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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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Reactions to Books
Last weekend, an AP Language* student and I discussed a question her teacher had asked the class after/about one assignment, "Have you ever read [nonfiction] you enjoyed but disagreed with?"

I told her that since I was in h.s., I'd mainly felt that way about one type of writing: material I thought was wrong but was argued in an interesting way and made me think about new aspects of the topic. I'm relatively sure that was what the teacher was driving at,** especially since the article strongly took a controversial stance but explicitly extolled the value of independent thought.

However, I told her, in the past ten years I've found a different kind of writing I enjoy but disagree with: nonfiction that in a generally credible way promotes a social agenda I totally agree with, but that isn't precise enough for me as a somewhat expert on the topic. I'm glad the material is out there, and I'm not upset because it is predominantly right; I do sometimes learn from it; but I keep saying to myself, "well, almost" or "not in all cases."

As you may guess from my LJ, Bob, I feel that way about much writing in polyamory and fat acceptance. Sometimes this approach works well, as at the Fat, feminism, and Fandom panel at DetCon1, and sometimes not so well.

This leads me to wonder if others feel similarly about my writing but for opposite reasons: glad to see it out there, but it's too nit=-picky and might give comfort to the other side.

* Unlike in the days when the dinosaurs and I took AP English, now there are two tests: AP Language and AP Literature, the former keyed to Freshman-Comp skills though tougher, often including classical rhetorical terms. My high-school students often take AP Lang their junior year and AP Lit their senior year.

**I've come to regard the teacher trying to get a single answer--truly socratic, in my opinion!--as one of the endemic flaws of teaching I'm familiar with. Sometimes students ask what I think, in regard to a question I just asked about some fiction, and they're surprised when I say, "I don't know. Mainly, I want to know what you think." Then I do think about both my ideas and their answer, together.

Status: apparently turned into a morning person!!!
"Settling For" in Relationships
Despite his fat phobia, I generally like Dan Savage's sex advice, which I find blunt to the point of rudeness but generally sensible. In a recent column he said, "Because there is no settling down without settling for, LTB, and that applies to bisexual and monosexuals, monogamists and polyamorists. Good luck."

My first reaction was that there can be settling down without settling for, and settling for problems and flaws is generally a bad idea. I've said repeatedly that one good thing that came out of my parents' horrific marriage was my bone-deep knowledge that unless I found the right person, I was better off alone.

Further introspection showed a contradiction: none of the three of us could in any sense of the word be called perfect, right?

Finally, I decided that two uses of "settling for" are going on here. Very similar to two possible uses of "work" when one says, "My job doesn't seem like work."

If there's anyone whose job doesn't take effort and committment, I have never met such a person. I know I put both effort and skill into mine, and something more, examination of the work in ways that make me better at it.

However, what people who say that--including me--is that the work doesn't <i>feel like<i> work, at least most of the time. The fit between the task and my interests and skills is such that I enjoy it greatly and probably would do it without pay.

Similarly, I decided, we all settle for certain problems and flaws in a spouse, but if we're lucky, it doesn't feel like settling for anything. Someties the cause is blindness & the problems become major later and must be dealt with. Other times, what may seem like a problem to someone else or even objectively is never a problem at all within a certain relationship.

Because weirdly, as much as I can be a stone b*tch about certain matters within the home, I never feel like I settled for anything, with either of my spice.

Mood: apparently chatty

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