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1:47 AM
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Q: When and why did the practice of reading "Address to a Haggis" at Burns Night dinner originate?

Rand al'ThorMany people and institutions around the world hold Burns suppers on or close to Burns Night, 25 January. Part of these events is the traditional reading of Robert Burns's "Address to a Haggis"1, during or after which the haggis is sliced open and served. What's the history of the reading of this...

 
@Bookworm Should this have a tag?
 
I didn't even know what a Burns Night is.
I do know what haggis is, although I wish I would not. ;-)
That being said, if you are already eating haggis and celebrating Burns, it seems not too bad an idea to recite a poem by him that's actually about haggis.
 
@NapoleonWilson Och, hauld yer whisht - ye maun gae tae bonnie Scotland one o' these days.
 
Ash
The newest Humble Book Bundle looks pretty great.
 
Sure, I certainly like their drinks and landscape already.
(...as well as their accent, but who doesn't?)
 
1:53 AM
@NapoleonWilson But at, say, a St Patrick's Day dinner, they don't recite a poem by James Joyce about ... whatever the stereotypical Irish food is (Guinness?)
Burns and haggis seems to be something quite special.
 
@Ash I've heard good things about Robin McKinley, Jane Yolen is a favourite YA author of mine, and Octavia E Butler is legendary.
 
Well, do you eat that food on St. Patrick's day and has Joyce made a poem about it? (And do you even call it James Joyce Day and apparently celebrate the poet himself?)
 
Ash
@BESW I really like Robin McKinley's stuff. A lot of the others are new to me, but I really need to broaden my SFF horizons
 
Another question, of course, is why did he write a poem about haggis in the first place? I mean, people write poems about love or sorrow or other emotional stuff, but who gets worked up enough about food to write an ode to an effing haggis?
Or maybe this is just another case of me not getting why other people care about food.
 
@Ash Though of course I'm sitting here going "What, no Ursula Vernon, Nnedi Okorafor, Susan Cooper, Ann Leckie, Diane Duane?"
 
1:56 AM
Meh, people write poems about all kinds of crap, whatever inspires them. I doubt every poem is about love or other deep emotional issues. Some are just about cockroaches and shoes.
 
Ash
@BESW I think this is all one publisher, so that might be why....*checks*
 
At least a dish is something worth celebrating, if it pleases you or adds to your cultural identity.
 
Ash
Yep, it's all Open Road stuff
 
@Randal'Thor "This is just to say," by William Carlos Williams.
 
@Randal'Thor Why would you not? It's delicious!
 
1:58 AM
@NapoleonWilson "Nursery Rhymes for the Tender-Hearted," by Christopher Morley.
 
@NapoleonWilson I suppose. It just seems less interesting to write poems about cockroaches or shoes than about deep emotional issues. ducks
@NapoleonWilson Meh.
 
@Randal'Thor Well, sure. But I can understand someone really enjoying his haggis (well, let's say understand that he enjoys it. ;-)) as well as the warm feelings of celebrating one's Scotsmanship therewith and wanting that feeling and atmosphere captured in language.
If there's anything people can't tell me they don't care about, it's food.
 
@BESW See, I don't get why people are so fussed about poems like "This is Just to Say" or "The Red Wheelbarrow". There's, like, almost nothing there, and what is there is pretty banal. Any attempt to extract deep meaning from them just seems to me like reading way more into them than could possibly be reasonable. I think I said as much in one of my answers here.
 
You don't have to read, watch films, solve mathematical equations or build houses. But everyone has to eat and you can't tell me you wouldn't rather enjoy what you're eating than not.
 
"An Ode to Common Things," by Pablo Neruda.
 
Ash
2:05 AM
@BESW Oh, I like that.
 
@Randal'Thor It's fine to not see what others see in certain kinds of writing, that's quite expected and even desired as part of the diversity of human experience. But to say that there's nothing there to see because you can't see it, is quite another thing.
 
@Randal'Thor I don't disagree with that.
 
If poetry is about exploring the depth of human experience (which I would argue is at best an incomplete definition, but it's useful enough here), it seems reasonable to me that, like Neruda says, everyday experiences are a good subject to explore since so much of the human experience is definitionally made up of them.
 
@Randal'Thor I guess with things like that it's more the meta-information and the things that are lacking that is so intricate and exciting about it. Though, not that I'd get that, but such is the problem with postmodernism. Sometimes banal trivia is just that. You're entitled to write it down but there's also no requiremnt to make much more out of it.
@BESW That...seems way more elaborate (and deliberate), though.
 
