Monday, 5 November 2012

Running on Three Cylinders

"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."

Well, thank you so much, Mr. Wilde, but what defines something well writ?

Someone gushed to me once that the Hunger Games were "so good!!"  Sorry, but was I the only one who was bothered by the awkward present, first person tense?

Is a book simply "good" when it is capable of holding and capturing attention long enough for someone to finish it? Today, attention spans are so short it is almost embarrassing to humanity.  Exercising the brain makes one feel so invigorated, like reading philosophy and then practicing piano while thinking and criticizing Socrates because he was bullying Euthyphro. That's an extreme example, I will admit, but it works.

As for Wilde, he distorted something very important. Everyone has a worldview, and it usually seeps into an author's, artists, or creators work.  Wilde could just say that an immoral book could be written well, or a good book could be written badly (but then it would not really be a good book).

That is sometimes is true, but to state an absolute that is debatable is so very egotistical it suppresses even the natural inclination to discuss: The 'that is all' ending to Wilde's phrase simply crushes any want to dissect the phrase.

Wilde states it does not matter if a book is moral or immoral, it only matters if it was written well or poorly. That's like saying something (or worse, someone) immoral could be good if crafted well, like Iras in Ben-Hur. True, she was captivating, maybe too much so, but she was not consistent on the inside.

In doing school and reading assignments with a glazed, sleep deprived look, it's good to catch these things, especially if you're only "running on three cylinders."

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: Norton, 2012. Print.
"Running on three cylinders" is in reference to James Herriot's book, All Creatures Great and Small

No comments:

Post a Comment