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#452278 - 11/02/13 08:15 PM William golding is an ignorant moron!
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1929
Loc: durham, north england
As people might remember, a couple of weeks ago I had a profoundly horrible and deeply triggering experience with Jk rowling's novel the Casual vacancy.

For me, reading goes second only to oxygen, and probaably in front of food on list of necessities. One thing I've noticed however since that experience is I'm really frightened to try something new, or something challenging or different, which as you might imagine is really not easy for me.

I decided I need to work up to things so I began by reading the first five books of Cresida Cowel's "How to train your dragon" series. Not only because they have dragons and commically barbaric vikings, but mostly (if I'm ashamed to admit it), because I know as books aimed at ten year olds I'm not likely to run into anything triggering.

Once I'd finished those I decided to go onto something different so revisited a couple of my favourite books by Tim Powers, which can best be described as extremely clever, whitty and fun loving adventure stories, complex plots, but a very fast pace plus, though a couple mentioned brothles in passing (since one book was set partly in 19th century criminal London), neither could be said to have the explicit stuff that I find triggering.

So, I decided to go on to something a little harder but still safe from a trigger perspective, William Golding's lord of the flies. I know for guys here the idea of a bunch of boys gone wild on an island would! be pretty bad, but that isn't the case for me. I read the book about 12 years ago for interests' sake and have actually wanted to reread it now particularly because it's so well known in popular culture, and even more particularly since I recently got hold of a copy (an audio book like all the books I read), read by William Golding himself.

Okay, so we start with the introduction. Golding explains that he wrote the book principly as an idea at the time, ---- okay, however he then decided to explain briefly why he'd chosen a group of boys to maroon on a tropical island and show the destruction of society, rather than a group of girls.

His principle reason was that he didn't believe girls would break down to that level of savagery.

Well thanks a lot mr. oh so learned and mighty Mr. Golding, shows what you know!

Why! the hell do people believe this? even the most insiteful and learned authors? In fairness not everyone does, I was really pleased that in James Dashnas Maze Runner trilogy, which featured an isolated society of boys who were being used for an experiment, when you met the isolated society of girls, they were if anything just plane brutal!

Why can't people see this?

Whenever I read comments like William Golding's I always feel like a liar! why do people persist in believing the best of young girls just because they're young and female and can get away with anything?

yes, it's society, it's bloody western culture, and in fairness Golding is not a modern writer, but I just get so sick of this constant attitude, that women don't have a libido, that women are incapable of s/ual predation, that all teenaged girls are helpless little princesses to be protected from the evil men!

it just feels like it makes a liar out of me and what I went through.

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#452283 - 11/02/13 09:10 PM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
GT13568 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/02/11
Posts: 123
Loc: California
Hi Empathy,

I agree with you about Golding's comments. Golding's simplistic and misinformed views are what make "Lord of the Flies" a distinctly lesser novel, than, say Robinson Crusoe, in my mind. Where Golding strives to make a commentary on society, using poorly-developed, cookie-cutter characters and a flawed concept, and he fails; in Crusoe, Daniel Defoe introduces readers intimately to his hero: the young man, the pirate, the explorer and farmer, and the cast away; we read his dreams, his prayers, his trials and triumphs. He creates a whole person and a story, and by doing this he also speaks truth about culture and human society, and the breakdown and rebuilding of both.

Dark Empathy, I can't think why people continue to believe the (crap) they do, including that girls are sweet and sexless and violence-free. I only know that when such people are artists and writers, I ignore them. (And imagine what women think of assumptions like Golding's? It's so freaking condescending. Did Feminism happen, or not?!)

Thanks for so often bringing up books, Dark Empathy! I used to read all the time, and am trying too again. You give me ideas (:

I just read Robinson Crusoe, and I loved it. Ha. I guess you can tell!

Geoff

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#452307 - 11/03/13 02:14 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1929
Loc: durham, north england
Well geff regarding feminism it is the double standard that irritates me. Yes, it's now accepted that women are allowed to do pretty much whatever in most reasonable parts of western society, everything from bringing up children to being prime minister, yet there is still an assumption women need protecting from the evil men and can do no wrong. While men are increasingly more curtailed.

In fairness not all serious feminists think this, but it's popular culture in novels and films and the media that seems the problem, not the thoughts of enlightened people.

I know why books bother me so much, it's because as a child and a teenager books were where I looked for companionship and the sort of life experience I didn't get, I also admit my recent problem with Jk rowling has likely made me a little sensative.

Regarding war of the flies, well personally I'd recommend you have a look at James dashna's maze runner trilogy which does a much better job of a society of teenaged boys in an isolated setting, (and indeed in the second novel shows how a paralell experiment with a society of girls worked).

