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  #41  
Unread 04-10-2021, 03:59 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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This might be something useful here to say beyond the book - perhaps about the importance of fostering a critical consumption of knowledge - something which this thread demonstrates is wonderfully alive and well, here, which is great. But itís not alive everywhere.

Also, small children arenít critical consumers of knowledge - Iím not an early years specialist, but I suspect the ones I know would argue that children are natural consumers of knowledge but not particularly critical ones. And if thereís a parent out there moderating, then thatís maybe okay. But what if there isnít? What if youíre a child from a family which thinks cultural stereotyping/racism is acceptable? What if youíre a child from a Pan-Asian background who is in a nursery which has this book on its shelves?

I donít have a perspective on this particular book, or enough knowledge to comment on the particular. I guess I just donít care enough about this book or the author to challenge what appears to be a fairly standard business-decision type decision to withdraw certain volumes. What might be important in terms of any argument about banning is that they remain in archives etc, and I suspect that these books have not been removed from these. Which means that people can access the text, even if they canít buy them in the local bookshop.

I dunno, too, but I always look at who I am when I think about things like this. Iím a white Englishwoman. I donít end up in the back line of the privilege walk (and yes, I know that that is a flawed measure) but I donít end up at the front, either. But in many ways, I just am not able to comment, because Iím not going to be hurt by those images - othersí might be, though, so itís about taking that into account, too, for me, maybe.

Taking our self-reflexive positions into account. And trying to see where they sit in a wider continuum rather than how they sit with our preconceptions of ourselves?

But anyway, for me it's so, so good to read a critical conversation about this, and I hope you don't mind my joining in, to some extent.

Sarah-Jane
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  #42  
Unread 04-10-2021, 04:09 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
Roger, you're right, "ban" isn't quite the right word. I try to avoid hyperbole as much as I can and I think I've been using the word "withdrawn" up until my last post. I think I stand by my opinions otherwise. I do think the whole "you can't cancel yourself" idea is a little disingenuous. You can certainly be put under a lot of persuasive pressure to do so, as in the case of the Amanda Gorman translator recently discussed here, who "voluntarily" stepped down. I think if more publishers begin following suit with older books containing "problematic" content, then the difference between "withdrawn" and "banned" will become purely semantic. I hope that doesn't happen but I don't feel massively confident. Maybe I've just been "hooked by the nose" by right-wingers, as John says. I don't feel like I have. Most of what I've read about this has come from the BBC and the Guardian. I'm not losing sleep over this but my discomfort at it feels completely reasonable to me, though apparently not to many others.
I guess ultimately it depends on how offensive (or not) you consider the withdrawn titles to be. I suspect you wouldn't be troubled at all by their withdrawal if they were unambiguously loaded to the gills with overt racist content, complete with use of the n-word and other assorted offenses. Under those circumstances, I suspect, you wouldn't be blaming societal pressure for forcing the Seuss people to do something they wouldn't have done on their own, but you'd be applauding their decision. On the other hand, if you find nothing at all offensive in the Seuss titles, then I can see the issue from the other perspective. The problem is, these books are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. And while you may feel their offenses are minor enough to overlook, shouldn't that be a decision left to the Seuss people themselves, both as a matter of conscience and a matter of how they feel best to preserve, protect and promote the Seuss name and body of work?
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  #43  
Unread 04-10-2021, 11:14 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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No worries, Mark--I'm not angry or frustrated with you, and we're still on speaking terms. I just wasn't responding to your comments because you said you needed a break from this topic.

All of us will be having awkward, emotionally exhausting conversations on this subject for the rest of our lives, so I don't have a problem honoring anyone's request to catch their breath a bit now and then.

I did want to say something about what you'd said earlier about judging other people's priorities (in terms of what things get them more upset than others), but it can wait. And it can probably be said better in a poem than in a discussion thread, anyway.

