part of what makes it sad is what I take some issue with. To me it's like calling Britney Spears' music escapist. I will elaborate further upon my address to Astronick 's post.

    I would term Harry Potter ultimate escapism as its moral compass is very black and white and that you can't really take anything from the book and extend it into the real world.

    Here is what I was referring to when I mentioned the term ultimate escapism. I view escapism as Tolkien defined it in the bit I quoted in my previous post. I believe Harry Potter is the bubblegum pop of the literary/movie world, and I think that is reflected in its black and white sense of morality and war against "good" and "evil". My comparison to the LotR wasn't to say that it was morally black and white but the opposite. It still has a war between "good" and "evil", but as I mentioned in my previous post, evil is not ultimately evil and good not ultimately good since there are many characters who ride the line. They are much more human in that way.

    Now, let us, for the sake of conversation, make a grand generalization and say that LotR is the absolute form or archetype of fantasy literature. Tolkien has created a truly original world (despite his borrowings from mythology) into which one might "escape", so to speak. He has created his own races and accompanying cultures and languages, a tale original for his time, and was capable of making his imagery so vivid that the reader was became truly immersed in that world. Not only that, but he was so thorough in his creation of a world into which he could escape, that he detailed, with great descriptiveness, that world's mythology, geography, and history in other works. He created an alternate universe for the imagination.

    Now, continuing to maintain that LotR is the archetype, let us examine Harry Potter. From what I have seen, the Harry Potter is a poor attempt at doing what Tolkien, Lewis, Lovecraft and others did, except that it seems to have turned out a cheap imitation written precisely for monetary gain. The masses, unable to delve deeper into literature to find true worlds into which they might disappear for a time, have willing swallowed the cheap imitation "made in China" version of escapist literature and I believe that is reflected in the adjustment of its moral compass.

    As we agree, LotR is not so simply divided, though the ultimate war is one of "good" vs "evil" there are characters that embody both light and dark and others still that lie outside these alignments entirely. Modern society, though its unrealistic to perceive any human as absolutely good, tends to have a very distinct view of "good" and "bad" or correct and incorrect conduct. Often times people don't know why they consider something to be good or bad, it is simply ingrained in our society. How, then, can literature that embodies something so evidently restrictive of freedom be "ultimately escapist" if escapism does not trap the individual but allows him to escape? The ultimate escapism should be akin to the sublime; it should tempt the imagination to seek infinity, to soar to greater heights beyond "reality's" limitations. Harry Potter does not do that, Harry Potter funnels the imagination into thinking a certain way, it does not encourage it to soar and it is not introducing anything new or intriguing.

    I hope that was somewhat clearer.

  • I literally grew up with Harry Potter. I read the first book in primary school and the last book came out when I was in my first year of university. Years had passed and still I was positively giddy to get my hands on the latest installment and get lost in the story. And yes, I know that the story is flawed and there are a million better books out there, but... Harry Potter is still dear to me. I read the last couple of chapters of The Goblet Of Fire in bed in the dark with a torch and I couldn't get to sleep afterwards. Those are the memories that stick with a person and I thank JK Rowling on my bare knees for giving them to me.


    So maybe Harry Potter can't even begin to measure up to The Lord of the Rings. But really? I never expected it to. I never made it into more than it really was: a really enjoyable children's book that I will remember fondly when I'm old and gray.

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    • Dic 7 2008, 7:12
    yara_gilmore, LORD! There are better books out there yet you claim your readings of HP are special? Sounds like some you have either not read any of the best books or are in love with some kind of nostalgia-childhood dream.

    There is something quite wrong with thanking J.K. Rowling for memories that would be even more important if you had stayed up all night in bed with a torch reading Baudelaire's Les Fleur du Mal (or Kafka's Die Verwandlung "Metamorphosis").

    Personally, I believe that if we already know that HP does not measure up to better English fantasy, then why do people even waste their time reading it?

    Herewulf, I will address your point/clarification etc a little later (I want to eat pizza and finish watching a movie).

  • JHester-US, you seem to be coming across as some kind of elitist. People read Harry Potter because it is enjoyable. People love light entertainment, and some people are only capable of light entertainment. It is probably so popular because so many people can read it and enjoy it. The same cannot be said for Orwell's Animal Farm (which is hardly fantasy anyway, if we are talking genres and not definitions). Orwell writes GOOD literature, but is he accessible AND entertaining? No. I am yet to talk to a person that ENJOYED 1984. They'll insist that it is a great book, but no, they didn't enjoy it. Harry Potter is appealing and accessible.

    J.K. is an unremarkable writer, but she is talented at characterisation and creativity. Also, not all of her characters are black and white (think Snape, Mundungus, Draco, and to a certain extent, even Dumbledore), and Harry himself is not perfect (he gets a bit happy with the torture curse at least three times through his adventure), but aside from that Harry is often foolish, reckless and hot tempered.

    yara_gilmore, LORD! There are better books out there yet you claim your readings of HP are special? Sounds like some you have either not read any of the best books or are in love with some kind of nostalgia-childhood dream.

