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Can YOU understand this?

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4 replies to this topic

#1 Mr_Freeware


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Posted 31 January 2009 - 10:43 PM


I have a very hard time making sense of this guys book reviews. They are just beyond me. I've tried reading a few. It makes me feel stupid that I can't understand it. I went to high school and a 2 year college. (They don't really teach you anything about reading complicated stuff in college OR even high school. Another problem is that it makes refrences to other books, plays, movies, etc. Unless you have watched/read those books, movies, etc, you wouldn't understand what he is talking about.

That's something I've never understood. Are all smart people supposed to read the same exact books. Are all smart people supposed to read and enjoy Shakespeare? If you don't enjoy Shakespeare does that make you not a genius?

For something at such a high level, much of his articles are run-on sentences. If I read his reviews out loud, I would probably pass out (because I wouldn't get a chance to rest to breath). I was taught in school to avoid run-on sentences.

After a lot of serious thinking, I don't think I'm the only one who can't understand it. There's this cool automated blog readability test I found. I entered his reviews into it and the result said Genius. lol


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I thank god most things aren't written like that. I have no trouble reading most books and articles. I've heard that things like news reports are written at a 7th grade level. I don't know, but if it is, then I'm thankful that it is. If things were written like this guys book reviews then I wouldn't be able to understand anything and I don't think any amount of education will let me.

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#2 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*


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Posted 01 February 2009 - 01:11 AM

This fellow sounds as though he were stuck in a constant academic mode. This is the kind of language one finds in master's theses and ph.d. dissertations. Frankly, I found a lot of his writing took 4 lines to say what he might have said in one. He is writing for a very limited, specific audience. For instance, there are a lot of people who enjoy opera but don't understand music theory very well. His reviews would be inaccessible to them.

Maybe his page could be stored in the forum guidelines as an example of how not to communicate. I read Mr. J. G. Weed's excellent guidelines at ThoughtVent the other day, and I guess I should print them out, as I tend quite often to be wordy and academic, even when writing at light speed.

As to folks having read all the same writers as the reviewer has: there used to be a classical humanist tradition for non-science majors in American colleges and universities. The idea was that there would be an educated class, well-schooled in western ideas of ethics, culture and values. Then the 60's and 70's hit, with a cry for relevance. A lot of good classes and disciplines were cut to the bone. The current question is how many dead white western european white guys we will study versus the rest of the world. Most universities and colleges are trying to cover both, and with the internet, a lot of people who were not fortunate enough to get a college education are trying out all sorts of books that will stretch their brains. I read many popular science books, and am quite happy if I understand 2/3 of what the author has to say. When it comes to the humanities, I sometimes cheat by reading critical biographies. I get the ideas without the headaches.

Many people read book reviews for their entertainment value, too. Look at the success of The New York Times Book Review. The best book catalogs I have come across are Common Reader and Bas Bleu (a catalog for female readers). Those two are meant to be very cozy and read by the fireside with a relaxing cup of tea. But I'm with you, after fighting with my computer or dealing with heavier matters, the last thing I want to read is a mini-dissertation on the moral shortcomings of Woody Allen's works as compared to the Victorian novels of Henry James. There are a lot of people who enjoy both authors. And the comparison just doesn't make any sense!

Edited by fuzzywuzzy6, 01 February 2009 - 01:24 AM.

#3 Guest_Abacus 7_*

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 03:08 AM


I really think you are Barking up the wrong Tree, Fellows? (Means totally misunderstand something, here in Australia?)

The Gentleman is just citing references as to where he obtained his material to write the facts? (as he sees them?) accordinging to his Peers! Much the same as we cite references to sites we find to back up our Posts?

It is probable that he wishes to ensure that noone can possiblely ever misunderstand him?

It does not have to be as you think, just limited to any class of person, many people think that way in this day and age?

People just get quite paronoid about being sued, just by speaking out on what is on their mind, so they look to referrences to what other people have said? We see it here all the time? Sometimes those references cited are not recognised as fact, just hearsay? Then the obviuous happens and the Thread is modified of disappears.

Unfortunately it is just part of our life these days?

Edit. Just out of Fuzzywuzzy6's Signature comes this Gem?

[T]he mind is a compost heap, composed of everything one has heard, overheard, seen, imagined, dreamed, been told, read, remembered. The richer the organic matter dumped into the pile, the more the terrible roil works, the more odorous and interesting are the emanations from it. Doris Grumbach, from her essay, "The Literary Imagination," Exploring the Concept of Mind, ed. by Richard M. Caplan, c1987, University of Iowa Press, 1986., p. 122.

:flowers: :trumpet:

Edited by Abacus 7, 01 February 2009 - 03:27 AM.

#4 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*


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Posted 01 February 2009 - 04:38 PM

Doris Grumbach was a literary critic who wrote scholarly but accessible book reviews. She also wrote 1 or 2 intelligent, brief novels that sold quite well. It is possible to be scholarly and lively at the same time.

There is a time and a place for scholarly reviews, but Amazon reviews is probably not the best place for them. Scholars get their information on academic books from much better sources, and it is the general public looking to expand their minds that read these brief pieces.

When I read book reviews on Amazon, I want to be impressed by the content of the book, not by the reviewer's encyclopedic knowledge. It seemed to me that there was useful knowledge in those reviews, but it was buried under a lot of tangentially relevant information. I am probably guilty of that sort of thing when I post here (burying people under tangentially relevant information), but some of the topics I posted were just so members here could have some fun, or think about something they hadn't come across before. Nowadays, a lot of learning is about connecting seemingly isolated, unrelated bits of knowledge to come up with new insights, metaphors or paradigms: hence the compost heap. I believe that software designers working in the field of artificial intelligence are studying this area.

Like I said before, by the time I get around to checking the Amazon recommendations, I am usually exhausted and my brain hurts. With not much money for books nowadays, and less success in reading difficult books in a relatively short time, I want steak and potatoes in the reviews I read, not an excessively artistic presentation that leaves me hungry for vital information.

I forgot the name of the traditional humanist tradition education when I posted before. It's called the liberal arts curriculum, and goes back to the founding days of our oldest universities in the U.S.

Edited by fuzzywuzzy6, 01 February 2009 - 04:39 PM.

#5 Mr_Freeware

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:12 PM

I want steak and potatoes too. Another problem with reviews written like that is that they make me wonder if the book itself will be written like that and be way over my head. Fortunately there are many other reviews on amazon to choose from. Sometimes well over 500. Amazon also lets you peek inside a lot of these books to see if its really for you. So that's good.

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