Regarding Robinson Cruso, well it's a book I've read a couple of times but not recently, but I tended to feel that it was a little too plodding and morallistic especially in Cruso's treatment of Man Friday and the other natives and some of the puritanical principles he lives under, although I did like the idea of religious belief attaching to real and practical occurrences and being a personal part of Cruso's life, albeit one he seemed to need to ram down the throat of everyone including his readers.

I've actually started writing reviews for http://www.fantasybookreview.co.uk simply because I find it interesting to considder my thoughts in a detailed sense.

I've done Terry pratchett's carpet people, all three of William Horwood's Duncton novels, (one of my absolute favourite series and one I reread every few years), Steven Donaldson's Lord Fowl's bane, Trudy canavan's magicians guild, On stranger tides by Tim powers, Water ship down by Richard Adams, Several books by Tolkien, Wizards first Rule by Terry goodkind and a brief note on why i so much disliked Terry Brooks sword of shanara.

My last review was for Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, Read it here , a book which most people praise, but which (partly due to gender dipiction issues), I myself didn't particularly feel was one of his best.

Actually this is probably the answer to the problem of authors and idiocy, after all at least the democracy of the internet means that there are! people who will listen to well put forward opinions, I've indeed considdered writing a review of Robin Hobb's Liveship series and noting particularly her depiction of a male surviver.


Edited by dark empathy (11/03/13 02:15 AM)

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#452322 - 11/03/13 08:55 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
GT13568 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/02/11
Posts: 123
Loc: California
Your reviews sound very helpful, DE, I'll check them out!

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#452531 - 11/05/13 07:33 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
Blessedcurse Offline


Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 93
Oh you are so right, Dark Empathy. Golding must be an idiot, what a stupid thing to assume! Makes me so angry when seeing this kind of sexism.

At least this book is old and one could hope things would have gotten better, but noooo. I just saw the movie Notes on a Scandal in wich a 30-something teacher has an affair with her 14 or so year old student. And through the whole movie the story is told like she is the victim, seduced by this cocky 14 year old boy, acting all grown up. And sure, in that kind of event, in this society we have were we all are taught that boys/men are predators and girls/women are supposed to just say no (having no urges themselves), it is not unlikely that the boy would see the whole thing like this. Feeling on top of the world, lucky, in control. But that doesn't change the fact that he wasn't. She was. She was the adult, the experienced, the teacher who had the power to ruin this boys life.

And it would be fine to just tell the story from the boys perspective or from the teachers perspective (feeling like the victim) but my feeling through the whole movie is that the people who made the story up also think the teacher is the victim. And it's so screwed up! It's a big famous hollywoodmovie and it is ok to just portray the adult teacher as a victim of the 14 year olds manly charm. I can't believe it. I was so angry I couldn't breathe.

An adult in a position of real power over a child can not be "seduced" by this child. The responsibility is with the adult. A boy of 14 is vulnerable just like a girl of 14. He may not understand that at the time but he may understand it later.

Ok, maybe there are other ways to understand this story but this is what I saw. Pure sexism. Hope I didn't take over your thread, I mostly wanted to say I see the point and I agree with you.

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#452538 - 11/05/13 08:52 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
SoccerStar Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 915
Loc: New York
Golding was wrong about girls' potential for cruelty, but his book must be viewed in context. He wrote it as a direct response to an even older book, "The Coral Island," in which children get stranded in an island and build a perfect society of kindness and peace because children exist in a state of nature and are inherently good without society's expectations strangling them. Golding rightly saw this as a crock; he even has one of the rescue squad at the end of LOTF say something like "I guess it didn't turn out like The Coral Island."

So he had to defeat the naive age-ist notion that childhood violence / peer abuse are impossible, and in the process made some naive sexist assumptions. A slow advance from falsehood towards truth. I'm sure if the book were written today it would be different (see "Carrie," "Hunger Games").


Matt
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#452540 - 11/05/13 09:12 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Interestingly enough, I just found out recently at a women we know had to go into school because her daughter was the leader of a group of girls in school that was bullying people on the bus and at recess etc.....

The girl is in kindergarten...... it starts early! (course if you knew her mom you'd see it coming... she's a nasty bully herself).

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#452546 - 11/05/13 11:34 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
Still Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 6367
Loc: 2 NATO Nations
My ex-wife use to say (very seriously), "two girls together are a 'couple of girls.' Three girls together are a mob."

She knew, and still swears by it today, that "boys are so much better as a group than girls. Girls are petty, cruel, vicious and quite dangerous in their 'mobs,' which is why she always hung out with guys growing-up."
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#452547 - 11/05/13 11:38 AM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
dark empathy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 1929
Loc: durham, north england
@Blesedcurse yes, that film sounds totally and ridiculously off! though welll, hollywood so what do you expect. As I said I suppose my issue with Golding was pretty much that I expect authors to be better, which I admit is likely an oversite on my part.

@scot, I'm glad they actually picked it up and dealt with it, that's surprisingly encouraging. As I've said before one major contributing factor to my own abuse was a total apothy on the part of the teaching staff and exec staff, since the school was threatened with closure.

I don't really think age makes a major difference if kids pretty much start. I suspect my own abuse happened simply because the people involved never got beyond that level of emotional development that perceives pain in others.

@Mat, I know about coral island (though i've never read the book), however having finished Lord of the Flies, though i really enjoyed it's atmosphere and language I just find Golding's assumptions as simplistic (I might even say naive), as the author of Coral island.

The idea that, as he quite obviously and blatantly says the only thing that stands between civility and cruelty is a dictatorial following of the rules and laws of society rather than any sort of personal integrity or compassion. This idea goes right back to Thomas Hobbs, who argued famously that life in the state of nature was "nasty brutish and short" (it's a common joke among political philosophers that children are also nasty brutish and short :D). hobbs therefore stated that any! authority, any structure, the most selfish king or dictator was better than life in the state of nature so people should always follow society.

When reading Lord of the Flies I was struck in fact how similar Ralfe's idea of being in charge was to Jacks. Ralfe (representing civilization), said "you need to do this because it's the rules!" and left it at that. I therefore actually sympathised somewhat with the idea of breaking away from this and going off and hunting, although Golding's assumption that hunting and painting a person's face instantly makes them a psychotic killer with no regard for the pain of others seems waaaaay! over the top.

As usual, I think Golding in trying to go against the previous idea went too far the other way, after all we all ourselves know! that society is far from perfect, that the rules and laws and collective cultural ideals are ones which also include cruelty and blindness and disregard of others, just as individually people are! sometimes capable of great compassion and empathy for others quite apart from social rules.

Indeed, a recent really nice essay I read pointed out the fact that all of the Richard dorkins "everyone is selfish and evolution makes us all scumbags" type of thinking just plane doesn't work if you considder it practically, since the only natural advantage humans have for survival over any other large predator on the planet is cooperation, and that cooperation has to be genuine.

Of course in the 50's when Golding was rwriting the idea of the state of nature being as hobbs described was pretty common, (other writers like John wyndham subscribed to it as well). Now I hope we know a little better that individually or collectively people are people and can be good, bad or uggly in turns.

This is actually why I rather liked the Hunger games along with some of the recent trend to zombocalypse and post apocalyptic novels since they're a good bit less symplistic than Golding in the relationship of individuals to social order (well the better ones are anyway). I totally agree the Hunger games is wonderful as a very gender equal showing of both a society and individual responses to a truly violent situation, ---- I'm less certain on how Suzanne Colins resolved the series in the second and third books, though that's more a literary matter of plot progression than a problem with Colins' underlying philosophy. One thing I really did like was the way Suzanne colins showed the progressive effects of recovering from traumer on Catness and even noted how this continued throughout the rest of her life at the end, indeed one of the main strengths of the hunger games for me was starting! with a character who was! willing to kill to survive, and having her slowly realize what that meant rather than going through the tired old breakdown of order again.

I actually really liked the relationship of individual and society in Hunger games, again a lot more even than Golding and just another reason I'd see his viewpoint as far too simplistic even aside from his thoughts on gender.


Edited by dark empathy (11/05/13 11:41 AM)

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#452573 - 11/05/13 03:42 PM Re: William golding is an ignorant moron! [Re: dark empathy]
Jacob S Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 592
The view was pretty common in 1954, when Lord of the Flies was published. He had a mistaken view of girls, but it was hardly surprising for his time. Just like their was ignorance about homosexuality and racial issues. Golding's note shows he was not very enlightened when it came to understanding people of a different sex. Defoe wasn't really any better when it came to his non-european characters.

As far as feminism, like I said I think we are forgetting how old this book is. Golding's words are not a reaction to feminism but rather a clear case of why the feminist movement was needed.

At first glance, any more modern books (Hunger Games, etc) are going to seem superior to us, but I am sure they also have their own assumptions and mistakes that people in the future will be appalled at.
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all the people he can trust.
Like the one who stands behind him
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Estatic when he stands defiant,
wild with abandon when he's gone

just stay alive.
do whatever you need to.
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