carmarthenfan replied to your post:carmarthenfan answered: …I feel like I should…
…hmm. I am so ambivalent about rereading childhood faves I might hate. :-(
That is very fair! I dunno, I just love White because when he describes things like snakes and wild geese and oak trees and falcons, he obviously knows them incredibly intimately, and is determined to communicate their value and inherent interestingness to his readers, and it’s just … really, really charming. And sometimes he writes about paleontology or ants and he’s obviously wrong about them, but he’s trying really hard, and he writes about nature like he’s writing a bestiary, and basically I find stories about antelops and bonnacons and saffron-colored crocodiles absolutely goddamn delightful beyond measure. So, for that, I will always love him.
And I love the way he writes Lancelot and Guenever, who are wonderful people, in spite of the problematic aspects of their characterization. And I love that he admits that, as a writer, he doesn’t actually know what to do with these people, has no idea how to even make someone seem alive on the page, and not an archetype when Arthurian works are basically nothing but archetypes.
But sometimes he says awful, racist and sexist things, and it is hard to love him, then, even if he does write about puffins and the sea and the glory of the world.
And, well, there’s also the bigger issue that I think he is fundamentally wrong about war and its uses, and the whole book is basically him expounding that hypothesis, which is a bit frustrating. (Unlike Tolkien, who is also problematic in ten thousand ways, but who wrote Faramir’s speech about war, and wrote Eowyn, and whom I can therefore pretty much forgive almost everything else)
I don’t know. It’s my favorite book, but mostly for its flaws and not for its virtues. Because I’m the kind of person who loves to yell at people for being wrong about important things, and am at my happiest when I’m yelling at people about virtue ethics and the Middle Ages…
Sometimes I look at the moon and think about how people walked on that fucking thing, and looked down on the shining globe of the earth, and I feel a little less hopeless, even if the whole of the world is going to hell.
carmarthenfan answered: …I feel like I should reread TOAFK…
You might hate it. It’s a very hateable, problematic book in about fifteen million thousand different ways, and I disagree with White’s ethics. But it’s also some of the best natural history writing ever produced by a human, and White clearly loves the shit out of Malory and medieval writers, and I just have such fellow feeling for him, even if he is wrong about almost everything.
OKAY BUT DOES ANYONE WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT MEDIEVAL MORALITY AND ONCE AND FUTURE KING AND HOW WHITE IS WRONG ABOUT SO MANY THINGS BUT HE ALSO LOVED THE SHIT OUT OF GEESE AND WAS THEREFORE PERFECT?
Tolkien goes up to the counter and orders a Teavana Shaken Iced Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade. All of the hipsters inside the shop overhear and immediately go up and order the same thing. Tolkien is enraged and storms out, screaming that everyone misunderstood what he was trying to order.
HAAHAHAHA+AHAHAHAHAA OMFG DYING OH GOD OH GOD DYINNNNNNNG
Oh no I played a perfect game of Mass Effect and saved almost everyone and now I have to end it, and I CAN’T.