Explicit complexity and deliberation are, I think, overvalued in casual poetic analysis.
It's much harder to make something hum and sing without showing the effort.
 
2:11 AM
Horse With No Name is still an awesome song, even if, as much as I remember, the band itself has pretty much admitted that it's a bunch of bullshit. But I guess its fascination also comes from the musical elements and not necessarily the poetic ones.
@BESW Also true, I guess.
 
WCW was (among other things) an Imagist, and This is Just to Say reflects that school's goal of isolating the truth of a single narrow subject. It's not a poem about eating plums; it's a poem about the moment after you've eaten the plums when you're leaving a note but can still taste them.
It uses luminous details to capture a feeling, a taste, and a relationship, all within a single moment of action.
I totally get that it's not everybody's kind of poem, but it's certainly a careful, even elaborate show of skill poised and tuned to achieve a particular deliberate purpose.
 
It almost feels like "found" poetry, which is another subject altogether but which is an effect quite difficult to achieve artificially.
 
The question is, though, if the fascination doesn't come primarily from the fact of "finding" it, and not so much from the content itself.
Whenever meta-issues unrelated to the actual content or its creation inform that content's interpretation I get a little worried. But that might just be my lack in arts education.
 
It's easier to tell when a explicitly structured poem succeeds or fails on its technical merits because there's obvious objective qualities to evaluate. So there's a focus on that kind of poem in schools and low-level analysis exercises. Free verse and poems with less explicit structure are easier to fake, which makes us more suspicious of them because there's a lot of awful examples masquerading as "Great Art."
But now you're digging into the issue of the literary triad of author/text/reader, where there are no right answers--only consistent and useful perspectives.
So, yeah, at the end of the day I can say "Consider, Mr Eliot" is a serious criticism of a fatal flaw in Eliot's famous poem while you can say it's just cheeky doggerel and (regardless of what Roger White says) what matters is whether we can each provide consistent support for our interpretation.
And, well. Context matters. The medium is the massage, after all.
Context can be the original context of the work's creation, but it can also be entirely the context of the reader's encounter with the work and that doesn't make the context any less significant. The only risk is in confusing the effect of a reader's (or author's) contact with the work for the work itself.
 
2:33 AM
@NapoleonWilson I think that gets into the whole authors' intentions issue. Just because the author says the lyrics are "bullshit" doesn't mean that the author is correct. Clearly the lyrics resonate with people; I don't think it's correct to say that the lyrics are bullshit and people are stupid for liking them; there's some property of the lyrics that give them the effect they have.
 
I recently read an article by Michael Bevacqua in which he said,
> the non-sequitor analysis where you put together radically dissimilar objects can yield unexpected and insightful results. I am inspired to conduct this sort of analysis by the work of Slavoj Zizek, who often casually uses the metaphor of one object to illustrate the truth of another (vii). He doesn’t provide literature reviews to justify their association through shared origins, but, instead, sees their union as being an ephemeral moment of truth. Like two metaphors passing each other in the night, their differences revealing for a moment some truth, some
 
@Hamlet Well, I don't say people are stupid for liking them or that people can't find meaning in them that wasn't intended there. I do however say that it certainly isn't futile to ask what the originators intended to say and that this information isn't entirely uninteresting either. You can see whatever you want in the song, this doesn't however change what it was intended to say. On which aspect you place your emphasis depends on you and the situation, though.
 
@NapoleonWilson but interpreting texts isn't a subjective "this is whatever I want it to be" exercise. There are correct interpretations and incorrect interpretations of the meaning of texts. Authors sometimes mean what they intend to say, and sometimes say something that has a meaning that's completely different from what they interpreted.
 
(That title though. Miguette's so awesome.)
 
Ugh, internet connection problems.
 
2:38 AM
Okay, now I'm confused. Are we entitled to see in the text whatever the context allows us to construe or are we not?
 
@NapoleonWilson I don't care about food.
 
@NapoleonWilson Yes.
 
@BESW I never liked Zizek for that reason.
 
@Randal'Thor Then you're either lying or have a different definition of "care".
 
@BESW True.
 
2:40 AM
@Randal'Thor Do you genuinely not care if the stuff you eat tastes good or not? Do you still consider eating something that's delicious (however your taste defines that) as something tedious that just need to be done in order to survive?
 
