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Old 10-10-2013, 10:50 PM   #16
kennyc
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Again, I suggest you contact the scientists directly if you have an issue with their experiment and results, that is what you are arguing with, not me. Your claim of confirmation bias and setting up the experiment 'looking for results' was what was dismissive I merely pointed it out.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:30 AM   #17
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I have enough empathy already thank you very much. (Slightly tongue in cheek) I don't strongly agree or disagree with the study, but overall I think it has some merit.

When I was young I could read stories focusing on tragedies or the human condition etc. without much if any pain. Last year I couldn't finish Water for Elephants or a book told from the viewpoint of an almost dead dog. I found myself approaching tears and didn't like it.

I like to learn things from books and they don't have to be 'literary' for that purpose. I don't mind books that make me angry, but unbearably sad I don't care for. And of course as many people become inured to tragedy and violence by reading about it as those whose empathy increases. More perhaps as given the popularity of thrillers, horror and true crime books.

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Old 10-11-2013, 12:47 AM   #18
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Perhaps fiction in which the character defines the genre leads to empathy more often than fiction in which genre defines character.

Perhaps the reason literary fiction has been singled out as beneficial is because of the implied hierarchy of elements that define the form. Flaubert, Proust and Joyce were important not because they wrote litfic but because they observed characters so minutely that they were forced to develop entirely new forms of syntax, style and structure to show how the characters thought and behaved.

In their work, character defined everything, including the genre (though you could also argue, in the case of writers like Joyce, that the allusive external structure verges on mnemonic and in that sense is arbitrary, i.e., not character-defined).

I've seen rich levels of formal invention in genre fiction as well, though the emphasis is often different: The experimental aspect comes into play when showing unusual forms of thought, vocabulary and perception that might occur in a culture/race that doesn't actually exist; it's cultural/anthropological/historical/linguistic in origin. You can see that in Neal Stephenson, but you can also see it in Tolkien.

The level of richness and detail in someone like Stephenson is comparable to that of literary fiction. My question is whether you can say the same about the characterization.

The structure of Thom Disch's science fiction novel 334 seems defined by the chamber-music interplay of its characters and in that one sense resembles The Idiot. So perhaps the empathy distinction tracked by the article is often true but not exclusively so.

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Old 10-11-2013, 06:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
..... Last year I couldn't finish Water for Elephants or a book told from the viewpoint of an almost dead dog. I found myself approaching tears and didn't like it.

I like to learn things from books and they don't have to be 'literary' for that purpose. I don't mind books that make me angry, but unbearably sad I don't care for. And of course as many people become inured to tragedy and violence by reading about it as those whose empathy increases. More perhaps as given the popularity of thrillers, horror and true crime books.

Helen
Thanks Helen. I have Water... on my TBR stack. Isn't there a thread about "books that you couldn't finish" around here somewhere?

I think their is much to be learned both intellectually and emotionally from books. I think that is why we do it and yes as with all things it likely is good and bad.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:17 PM   #20
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It's a very interesting article - thanks for the link!
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:46 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
...

Interesting stuff, Kenny. Guess I'll have to grab a copy of The Round House by Louise Erdrich and start empathizing.
I just read the first chapter of this book as I walked at lunchtime....wow....I'm blown away.

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Old 10-25-2013, 02:55 PM   #22
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If you count the pork rinds and Dr. Pepper I consume while reading, literary fiction will contribute to my death.
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Old 10-25-2013, 02:57 PM   #23
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If you count the pork rinds and Dr. Pepper I consume while reading, literary fiction will contribute to my death.


"Death by Fiction" --- sounds like a great mystery title.
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:41 PM   #24
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this is bogus for sure

having read pretty much all of the lowbrow Sherlock Holmes fiction, I can tell a man has been to the beach by looking at his skin tan and traces of sand, but can't tell his emotions at all...

oh wait! that is the distinction after all: surface over depth. I'm sure I'm lacking some Dostoyevsky for that subtlety that gets even Sherlock in trouble...
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Old 10-26-2013, 10:03 PM   #25
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I just read the first chapter of this book as I walked at lunchtime....wow....I'm blown away.
It's been decades since I read The Beet Queen and, as I suspected, that novel seems not to be available as an ebook currently. I wanted to reread it after I reread Erdrich's Paris Review interview because of what she says about writing it.

However, I especially liked A Plague of Doves -- which is available as an ebook -- and would recommend that novel to people who no longer buy physical books.

Also: People who might be inclined to dismiss Erdrich as lit-fic and therefore snobbish should note she has written at least one YA novel (I haven't scrutinized her bibliography and am writing from memory, so there might be more): The Birchbark House.

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