Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Fiction  (Read 25163 times)
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Charles
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« Reply #285 on: August 02, 2007, 09:40:39 PM »

I have the feeling I would be offended by the appearance and use of the N-word in this forum, even though I have read neither Twain nor Faulkner.  I don't think we should make excuses for using it.  It is passing out of the language and I think we should help it on its way if we can.  It has never been acceptable in my entire lifetime.  And before the question comes up, I think that reading a book to one's self is different than talking with another person about the same book.
This is just a data point for consideration.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #286 on: August 02, 2007, 09:54:19 PM »

I think though, that it is possible to discuss the book without using the word.  I certainly have no intention of using it.
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weezo
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« Reply #287 on: August 02, 2007, 10:04:13 PM »

Charles,

I suspect that the "n" word will never be spelled out or used directly on this forum. If it is part of a quote, I suspect it will appear either as "n" or some other variation that does not offend. If someone offends you in discussing the book, I sincerely hope you will speak up, but, knowing this group, I don't think it will happen.

That said, I am truly delighted that you are of a generation where the word was never acceptable. I had a hard, fast rule as a teacher, that the word was never allowed in my classroom, by anyone. And, I had to enforce that rule often. In my last year of teaching, I was teaching a government class and had weekly debates. Some students suggested that the next week's debate be on why some students could use the word with each other, but other students could not apply the same word to that group. My answer was swift. I never allow the word to be used in my class, so there is nothing to debate!



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pontalba
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« Reply #288 on: August 02, 2007, 10:14:15 PM »

As an ageing Southerner [New Orleanian] I deplore the use of any word that attempts to denigrate any ethnic group.  That particular word was not allowed in my family for longer than I can remember...great grandparents, grandparents, or parents, and certainly not in my own home. 

Imagine the shock I felt when I ventured into the working world and when passing through kitchens etc of the large hotel I worked in hearing black people calling each other that word left and right.  I doubt however that the younger generation is as liberal in their use, I would hope not at any rate.

The point is moot for me in any case.  I dislike Faulkner and do not consider him a typical Southerner.
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pontalba
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« Reply #289 on: August 02, 2007, 10:15:59 PM »

Also I must add that in truth, any "abbreviation" for any such word is as unacceptable as the word itself.  The meaning is clear, not disguised and so just as deplorable.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #290 on: August 02, 2007, 10:17:32 PM »

And now I suppose the question I have:  Is the word integral to the book?
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weezo
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« Reply #291 on: August 02, 2007, 10:19:53 PM »

Pontalba,

If a judgement is based on listening to music or tv shows, it is still in wide use among people who resent being called by that word by people who are not part of their group.
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Charles
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« Reply #292 on: August 02, 2007, 10:24:14 PM »

I believe that it has an acceptable alternative in the modern English we will be using for discussion.

(A note tells me this may be a cross-post after intervening posts.)
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pontalba
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« Reply #293 on: August 02, 2007, 10:25:57 PM »

Pontalba,

If a judgement is based on listening to music or tv shows, it is still in wide use among people who resent being called by that word by people who are not part of their group.
You might be right, but if that is the case, they are defeating their own purpose.
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weezo
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« Reply #294 on: August 02, 2007, 10:34:41 PM »

Pontalba,

That was the point of my having the rule in my classroom, and the point of the AP, who was black, backing me up thoroughtly. He pointed out to the students that it was a demeaning expression, and did not express friendship at all. Sadly, while we may have convince one or two not to use the term, it is still widely in use. It just is not acceptable to use it in cross-racial conversations.
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Charles
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« Reply #295 on: August 02, 2007, 10:40:07 PM »

Although, after googling just now, maybe there isn't. Shocked
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pontalba
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« Reply #296 on: August 02, 2007, 10:59:19 PM »

Pontalba,

That was the point of my having the rule in my classroom, and the point of the AP, who was black, backing me up thoroughtly. He pointed out to the students that it was a demeaning expression, and did not express friendship at all. Sadly, while we may have convince one or two not to use the term, it is still widely in use. It just is not acceptable to use it in cross-racial conversations.
Your rule was admirable, and I can imagine it wasn't always easy to make it stick.  But the few you managed to educate hopefully in turn educated others.  Baby steps. 

You know it is just like cursing.  People say "darn" instead of "damn"...now believe me, I've done a fair amount of cussin' in my life, but I've always sort of felt it was on the hypocritical side to use the euphemisms.  You mean what you mean, and it's intent is clear.  Same as that word.  Not exactly, but as my mother used to say, "the same difference".
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #297 on: August 02, 2007, 11:38:27 PM »

One point I have taken from Faulkner is the destructive force of racism, for hater and hated alike.  I don't think this is something that can be portrayed very prettily without losing its impact. 
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weezo
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« Reply #298 on: August 03, 2007, 01:35:03 AM »

Laurie,

I like your points. We cannot understand the hatred that is part of our history unless we feel the language that was used to express it.

But, I will add, that if we have two welcome new members who would like me to re-open the poll and see how it falls out on another vote, that will be easy to do. Say the word, and it will be done.

I, for one, will not be reading this book this month. I don't know why, but there is a little bell in the back of my brain that crosses off Faulker. Perhaps I read something of his I didn't like and no longer remember it, but the mention of the "n" word is off-putting and cemented my decision. My choice was to sit out this reading and mostly lurk through the discussion, and if the discussion led me to re-evaluate the book, get it and read it then. I feel the same way towards Hemingway, and I had to read a number of his books to do a paper in college. And came away feeling he was lauded without cause, and said so in the paper which only earned me a "C". My paper was centered on the fact that Hemingway trivializes his female characters - they are cardboards propped in the corner. My professor, a seminary drop-out, thought Hemingway was the greatest thing since sliced bread. My paper should have been better. I've re-read it since. But my feelings persist. He only saw half the population as meaningful. The rest were just there for decoration. I wish I could remember why I have the same bell going off in my head for Faulkner.
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Charles
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« Reply #299 on: August 03, 2007, 04:08:02 AM »

Weezo,
I would not be in favor of re-opening the poll at all. even though I voted for someone else (McEwan).  Every time I have seen something like that done to 'improve' things, it has made a shambles of the entire process, and without producing any noticeably better outcome, usually worse.  Best to go with the considered judgement of the plurality here, as it has already been expressed.
PS If you were thinking of me as a newcomer, far from it.  Just an old-line member with a new name. Smiley
Charles
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