@NapoleonWilson This is, in my opinion, an entirely non-useful question to ask. Entitlement or privilege is irrelevant as it implies some overarching permissory authority ruling over interpretation and analysis.
We are capable, demonstrably, of interpreting whatever we like however we like. Within the context of Western analytical traditions we are expected to provide some form of consistent support for our interpretation in order to be taken seriously.
That expectation extends to authors, or we wouldn't laugh at JK "oh dear maths" Rowling so much.
The nature of evidence or context that's considered acceptable to use in support of an interpretation changes depending on the context of the audience we're asking to take it seriously and the context of the interpretation itself.
 
@NapoleonWilson you are allowed to interpret a text however you like. From my perspective, all interpretations are interesting because they reveal something about how you react to the text/what meaning the text has for you
 
@BESW Well, I was just confused about a statement that seemed to contradict the general side I was used to seeing taken by its origninator. I might however yet again miss some nuances of the issue. And the topic has admittedly outrun my intellectual abilities and rather superficial knowledge in arts and their analysis a while ago. So I don't deny you have a point there that I might just be missing.
 
@NapoleonWilson Sure, I'd rather eat good food than bad food. But I'm not particularly interested in eating food at all - it's an occasional necessity rather than a goal in its own right.
 
But whether your interpretation is correct is a completely different question. (See @BESW comments for a critique of the concept of correctness).
 
2:45 AM
@NapoleonWilson To be very simple without, I hope, being condescending: interpretation and analysis is a conversation between readers. Like any conversation, we have to consider who we're talking to when trying to communicate our perspectives with them, and the more effectively we can present our ideas the more likely they are to understand us.
 
Well, sure.
 
Anything more than that is a particular context being agreed upon by a particular set of conversationalists.
 
(In case it's not clear, I disagree with BESW on this point.)
 
Things like "Every text has a single meaning from which all readers deviate based on their incomplete understanding of it" or "The author is the best source for information about the text" are some of those agreements.
[grin] (Cordial) disagreement is part of (fruitful) conversation.
 
2:49 AM
In that I agree that different contexts have different conventions, and it's really interesting to compare the different contexts and figure out what effect the various conventions have. But I definitely think that some conventions are correct and other conventions are incorrect.
Maybe valid is a better word then correct?
 
@Hamlet Substitute "correct/incorrect" with "useful/not useful" and I'm in agreement there.
 
@BESW "epistemologically valid"?
 
That.... could work, for very narrowly sliced values of epistemology.
Sure.
 
For example (and I'm a bit worried about saying this in this chat room, but whatever), I am really interested in why the science fiction and fantasy fanbases have a culture that values author intentionality, and I really would like to do some research into that.
 
(That's where we're getting into my ongoing beef with analysis's tendency to "begin in mere words and end in mere words.")
 
2:53 AM
@BESW ?
 
@Hamlet The useful/valid/correct thing.
 
@Randal'Thor out of curiosity, is author intentionality (i.e. "word of god") something exclusive to science fiction and fantasy?
 
@Hamlet I have unformed gut-level suspicions, but haven't yet percolated them into something expressible.
Hmm. Jill Bearup's series on fanfiction may have some useful tidbits.
I think the collision of storytelling with modern intellectual property concepts (not necessarily laws) has a major role.
 
@Hamlet Sorry, I'm not really sure what you're asking. I mean, obviously one could ask questions about the author's intentions for any work of literature. Surely there are people who want to go mainly by that, and people who don't, in any genre?
 
@Randal'Thor let me think of a better way to ask that question
 
3:01 AM
Shirley there are. I think speculative fiction's relationship with authorial authority is more visible partly because SF is inherently a "genre" in which more questions will arise about the diegesis of the text, and partly because SF is more of a visible "community" than most other genres. And relatedly, SF is a genre which began maturing roughly simultaneously with the growing acceptance of an individual or company's permanent ownership of a story.
That's... about as far as I can get right now.
 
@BESW I'm not sure how much I buy those explanations.
 
The first part certainly sounds reasonable and congruent with a subset of my guesses.
 
Like I said, they're very nascent speculations.
 
I'm too tired for these deep conversations.
Goodnight all.
 
@Randal'Thor night!
 
