Featured Post


This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Since rereading Booth's RHETORIC OF FICTION, mentioned here, I had been meaning to write something about the inherent manipulativeness of canonical fiction. Synsidar on this BEAT thread gave me the chance to expound on it a bit more.

To a comment regarding the supposed manipulative nature of  "continuing character" works-- one guess what Synsidar had in mind-- I posted the following.


Actually, I think the element of manipulation in art is very strong, it's just not as obvious.  Some critics make much of ambiguity.  But does Nabokov really just leave it up to the reader as to whether or not Humbert Humbert's take on morality is genuinely moral?  I would say that Nabokov has definite ideas on the subject, and that he manipulates readers into taking his view of things-- even if he makes his points more subtly than a Jerry Siegel.

I don't know why it would make any difference as to whether or not one is dealing with continuing characters.  When I considered buttressing my above argument that some HU guys don't like traditional stories, I returned to the Ng Suat Tong essay whose reprinting started the fracas:

"Once we recognize this, we must begin to wonder why some of the most esteemed critics in the field so often choose to place these comics over any other series of adult war comics. Do we find Joe Sacco’s truthful and engaging writings concerning Palestine and Yugoslavia hampered by his lack of exciting narrative technique and close-ups? Do our healthy appetites for dramatic, swanky portrayals of death betray our immature desires? This is the corrupting influence of the EC War line: artfulness and dexterity in place of truth; voyeurism without horror; content in the service of style instead of the reverse."

To me this is just as much a "cri de couer" as your own against the evil power of manipulation.  But all of the EC stories Tong is condemning are anthology stories with non-continuing characters.  Ipso facto, the presence of continuing characters makes no essential difference to the presence or absence of manipulative elements.

No comments: