Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 22:56 on 15-02-2012, Dan H
You pretentious git, Parks.

I think this is one of those situations where somebody is being a pretentious git as an overreaction to other people being pretentious gits.

I think there's a Certain Sort of Person who attributes a fetishistic importance to "books" - the same Certain Sort of Person who (and I fear I'm opening a can of worms here) insists on staying in a cinema until the end of the credits like that somehow means that they're Serious About Film.

There's nothing wrong with being interested in books as physical objects, any more than there's anything wrong with being interested in swords or shoes or hats, but a lot of people genuinely mistake a fetishisation of books for an appreciation of the actual act of reading.

I think it's tangentially related to my personal pet hate - people who want to "be writers" but don't seem to actually want to write anything. A lot of people seem to spend a lot of time "loving books" but have little interest in reading anything in any medium at all.
at 22:30 on 15-02-2012, Shim
You're right, it is interesting. He basically points out that books are not the same thing as literature, which I hadn't particularly thought about, and that e-books don't undermine literature, which is fair enough. They are not Destroying The Written Word or anything. The end of the article also makes some pretty good points.

/begin Shimming.
There are a few things that stuck out for me. He's very right that any medium has its own pleasures and aesthetic qualities that aren't intrinsically linked to the text, but what he skips over is that not being part of The Text doesn't mean these things aren't worthwhile in themselves. At the serious risk of being a complete pseud, the experience of reading a book is different from reading the words, just like going to a concert is different from listening to an MP3, and going out to a restaurant is different from consuming a nutrient pill. Similarly, the physical memory aspect of physical books isn't a cataclysmic loss but it is a nice and useful thing.

Basically Parksy seems to be stuck on the idea of The Text, and disregarding that for most people it's not the same as reading. Interesting covers, and paper quality, and illustrations, and other design choices all affect my experience of reading a book. Yes, even if the cover's completely misleading. Rereading a much-thumbed copy of a favourite book is a bit different from getting a different edition. Some books are physically a pleasure to read and others are quite offputting (I have stuff in the stacks at work that makes me cringe) or just awkward. I actually disagree about "the sequence of the words must remain inviolate" as well; for one thing endorsing that would seem to say translations are invalid, and for another which sequence of words? The ones the author wrote originally? The edited version prepared between her and an editor? The third edition with one extra original chapter restored posthumously? Similarly, abridged editions and beginning-reader editions are okay in my world, and radio dramatisations and so on.

Certainly it offers a more austere, direct engagement with the words appearing before us and disappearing behind us than the traditional paper book offers, giving no fetishistic gratification as we cover our walls with famous names. It is as if one had been freed from everything extraneous and distracting surrounding the text to focus on the pleasure of the words themselves. In this sense the passage from paper to e-book is not unlike the moment when we passed from illustrated children’s books to the adult version of the page that is only text. This is a medium for grown-ups.

You pretentious git, Parks. Do you also reject films and theatre and insist on reading the script and directors' notes? Do you, like Lord Vetinari, peruse sheet music from a dread of overweight bassoonists drippling saliva down their reeds? Do you never find that an apt illustration turns a bland bit of writing into something sparkling?
/end Shimming

Basically though I think I just disagree with him on what the Literary Experience is, but then I suspect he reads Booker Prize-Winning Novels* rather than second-hand 80s sci-fi and the obscure stuff I prefer.

*Just to clarify, I don't actually despise people for reading BPWNs. I appreciate I go on about it sometimes.
at 21:24 on 15-02-2012, Andy G
Interesting piece in praise of ebooks.
at 19:27 on 15-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I dunno, from the graphic, it looks more like Jacob's just realized that baby is the antichrist.

Really, that's what his expression is saying? Then again, I've never been able to read Taylor Lautner's facial expressions; the price paid for not studying dendrology in university, I guess.

But yeah, I'm feeling a significant amount of morbid curiosity to see how they're going to try to get around the whole massive creepiness factor. My prediction: whatever they do, it won't be enough.

I feel exactly the opposite. I actually want them to make the whole situation as creepy as possible, no, even creepier than is possible, just to turn the whole thing into a proper spectacle. The way I see it, it'll simply be bringing Stephanie Meyer's confused attitude regarding sexuality to the fore and make the movie a true den of the authorial subconscious. Plus it'll be a shoo-in at the 2013 Oscars for makeup effects, which is always a good award to get.
at 20:58 on 14-02-2012, Michal
Either way, creepy CG'd baby is creepy.
at 18:06 on 14-02-2012, Robinson L
Well, since we see his expression first, I couldn't really help registering it. After that, the close-up on the baby looked less "hel-lo handsome" and more "I will devour your soul!"

