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12:08 AM
Hey woukd whoever runs the Twitter account care to retweet this? twitter.com/tedgioia/status/1351432153922416640?s=21
6 hours later…
5:47 AM
Q: Literature now has a community-maintained Twitter account!

ShokhetLike Mi Yodeya and some other sites, Literature now has a community-maintained Twitter account! This account is not run by SE robots; Stack Exchange stopped doing that some time ago. At this point, the account is run by me; however, you can still get involved! (Please do!) Here are some things t...

2 hours later…
7:51 AM
@verbose why?
8:05 AM
Q: "swept in this extraordinary, incredible fashion into > invisibility— into some other place." understanding the meaning

John VReading an old story, I have some problems with understanding the following (esp. the part in bold): it was this very day fifty years ago—February 13—the man disappeared from its shadows; swept in this extraordinary, incredible fashion into invisibility— into some other place. My understanding ...

@Mithical well I guess I'm not sure what the vision is for the Twitter account. Is it just to promote our site, or is it to engage with discussions of books / literature generally? If the former, then it shouldn't be retweeted. If the latter, perhaps.
@verbose That's one biiiiig personal library.
@bobble There was an old meta discussion about resource requests, which wasn't all that conclusive but nobody argued for banning them outright. The problem with that question IMO is it might be a bit too broad. "where stories in books take place"? What kind of "books"?
@Randal'Thor the short answer is that any rhetorical device is technical, not semantic; a simile, or a metaphor, or an epithet, or alliteration, is defined strictly in terms of how it operates, not in terms of what it means. The meaning is always context-dependent. I've revised the last three paragraphs of the answer and I hope it's clearer now. If not, let me know. Thanks for helping me make the answer better.
@Randal'Thor yup, @Tsundoku had shared that clip with me here just a few days ago, and then it coincidentally crossed my Twitter feed.
@verbose I guess it's been a bit mixed in the past
@verbose I think I get it now. Just because Sidney is using those phrases as characteristic descriptors of sleep, they become epithets in that poem, even if in the abstract they don't have anything to do with sleep. I guess that means epithets are a lot commoner than I'd realised. Thanks for the edit and explanation!
8:19 AM
@Randal'Thor The problem I see with that question is that it's just not answerable. None of us might know of such a database, but it doesn't follow that there isn't such a database. So the question is just going to stay unanswered forever, because the only possible answer would be if somebody who happened to know of such a database stumbled upon that question and could answer "yes".
I find a lot of questions on this site unanswerable for that reason, though. I mean, even the Ant-Man/Myrmidon question that I asked is unanswerable, because who's going to say "no, there isn't a connection" unless someone who knows both the Myrmidon legends and the Ant-Man comics pretty thoroughly, and has some insight into what the authors of the latter were thinking
Or any of the "what is the earliest example of this" questions. I can only tell you the earliest example I know. How do I be sure it's the earliest example absolutely?
Maybe that's why we have so many unanswered questions on this site.
@Randal'Thor yep that's it. I'm glad it's clearer now. And you're welcome.
@Randal'Thor I mean, granted, my Ant-Man question is tongue firmly in cheek
But sometimes there are already some thorough studies of a topic or connection. Maybe someone already wrote a paper or thesis on the progression of a trope through the history of literature, starting from the earliest example, or on inspirations from classical mythology in Marvel characters.
yes, excellent point
Like how sometimes the true origin of a quote can be really hard to track down but someone like QuoteInvestigator (great resource!) already did the heavy lifting.
8:29 AM
@verbose I linked that question in SFF chat (where there are more Marvel experts) and somone said that's way overthinking it.
I was like, sure it's long and thorougly researched and referenced, but look at the username :-)
@Randal'Thor 😆
It's nominal determinism, that's what it is
I think my jokes are too deadpan, people keep taking them seriously. I mean, the "How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?" question was a joke too
Make that Marvel expert come and tell me that to my face, yo. Or at least to put it in an answer. I'll upvote. (I did upvote the one answer that Lady Macbeth question got. That q even went HNQ, much to my horror.)
