Autor Wątek: universally accessible?  (Przeczytany 16559 razy)

innate

  • Gość
universally accessible?
« dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 02:21:48 am »
Sometimes people argue that a writer or a specific work can only be understood by people who lived in that time or place. In Lem's case, he writes about universal themes that, I'd think, could be understood reasonably well regardless of one's personal circumstances. But, then, I would think that, wouldn't I? Perhaps you have another perspective.

(man, way too quiet here; maybe it would be easier just to learn Polish and play with the cool kids)

Terminus

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 03:06:36 am »
Cytuj
(man, way too quiet here; maybe it would be easier just to learn Polish and play with the cool kids)


...not a bad idea ::)

There are too few active members here, compared to  the Polish section. Nevertheless, one can still enjoy some fruitfull chats :]


innate

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 05:28:02 am »
Cytuj
...not a bad idea.


I'm at least half-serious with all of this, you know.
I like an intellectual challenge. On the other hand, I'm easily distractible...
Wow, I've just about summed myself up in those last two sentences.

Deckard

  • Juror
  • God Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 1505
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 09:44:09 am »
Cytuj
Sometimes people argue that a writer or a specific work can only be understood by people who lived in that time or place. In Lem's case, he writes about universal themes that, I'd think, could be understood reasonably well regardless of one's personal circumstances. But, then, I would think that, wouldn't I? Perhaps you have another perspective.



I don't undestand it. Could You please give me an example of such a book which is hard to understand by us (nowadays) and was written in the past?


CU
Deck

Deckard

  • Juror
  • God Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 1505
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 09:49:36 am »
Cytuj

(man, way too quiet here; maybe it would be easier just to learn Polish and play with the cool kids)


Hey, You keep this section of the forum pretty active, so don't worry... :-)
If thread is interesting to me I will always take part in the disscussion.

CU
Deck

Socrates

  • Juror
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 209
  • I shall become the world's best fencer.
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #5 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 12:27:45 pm »
I'll accept the challange, innate, if my abilities are up to it.  
Cheers, Socrates

Ritch

  • Juror
  • YaBB Newbies
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 39
  • La raíz del mal es el culto al becerro de oro
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #6 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 06:52:19 pm »
Well, if today we can read works such as Star Diaries, Cyberiad, Memoirs found in a bath..., Imaginary magnitude (you name it), works writed +-half a century ago!, and still laugh, enjoy, think, argue about it... then I think Lem is in the path of become a classic, this is, universal.

So, I think Lem deserve such adjective, too.

(Well, Lem is my favorite fiction author, so mi opinion is subjetive too ::))




I keep an eye on this board, altough I dont write as much as I wish, because (as you can see) my english skills are too poor to mantain a decent conversation about the intricating debates the work of Lem raise.

So, I appreciate all your interesting comments, disregard I not always can reply. In particular I wish to thank to Deckard his review about "Bomba Megabitowa"  :); the Lem's nonfiction is very very scarce in english (not to mention in spanish, my native tongue), so I really appreciate each bit of information about the last writings of Lem ;).

Ritch

ps
Feel free to correct any of my english sentences, I'll be very thankful, 'cause I'll learn a bit more of english ;).
« Ostatnia zmiana: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 07:09:15 pm wysłana przez Ritch »

Socrates

  • Juror
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 209
  • I shall become the world's best fencer.
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #7 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 07:10:44 pm »
Ok, here it goes:
I am generally opposed to the idea that ideas, feelings and situations in books are non-transmutable to people living outside the specific times and places when and where these books were first written.   The writer is a person who, it is true, lives in a particular place and in a particular time, but whose individual experiances may be so different from what the general "normal" experiances are of the rest of the population that many times his works are not reflective of those times and places in the least.  Take, for example, someone who lives their entire life in their house - as many writers in history have done - and yet who writes about travels and peoples far removed from their dwelling place.  A perfect example is Karl May - the man never visited America, yet he wrote the famous Winetou-Old Shatterhand-Old Firehand stories.  Were these stories reflective of truth about American Indians or about the American West?  Did people behave how they did in May's books?  Probably not.  And if not, then May's books are purely fiction, in which case time and place have no bearing on the stories as for them to be understood one simply needs some previous knowledge of the particulars of late 19th century America (ie, one needs to know who an Indian was, and what was a rifle, etc).  
As well, how much of the experiances of the author should we go through before we too can understand what the author writes about?  Are books only to be understood by the writers themselves?  Can any other person actually realize which of the parts of the book the writer wanted to emphasize and concentrate upon vs the filler material written only because the writer was lazy and wanted to thicken his work?  To accept that time and place are very important (crucial, in fact) things which no person could attain who hasn't actually lived through them also means that one has to accept that all books, essays or stories cannot ever be fully (or even in a significant part) appreciated by anyone else but the author himself.  The reason is that individual experiaces the writer has colour his vision and his understanding in some way - thus love may mean something to him than it does to other people, as could any other thing.
Another reason why I don't believe that argument is because I truly believe that all people can and do exhibit the same types of emotions, feelings and reasoning (except for anomalies).  The feeling of pride as described in the Illiad vs in some modern literary work is exactly the same.  Hope is the same, as is greed, or hunger, pain, etc.  These things are universal.  What might change is the setting, and the significance of particular things in the society, but human emotions and actions do not change.  Thus, as long as one is fairly well versed in history and customs of the ages one is reading about, one should be able to have no problems understanding most books.
 