Seriously, just try dubbing that ubiquitous Dun Dun DUNNN! musical sting over the close-up and see how well it works.
at 15:52 on 14-02-2012, Arthur B
Jacob's facial expression didn't register on me because I was in shock that the directors actually attempted to make a newborn baby do a "hel-lo handsome" facial expression.
at 15:00 on 14-02-2012, Robinson L
Arthur: Oh god, they're actually doing it. They're actually using the whole werewolf/baby love affair plot point from Breaking Dawn in the movie.

I dunno, from the graphic, it looks more like Jacob's just realized that baby is the antichrist.

But yeah, I'm feeling a significant amount of morbid curiosity to see how they're going to try to get around the whole massive creepiness factor. My prediction: whatever they do, it won't be enough.
at 12:26 on 14-02-2012, Andy G
Wow and I felt bad enough for the makers of the final Harry Potter film being straitjacketed into the ridiculous plot of the book ... though I'm almost quite curious to go watch it and see how they at least attempt not to make it utterly ridiculous.
at 19:44 on 12-02-2012, Arthur B
Oh god, they're actually doing it. They're actually using the whole werewolf/baby love affair plot point from Breaking Dawn in the movie.
at 19:31 on 10-02-2012, valse de la lune
I adore how Bakker fails to engage the person who brings up "uh one of your female characters forgives and falls in love with her rapist, wtf?"
at 19:16 on 10-02-2012, valse de la lune
Lol, on the edge of publishing oblivion. Goodness, I should like to hope so.

The people fellating him are something. "Oh, let's infantilize women, that'll get people open to the idea of equality!" Where did these clowns crawl out from?
at 16:37 on 10-02-2012, Arthur B
Update on the Bakker thing. Apparently he's aware that he's alienating potential readers, to the point where his agent is taking him to task about the blog, and at points he really does feel like he's the pretentious fraud people say he is, and he reckons his books would probably sell better and his family wouldn't be poor if there weren't these issues with the content turning people off.

So he's going to keep plugging away doing what he's doing and hope for a "Hollywood ending".
at 07:18 on 10-02-2012, Arthur B
Oh wow, Double Fine has Ron Gilbert onboard this project too? Sign me up.
at 03:02 on 10-02-2012, Ibmiller
Frank - no, Grossman's "The Magicians" does not get better. It gets worse. And yet, I read the sequel. Which is also worse.

Schafer - wow. I just hope this game becomes at least fractionally as successful as Minecraft.
at 00:19 on 10-02-2012, Axiomatic
The subject under discussion

So has anyone been following the Tim Schafer kickstarter?

For those not 'in the know', he's a video game designer who did stuff like Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango. And he wants to make a point-and-click adventure game.

But everyone knows that's a dead genre, and no publisher will ever give you money to make one! So Schafer makes a kickstarter, and asks for $400,000 to be pledged in 33 days in order to make this game.

It has now been 24 hours since that happened.

26,690 BACKERS, $1,026,341 PLEDGED OF $400,000 GOAL, 32 DAYS TO GO

at 16:19 on 09-02-2012, Arthur B
Why is the man so fond of repeating himself.

Because he believes if he loses over and over and over again bit by bit he'll win over 1% of the audience each time and save us all from the Semantic Apocalypse.
at 15:51 on 09-02-2012, valse de la lune
But didn't he already do that when he declared SOCIAL EXPERIMENT? Why is the man so fond of repeating himself.

Maybe that's why his books are all doorstoppers.
at 14:01 on 09-02-2012, Arthur B
It's a bit more nuanced than that - he's saying he lost, but that was his plan all along, so really he wins!
at 13:37 on 09-02-2012, valse de la lune
So what he's saying is... "I WIN! Because I say so"?

Elodie's little story must have touched a nerve, there.
at 07:56 on 09-02-2012, Arthur B
R. Scott Bakker declares victory, because the whole argument only proves correct his argument that people's worldviews set them up for confirmation bias. Except, of course, his own worldview, which is exempt from that because he is a philosophical nomad and totally isn't just buying into a fairly fringe group worldview centring around apocalyptic-transhumanist takes on neuroscience, oh no. He's the genuine individual who's transcended all that, it's everyone else who's the rube.
at 02:19 on 09-02-2012, Michal
Hey folks, remember back during the first Text Factor when the ferrets talked about how silly a reality show based around books would be (but did something similar anyway)?

Well, I just realized Canada Reads ("the battle of the books") is exactly that. One panellist was almost crying yesterday when she spoke about why she voted off a particular book. There's a live studio audience and everything.
at 09:21 on 08-02-2012, Arthur B
But is he going to blame Nick for criticising his online behaviour, or is he going to blame you for poisoning Nick's mind with your women's magic?
at 07:32 on 08-02-2012, valse de la lune
Nick Mamatas is linking his posts calling them meltdowns. This is going to drive Bakker to a whole new height of rage--he seems to find it most grievous when other men disapprove of him. Like he's being betrayed by his fellow men, who by all rights should be rallying to him in the face of angry feminists.