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Author Topic: The Furry Image  (Read 6704 times)
iain
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2012, 10:24:42 AM »

As a denizen of the murky world of putting-people-off, I find the whole idea of being ashamed for reading certain books, or other works of fiction, strange. I also find strange the idea that being "different" is somehow bad. I had a run-in with this at a local mall just yesterday (tagging along with a friend and his twin boys). I sit around reading most any time, and at the mall, it's not likely I'll shop for anything. This time I caught a lot of strange looks from people - more than I ever recall getting while reading in a mall - because, I assume, I was reading Redwall, with a portrait of Matthias brandishing a sword and shield on the cover. Staring doesn't bother me. It bothers me when people escalate their disapproval and give voice to it, or worse.

Personally, I think most people look at the world and only see the surface of things. They aren't interested in delving deeper because that requires a sustained effort. It's an observation and a conclusion formed around the game of billiards; there are people who refine their skill and get better over time, while others just shoot willy-nilly and hope to slosh something in, no matter how often they play. I don't concern myself with input from the willy-nilly shooters, but I'm happy to hear from folks with a better game than me.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 10:27:01 AM by iain » Logged

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Altivo
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2012, 11:02:37 AM »

Actually, they may have been staring at you simply because you were reading. In America, reading has declined so far that it is quite possible that the majority of people consider it a peculiar thing to spend time on. Less than half of US adults now read anything for pleasure. Reading is considered to be something you are forced to do in school, and someting that you stop doing when no one is making you do it any more.
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iain
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2012, 01:35:34 PM »

Actually, they may have been staring at you simply because you were reading. In America, reading has declined so far that it is quite possible that the majority of people consider it a peculiar thing to spend time on. Less than half of US adults now read anything for pleasure. Reading is considered to be something you are forced to do in school, and someting that you stop doing when no one is making you do it any more.
I had considered that, but it's not the first time I've been the target of public speculation for reading in a mall. It was the first time I got so many comic double-takes, though. From what I can imagine, I must have looked like an adult reading a kid's book, which I suppose is doubly strange. On that same note, every copy of Robinson Crusoe I have in the house is marked Young Adult or Scholastic, so the genres have never meant much to me. Good writing is good writing.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 01:47:30 PM by iain » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2012, 02:07:10 PM »

Well, speaking as a librarian, I can tell you that genres are arbitrary labels, and especially so when applied by the publishers as they usually are. Most of the books that are considered "children's classics" today were originally written for adult readers.
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2012, 03:09:30 PM »

Altivo, I agree. It's surprising whenever I go to the library because NO ONE there is actually reading anything. They're either studying, which I don't count as reading for pleasure, or using the computers. I'm guilty of this as well, but I go to the library simply to get out of the house and write, but I still find that kinda funny.

That's one of the reasons I never liked schools forcing students to read. My school district set aside a half hour everyday of silent reading to 'encourage reading for pleasure.' Umm... correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think FORCING someone to do something they already don't wanna do will NOT encourage them to do it for FUN.
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Altivo
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2012, 03:35:03 PM »

I think it's impossible for us to "force" anyone to read. You can make them sit in front of a book, but you can't make them read.

Reading in the actual library has not been common in my lifetime. Typically the serious readers go to the library and borrow reading material to take home with them. Any reading done in the library is probably research using library materials that do not leave the building, or schoolwork of some sort. Where I work we have perhaps three or four users who come to the library to read a newspaper (that they apparently do not get at home) but beyond that, you're right. People come to use our computers or to connect their laptops to our wi-fi. Some come to borrow books, but we are at the point where nearly half our lending is video material or audiobooks rather than print.

My figures on how many adults read for pleasure are taken from a long term study by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Census Bureau. They have found a steady decline in the number of adults who read for pleasure, beginning shortly after World War II and continuing through the early 21st century. After 2000, the percentage of US adults who read anything that wasn't work or school related fell below 50%, though they say there is a recent upturn, very slight but measurable. I attribute the "upturn" to the fact that they changed their definitions to include "reading from a computer screen, mobile device, or ebook reader" as reading for pleasure. I'm willing to grant that reading from a Kindle or Nook for pleasure might be equivalent to reading paper material, but the "computer screen or mobile device" is letting some people weasel and count texting, social networking (e.g. Facebook) and instant messaging as "reading for pleasure." That's a cheat. I think it most likely that those who read books and magazines from an ebook reader were already readers of printed materials on paper in the past. I doubt very much that the existence of the Kindle has actually made reading seem "cool" or "more interesting" to those who had already rejected it.
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iain
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2012, 03:43:40 PM »

Lucky.  Tongue I worked at the campus library when I was in college. Best job I ever had. I wholeheartedly agree about genres; though with a qualification. The young adult label is at once useless, but it's also a destroyer of new literature. It's the bane of my existence that new fantasy works (synonymous with Young Adult Fantasy, as that seems to be the target audience for 90% of authors) are nothing short of formulaic and derivative. It's the categorization of classic works which confuse me, especially when they're stacked next to Twilight novels, for example. I actually found Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine sitting next to the collected volumes of Twilight at a local used bookstore. I had to liberate it. But I digress...

