October 28, 2007
                                                        October  6, 2007
  I often take the line that                            March   20, 2009
  "genre fiction" has a function
  that's not well described as
  just "escape" or "relaxation".            TAKEN_LIGHTLY

  For me at least, I often find it's            ROMANCE_OF_THE_REAL
  energizing, a way of "recharging
  my batteries" before returning to       One of my common themes is that
  the slow patient struggles of real      silly fiction is a serious business,
  existence.                              with buried purposes that we only
                                          occasionally admit to...
  But it seems that not
  everyone is wired this way.                        TWISTED_PATHS

  Just in the circles I
  inhabit, I can think of
  at least two exceptions:

     (1)                                       (October 6, 2007)

     A friend evidentally has never
     had any interest in mysteries,        He might make a
     westerns, science fiction, etc.       good counter-example
                                           to the claim that
        He's interested in "true           there's something
        stories": he likes to              critically important    If some
        read biographies and               about our fictions.     get by
        other forms of non-fiction.                                without
                                                                                           that old-
            NON                             time
        He is also gay (and can't           One possibility        then maybe
        remember a time when he didn't      to examine is          all can.
        know it), and had a terrible        that "Adventure
        relationship of some sort           Fiction" is about
        with his father.                    how we relate to
                                            the masculine.
                                                This is not a terribly
                                                interesting thought, I
                                                must admit, but then,
                                                they all can't be.



     The noir film/crime fiction
     fans like gritty tales of           I've heard Dark Mark comment
     crime and hopelessness...           with disdain about the Basil
                                         Rathbone Sherlock Holmes
       They place a lot of               movies as being too much
       emphasis on the Noir              like comic book superheros.
       trope of an ordinary
       person plunged into
       extreme circumstances.            It's an issue of "identification": if
                                         you're conviced that you're not hero
                                         material, a larger-than-life figure
                                         like Holmes may leave you feeling left
                                         out in the cold.

                                              One friend of mine complained
                                              about the Patrick MacGoohan
                                              "Secret Agent" as being too good
                                              at everything.

                                                  One of the things he liked
                                                  about Le Carre's Smiley is
                                                  that he was a physically
                                                  unimpressive guy.

     One possibility to consider
     though, is that perhaps we
     can't take people's                 An even more unlikely possiblity:
     accounts of their own               What if there's something about
     tastes too seriously.        the appreciation of heroic fiction
                                         that needs to be learned?
          There's always pressue on
          people to put on a show           Then it could be that the
          of elevated taste of one          people who don't get it,
          sort or another.                  are people who just
                                            haven't gotten there yet.
          When someone says they
          don't like some piece                We're more inclined to believe
          of popular art, it                   that a *high* art requires
          *might* be that they                 sophistication/experience
          just don't want to                   to understand, but is that
          admit that they do.                  a justified assumption?

          But I have my doubts that            WHEN_THE_END_IS_NEAR
          they're lying-- or that
          *all* of them are.

     I must admit that
     when I look upon the
     serious and improving         In Stephanson's "Cryptonomicon":
     literature on display         the main character discovers
     in people's living            that his uber-feminist ex is a
     rooms, I often wonder         closet romance novel fan.
     where they hide the
     real stuff.                         (Practical objection: she could
                                         excuse her collection by writing
        Upon seeing "Die                 critical essays about them.  No
        Hard", a friend of               need to hide it.)
        mine commented:

        "I thoroughly enjoyed
        that, and I'm throughly
        ashamed of myself."