8:46 AM
@verbose The question itself was a joke, or the amount of detail and research you put into it? I mean, to me at least both questions seem valid things to ask, although their length is maybe a bit overkill.
The question itself was a joke
I mean, when the Ant-Man movie was released, I immediately said, if I wanted to spend my time on ant-men I'd read about the Myrmidons
And I thought about asking a question about whether Ant-Man was a myrmidon
then I didn't get around to it for some years
As for the Lady Macbeth question, we get TONS of questions on this site like that. "Why didn't X just do Y and then Z wouldn't have happened"
It's like ... they're books? you can't treat the characters as though they were real people? And LC Knights argued that more than a century ago?
So I figured, just for the hell of it, I'll ask the question he famously asked
@verbose Oh, like this kind of thing?
Now I tend to overcommit, so having said I'd ask those questions, I felt compelled to put work into them
Finally I get what you mean by calling the Lady Macbeth question a joke question. It's like, how the hell are we supposed to know?
@Randal'Thor Right!
@Randal'Thor and right!
Like obviously the whole "time turners can't go back more than five hours" thing is bogus if you take Cursed Child as canon
8:53 AM
No matter how good an artist's imagination is, we literally can't create a complete character down to every tiny detail of their life. Only some subset of their life and features and experiences that's relevant to whatever story we're trying to tell.
I guess someone has already written a book of literary discussion entitled "Every Character is Incomplete"? :-P
Well LC Knights's point is a bit more than that. It's that the characters don't actually exist except as elements in a literary artifact and asking about their existence outside the literary artifact in question is a misunderstanding of how literature works
That is to say, "character" is an element just as "rhyme scheme" is an element
We can talk about how characters function within the work
but they're not real people, they're arbitrary constructs
If you really want to see tons of Q&A assuming that there's a fictional universe in which all details exist and we just don't know them until the author tells us, check out SFF some time.
Maybe that's a natural viewpoint to emerge in sci-fi and fantasy fandom, where often not only characters but the entire world being described really is just a creation of the author.
@Randal'Thor isn't that true of any work? Even Beryl Bainbridge's The Bottle Factory Outing depends on the creation of a fictional world; the factory in question doesn't really exist
Granted it is subject to the same rules as our everyday world and is "realistic" or true to life in a way that SFF isn't
So you have a point, I'm just not sure where to draw the line between an SFF world and the world of a realistic novel
9:02 AM
I remember one time when J.K. Rowling wanted people to support her team in some sports event, so she put out a call on Twitter like "hey fans, cheer for this team and I'll tell you what Sirius Black's birthday is". Now "Sirius Black was born on 3 November" is part of the "canon" of the Potterverse.
If she hadn't given that piece of "information", what would Sirius Black's birthday have been?
Why was Sirius Black born on Election Day?!
It's like Schrodinger's cat except the only person who can collapse the wavefunction is the author of the story.
ooh have you heard the one about Schrödinger and Heisenberg and the policeman
Yep :-)
@Randal'Thor And literary scholars speak wisely of "the Intentional Fallacy" and "the Death of the Author" and don't care what the author says
different worlds, indeed. I do like some of the SFF I've read, but I've read precious little
Angela Carter ... Ursula K Le Guin ... Aldous Huxley
9:07 AM
@verbose *and Ohm
@verbose Not Tolkien?
@Mithical I don't think I know the variant involving Ohm. The story I heard was just Schrödinger and Heisenberg
@Randal'Thor never read Tolkein except for his Old and Middle English scholarship. My husband was a fan, though.
@Mithical The way I heard the story: S and H are in a car, H driving. A cop pulls them over. He says, "Do you know how fast you were going?" and H replies, "No, but I know exactly where I am." Dissatisfied, the cop decides to search the car. He opens the trunk and sees a box in it. He opens the box and says, "Did you know your cat is dead?" and S replies, huffily, "well, now I do!"
So what's the Ohm version?
@verbose I suppose being into Wiccan stuff fits with being into Tolkien? Sort of "pre-Christian Britain" theme, Tolkien's Catholicism notwithstanding.
A: What was supposedly satanic about the Lord of the Rings?