Rogerbob, you certainly recall a different version of Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin than I do.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-10-2021 at 11:57 PM.
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  #44  
Unread 04-11-2021, 05:05 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Julie, I'm glad. For years I said over and over that I was going to stop drinking and then one day I woke up and said it again and it felt different. That was three years ago. Today feels a bit like that. I joined this site because I fell in love with poetry. I don't think I even looked at GT for about 6 months. There's a lot of noise in the world and this morning I realised that all I'm doing here is adding to it and achieving nothing.

Life is complicated, so be kind. That's my final word.

So, to General Talk I say...

So long
Farewell
Auf Wiedersehen
Adeiu


Mark
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  #45  
Unread 04-11-2021, 08:46 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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I have very much enjoyed the arguments between you and Julie (and others). There is usually loads to think about from both of you. Don't seethe in silence.

Joe
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  #46  
Unread 04-11-2021, 09:03 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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Julie, in Browning's telling, the moment the mayor says that he will not pay him the thousand gilders, the Pied Piper steps out onto the street and leads all the children in the town (except the lame child) into a portal in the mountain, never to be heard from again. That's a rather extreme reaction, I think. If you owed me money and refused to pay, I think you might call me a homocidal maniac if, instead of contacting a lawyer, I were to murder your children.
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  #47  
Unread 04-11-2021, 09:09 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Thanks Joe. But damn it, you brought me back! Only to make it clear, I'm really not seething, honestly. I feel great. It's nothing to do with this particular thread. I just realised this morning I've said more or less everything I have to say about these culture war issues in the last four years. I've really enjoyed debating with Julie and others. But then I enjoyed drinking too, hence the analogy. And like drinking, while it's fun at the time it often left me feeling a bit grubby and emotionally exhausted, analysing what I'd said or done, wondering why I was the only one lying under the table and with a "here I go again" sense of going round in circles.

Poetry doesn't make me feel like that. It's a cool glass of water. Maybe a spicy fruit tea, occasionally.

Cheerio folks. It's been fun! I'll see you on the poetry boards.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 04-14-2021 at 03:22 AM.
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  #48  
Unread 04-11-2021, 10:12 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
Julie, in Browning's telling, the moment the mayor says that he will not pay him the thousand gilders, the Pied Piper steps out onto the street and leads all the children in the town (except the lame child) into a portal in the mountain, never to be heard from again. That's a rather extreme reaction, I think. If you owed me money and refused to pay, I think you might call me a homocidal maniac if, instead of contacting a lawyer, I were to murder your children.
There's a lot of humor to be had from taking well-known tales and viewing them through a modern, realistic lens.

In a country in which people daily express their grievances with guns, your version supplies a relevant lesson, Roger, but it ain't the original tale's lesson. If you were to murder Julie's children we'd call you a homicidal maniac, but if you took out your pipe and led them into a magical portal in a mountain, we'd have to take more nuanced view.
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  #49  
Unread 04-11-2021, 11:24 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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You're right, Max. I might only be a homicidal kidnapper.

But it's always struck me that the moral of the story, at least as Browning lays it out (and he's really my only source, since I've read it to my son countless times over the years), is that you should always pay your bills and keep your promises. He never says that the reason you should do this is that the person you cheat may be a psycho. It's always as if he is endorsing the completely understandable and justifiable reaction of the sane and decent person who has been mistreated in business.
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  #50  
Unread 04-11-2021, 01:22 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quoth Browning:

Quote:
And I must not omit to say
That, in Transylvania there's a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
To the outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbors lay such stress,
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterranean prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamlin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why they don't understand.
Still heartbreaking for the parents and children who never saw or heard from each other again. And probably no picnic for kids having to fend for themselves in a strange country where they did not speak the language and presumably had no resources. But not homicide.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvanian_Saxons)

Not that that excuses this disproportional response against the town authorities' swindle by targeting parents and children who'd had nothing to do with it, of course. Just wanted to get the facts (as presented by Browning, anyway) straight.

Mark, I shall try not to pipe you anywhere you don't want to go.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-11-2021 at 01:42 PM.
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