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David Lucifer
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Virian Book Club
« on: 2003-03-06 09:38:26 »
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The Virian Book Club will meet to chat every Tuesday at 2030h CST (a half hour before the weekly Tuesday chat) in the #vbc channel.

Our first selection is an online book, The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams. We will discuss one chapter per week starting March 11.





Any and all who read the discussion material are invited to participate. See you there!
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #1 on: 2003-03-08 07:58:35 »
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #2 on: 2003-03-08 11:15:04 »
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Hi Leathea...

I was wondering if you'll drop in for the book chat, coming tuesday 8.30.c.s.t when each chapter will be discussed and 'analysed' every week. By discussing it earlier, some of the fun is scrapped out of it, i think.. I hope you dont mind saying this.

On a more general note, I have a few thoughts on the subject.

First of all, I am the kind of person who generally finds it obscene to dissect an author's work in the form of 'critique' or 'review'. On the other hand, I also find it incredibly rewarding.

When one reads a book..feet tucked in and totally immersed with their mouth slightly open...one is involved with the book..and through the book, connects with the author. This experience is enriching. When you venture out and find people who have also read the same book to discuss it, it becomes incredibly rewarding.

Reading a book can be very personal. Perception of concepts can reveal a lot about the person holding them. Hence any sort of reading group has to follow certain unwritten rules. Respect the other members of the group. Do not mock them for their interpretations and point of views. Respect the author. A written work is a gift for *your* entertainment. There is no such thing as a 'bad' book. There can be some 'badly written' books, but thats only the opinion of those who didnt enjoy these books.

I can assure you that everyone walks away learning *something* after putting down a book. Some lucky ones end up learning more about themselves. The luckiest ones join a reading club and walk away with all of the above AND they learn about others too.

Furthermore, there are so many ways to 'discuss' a book. Like everything else, it is possible to bring some structure to that exercise. Some might find it restricting...but I like to follow a rough guideline..

First, characters.. Usually, convention requires that the first chapter is 'setting the stage'. The author tries to paint a picture and plants his main characters or at least introduces his main characters by the first chapter even if they arent 'active'.

From another school of writing...I think it was anton chekhov who said that one must ruthlessly suppress everything that is not concerned with the subject.(as an example, if there is a description of a gun on the way, make sure you use it elsewhere in the story...) So, paying attention to details often sharpens the subtle impact of certain planted passages in the story.

Then there is a character analysis.  What do you 'get' from the character. How do you 'understand' a character?

There is always the 'dramatic turning point'..usually mid point. Identifying this 'turning point' often throws light on the direction of the narrative.

What is the theme? What is the ultimate message the author is trying to present? Is there an argument? Do you find yourself arguing with the pages in the middle of a chapter? Do you furrow your brow? Do you scratch your head? Do you burst into giggles you cant control? Do you snicker? Do you roll your eyes and have the urge to bang your head on the wall? Do you shut the book and nervously pace the room? It is always better to be mindful of the fact that there are two people present...the author and yourself. How one sees a book is not often how the author imagined it.

There is often a resolution after the above mentioned turning point in the narrative. Finally, how does the book affect you, the reader? And my favourite part...is there anyother way the reader would have changed the premise or the resolution?

In a group, usually the answers and viewpoints vary...multiplying the joy the reading is in the sharing. There are many other 'standard' ways to analyse. Maybe, if this thing clicks, we can have our own template for book analysis.
There are many ways to analyse a book. There are formal ways of book analysis and review. But the most important requirement we really need to care about is that we ENJOY the read.
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #3 on: 2003-03-08 11:30:18 »
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This should go without saying but...

Do NOT discuss the book before the meeting! Twice now I have been forced to leave #virus because someone decided that a few spoilers wouldn't hurt. WTF? 
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Please Observe the Plodder's Ethic
« Reply #4 on: 2003-03-08 15:38:55 »
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Subj: Please Observe the Plodder's Ethic Date: 3/8/2003 2:32:55 PM Central Standard Time From: Jkr438 To: virus@lucifer.com BCC: shadows@lucifer.com, Jkr438

It has come to my attention in the planning of the CoV Book Chat that some people upon its announcement immediately engaged in various types of disparaging and/or spoiling types of behavior in the #virus channel. As a point of moderation I think spoiling a book for others like this is rude. You have been warned. If you choose to engage in spoilage type behavior it is possible that you may find yourself kick-banned for some as yet determined time period. I don't think we will be, or will have to be too nazi-like about this. If someone catches you doing this, I think a gentle reminder of the plodder's ethic should do the trick the first time.