    There is something quite wrong with thanking J.K. Rowling for memories that would be even more important if you had stayed up all night in bed with a torch reading Baudelaire's Les Fleur du Mal (or Kafka's Die Verwandlung "Metamorphosis").

    Argh. Get over yourself. I love literary novels and classics as well as popular mainstream novels, I wouldn't look down on either types, as they have their different uses that shouldn't really be compared. Comparing Rowling to Orwell? Completely irrelevent.

  • Oh wait, I see from your first post that you do not plan to read them. I didn't think so. It's normally people that have not read them that only have bad things to say about HP.

    I wonder why you are discussing them then?

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    • Dic 10 2008, 14:54
    Mirtrione said:
    JHester-US, you seem to be coming across as some kind of elitist. People read Harry Potter because it is enjoyable. People love light entertainment, and some people are only capable of light entertainment. It is probably so popular because so many people can read it and enjoy it. The same cannot be said for Orwell's Animal Farm (which is hardly fantasy anyway, if we are talking genres and not definitions). Orwell writes GOOD literature, but is he accessible AND entertaining? No. I am yet to talk to a person that ENJOYED 1984. They'll insist that it is a great book, but no, they didn't enjoy it. Harry Potter is appealing and accessible.


    Since when is accessibility/mass appeal a sign of good or entertaining literature or of any art, really? Books like Harry Potter become popular because of good marketing and excellent use of the Best-Sellers list as a marketing tool, and the Best-Sellers lists aren't actually a very good indication. The LotR movies is what you get when you focus on accessibility and mass appeal, then people try to read the books and claim they are "boring" because Tolkien goes into too much detail about the world he's created. In short: fuck accessibility and mass appeal.

    As for Nineteen Eighty-Four not being enjoyable, funny, you're one of the very few people I've ever spoken to that seem to think so. I actually know quite a few people who both enjoy the novel and think it is good literature. Personally I quite like dystopian literature for those reasons, hell, Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We" is one of my favourite all time books. Then again, sitting here talking about people we know or merely talking strictly about our own tastes is not going to solve the argument, and is not exactly great proof of anything. Instead of talking about accessibility and people we know, we'd be better off actually analyzing things like storyline, characters, writing technique, originality etc. The deeper question would by why such books as Harry Potter are popular and "entertaining" and "accessible" to the masses. It could very well be because of the decline of literature as a source of entertainment in our age, good use of the Best-Sellers list and other methods as marketing tools, the fact that most people today's version of relaxation is not thinking about anything to any great degree so reading a book akin to "turning on the idiot box", so to speak, is appealing to them etc. etc.. And Basically what I was somewhat talking about in my post on escapism and how Harry Potter does not really fit the bill.

    Anyways, the post was directed to Jester so I'll leave it alone now.

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    • Dic 10 2008, 16:02
    Mass appeal doesn't say anything about the quality of the book. I agree with you on that. But I think I know what Mirtrione wanted to say about "enjoying" 1984.

    It's one of my favourite books and I also like other dystopian literature I've read so far, but for me it was really upsetting reading it. I read it in two days and in a way I DID enjoy it, but from time to time I just had to stop because it was affecting me too much.

    I've just finished reading it once more - this time in German - because I have to prepare some kind of report about it, and this time it was definitely better in that regard.
    I think partly because I know the story, but also because compared to the original version, the German version is less harsh. (Or at leats that's what I think, probably it just didn't affect me that much, because I know what will happen.)

    So, after all, I think what is appealing about 1984 is that it affected me so much while reading it (and after that, too). That's also why I found the the translation so disappointing.
    The question is (which is again a question of taste) if you like that kind of harsh literature. I definitely think that it's a great book, and I enjoyed it, too, because I like that kind of literature, but I wouldn't generally call it enjoyable.

    That's how I understood Mirtrione's Post, but it's possible that I got it all wrong.

    Ah, and by the way, I read all Harry Potter books. I started when I was a kid and read the last books just for the sake of reading them. I never liked them that much, although I was sometimes quite caught up in them while reading.
    Without exceptions I would forget what happened in the book before by the time the next book was published. There isn't much you can get out of them except a bit entertainment and that's why I would never consider them as good literature or call them my favourite books, event though I had fun reading them and they remind me of my childhood.

    Well, that's my opinion. I also think there are MUCH better books out there, but if someone really likes Harry Potter that much... well whatever. Either the person doesn't know better books (which would be quite sad) or the person has a somewhat weird taste.
    But at the end it doesn't matter because I don't really care what people read.
    (I mean somehow I DO care, because it shows what has become of this society but to think about all that this way is quite depressing, so I prefer not to bother too much about it.)

    So, that was my two cents. :)

  • Herewulf, you completely missed the point of my post. I wasn't arguing what good or bad literature was, I was simply responding to this:
    LORD! There are better books out there yet you claim your readings of HP are special? Sounds like some you have either not read any of the best books or are in love with some kind of nostalgia-childhood dream.