flowerbugI do not find JRRT's stories particularly Christian, but I do really enjoy them. Having been exposed to some radical fundamentalists any mention of Magic is an aspect of demons at work to deceive. From Bible Baptists Publications, Wizards, Witches, and the Word of God: “Neither repented the...

^ some people even go so far as to say LotR promoted satanism (probably the same kind of people who conflate paganism with satanism)
I once read a book set in Glastonbury (which you've probably heard of - British capital of Wicca and druidism and all sorts of other interesting stuff). In the book (and probably at least half of it is true in reality), local busybodies like the mayor, priest, and so on were hotly against the "pagans overrunning their town" and called them a bunch of satanists, while allying themselves with some slimy businessmen who were actually secretly practising real satanism in the abbey at midnight.
9:36 AM
@verbose The cop decides to take them in for questioning. Ohm resists.
Ah I thought there'd be a resistance angle in there.
@Randal'Thor that's hilarious. Kinda like when Trump says, "Biden got paid a million dollars by the Chinese! Biden had corrupt dealings with Ukraine!" etc.
@Randal'Thor Yes, I have heard of Glastonbury, specifically because I do maintain an interest in (medieval) Arthurian literature. As for Tolkien, I couldn't tell you why my husband liked LotR so much. He liked SFF generally. He and our friend Jacob would go off to watch all the Star Wars movies, for example, as they were released. (I wasn't interested.) He also liked the Wizard of Oz and had a large and fairly valuable collection of early editions of the novels. (His daughter has them now.)
Funny thing about the Wizard of Oz, it seems like everyone knows about the original story (maybe because of the film) but hardly anyone knows that there were so many sequels. Like, seven or something? I haven't even read all of them.
9:51 AM
ah well. Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.
I asked a question about Oz a while back, but I remember being not fully satisfied with the answer despite its length.
@verbose Goodnight!
10:19 AM
@Randal'Thor 14
Funny story: I was sitting in the back of library reading The Scarecrow of Oz around... eight? years ago, when suddenly the lights clicked off. I jumped up and yelled "Hey!" instinctively, which turned out to be a good thing: they were closing and locking up the library and didn't realize anyone was still there. Good thing I yelled, or I would've been locked in there overnight...
2 hours later…
12:07 PM
@Randal'Thor Wicca isn't pre-Christian though -- it was invented in the mid-20th century! It's contemporary with Tolkien
1 hour later…
1:08 PM
Q: Are "air-waves" the same as "ether-waves"? I cannot find the meaning of the latter

John VIn a story I am reading, I would like to know what "ether-waves" mean: The odd thing really is that one should hear, but not see; that air-waves should bring the voice, yet ether-waves fail to bring the picture.” Could it be meant to mean the same, just using another word to avoid repeating "air"...

1:50 PM
@GarethRees Yes, but AFAIK the theme of it takes a lot of inspiration from aspects of pre-Christian (or even pre-Roman) Britain, Celtic druids and so on, even if Wicca itself is a lot newer.
@Randal'Thor Yes, that's what they claim. But almost nothing is known about pre-Christian British religion -- as far as I know the only eye-witness account of British druidism that remains is Tacitus Annals 14.30
If you think that British pre-Christian religion might have been similar to continental Celtic religion there's a little more in Caesar's Gallic Wars VI.13-18
2 hours later…
3:53 PM
I think we need Bernie Sanders mittens for the next Winter Bash.
3 hours later…
7:19 PM
Right, that's the problem both here in Europe and in South America: most of the documentation we have about pre-Christian religion and habits are biased propaganda writings by Christan scribes, explaining how the pagans are all uncivilized people with dog heads and eating their enemies raw.
@Mithical That's not pleasant, but if it was only eight years ago, it sounds less scary, because you and everyone else probably had mobile phones.
en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Scarecrow_of_Oz L. Frank Baum, The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
@b_jonas `I did not have a phone at the time (I was ten years old)
@Randal'Thor More than seven. en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:L._Frank_Baum en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Oz_books 13 sequel novels and a bunch of other works written by L. Frank Baum, and way more not written by him.
@Mithical Ah.
Wait, ten year old people didn't yet have phones eight year ago? Hmm.
Some did. I didn't.
Possible. I don't follow what young people do these days. Except for my nieces and nephews.
Q: Why is the encounter with the rats not covered in detail?

Rand al'ThorIn Watership Down by Richard Adams, the band of rabbits face a number of ordeals during their journey from Sandleford Warren to Watership Down: crossing a river while there's a dog loose in the woods, fighting off an attacking crow, crossing an unappealing heath during fog, and of course the tria...

7:35 PM
@Bookworm I came up with my own idea for an answer to this while writing the question, but I'll wait and see what other people come up with first.
7:48 PM
@b_jonas 8 years ago I wasn't 10 (though I would've told you I was almost 10) and I did not have a phone. A few other kids in my grade did, though.
Rand, I *coughs* finished up a short review for Watership Down and ran it by a friend. Now I just have to get up the courage to submit it...
@bobble ping me when you've done so so that I can approve it
Oh, it's done. I just am scared to submit it to the blog because I'm worried it's bad. hides under a blanket
as in, tell me when you've submitted it :)
8:25 PM
Q: Does firsthand experience of suffering lead to literary innovation?

ElzevierI am interested in what truths, if any, lie behind the trope of the 'suffering' artist. To what extent does first-hand experience of pain facilitate artistic creativity? In particular, I was wondering if we can tie generational experiences of suffering to the emergence of increased ouput and new ...

1 hour later…
1 hour later…
10:33 PM
Q: How could the volumes of higher mathematics contain expletives in the late 19th century?

Ahmed SamirIn "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, Renmark was a typical quiet and respectful professor, but something made so crazy to swear, saying "Damn!" His use of the word given above is not to be defended; still, as it was spoken by him, it seemed to lose all relationship with swearing. H...


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