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In praxis "law-of-7"/2 for polyliteracy?

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Iversen
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 Message 33 of 49
25 August 2011 at 4:55pm | IP Logged 
I also prefer finishing any substantial book before I tackle the next one, but there are exceptions - I sometimes carry a book around with me and take a peek whenever I have time. But for this purpose magazines and printouts are better.

Edited by Iversen on 25 August 2011 at 5:00pm

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Sennin
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 Message 34 of 49
25 August 2011 at 5:11pm | IP Logged 
Volte, I really like Inhabited Island. In some ways it is similar to Orwell's 1984. I'm also glad Jules Verne is on the Professor's list. Books written in the last 100 years have slim chance of entering that list, but oh well. Ultimately everybody has different interests, Great Book lists could only be a starting point.

Edited by Sennin on 25 August 2011 at 5:19pm

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Volte
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 Message 35 of 49
25 August 2011 at 5:25pm | IP Logged 
Agreed, Iversen.

Sennin wrote:
Volte, I really like Inhabited Island. In some ways it is similar to Orwell's 1984. I'm also glad Jules Verne is on the Professor's list. Books written in the last 100 years have no chance of getting on that list but oh well... Ultimately everybody has different interests, Great Book lists could only be a starting point.


Yes, fully agreed. For what it's worth, Orwell is on the 20th century waiting list too.

"Inhabited Island" looks interesting. I've only read Roadside Picnic. I read it in Esperanto translation, as all of the English translations of anything by the brothers are from censored versions, as far as I've been able to tell, and my Russian isn't up to reading them in the original.

Edit: it's not a slim chance, it's no chance, by design. That's why there's a "waiting list" for books under a century old.

Edited by Volte on 25 August 2011 at 5:26pm

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Iversen
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 Message 36 of 49
26 August 2011 at 9:57am | IP Logged 
There is one issue more to discuss concerning the great books, particularly those that aren't fictional, and that's the use of modern summaries and commentaries and (not least) books/articles about the same themes.

For instance there are several classical historians on professor Arguelles' list, and I have read some of them (partly in translation) plus a number of similar sources which aren't on the list - for instance the first part of "Gesta Danorum" by Saxo Grammaticus. However many of these books are incredibly detailed, and you totally loose the overview over what is important if you only read the original sources. And you also need to know recent sources to be able to put things into perspective - for instance reading Pausanias (whether you do it the original or in translation) is almost like reading fiction because nothing looks like it did when he travelled around. And reading Tacitus without knowing about the archeological finds is like reading about the hobbits - it is the archeological background information that ties his Germanic tribes to our reality.

The temptation is to drop the great non fiction works from the past and just read the modern books and articles. So why read them at all? The answer is of course that by reading the original sources in conjunction with modern explanatory and supplementary texts you get access to the mindset and the knowledge of the author and contemporaries. This is also the reason why it is important to read the classics in the original version insofar you can (if necessary with a bilingual version). But being trapped in the mindset of an author from the 14. century is not something you would want to happen (and even less your surroundings), so the study of modern documentation and stuff about similar subjects is equally important. This is of course less important for fiction because you also read that for entertainment, but even here it must be relevant to have some background knowledge, for instance about the biographies of the authors.

Actually you can compare the study of 'great books' with travelling to 'great places': you could in principle sit glued to your armchair and watch the Travel Channel all day long, but it is simply not the same thing as being in a certain spot like Venice, Macchu Picchu or the Forbidden City. And as everyone at HTLAL probably will agree (of all places!), being able to speak the language of the local inhabitants greatly enhances the experience. The same applies to books from the past.


Edited by Iversen on 26 August 2011 at 10:17am

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Zwlth
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 Message 37 of 49
26 August 2011 at 10:03pm | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
Does this make me a beginning practitioner of polyliteracy? Will you stop dismissing my posts out of hand?

All right.

Sprachprofi wrote:
People interpreted your posts to be about three different questions...
3) In how many languages is it possible to simultaneously read different Great Books?
- - It seems that this is what you intended, but this interpretation is not one I would
ever have imagined: imho the number doesn't depend at all on the number of languages
involved. Plus it is certainly possible to start to read 20 Great Books in 20
languages and then read a few pages in each every day, but people don't generally
like to do that. In fact, it is counter-intuitive to start on a Great Book and
NOT read it to the end before you pick up another, another reason why people were
reluctant to interpret your question this way.

This, only this, and exactly this is what I intended. You have a hard time imagining it because you don't have enough experience yet, but with the excellent start that you have, I'm sure that some day you will understand that what is still counter-intuitive to you is actually the best way to read them. In polyliteracy, there are the language-oriented concerns of maintaining balance and systematic vocabulary development, but apart from that, the purpose of reading Great Books is not to rush through them so as to finish the good story, but rather to savor them, to reflect upon them, to engage in a dialog with them. To get the most out of them, you actually should slow down the process of getting through them. In a formal Great Books seminar, you take weeks to discuss such a text, portion by portion, and as you do this, you are not just reading it - you read, reflect, discuss, take notes, then repeat, and at the same time, you are taking other classes, and everything else you are doing is impacted by your reflections upon what you are reading. If you are not in a situation where you can discuss them with others, then it is quite helpful to make them converse with each other in your own mind. As the Professor wrote in one of the links above kindly provided by Volte:

ProfArguelles wrote:
In the second place, you must read in a more consciously engaged fashion (particularly to be sure that you are getting all you can and should get out of philosophic texts). This may mean taking notes as you go, or pausing from time to time to summarize the main arguments to yourself. Obviously, you can do this on your own, but in reality the best way to approach such texts is by not simply reading them, but also by discussing them in a round-table seminar format.