What I was originally trying to put into words is that, at least insofar as I understand it, furry fandom's image, as seen by the public, is not the same as the underlying reality of it. The amazing part about furry lit is it's range and reach. You might go so far as to classify some Jethro Tull songs (""...And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps," for instance) as furry lit. Jack London is my favorite example of historical anthropomorphism, and not only because The Call of The Wild was the first book I ever read cover to cover in one sitting. The problem, I think, is that historical roots aren't initially associated with the fandom, which is to say, it's not seen as having any literary elements aside from that found in children's entertainment. It's seen as fetishistic, because that perception trends along the same lines as other related movements in popular culture. Western civilization seems to have fallen into a fetishistic period marked by the downward spiral from utilitarianism, to hedonism, to nihilism. As kids, most people were introduced to anthropomorphism through T.V., and cartoons aimed at kids. That, I'm sure, has a lot to do with the understanding of furry themes most prominent in society today. The hedonist/nihilist bridge just reinforces the tendency to disregard facts and reality. We're living in the era of Intelligent Design and global warming denial, so that's bound to have some impact on the softer aspects of culture.
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iain
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« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2012, 03:53:06 PM »

Altivo, I agree. It's surprising whenever I go to the library because NO ONE there is actually reading anything. They're either studying, which I don't count as reading for pleasure, or using the computers. I'm guilty of this as well, but I go to the library simply to get out of the house and write, but I still find that kinda funny.

That's one of the reasons I never liked schools forcing students to read. My school district set aside a half hour everyday of silent reading to 'encourage reading for pleasure.' Umm... correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think FORCING someone to do something they already don't wanna do will NOT encourage them to do it for FUN.
That's for sure. If I hadn't grown up the way I did (no T.V. in our house - parents forbade it) it's likely I'd have the same disinclination to read, for the same reason (schools required it and teenagers are naturally rebels). The only way to get people to enjoy reading is to fan the spark of curiosity that can only be fed through reading. That's a whole different thing than requiring that kids read a certain prescribed list of books.
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« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2012, 04:05:01 PM »

The funniest part for me was I barely read during our half-hour forced reading... but I read all the time at home. I only stopped reading regularly because I just wasn't interested after a while. What I hated most about reading at school was not being able to enjoy the books we read. I'd sit down and read 'Dracula' in an hour or two before going to bed one night, the entire thing. The next day I'd chat with my American Lit. teacher before class and say "Yeah, I finished Dracula last night. It was pretty cool (which it was, I enjoyed reading it a lot)." Then he'd reply with "Cool! Did you annotate it?"

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU... NO I don't annotate my friggin' books, I read them!
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iain
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« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2012, 04:09:52 PM »

Ha  Grin. Yeah, school has a tendency to destroy the joy of learning, I think. I had the same problem in high school, and it only got worse in college. It's amazing I can still use a computer without feeling dirty and contaminated now. I'm lucky I didn't go to school for an english degree.

« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 04:24:37 PM by iain » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2012, 04:41:31 PM »

I think it's impossible for us to "force" anyone to read. You can make them sit in front of a book, but you can't make them read.

Reading in the actual library has not been common in my lifetime. Typically the serious readers go to the library and borrow reading material to take home with them. Any reading done in the library is probably research using library materials that do not leave the building, or schoolwork of some sort. Where I work we have perhaps three or four users who come to the library to read a newspaper (that they apparently do not get at home) but beyond that, you're right. People come to use our computers or to connect their laptops to our wi-fi. Some come to borrow books, but we are at the point where nearly half our lending is video material or audiobooks rather than print.

My figures on how many adults read for pleasure are taken from a long term study by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Census Bureau. They have found a steady decline in the number of adults who read for pleasure, beginning shortly after World War II and continuing through the early 21st century. After 2000, the percentage of US adults who read anything that wasn't work or school related fell below 50%, though they say there is a recent upturn, very slight but measurable. I attribute the "upturn" to the fact that they changed their definitions to include "reading from a computer screen, mobile device, or ebook reader" as reading for pleasure. I'm willing to grant that reading from a Kindle or Nook for pleasure might be equivalent to reading paper material, but the "computer screen or mobile device" is letting some people weasel and count texting, social networking (e.g. Facebook) and instant messaging as "reading for pleasure." That's a cheat. I think it most likely that those who read books and magazines from an ebook reader were already readers of printed materials on paper in the past. I doubt very much that the existence of the Kindle has actually made reading seem "cool" or "more interesting" to those who had already rejected it.
There is a school in Newark, Ohio, that, if one didn't know better, might at first appear to be an abandoned building reclaimed by nature. There is graffiti all across the facade, the grass is overgrown and splintering through the pavement, and parts of the roof seem to lurch inward. A huge number of the students sell or use drugs on school grounds (based on crime statistics of that demographic). Shootings are tragically common.

