Books that are poorly and lazily written offend me all the time. The most recent was probably Justin Torres’s “We The Animals.” Tons of hype, but terribly written and contrived and an “After School Special”-like treatment of the “coming out” narrative.
A Million Tiny Pieces. I immediately knew it was a lie for the same reason I knew it was a shitty piece of writing: the protagonist is right about everything and everyone else is wrong. What makes it evil is that there’s no way of knowing how many addicts read his dishonest, self-serving description of 12-step programs and understandably decided against getting that kind of help. It wasn’t Oprah who was owed the apology.
i enjoyed his first book. read most of the 2012 book.
i went to some psytrance festival on the mason-dixon to talk to him. but. he gave a talk. he seemed afraid. i didn’t bother to talk to him.
he does seem a bit childish. almost spoiled. or full of himself. a tough gig when your preaching ego-death type of stuff.
at least there’s graham hancock. but. he wrote a fiction book. he said it came to him during an ayahuasca ceremony. he should have left it out in the noosphere or wherever whitey goes when he goes down into the amazon to get enlightened. it’s called _entangled_. my partner read it. she said it was like psychedelic trash. i tried to read it. but couldn’t. but. graham seems chill.
Doris Lessing’s “The Good Terrorist”: for such a grande dame of literature, the book is chock-full of lazy clichés about the political Left and is just lazy all round. The only book I have tossed towards a bin on completing it and the binding was so flimsy it ripped part away from the spine, which seemed indicative of something…
I remember being offended by The Life of Pi, but I don’t really remember exactly why. I think I felt as if I was being preached to and hit over the head with an overtly religious message that I was just not at all open to.
I think it boils down to the feeling that Ball was just cherry picking lots of interesting devices, tricks, imagery from other great writers (Aldous Huxley, Kenneth Patchen) and preciously piecing it all together to make it seem like he had created something truly unique. It was as if he knew it too, as if he knew that he was full of shit, but expected me to carry on believing and weeping. I kept thinking while reading that book: this fucking author thinks I’m an asshole.
usually held in the woods, they raves for technological hippies.
usually lots of like earth love like yoga posturing and psychedelic drugs and hula hoops. picture the movie avatar. the world the na’vi lived in – promoters decorate the trees with black lights and day-glo and alien inspired fractal art.
djs spin psychedelic trance or goa trance or whatever it’s called these days. and it all goes on for like 3/4 days (during the solstice or some other important calender event). non-stop. that pounding trance music. it gets old quick.
i usually go and drink like a redneck and juggle like a street kid and find out what psychedelic drugs the kids are doing. then bring them odd drugs home and do them by myself or with a few friends.
psytrance shows also take place in warehouses. but they usually not as freaky as the ones in the woods. because in the woods, late at night, there’re tweakers hiding in the trees. i keep a full can of beer on me at all times. just in case some kid on mda wants to get a little too close. i coldclock a bitch out his tevas. that’s a lie. but you get it: techno hippie rave in the woods.
I get offended by attempts at emotional manipulation. Last thing like that that I can remember is Michael Kimball’s “Us”. I just felt it was almost desperately transparent in its mission to have an emotional impact. I like some of his other writing too, though arguably the other stuff suffers from the same thing.
am i supposed to say ‘it would rip you in two. grrr.’ ? i think… it would grow some wings. fly out your hands and land in my lap. i’d sit on it for like 40 years. then i’d sell that shit on ebay to your grandkids for like , i don’t know… like so much american yuan. your family will be so poor. your kids will have no money for your nursing home. you’ll die. and i’ll be all like laughing scrooge mcduck in so much money. i’ll live forever. like magic johnson on aids.
for real. why did you tear it up? did you see harmony on letterman promoting it? classic television that.
i don’t know. i was confused by that book. but then i grew to love that book. i kept it in my bathroom before i gave it to my friend as a birthday present. it seems like it will come back into print and be this thing bigger than it was. maybe i’m crazy.
i’m remembering a macaulay culkin book. after googling it: _junior_. now THAT was a rip-off of _a crackup at the race riots_.
but all this is reminding me of a movie. _crazy richard_.
that made me feel like harmony’s book did. classic film. _crazy richard_ was wonderful.
_i lost my love in baghdad: a modern war story_.
michael hastings (author of the rolling stone article “the runaway general”) parlays his fiance’s death into a book deal.
i admit i liked the book. but. seems like a dirtbag move on hastings part.
i also disagree with _gabby: a story of courage and hope_.
i didn’t read it. i just disagree with it. the timing of it. is the book a fundraiser?
