Inspiring literacy

 Google’s  controversial project to digitize the world’s literature.  It looks like a wonderful idea, especially to someone like me who doesn’t expect to lose royalities.  They do, however, invite reviews.  Below you’ll see the two reviews for the classic, Treasure Island.



Book stinks. Horrible. You want a better …

… book read “The outsiders” by SE Hinton: it’s good and there is fights on every corner. :<(


I hated this book. The plot was boring …

… and the style was nearly unreadable. This book is overall really boring and suckish. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!!!!:K

I’m personally looking forward to when museums catch up and post viewers’ reactions next to the art work.

11 thoughts on “Inspiring literacy

  1. I thought more “borderline sucks.” It’s actually a question about “ish,” I think, with may not in fact make it determinate between one or the other. But “oldish,” “youngish” seem to me to apply to the borderlines. “Newish?” “Redish?” On the other hand, “goodish” sounds to me more like a case in your favor.

    Actually, in thinking about it, “ish” might be like “fake”. The other part wears the trousers.

  2. Is this blog really making fun of those who, very likely, never had the chance to lounge about learning “good” white women’s grammar?
    ALso what is with the implication that those who do not have that luxury should not be allowed to comment on art?
    I expect this from most feminists but I have never seen this level of elitism on this blog before and it saddens me.
    I have been thinking more and more again about how feminism is not a place for me at all, this kind of makes me believe I am completely right, that the small inroads made by thinkers like Maria LUgones and Chela Sandoval r5eally have had no impact at all and that it will always be the same ivory tower elitist game.
    Maybe this is giving me incentive to tolerate the snobbery in academia while getting a doctorate to I can go on to add a program in poverty studies to the womens, black, urban, gender, race, ect. list of “studies” programs.

  3. ilovefanon, I really hope these are not your parting words. If each of us should retreat to our specific “studies”, it would be my loss (should I retreat to stupid studies then?). Most of the time, I don’t agree with you, but you remind me of a part of my past with which I have a conflicted relationship — and I’m pretty sure the anger I see in you is just a projection of my own anger that I’m desperately struggling to tame. Nevertheless I’m grateful for that reminder, I think we have more in common that you think, and less than I think.

    But if you have come to feel uneasy around here, my appreciation for your insights is not worth the discomfort to you. Maybe you will start a blog of your own, and if so please send word around here, I’d probably want to take a look, and pester you until you kick me out from there.

  4. counterfnord,
    No, not parting words, just more sadness at the level of elitism I am bombarded by at each turn.
    I do not think that any of us should participate in theoretical apartheid (Sandoval’s phrase for each discipline being kept separate).
    We may or may not have alot in common but the anger you see in me is real, not just you rprojection, I have just watched 2 of my teenage cousins murdered in May and just today a cousin who is only a bit younger than me killed himself because he has spent all these years trying to make a life and still cannot get out of the projects. It is also anger about the elitism that is so very pervasive in so much of feminism.
    I actually have been tossing around the idea of starting a blog on philosophy and poverty, maybe soon when things calm a bit and I have time and energy to get it going I will.
    I find myself much more conflicted with this part of my life than with my past, alot of that has to do with the horizontal hostility that I face from my family on a daily basis and alot has to do with the fact that I have seen SOOOO many murders of the generation after me this year. I actually presented on this at a conference a few months ago and am writing a series of essays addressing the horizintal hostility and cultural homlessness that is my life now.
    Thanks for the thoughts, we could email sometime fi you like:)

  5. ilovefanon, I’m very puzzled. Why do you think that was making fun of the person? Who would really care about whether someone was using the correct form of the phrase “it sucks.”

    I did use to love the cartoons that would have the steely matron say something like, “I must insist, Miss Jones, that at tea you say “they suck” and not “they sucks,”” but that is really much more appropriate to the defunct Punch (or the decades ago New Yorker).

    So what were we doing? Acting out on analytic philosophy’s obsession with language in all its forms, ideolects, dialects, etc, etc.