3:04 AM
ttfn
 
@BESW the part about SFF being a "visible community" is definitely true
 
I think there's an inherent strive towards structural integrity and "soundness" of the underlying worldbuilding that is emphasized way more in those genres and that the community largely seems in search for. And for this any information with somewhat of an "authorial license" to it is certainly welcome. (re: "canon")
 
but I would say that's the condition that allows conventions of analysis to develop, rather then the explanation for why the conventions are the way they are
 
@NapoleonWilson It's important to remember, I think, that canon is about control over a work's interpretations. That's the original religious context of the term and it didn't lose that implication when it transferred to corporate control over the expressions a franchise can take.
 
@BESW I disagree, I think @NapoleonWilson made a really good point about the "soundness of the underlying worldbuilding"
 
3:08 AM
@Hamlet I also said that's part of it.
 
The fact that those genres (seem to) attract people with a certain dedication to the matter and its worldbuilding is also part of my theory why SciFi.SE hasn't been utterly killed by ID as much as the other sites have. (But that just as a connection to an entirely different discussion).
 
@BESW I would attribute it to the fact that science fiction has the word "science" in it
Science carries with it a set of epistemological assumptions that aren't always sound
for a critique of all of this, take a close look at my avatar
 
@BESW Sure. (And I'm personally not that much of a fan of the whole strive for "canon".)
 
I think all of these elements are part of the cause.
 
I would elaborate on what I mean by this, but I'm not sure if this chat room is the best place to do so.
@BESW this would make a really interesting book
 
3:13 AM
Science fiction implies rigour which the text can't provide. Fans accustomed to media overseen by the iron hand of a corporate franchise come to expect creators to wield that authority elsewhere as well. Fantasy implies unstated worldbuilding elements fans want to know more about. Science fiction is a newer genre which evolved alongside our cultural shift toward more rigorous intellectual property rights.
These, and more, feed into each other and reinforce each other over time.
 
@BESW I think I'm finally going to send you an email
 
Anyway, I'm making far too many typos, it's 4:00 and I already drank two Vespers, so good night.
 
ttfn
 
@NapoleonWilson night!
 
@Hamlet ooer.
 
3:15 AM
@BESW writing you an email right now
 
[nervouscited]
Audiobook excerpt from Mary Robinette Kowal's reading of Lara Elena Donnelly's Amberlough.
 
Has anyone ever read anything by Donna Haraway?
 
I don't think so... [looks up Donna Haraway]
 
@BESW philosopher/historian of science
 
...No, I have not.
I wonder if she'd be helpful in my delve into solarpunk.
Okay, I need to take a break. I just typed "engagenement."
 
3:37 AM
@BESW before you go (or when you get back), what's the best book to introduce myself to solarpunk?
 
Whoof. Solarpunk is so new, it's hard to even say what is and isn't itself.
I'll have to think on that.
 
@BESW or best online story?
I just googled the term, and it sounds like something I would really enjoy reading
 
3:54 AM
This anthology was collected with solarpunk in mind.
But I haven't done a lot of extensive reading of solarpunk fiction myself yet.
There's some interesting stuff via this tumblr
Here's another solarpunk anthology. This time with dragons.
I think I'm going to be getting that last one for a friend.
 
 
1 hour later…
5:10 AM
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Q: What are the "old euphemisms" in The Great Gatsby?

Keshav SrinivasanIn chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Nick describes Daisy's reaction to the people of West Egg: "But the rest offended her—and inarguably, because it wasn’t a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented “place.” that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing v...

 
5:48 AM
@Randal'Thor yes.
I created , but now I'm not sure if I really should have created . But I guess this meta says we should use author's preferred name.
 
 
11 hours later…
4:56 PM
0
Q: How did the Adem view Marrage?

Matrim CauthonThe Adem people believe that 1. Men have nothing to due with conception, and 2. That sex is not restricted to specific partners. In our culture, those are the main reasons for marrage. There were also no shown married couples in the book. Do the Adem marry, and if they do, Why.

 
5:07 PM
 
5:18 PM
I wish Heroes of the Storm would get Russian servers
So that I don't see them when playing on Europe
 
lol
i dont think blizzards ever had russian servers
 
@Himarm you had to break it to me, didn't you?
 
yeah overwatch doesnt either
and i seem to remember wow having "russian" "servers" but they were still hosted in western europe some where
 
@Himarm doesn't matter, as long as they have their own playground
 
korea has its own server usually
and china as well
the rest of asia and australia have to share usually though
 
5:33 PM
Heck yeah! Stjepan Sejic's going to draw Aquaman!
so yeah, i'll do some swimming this year :P https://t.co/5nUrivHzwI
 
5:57 PM
Our math course instructor is such a troll
He postet a link on the course website that reads "Midterm I solutions"
And the midterm is tomorrow
Here's what was inside:
He does that for every single exam, each time with a different photograph of this cat
 
6:45 PM
@DVK Sixish months. Could not bring myself to read Quicksilver.
 
