Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

About the latest internet tempest in a teapot

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, feel free to ignore.)

Have a moment at a cafe, with decent WiFi and I'm a bit burned out on other stuff, so I thought I'd mention something important.

Prior to the latest tempest in a teapot, a good day at my blog netted 7 to 10 page hits - all people I know by name, most of whom I've met in real life.

I know posting things here does suggest at least the openness to a larger audience. However, one does get quite used to scribbling on the outside of my locker to a small, narrow audience of people who are my friends.

In the original post, I was careful to frame everything in terms of what my experience was, even with that in mind, because it is more about what I like to read and why I like to read it than about what all you have to read and how you have to write.

This, however, was not good enough. Because I used the word "Literary Fiction".

Now, I know I used a quick, lazy term - and a dismissive one - for the 7-10 people who may or may not show up for today's post.

I used the wrong term, because I used what I think about when I label something "literary fiction" in my mind and this is really throwing people in a needless furor.

I think almost everyone is digging their heels around their own, personal definitions of a term that isn't actually clearly defined. Notice, you folks who've been on board for this whole thing, that the act of definition is *still* going on, over at Jeff VanderMeer's blog.

I think everyone has a different mental definition of what the words "literary fiction" means, and the way to deal with this is not to engage in right-or-wrong intellectual throwdowns, but to engage the point of discord with the kind of elegant and respectful discourse that Hal Duncan does over and over again so brilliantly, to locate where future experiences can be shaped around better understandings of terms.

So, be at peace, party people. Focus not on who has the best terminology, or who's experience is more valid (for everyone's reading experience is fundamentally valid) but in how the terminology we use shapes our shared experience, and how we can find better terminology to understand each other.

And... seriously, where are all these pagehits coming from? I've gotten more traffic this last week or two than I have, like, ever.

(And, for my next offensive rant, I think I'm going to spew inelegently about how much I hate cats... Or, how much I hate the meaningless and offensive separation of salt and pepper in shaker form...)

I'm in Maine a while longer, and I hope the debate continues successfully without me.


K.C. Shaw said...

I was following the whole shebang, but I got bored. How long can one group of people fuss about terminology, anyway?

Anonymous said...

For what its worth, the term doesn't bother me. Use it as you see fit.

Mary C