IN THAT CASE AN IMAGE OF A HIKER HALF-EATEN BY A BEAR, ONE SOCK AND CROSS-TRAINER STILL ATTACHED TO A RAISED LEG MISSING HALF A SHIN. ACCESSED LATE AT NIGHT IN THE YEAR 2001 OR 2002 OR 2003 ON A WEBSITE THAT NO LONGER EXISTS PROBABLY BECAUSE OF ITS EXTREME CONTENT BUT NOT BECAUSE MORAL STANDARDS HAVE IMPROVED
WOULD ZZZZZIPPP BE OFFENDED AT THIS TODAY OR WOULD HE JUST PHOTON ONTO ANOTHER THING
“WHEN I LOOKED AT THAT IMAGE SOMETHING BROKE. SOME LIMIT HAD BEEN REACHED, AND NOT ONLY THAT OF HORROR; I FELT IRREVOCABLY GRIEVED, WOUNDED, BUT A PART OF MY FEELINGS STARTED TO TIGHTEN; SOMETHING WENT DEAD; SOMETHING IS STILL CRYING”
OR MAYBE IT WAS SOME OTHER THING ZZZZIPP SAW ONLINE THEN, LIKE A PREGNANT ANTHROPOMORPHIZED DRAGON DEVOURING A SEXY TURTLE THAT WAS TOUCHING ITSELF
i forgot about _the bad son_ :) but culkin’s book _junior_ was on a table in borders in west hartford back when. and i looked through it. it was just like _a crackup_- a book i cherished. _junior_ made me feel pity for macaulay culkin. there was no reason it should have.
i’ve made a few friends by repeating that title: “pass the bitch [,] chicken.” i never claim it as my own. but people always get a kick out of it.
I don’t actually have an answer but I really like this question–so much of what I am rather derelect regarding is offensive: namely Jacky Collins; her world view is rather crap but I have a hard time not believing she’s some some species of genius even though one could make a good case that some of her books are mega patriarchal decoys and the fact that she seems to value fame and money more than any other dynamic.
I read the Book of Tobit on a dare in 7th grade. It’s only in the Catholic Bible. It made me feel momentarily ashamed to be female. Then I remembered that it was garbage and I stopped feeling offended.
A few days ago, Blake Butler (master and commander of HTML Giant) asked the question: “Has any book geniunely offended you? Why?”
No doubt this was a talking point he corralled through a discussion with friends or after having finished some terrible, mainstream book. Despite its seemingly simple state, this question is embedded with some serious hermeneutic problems:
+ First, why ‘geniunely’? ‘Genuinely’ is perhaps a way to distinguish between a bad fart joke or the use of unsettling language, etc. It also could be used to limit the discussion to more fruitful conversations about offensive works of literature. The problem us Philosophy Winners have is that it refers to an authentic status that is not clearly differentiated.
+ You may say, “Philosophy Winners, no problem. Take out the ‘genuinely’.” But there remains the more pressing problem: What does it mean to be offended?
Elementary rhetoric in our society bubbles with language such as PC, respect, social conditioning, multiplicity, ethnicity, gender, marginal groups, subversive. If we expand the term, could not all of this be a question of offense?
The notion of offense comes from two separate meanings that combine to give a greater understanding of what is going on in this contemporary state of rhetoric. One, we offend when we cause pain to another. That is, we have offended them. Broadened, this could be from an unintentional act of misspeaking to greater and greater degrees of violence.
It is the second meaning, however, that reveals why offending/being offended has become a common occurence in our era; we offend when we break a rule. Consider Ben’s comment on the thread:
The Curfew by Jesse Ball. I think it boils down to the feeling that Ball was just cherry picking lots of interesting devices, tricks, imagery from other great writers (Aldous Huxley, Kenneth Patchen) and preciously piecing it all together to make it seem like he had created something truly unique. It was as if he knew it too, as if he knew that he was full of shit, but expected me to carry on believing and weeping. I kept thinking while reading that book: this fucking author thinks I’m an asshole.
For Ben, Jesse Ball offended him by using expected tropes. This very easily aligns with our second definition: Ball broke a rule of writing by doing what comes easy whereas it is implied by Ben that writing must not come off as mechanical or too heavily borrowing.
Here is where we find the culmination of all our issues with offense.
First, the use of genuine is necessary in Blake Butler’s question as seen in Ben’s comment. We are dealing with a question of authenticity. Ben wants to point out that Ball did not write authentically. In this way, offense necessarily comes from a person not behaving in a way befitting what the offended deems as authentic.
Second, breaking a rule and hurting someone is intertwined. Ben is hurt (in a lighthearted sense as having read through something painfully written) first and foremost because Belle broke the rule of good writing. Here, we see that we are caused pain not by the offense, but that the breaking of the socially expected rule is what causes the offense/pain. In other words, I am not caused pain by your ineffective writing. I am caused pain by your inability to see that your writing is ineffective. Consider the offense of a racial slur. To be called a racial slur is not what is offensive. One is offended by the person’s inability to see that the slur is unacceptable.
Can someone/a work become less offensive in these terms? How much of this depends on the offendee?
What is authenticity’s relation to the Rule? Am I authentic in another’s eyes when I am aware and abide by the Rule?
How offensive do you find the other posts on the thread in these terms?