Volte wrote:

Approaching great books
The living voice of Latin and Greek
Learning languages to read great books

Here are some that I could find within about 30 seconds of searching.


When I first saw these, I was very happy to have been proven wrong, but when I looked into them, I sadly realized that I had been proven (at least temporarily) right. Is this truly all there has been? One polite piece of correspondence between the Professor and a student and a few comments about classical pronunciation? The third thread starts out promisingly enough, but most of the ten pages are filled with incredibly disjointed one-liners about where to get contemporary audiobooks. Could you please spend another 30 seconds or perhaps a bit more to see if you can find anything else? - you do seem to have a useful cataloger's gift for searching.

Iversen wrote:
And now I just wait for your scornful dismissal

Well, quite frankly I do have to wonder just how carefully you can have done your reading. I say this because what you repeatedly refer to in your plethora of posts as "Professor Arguelles' list" is not HIS list at all, but rather "the combined standard canon." Almost every single omission you hint at - Andersen through the French poets, Old Norse literature, Spanish drama, the Gesta Danorum, etc. - is on HIS list, which is "the expanded comprehensive canon." In between your posts, both Sprachprofi and Volte basically pointed this out, but you clearly haven't paused to have a careful look at the
Guide to Great Books Education. I think it would be a very good idea for you to read through it carefully before posting here again, as it would be for anyone else just joining this debate (call a spade a spade, I didn't want it, but I must accept that that's what my pointed in praxis question has become).
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Volte
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 Message 38 of 49
27 August 2011 at 12:00am | IP Logged 
Zwlth wrote:

Sprachprofi wrote:
People interpreted your posts to be about three different questions...
3) In how many languages is it possible to simultaneously read different Great Books?
- - It seems that this is what you intended, but this interpretation is not one I would
ever have imagined: imho the number doesn't depend at all on the number of languages
involved. Plus it is certainly possible to start to read 20 Great Books in 20
languages and then read a few pages in each every day, but people don't generally
like to do that. In fact, it is counter-intuitive to start on a Great Book and
NOT read it to the end before you pick up another, another reason why people were
reluctant to interpret your question this way.

This, only this, and exactly this is what I intended. You have a hard time imagining it because you don't have enough experience yet, but with the excellent start that you have, I'm sure that some day you will understand that what is still counter-intuitive to you is actually the best way to read them. In polyliteracy, there are the language-oriented concerns of maintaining balance and systematic vocabulary development, but apart from that, the purpose of reading Great Books is not to rush through them so as to finish the good story, but rather to savor them, to reflect upon them, to engage in a dialog with them. To get the most out of them, you actually should slow down the process of getting through them. In a formal Great Books seminar, you take weeks to discuss such a text, portion by portion, and as you do this, you are not just reading it - you read, reflect, discuss, take notes, then repeat, and at the same time, you are taking other classes, and everything else you are doing is impacted by your reflections upon what you are reading. If you are not in a situation where you can discuss them with others, then it is quite helpful to make them converse with each other in your own mind. As the Professor wrote in one of the links above kindly provided by Volte:

ProfArguelles wrote:
In the second place, you must read in a more consciously engaged fashion (particularly to be sure that you are getting all you can and should get out of philosophic texts). This may mean taking notes as you go, or pausing from time to time to summarize the main arguments to yourself. Obviously, you can do this on your own, but in reality the best way to approach such texts is by not simply reading them, but also by discussing them in a round-table seminar format.



Professor Argüelles is entirely correct.

However, in regards to your point, I still maintain that focus is of the essence. When dealing with Great Books, I find reading them intensively to be essential. Round-table discussion and rereading segments of various books contrastively is a good way to add depth. For an initial reading, and any complete re-readings, I prefer not to interleave them.

Taking other unrelated classes at the same time is a useful administrative format, and discussing several books in several such classes at once is a fact of life in institutions which provide such instruction, but I do not consider it to be ideal.

I gladly read Great Books on closely related topics back to back in various languages to compare viewpoints, but I would feel like I was cheating myself if I were to interleave them on a more granular basis. For later contrastive readings of sections, I expect that my daily upper bound would be the number of languages I can read the relevant material in. In less linguistically challenging contexts (such as reading highly technical computer-related information while troubleshooting), I have no problem reading well over a dozen languages within the course of an hour. Given that re-reading is less challenging than reading, and my unwillingness to interleave books, I honestly don't envision running into an upper bound lower than the number of languages I can read.

Zwlth wrote:

Volte wrote:

Approaching great books
The living voice of Latin and Greek
Learning languages to read great books

Here are some that I could find within about 30 seconds of searching.