Also some have disparaged the reading material:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/prime-intellect/mopiidx.html

That's okay. That is not a point of moderation. But I would like to address them a bit. I personally intend to read this book along with the book chat. I may not always make it early enough to catch the beginning, but I hope to at least pop in. Maybe it is or maybe it isn't a great visionary work. But if the first chapter has anything to say, I think it will at least be entertaining. Let's get real. It's only a 30 min chat. A mini chat. Let's look at this from the PoV of having a ritual. Like reading the comics in the morning. Or catching a soap opera on your lunch break. We don't need the insight of the century here, just a little nice fluffy content that can hold your attention for a while, while you chew the cud with fellow Virians. Make fun of it if you wish. But I think this works as a ritual precisely because I can cover the material (1 chap) in so short of a time. It's a relatively small investment of time, something many of us can envision doing in a few stolen or free moments during the day. And knowing in advance that there will be enforcement of a plodders ethic protects that investment of time -- you won't come to the chat suddenly realizing that you are the only one who hasn't read to the end of the book and nobody really wants to talk about the chapter you just read. Now perhaps you have already read to the end of the book. I think you can participate just fine if you make a point of at least rereading the assigned chapter before the chat begins, and engage in the chat in a constructive manner while observing the plodder's ethic. If you don't think that you can do this, then perhaps you ought not get too involved, perhaps just lurking might be in order.

Am I wrong about this?

Love,

-Jake
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #5 on: 2003-03-09 10:30:22 »
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #6 on: 2003-03-10 00:55:37 »
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[Hermit] I'm not sure that this discussion really belongs here (Lucifer, please move it if it seems inappropriate), but seeing that others are engaging in discussion here, I will follow their example.

[Jake] It has come to my attention in the planning of the CoV Book Chat that some people upon its announcement immediately engaged in various types of disparaging and/or spoiling types of behavior in the #virus channel.

[Hermit] I think this dart may be aimed at me. Yet I think it misses the mark. On the whole, I think that the idea of the book-club is an excellent one. My actual observations were that the suggested 30 minutes does not provide much time for meaningful analysis, that reading a chapter at a time (rather than a book at a time), prolongs the process dramatically (particularly for those, who like me, read a book at a sitting), and most of all, I complained about the lack of value in the particular book being read (and I am far from unique in my opinion, nobody I have spoken to who has read the whole thing though has thought it worthy of even the slightest praise).

So, my suggestion is that if we are to review books, that somebody who is familiar with our aims and thinking read them first to discover whether or not the majority of people in the group are likely to consider the time expended upon it worthwhile, before recommending them (or foisting them) upon a group of people at least some of whose time is, we can presume, valuable. Speaking for myself, I have a very long "to read" list and so seldom read something without knowing the author, or having received a recommendation from somebody whom I respect and thus having an idea that it may be worthwhile expending the time on it. When I saw a book being placed into our brand new reading club by somebody who falls into that category, I proceeded to read it. As I tend to read books in a sitting, I did so with this claptrap (only when you reach the end, can you decide for yourself if you agree or disagree with my assessment - and then, no matter your assessment, the time spent will be gone) and am still annoyed with myself for having wasted any time on it.

The suggestion to read it again, chapter by chapter, is to my mind utterly stupid, not only because my comprehension and recall is quite adequate to dissect it without this, but more because to my mind, lavishing additional undeserved time on a thing that didn't deserve notice the first time around is futile.
I undoubtedly wish that I could have the time back I spent reading it once.

Next, consider that this choice of subject means that I am effectively disinvited from the club for the next six weeks. While it may be that any contribution I may have planned on making would not be considered valuable anyway (then again, maybe not), and while it may also be that my time is not considered particularly valuable (and that too may be right as I may have a tendency to value my own time more than I do that of others) and even that it may well be that relatively few people will join the book club anyway (but would that be a success?), we are still condemning all those who subscribe to the club (and those like me, disinvited for having read it, and been sufficiently disappointed not to plan on reading it again), to reading some 58,000 odd illl-assorted words. Now, even if we assume that Virians read at an average graduate level (some 500 words per minute), that still implies about 2 hours reading per person.  So for every four people reading this book, a working man-day is lost (more for slower readers). Now consider that only one person wasted time writing this piece of pre-Raphaelite, sadomasochist Luddite screed, and I really don't see that it deserves to waste the time of however many people see our book club reference to it as a recommendation (as I mistakenly did) and expend their time reading it, when there are so many works (including fictional works, including those on the net) more deserving of being read.

Some potential sources include:
Metaindex: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/books/etext.html
http://promo.net/pg/list.html
http://netlibrary.net/
http://www.etext.org/index.shtml
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/

And of course, some moderated areas of Usenet contain interesting works (Refer e.g. http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&group=alt), some of which are archived (e.g. http://www.mcstories.com/ and http://www.asstr.org/) and many of which contain much better stories than that under examination here.