What this means is that to understand Lem one has to work really hard to understand Poland of the last century, the ties to Russia, communism, waiting in lines for bread, Polish literary history, Polish humour, etc, etc.  But if one does study these things, and has an imagination large enough, I don't see a reason why one should not be able to understand Lem or any other writer Poland ever produced.  Thus, a pure virgin to Polish might misuderstand many of the things Lem writes about.  He will miss the razor-sharp puns Lem makes, and miss some cultural references.  He might get the general drift of the stories, but without those little additions he will not fully understand what was written.  But with some study, he should have no problem understanding the true meaning.

To my English friends who want to read the Good Soldier Svejk by Hasek I always say this:  read 50 other Czech books, see some Slavic movies, and eat some Slavic foods.    If you can, visit the Czech republic, and date someone living in those parts of the world.  After you do that for 1-2 years, you will be ready to appreciate Hasek to the fullest.

The above is a perosnal opinion, and you are free to disagree with it.  Sorry for the authoritative style, but that is sometimes how I write.
Cheers, Socrates  

Deckard

  • Juror
  • God Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 1505
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #8 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 10:09:36 pm »
Cytuj
In particular I wish to thank to Deckard his review about "Bomba Megabitowa"  


You're welcome Ritch.

If You are interested in it more I could try to look through my notes I made during reading this book and write them down here for You and for other foreign Lem fans.
Don't keep it as a promise, but if I have some free time I could give it a try.

CU
Deck
« Ostatnia zmiana: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 10:20:16 pm wysłana przez Deckert »

innate

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #9 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 10:22:16 pm »
Cytuj
I don't understand it. Could You please give me an example of such a book which is hard to understand by us (nowadays) and was written in the past?

The other day, I saw something written about how the Strugatskys' Tale of the Troika could only be understood by people who had lived under Soviet control. I actually skimmed through it maybe a year ago, and it didn't interest me very much, but then I don't like books very much that involve magic... I suppose it's possible that I would have enjoyed it more if I recognized that precise brand of bureaucratic insanity from my personal experience...

Ritch: Even if it takes you some time to write in English, it is easy to understand you.

Socrates:

(by challenge, I meant of learning a language)

That was so good that it leaves almost nothing more to be said!

It does occur to me that, in some cases, being of the same culture could be an impediment because one may have a popular caricature of an author in mind, false preconceptions that are hard to shake.

innate

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #10 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 10:41:36 pm »
a further thought:
Cytuj
The writer is a person who, it is true, lives in a particular place and in a particular time, but whose individual experiences may be so different from what the general "normal" experiences are of the rest of the population that many times his works are not reflective of those times and places in the least.

This is a very interesting point. Considering what is "normal" among humans, it may be that anybody with something valuable to say is very atypical. (though it's disappointing, then, to think that the places where all of you live are not filled with people like you!)

Deckard

  • Juror
  • God Member
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 1505
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #11 dnia: Wrzesień 27, 2005, 10:56:27 pm »
OK, innate now I get it.
In fact there are some movies which I believe could be barely understood by people who didn't know the reality of living in Poland under communistic regime. I think about commedies made by Stanisław Bareja - Polish members of this forum certainly know his TV shows.

But this actually goes around what Socrates had already written about Hasek's book. If someone not originally related to Slavonic culture wants to know what's goin' on in this story one needs to learn something about Czech history, talk to Czech people and read some books about this crazy time of the Habsburg Monarchy.

CU
Deck

Terminus

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #12 dnia: Wrzesień 28, 2005, 12:23:58 am »
Well luckily for the non-Polish people, some of Lem's ideas have little to do with Poland or its reality. Take Solaris for example. Only some pushy critics could suggest that the knowledge of Poland is indispensable if one is to fully 'get it'.

However, ,,Mortal Engines" or ,,Cyberiad" are examples of masterpieces that make being a Pole such an unique experience (it's almost as 'cool' as being the North Pole). Humour here is  a b s o l u t e l y non-universal and deeply nested in Polish culture, Polish language in its 17th-century- form, and so much more...

It doesn't make Poland or our language exceptional, as Socrates said (Hasek's example), but  brings us closer to conclude that some aspects of Lem's creations are, and some aren't universal (whoa, a crucial disclosure :] :] ) .

« Ostatnia zmiana: Wrzesień 28, 2005, 12:27:33 am wysłana przez Terminus »

innate

  • Gość
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #13 dnia: Wrzesień 28, 2005, 04:07:30 am »
What makes all of this hard to grasp is that I don't feel like there's anything much that I can understand uniquely due to living in my own little corner of the world. I like Henry Thoreau quite a bit, and people say that he had a very American spirit, but, other than the fact that you would lose an incredible amount if you can't read Walden in English, I don't know what would be completely foreign in it for you. Of course, I've never tried reading it with that in mind...

Agent101

  • Juror
  • YaBB Newbies
  • *****
  • Wiadomości: 5
  • A lem beginner
    • Zobacz profil
Re: universally accessible?
« Odpowiedź #14 dnia: Wrzesień 28, 2005, 02:15:59 pm »
Possibly you can see the option of something like going off and setting up in wilderness for yourself.

However in overcrowded in Britain it doesn't make much sense. Our landscape is very managed, throughout the country you are most likely going to be near farms/managed forest or unproductive and inhospitable land.

I think it is that sense of constraint that makes British politics different from American (and even more different from American Rural areas).