The notice board by the street says "Rated 'Excellent' by the Ohio Department of Education" (the second highest report card rating possible).

It doesn't surprise me that it's trending to other areas outside public schools. Facebook, though?  Huh That's more than just cheating the numbers. It gives the term gerrymandering a new meaning.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 05:01:13 PM by iain » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2012, 05:02:02 PM »

Well, I'd best leave the commentary on school and the joy of learning alone. I'm from an earlier generation, so my experiences may not connect to most of yours. However, I'll say that it wasn't always the way you now seem to describe it.

Publishers are in business to make money. If Twilight is selling a hundred thousand copies a year, then they are going to publish more stuff that they think will be "similar" to it. And they are going to try to relabel existing stuff as "similar" as well. Hence the redefinition of fantasy fiction to what was previously known as "urban fantasy" or, in the end, vampires and werewolves. Looking at what has been published in the last three years and using my own admittedly subjective judgement, I'd say that science fiction and fantasy has suffered badly from the publishers' rush to find the "next Twilight." As for myself, I canceled my membership in the Science Fiction Book Club after more than 35 years because all their new offerings seem to be either vampire junk or technopunk, neither of which interests me at all.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 05:10:49 PM by Altivo » Logged

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iain
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« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2012, 06:24:07 PM »

Well, I'd best leave the commentary on school and the joy of learning alone. I'm from an earlier generation, so my experiences may not connect to most of yours. However, I'll say that it wasn't always the way you now seem to describe it.
You'd be supprised. I only spent one metal-detector-free year in public schools, the rest were spent home-schooling with a biggish group of other kids. I just read too much news, and have a sister in the 10th grade. The stuff I've read and heard is mystifying to me.

Quote
Publishers are in business to make money. If Twilight is selling a hundred thousand copies a year, then they are going to publish more stuff that they think will be "similar" to it. And they are going to try to relabel existing stuff as "similar" as well. Hence the redefinition of fantasy fiction to what was previously known as "urban fantasy" or, in the end, vampires and werewolves. Looking at what has been published in the last three years and using my own admittedly subjective judgement, I'd say that science fiction and fantasy has suffered badly from the publishers' rush to find the "next Twilight." As for myself, I canceled my membership in the Science Fiction Book Club after more than 35 years because all their new offerings seem to be either vampire junk or technopunk, neither of which interests me at all.
I have no qualms with the publishers going after a profit, or the authors making a buck on their labor; writing is hard, tiring work. I only wish they'd aim for a higher denominator in terms of quality. I don't understand the idea behind marketing books to people who don't read books. Surely that's the entire point behind a lot of the newer fantasy/sci-fi; to make it into a movie. It's confusing. This is why I love sites like this one; while the strange business of literary publication is dwindling into monotony, tons and tons of really good stuff goes unpublished and gets onto sites like this, or gets published through less mainstream channels. It's like a beacon of hope in a dark, dreary world.  Grin
« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 06:32:07 PM by iain » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2012, 06:27:28 PM »

Publishers are in business to make money. If Twilight is selling a hundred thousand copies a year, then they are going to publish more stuff that they think will be "similar" to it. And they are going to try to relabel existing stuff as "similar" as well.

THAT I think is what's affecting the furry fandom, in our own pervertedly furry way. For example, Kyell Gold is one if not the most prolific and visible furry author out there. Consequently enough, A LOT of amateur furry fiction consists of erotic gay romances involving foxes. Another example points to the popularity of the Heathen City graphic novel series. Consequently, A LOT of amateur furry fiction consists of gritty urban thriller stories, sometimes in the same narrative style as Heathen City. Since that's what is popular, amateurs hope to capitalize on what's familiar to even completely new furries. And the cycle thus feeds itself.
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« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2012, 10:17:23 PM »

Yeah, I'm sure it does affect furry publishing to a considerable degree. If you know you can sell second rate erotica, comics, and violence, why take a chance on more literary materials? (Or, goddess forbid, poetry?) I do understand that, but it makes me sad just the same.

The expectations of furry readers, though, are probably a more major shaping factor here. Even Kyell has begun to drop hints that he's concerned about this and may have some "less erotic" materials in the pipe. Shadow of the Father, as I've said before, seems to me to be one of his best works, and it is almost devoid of erotic scenery. If those couple of scenes were omitted or edited, it would still be just as fine a work. Under his other name he has also written some excellent non-erotic material, most notably Common and Precious. If Kyell leads the way, I do think others will follow.

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