    On commenting on art? Have a look here:

    Of course, most of us would love to open up some of the very protected preserves of culture to more input, and we’re trying to do that. Google, however, is an interesting case, since it is getting a very controversial monopoly on digitizing the world’s literature. While it is dismaying that so much of that literature was produced by dead white males, I don’t think its being accompanied by “Sucks; don’t read” is a happy outcome.

    I am wondering if you don’t have in mind this background question: Should some attitudes be privileged over others, and should the privileged ones be allowed to affect the standards in, e.g., university grading?

  6. jj
    It was that the reviews posted had what the “good” white grammarians would call bad. It is also the kind of grammar used by those who have not been lucky enough (or at times I think cursed enough) to have knowledge that is saved for the privileged or for those of us who are the Other who have fought to get into education.
    Yes the analytic things does play a part in it, obviously people do care or they wouldn’t talk about it.
    I may have misunderstood the part about art, I thought that it meant that when the masses (instead of the herd) get to see and comment on it that their comments about that would be made fun of as well.
    That book DOES suck and I would never tell anyone to read it, if something is bad it is bad, there is no changing it now.
    There is also a huge difference in taste between those from dominant culture, those who have had alot of education who are not part of dominant culture, and those who are neither part of dominant culture nor have had alot of education. Because of the class chasm some books will suck to some and be great to others, so I do not think it is at all sad that people who find it to be a bad book say it, the world is not a happy place. Personally I find it horrifying that people still read aristotle, i find it sad that they still entrench his ideas about slavery, if more different kinds of people have access to it it will get more it sucks don’t read it, that is not a bad thing. Things do not deserve praise just because they have been around for a long time, many times the things that have been around for a long time are the very things that should have been destroyed at their creation. I am not saying this book should have vbeen destroyed at creation, just that as more different kinds of people gain access to the dead white rich tradition it will be challenged more and more and that is good.

    Yes i always have epistemic ignorance and epistemic segregation in the background of all my thoughts because I live them everyday. While I can speak the queens english when i choose i speak jus as ghetto as tha nex at home and am sick to death of being made fun of by professors and students just because my original language is a dialect of rich white english. I often incorporate rap lyrics in philosophy conference papers and love the look of horror i see in the audience. Since Im bout ta bust some mo ghetto speak at a conference in a few weeks and was writing before I read this it was in the back of my mind that all of the other knowledge groups with dialects hold is usually either made fun of or dismissed as rubbish- as almost always that is the topic of my presentation.
    Not all have to use the same grammar or dialect in either writing or speech and I don’t generally see anyone using alternative language forms picking apart dominant language. I find it to be a huge issue for those like me who are in academia, one more block to discourse since alternative forms are usually just picked apart or thrown out.

  7. ilovefanon, i think you are confusing several very different matters and I’m inclined to invoke a great British expression:
    Don’t try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs.

    I do not think it is productive to come to a blog and label writers elitists, particularly when you may not fully understand their perspective. One thing you are confusing is the difference between being interested in a different use of language and evaluating it as grammatical or not. It is simply false that, as you imply, interest is evidence of evaluation. Philosophy of language is not about good grammar.

    You need also to remember that many of us teach in large public universities with very diverse student bodies. The story of the foreign science TA who can hardly manage English is a cliche, and similar facts are realized in many of the undergraduate students at a university like mine, which is highly diverse. I have had students who can hardly speak English, still less write it.

    There are teachers who make students feel rejected because their language is not classic educated English. I can’t speak to that except to say that it would be hard to find anyone who has thought deeply about effective teaching at a university who would condone such behavior.

    Do I think it would be a good thing for them to learn to read and write classic English? There are very serious debates about what the role of non-classic speech is in various educational settings. I do not think this is the place to debate how to work out a satisfactory policy on that topic, but be assured that many of us are very aware of at least a number of the dimensions of the problem. It is not just a problem affecting poor people.

  8. Hi, Sorry to be late to this one. Just wanted to add a general plea to be cautious about interpreting what our bloggers and commenters mean, and cautious about making assumptions. We’re all trying hard to communicate well, but sometimes what we mean doesn’t come across.

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