sheeyun at sheeyun at
Thu Sep 2 16:57:54 EDT 1999

0. I dote on Nat Case and Jennifer Forsyth.

1. Surely "objective criteria" are made objective by being stated explicitly? I don't know what 
else it means. Choose of criteria remains Utterly Personal, and I shall defend to the death my 
insistence on ranking books according to the number of nematodes they have as characters. (Mind 
you, it's not *truly* objective unless I tell you how it enters into my evaluations. Do I put 
all nematode-free books in a second and lower category? Is nematode number one of a number of 
factors I use for evaluation in a less prioritized way, and how do I combine them?

1(a). O'course, less measurable criteria are less objective, as people are prone to disagree 
about how well they're represented.

1(b). What's more, fashions change. How would Jackson Pollock's work have been evaluated 130 
years ago? What do we think of representational pictures depicting some Moral Story now?

[#1 is brought to you courtesy of the letter e and the theory of choice.]

2. When I was in high school I began noticing how often people said, "What are you reading? 
...oh, I Used to like that back when I was less awesomely intellectual", or some such variant. 
It made me feel all meek, and I began hiding my reading before I noticed I'd decided to. When I 
caught myself at it, I decided that if I were ashamed of reading something I shouldn't read it. 
This decision didn't change my reading at all, fortunately. First I got used to shrugging off 
such remarks. Eventually as I grew fiercer with age (Sophie's choice, so to speak :D ) I began 
pointing out what sort of remark had just been made. (If you are going to try that at home, may 
I recommend quite a neutral and conversational tone of voice?)

[#2 is brought to you with a recommendation of Suzette Haden Elgin's work.]

3. As an academic, and an often-heterodox academic, I learned that Canons are often constructed 
to beat people up with, too-- or to justify their unemployment or lower income. And to produce 
best-sellers, o'course.

[#3 is brought to you courtesy of feminists, multiculturalists, Hayekians and other Austrians, 
institutionalists and historians of thought.]

4. As to Archer's Goon: Oh, I agree with Deborah (bless her) that they seemed a lot like the 

[If I had the nerve I'd give you #4 courtesy of Sterculio, Roman god of the loo, but I don't. I 
can't deprive you of that tidbit of information, culled from Chiltern Garden Seeds's catalogue, 

5. I forget who posted, indicating her (or possibly his) discomfort with the relationship 
between Polly and Tom when Polly was in her mid-teens. I empathize strongly. When I first read 
_Fire and Hemlock_, I was simply bowled over by it. On the second or third reading, however, I 
got creeped out-- *the more so that I had had a moderately romantic relationship with an adult 
when I was 15-16* (see footnote * below if you're nosy, please). (I am inveterately nosy, 
myself.) I came eventually to feel that What Girls are Like When Fifteen is a very intimate part 
of what the novel is about. Indeed, this is made rather explicit. I agree with Jones that 15-
year-old girls are Looking for Trouble, and I just wish they typically found no more than they 
sought. Under the circumstances, Polly found a very different sort of trouble than she looked 
for. If Tom's efforts had been more effective, she would have found less trouble than she looked 

I still think this is edgy material, but I also think Jones handles it with incredible grit and 

[At #5 Jove is nodding and Eros is snoring.]

6. I also forget who posted about Mitt's early perception of his father. I can't say much but 
that I have never quite gotten that digested. That is, I just can't integrate it at all.

Help from others?

[I am fending off attempts at assistance from Momus, Roman god of (derisory) laughter.]

Unsponsored and irresponsible,

Mary Ann

* He had been my calculus professor, and he must have been not only lonely but deranged. There 
wasn't anything covert or very shocking about it, as it happens, and I just got bored fast. 
Thank heavens.

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