So if we are reading it, to pull it apart, or to learn how not to write, or possibly just to curse it together  (the only reasons I can think of for maybe spending time reading it), that's fine, but we really need to put a bold print disclaimer on the post announcing it that others should not bother.  Perhaps something like the following...

Scroll to Potential "Spoiler" Below (only noted for "politeness' sake", as I'm not sure that anything this bad can be spoilt. I'm also not convinced that encouraging others to waste their time is ever really polite.)






























The referenced work is piece of abysmally badly written prose, the plot depending on an improbable sequence reliant on  characters ignoring things they must know, coupled with deus ex machina sequences and culminating in a romantic, mythical, "noble savage" termination, rather than a future to which a Virian (or extropian) might subscribe. To the best of my judgment, no profit will be derived from reading it. Hermit
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #7 on: 2003-03-10 11:41:06 »
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[Mermaid] <wrote a lot>

[Hermit] Dear Miss Manners, while writing recipes on how to criticize, may I recommend to you the reviews written  by G B Shaw in the course of an career as a critic spanning almost 80 years. "Unfortunately" (or not), he did not have the benefit of your advise, and so could not follow it, but he nevertheless wrote what many (including me) consider to have been rollickingly good, extremely useful reviews, whilst breaking practically every one of your "rules" frequently simultaneously.

Bernard Shaw's Book Reviews: 1884-1950, by Bernard Shaw Ed. Brian Tyson, Pennsylvania State Univ Pr , 1996, ISBN 0271015489 is one source for a collection. You should be able to get a copy via interlibrary loan.
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #8 on: 2003-03-10 12:12:58 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
My actual observations were that the suggested 30 minutes does not provide much time for meaningful analysis, that reading a chapter at a time (rather than a book at a time), prolongs the process dramatically (particularly for those, who like me, read a book at a sitting),


[Mermaid]You could have made that suggestion without the bitching/whining/spitting session.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
and most of all, I complained about the lack of value in the particular book being read (and I am far from unique in my opinion, nobody I have spoken to who has read the whole thing though has thought it worthy of even the slightest praise).


[Mermaid]You could have made that suggestion without the bitching/whining/spitting session.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
So, my suggestion is that if we are to review books, that somebody who is familiar with our aims and thinking read them first to discover whether or not the majority of people in the group are likely to consider the time expended upon it worthwhile, before recommending them (or foisting them) upon a group of people at least some of whose time is, we can presume, valuable.


[Mermaid]I disagree. That makes an entire group of people dependent on one person's judgement.

[Mermaid]I suggest that we have several book recommendations with a mini synopsis by those who have read it. The person who recommended the book shall head the book discussion with those who wish to join the discussion.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
Speaking for myself, I have a very long "to read" list and so seldom read something without knowing the author, or having received a recommendation from somebody whom I respect and thus having an idea that it may be worthwhile expending the time on it.


[Mermaid]My sympathies. Your world must be a very small one.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
When I saw a book being placed into our brand new reading club by somebody who falls into that category, I proceeded to read it.


[Mermaid]Your choice. You were not coerced.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
The suggestion to read it again, chapter by chapter, is to my mind utterly stupid,


[Mermaid]This was never communicated in the appropriate forum.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
not only because my comprehension and recall is quite adequate to dissect it without this, but more because to my mind, lavishing additional undeserved time on a thing that didn't deserve notice the first time around is futile.
I undoubtedly wish that I could have the time back I spent reading it once.


[Mermaid]We have to take responsibility for our choices.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
Next, consider that this choice of subject means that I am effectively disinvited from the club for the next six weeks.


[Mermaid]Is that a promise?

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
to reading some 58,000 odd illl-assorted words.


[Mermaid]Heh..you actually counted? You have indeed lavished a lot of time on this.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
So for every four people reading this book, a working man-day is lost (more for slower readers).


[Mermaid]Only if they read it four times..

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
Now consider that only one person wasted time writing this piece of pre-Raphaelite, sadomasochist Luddite screed, and I really don't see that it deserves to waste the time of however many people see our book club reference to it as a recommendation (as I mistakenly did) and expend their time reading it, when there are so many works (including fictional works, including those on the net) more deserving of being read.


[Mermaid]I think there are a lot of different people with varied tastes and preferences. Following your suggestion, which was never made prior to the whining session here, does it mean that you are suggesting that ALL of us should think alike? Enjoy the same books? Believe in the same things? It seems that you are saying that exposure to a variety of written works should be curtailed. Something that doesnt enjoy the undisputed approval of the ENTIRE congregation should be crushed. You deserve the Best Principal Award, anytown, USA...awarded by the country's educational architects.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
Some potential sources include:
Metaindex: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/books/etext.html
http://promo.net/pg/list.html
http://netlibrary.net/
http://www.etext.org/index.shtml
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/

And of course, some moderated areas of Usenet contain interesting works (Refer e.g. http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&safe=off&group=alt), some of which are archived (e.g. http://www.mcstories.com/ and http://www.asstr.org/) and many of which contain much better stories than that under examination here.


