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The Politics of Opinion (and Pornography)
As a reviewer, Iím regularly approached to ďanalyzeĒ specific books. Sometimes itís the publisher asking, and sometimes itís the author. What, exactly, are they looking for? Theyíre hoping I will read the book provided and write several paragraphs of glowing promotional material they can show the public as proof that an informed and independent reader likes the book well enough to suggest itís one you want to buy. But reviewing doesnít always work that way: there are times when I dislike certain aspects of a book and, in all fairness, will write about these dislikes. Iíve often gone so far as to slam publishers and editors when the quality of their work reduces the quality of the book being reviewed.
Which brings me to The Politics of Opinion.
Generally speaking, politics is the process by which specific groups of people arrive at a single decision. For example, an ďindividual opinionĒ is an expression of something you believe in, when you donít also provide positive proof of what you say. Such an opinion expressed by a group (including a description of how they arrived at that decision) would be the Politics of Opinion.
So, what do I mean when I use the phrase The Politics of Opinion when Iím talking about reviewing a book?
First, when I write a review, Iím not trying to change the opinion of a ďgroup.Ē Iím providing information and beliefs regarding a specific book I have read, so that you, ďthe individual,Ē have some idea or reference point from whence you can move forward to make up your own mind regarding the book in question. Sometimes I provide proof for my beliefs, oftentimes I donít. They key here is that if you respect my opinion, I may influence your decision to read said book.
Now, when an individual or individuals or organization (a reviewing company, publisher, etc) attack my reviews, my abilities, even my character, using our comments section, theyíre trying to change not only my opinion but the opinions of all my readers. Our public clash puts us in the arena of The Politics of Opinion. You see, you the reader (as a group) are being offered all kinds of extra information and insights into the book being discussed, a glimpse of the reviewing process, and even a more complete idea of who I am. Good things, all. But, youíre also being asked to make a ďgroupĒ decision: to ignore me.
So, when I say a book borders on pornography, someone challenges that opinion and I, hoping to offer further insights for you, provide proof and/or additional information to help you make your reading decision, The Politics of Opinion are in full force.
The following URLís will take you to some recent reviews by your truly. They deal with the subject of pornography in literature. Opposing comments have been left and those comments answered.
Anyway, in a nutshell, hereís my (generous) definition of pornography: if the format in which the book appears doesnít or canít stand on its own with the erotica removed (erotica is writing designed to sexually arouse the reader), then youíre looking at a piece of pornography. Using this definition, I felt Cheating Death came very close to being pornography. Bloody Passion, without itís many erotic scenes, still stands up as a short storyÖ but Iím paying for a novel! So, I ask you, my reader, if 3/4 of what Iím paying for (as fiction) ends up being erotica, doesnít that suggest pornography to you?
Looking forward to your comments.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
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