Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On recommendations

There are sure to be spoilers for Agyar within this post.

I've withdrawn my post on Agyar for now. Here is the reason:

Despite the amazing transformation Agyar's character goes through by the end of the book, I am troubled by the amount of violence I let slip through with the words "not for children." In the case of Agyar I did and do think the book is brilliant on a human level, but right now I don't trust my judgment. The truth is, Agyar is a callous murderer who has very little qualms about most of what he does, considering "most" humans cattle who exist to feed him.

I think I've gone too far over the line towards accepting books that make some good point on the basis that the ends justify the means. The trouble is, I don't know where this line should be. I've become desensitized to violence and sex in books, to the point where I read a line in a different book last night that should have been shocking but I instead felt nothing about—except concern that I should have been shocked and revolted.

That's why I am withdrawing that post, and probably should withdraw many of the others I've made: I don't trust the judgment that led to them.

1 comment:

R.J. Anderson said...

I have not read Agyar and wasn't planning to, but I respect this post very much. You're right that it's easy to start making excuses for books that contain descriptions and incidents we would ordinarily be appalled by, especially when the books are cleverly plotted and well written and/or feature characters we like. But I agree that there has to be a point at which a reader draws the line, and given the Christian moral compass that line may have to be drawn a lot earlier than other people might like or understand. "But it's Art! Don't tell me you believe in Censorship?! And it's not like the author was endorsing all this stuff he/she was writing about! Don't you get the difference between fiction and reality?!"

From a purely human viewpoint such arguments may seem hard to answer, and it's easy to conclude that one is just squeamish or sheltered or needs to have more "perspective". But given that Christ taught that harboring evil or lustful thoughts is sin even if those thoughts aren't accompanied by action, I think it is important for Christians to consider what we're putting into our mind and why, and how much the narrative or moral end really does justify the means. Sometimes the answer is obvious; sometimes it's a matter of individual conscience; but in either case, I think it's good to take a stand somewhere, and I'm glad to see you are doing so.