    There is something quite wrong with thanking J.K. Rowling for memories that would be even more important if you had stayed up all night in bed with a torch reading Baudelaire's Les Fleur du Mal (or Kafka's Die Verwandlung "Metamorphosis").


    JS is scorning somebody for finding Harry Potter "special". There's nothing wrong with finding Harry Potter "special". People like different things about different books. Whether it is enjoyable for sheer entertainment value, or if it teaches you something deep about human emotion or society, it does not matter. Harry Potter is probably the most enjoyable series I have ever read. That doesn't mean I think they are the best books, because they are not. On a purely entertaining basis, Harry Potter is fantastic.

    As to 1984, like I said before, I liked the book, but it's depressing. It's not my favourite of dystopias, which is one of my favourite genres, but it's a good book. Doesn't mean I had overwhelming fun reading it though, which is what I speak of. The fact that it is not fun means that will not appeal to the masses because most people just want to be entertained. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. If people want to read just to have fun, then they should be able to without people like JS scorning them for it. This is to go back to the original discussion of why Harry Potter is so popular - and why 1984 is not (in the mainstream, bestseller sense). Harry Potter is entertaining, and that's what most people want.

    • Herewulf ha detto...
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    • Dic 10 2008, 23:40
    So according to you, nothing that is depressing, sad, or invokes anything not entirely positive can be fun or enjoyable?

    What exactly is it that makes Harry Potter, entertaining, enjoyable, fun?

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    • Dic 11 2008, 0:24
    I WILL TRY TO HANDLE ALL THESE GREAT POSTS IN ONE REPLY:

    Herewulf, I agree that the main part of the conversation was my sadness about the general cultural shift toward such a huge escapist children's book, not the reading of the book itself. There is nothing inherently "bad" about the book, but it would be a better sign if even Hemingway's the Sun Also Rises (not a superb book by any means) was suddenly hugely popular of general intellectual interest.

    Mirtrione, Built into your assessment of my "elitism" are 2 simplistic assumptions. The first is that a reader's enjoyment of a book has somehow to do with reading for pleasure only and that the "mind" must not be engaged. I disagree. One may as well argue that to read with the mind engaged is as enjoyable as reading can get. If I want to read Kafka and Orwell, I do so because I enjoy it. The second of your assumptions is that somehow HP is accessible while Orwell or Kafka may not be, Uh. I find both of these artists quite accessible. I rad them and understand the words. Accessibility incarnate. To assume the other side of that statement is to suggest they are not comprehended by you or by what you think is the normal reader that fails to comprehend or to try. That is not my problem except when it some to this literature's greater ideas that may in fact want to be discussed for ENJOYMENT and PLEASURE by me. And if A-nnihilation wants to call my interest in said books an interest in harsh literature ok. BUT I find it quite enjoyable. If it was not fun, I would not do read these kind of books. Remember, I read 2 summer's ago Kant's Critique of Pure Reason FOR FUN! And beginning quite soon after the New Year, I plan to read Marx all the way through as well as Roberto Bolaño's new 912 page novel 2666. All for FUN and CHALLENGE.

    I think the overall problem is that humans in our "Developed Age" have segregated pleasure from work. The result is that our mass entertainments are quite empty of intellectual challenge. We TRY to escape with such deliberate intent that it begins to take over our habits. That is my distress with HP as "special." I think we should all read John Milton's Paradise Lost together in a sing-song fashion. That would be Fun!

    I probably missed some other points as this thread has built itself fairly quickly...

    Mirtrione, I also would like to know what is so enjoyable about HP that made it so "special" and why that experience could not have been had reading something else. What is unique about HP in its "specialness" and enjoyability (new word)?

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    • Herewulf ha detto...
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    • Dic 11 2008, 2:07
    Jester-US said:

    Herewulf, I agree that the main part of the conversation was my sadness about the general cultural shift toward such a huge escapist children's book, not the reading of the book itself. There is nothing inherently "bad" about the book, but it would be a better sign if even Hemingway's the Sun Also Rises (not a superb book by any means) was suddenly hugely popular of general intellectual interest.


    I generally agree, but my issue was more the labeling of Harry Potter as escapist, which is what my post spoke out against. I do not think it is escapist literature for the reasons I pointed out above. Juvenile, yes. Escapist? No. I'm still not sure I came off as clear on that.

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    • Dic 11 2008, 14:52
    Okay, then a conversation that splits the difference between escapist (good), escapist (bad), and Tolkien's escapism might be in order. No problem. And remember, I have already claimed that all reading is escapist, history, Kafka, science, and poetry etc. So I say again, it is not "escapism" that I condescend toward.

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    • Dic 11 2008, 17:51
    I think I may end up starting a thread on escapism over the weekend, since I think its definition is a little more complex than we often believe it to be.

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    • Dic 11 2008, 18:09
    Great. I support that. Long discussions are the best!

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