[Mermaid]These are appropriate suggestions.

Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 00:55:37   
So if we are reading it, to pull it apart, or to learn how not to write, or possibly just to curse it together  (the only reasons I can think of for maybe spending time reading it), that's fine, but we really need to put a bold print disclaimer on the post announcing it that others should not bother.  Perhaps something like the following...


[Mermaid]You could have attended the book club meeting. You could have made some of your suggestions in this thread. Why do you choose to do and say things that make you look petty? Can you change or modify this behaviour? Or is this your nature and everyone else have to accept it and learn to ignore you?
« Last Edit: 2003-03-10 12:14:44 by Mermaid » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #9 on: 2003-03-10 12:22:45 »
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Quote from: Hermit on 2003-03-10 11:41:06   

[Mermaid] <wrote a lot>

[Hermit] Dear Miss Manners, while writing recipes on how to criticize, may I recommend to you the reviews written  by G B Shaw in the course of an career as a critic spanning almost 80 years. "Unfortunately" (or not), he did not have the benefit of your advise, and so could not follow it, but he nevertheless wrote what many (including me) consider to have been rollickingly good, extremely useful reviews, whilst breaking practically every one of your "rules" frequently simultaneously.

Bernard Shaw's Book Reviews: 1884-1950, by Bernard Shaw Ed. Brian Tyson, Pennsylvania State Univ Pr , 1996, ISBN 0271015489 is one source for a collection. You should be able to get a copy via interlibrary loan.


I believe I am familiar with G.B.Shaw (and enjoy him immensely) However, I think book review is a creative process and should not be trapped with a structural form. I would NEVER dream of instructing G.B.Shaw on how to write a review! Silly, Hermit.
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #10 on: 2003-03-10 12:53:30 »
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Quote from: David Lucifer on 2003-03-08 11:30:18   

This should go without saying but...

Do NOT discuss the book before the meeting! Twice now I have been forced to leave #virus because someone decided that a few spoilers wouldn't hurt. WTF? 

I guess this was too much to ask and someone decided to ruin the ending for me in #virus. I can't think of a good reason to go on with the VBC.
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #11 on: 2003-03-10 13:12:14 »
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Quote from: David Lucifer on 2003-03-10 12:53:30   


Quote from: David Lucifer on 2003-03-08 11:30:18   

This should go without saying but...

Do NOT discuss the book before the meeting! Twice now I have been forced to leave #virus because someone decided that a few spoilers wouldn't hurt. WTF? 

I guess this was too much to ask and someone decided to ruin the ending for me in #virus. I can't think of a good reason to go on with the VBC.

[Jake] Because I am going to be there on Tuesday to discuss it like we originally planned?  I have read Hermit's disparagments.  I actually intend to do this more for interaction's sake.  I don't really care if it is poor quality pulp fiction.  I am not even intending to "review" this book in the sense that I think Hermit has in mind for his fantasy book club.  I'm up for just a little cud chewing if that's okay with whomever show's up.  I mean its only a 30 minute chat, how profound can it really get?  Maybe Hermit can simply C&P in his several paragraph disparagement of each chapter in the first minute of chat and then leave, thereby saving himself from wasting his precious time on such trivial non-intellectual pursuits.  Since when did we start giving a crap about wasting time in CoV? 

Love,

-Jake
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #12 on: 2003-03-10 15:08:17 »
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Let me put it another way. Would you go to a movie knowing that someone was going to sit behind you and ruin it for you? Why bother?
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #13 on: 2003-03-10 15:30:52 »
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Quote from: David Lucifer on 2003-03-10 15:08:17   

Let me put it another way. Would you go to a movie knowing that someone was going to sit behind you and ruin it for you? Why bother?

Good point.  Has it already been ruined?  Or perhaps that kid behind you isn't going to show up?  Or if he does show up, maybe he will behave himself better than you predict at this time.  I understand your point, but I still intend to show up for the first chat.  Maybe I'm the only one there?  Haha, wouldn't that be funny?  Perhaps I have too much of that "following through" meme going on right now, but if nothing else let's give it a shot for tuesday and see what happens.  Perhaps Hermit and other would-be spoilers are simply making their excuses to not to show up.  If so I'm telling them to get over it, you don't have to be a participant.  Don't show up if you hate it so much.  So if only the interested ones show up, wouldn't that be a success?

Love,

-Jake
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Re:Virian Book Club
« Reply #14 on: 2003-03-10 16:51:45 »
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My complaint is about the people discussing the book and giving away the ending in #virus before the meeting. It seems that I have to either give up on the book club or give up on #virus.
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