7:25 PM
@Emrakul Stephenson? I'd denounce you as heretic, except to my everlasting shame i still haven't managed to finish Quicksilver myself. And I read Cryptonomicon at least 5 times and most Stephenson stuff several times as well and am unapologetic fan.
Of course my personal record is well over 20 years. At 13, I got my hands on Russian translation of "Lady Chatterley's lover". I got so incensed at the fact that she was cheating on her husband that even "ou-la-la sex content!" wasn't enough to attract the 13 year old me to finish it.
@Gallifreyan Could be worse. Could be a rickroll.
 
@DVK-on-Ahch-To he's better than that
"we've read your exam papers, but we won't be announcing the results for a week just because"
That's a direct quote
This is from previous semester:
And this is from the Facebook page:
Ridiculously popular cat
It's being fed and cared for in at least 3 buildings, not including dorms
 
8:24 PM
@DVK-on-Ahch-To Anathem remains one of my favorite books. But I can't for the life of me touch that series.
(I usually ​don't read multiple books by the same author. I have Cryptonomicon, but haven't read it yet.)
 
 
1 hour later…
9:39 PM
The site's been pretty dead today
 
Ash
10:34 PM
Reading the second Old Man's War book. I feel like I might be able to ask a question or two out of it, but I'm not sure yet.
 
11:25 PM
I was thinking of proposing some Sámi literature for a topic challenge, but am having trouble finding any that's been translated into English.
 
What is Sámi?
 
@NapoleonWilson Tut tut, you're a European and you don't know who the Sami are? ;-)
The indigenous peoples of Lappland.
 
Well, I at least guessed it. I just didn't know the English term.
(And it's curious that you are so engaged in their literature.)
 
@NapoleonWilson I'm not really, but I still thought it would be a nice idea for a topic challenge.
 
Well, sure, but why Sámi? Is there something that makes them more relevant (to you or anyone else) than any other indigenous European minority? Or was that just pure coincidence?
 
11:32 PM
The Sami have a strong culture, even today.
The Sami people (also Sámi or Saami, traditionally known in English as Lapps or Laplanders) are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The Sami are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and are hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. Sami ancestral lands are not well-defined. Their traditional languages are the Sami languages and are classified as a branch of the...
@NapoleonWilson I'm not sure what you mean by "relevant". If someone proposes a topic challenge based on literature from another indigenous European minority, I'd probably upvote that too.
 
@Randal'Thor I was just wondering why you specifically picked the Sámi. That's all really.
 
But how many "indigenous European minorities" are there really? Unlike a lot of the world, most of Europe doesn't really have indigenous groups who've been pushed into being minorities by the invasion of "white men".
 
Well, I don't know. Gaelic literature seems relevant to your personal background for example.
 
@NapoleonWilson Let's just say I'm more familiar with them than with a lot of similar minority groups. Yes, more relevant to me, if you like.
@NapoleonWilson Ooh, that's a good idea.
 
@Randal'Thor Well, see, that's a satisfying answer. ;-)
 
11:38 PM
I did ask a question about Robbie Burns last night.
 
I know.
 
(But how do you know Gaelic literature seems relevant to my personal background? Have I given away more about myself on SE than I'd realised? :-o )
 
Well, it's common knowledge you're a Brit. Above that I remember you saying once that you're an exiled Scotsman.
 
Going down that road would certainly give us more unpronounceable author names.
 
Besides that, I doubt many people know about Burns Night.
 
11:41 PM
And not just unpronounceable but counterintuitively pronounceable.
As in, it looks as though it should be pronounced one way but is actually pronounced quite differently.
@NapoleonWilson It's a thing all over Britain, not just in Scotland. I'd guess most Brits have at least heard of it.
 
> An t-urram thar gach beinn
Aig Beinn Dòbhrain;
De na chunnaic mi fon ghrèin,
'S i bu bhòidhche leam...
Oh, yes. Let's inject some Gaelic into this site.
Maybe it'll tempt Wad over here - I know he appreciates Gaelic too, though probably of the Irish rather than Scots variety.
 

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