When I first saw these, I was very happy to have been proven wrong, but when I looked into them, I sadly realized that I had been proven (at least temporarily) right. Is this truly all there has been? One polite piece of correspondence between the Professor and a student and a few comments about classical pronunciation? The third thread starts out promisingly enough, but most of the ten pages are filled with incredibly disjointed one-liners about where to get contemporary audiobooks. Could you please spend another 30 seconds or perhaps a bit more to see if you can find anything else? - you do seem to have a useful cataloger's gift for searching.


Thank you. It quite explicitly is not all that there has been - I added the "30 second" disclaimer for a reason. But you are quite correct that there has been very little substantitive talk of Great Books as a category on this forum, and (almost?) all of it has involved Professor Argüelles.

There is somewhat more mention of individual Great Books, and of particular literary traditions.

As I previously stated, given the culture and rules of this forum, I don't think that will change. I'm unaware of any good place on the internet to discuss polyliteracy as a discipline, including round table/forum discussion of Great Books. It's probably worth founding one if a sufficiently large seed group of interested people can be found.

Zwlth wrote:

Iversen wrote:
And now I just wait for your scornful dismissal

Well, quite frankly I do have to wonder just how carefully you can have done your reading. I say this because what you repeatedly refer to in your plethora of posts as "Professor Arguelles' list" is not HIS list at all, but rather "the combined standard canon." Almost every single omission you hint at - Andersen through the French poets, Old Norse literature, Spanish drama, the Gesta Danorum, etc. - is on HIS list, which is "the expanded comprehensive canon." In between your posts, both Sprachprofi and Volte basically pointed this out, but you clearly haven't paused to have a careful look at the
Guide to Great Books Education. I think it would be a very good idea for you to read through it carefully before posting here again, as it would be for anyone else just joining this debate (call a spade a spade, I didn't want it, but I must accept that that's what my pointed in praxis question has become).


Iversen has done extensive reading, both in academic contexts and in his own, in a significant number of languages. Having glanced at the list which is prominantly featured, rather than the expansion of it further down the same page does not negate his point, and casting aspersions on how he has read Great Books due to his having been slightly hasty with a single web page is ridiculous, and rather pointlessly abrasive. A bit of civility goes a long way in discussion.


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Sprachprofi
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 Message 39 of 49
27 August 2011 at 12:43am | IP Logged 
Quote:
In a formal Great Books seminar, you take weeks to discuss such a text, portion
by portion, and as you do this, you are not just reading it - you read, reflect,
discuss, take notes, then repeat, and at the same time, you are taking other classes,
and everything else you are doing is impacted by your reflections upon what you are
reading.

Indeed, I am well familiar with this because I'm about to complete a 4 1/2 year degree
in French studies, of which >50% was focused on French literature. We spent half a year
on a work or sometimes a set of works. However, we were always expected to do an
initial reading of all works before the seminar began, and then in the seminar we would
go over it passage by passage, re-reading the book at the same time. Why didn't you say
that you meant re-reading and discussing? For 5 pages everyone worked on the
assumption that you'd split your focus between 3+ Great Books during your
initial read.

For re-reading and discussing, my limit so far has been 6 Great Books: discussing and
drawing parallels between 3 of Jules Verne's novels in one seminar while having another
seminar on Le Cid, another on Phèdre and one on Les Fleurs du Mal.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 27 August 2011 at 12:44am

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Zwlth
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 Message 40 of 49
27 August 2011 at 2:08am | IP Logged 
I don't mean re-reading as opposed to initial reading, and in fact everything I said about the way these books are read and discussed in institutions where such programs are established was only by way of illustration that there is nothing unimaginable about reading several at a time - and again, as this is about polyliteracy, I maintain that it is necessary to do that in several different languages in order to qualify as a practitioner. Good habits that you form while in school stay with you throughout life. I loved such books already as a teenager, so I chose to go to a Great Books college, and I've subsequently as a graduate student taught Great Books seminars to undergraduates. Years ago I couldn't have read as many works in parallel as I do now, and I certainly couldn't have done so in multiple languages. Now I can, and that's what I started this thread for, to find out if there were others and, if so, how they balanced them all. But, now you've hijacked it definitively into this general brawl in which you all tag-team against me solo, so....

As for Iversen, I have to maintain that his blunder is not a minor one. There can be no contesting that the Guide to Great Books Education ought to be our definitive point of reference here. So, let's look at it right now. It is organized in sections - definitions, background, Great Books in his own education and in polyliteracy, and then a list, the standard canon (which is in no way "prominently featured" on the page - it is just there in context with everything else), then a discussion of principles for expanding the canon, then a vastly expanded Western canon (Arguelles' list), then links to the 20th century waiting list and to three other canons for other major civilizations, which unfortunately no longer seem to work, presumably because he is updating them. To wade into all of that without getting an overview, latch onto A list under the assumption that it is THE list, miss what is written about principles for expansion and offer impulsive suggestions for expansion that have actually already been implemented in a systematic fashion, and to overhear evidence from others that you are using the wrong list... I'm sorry, that is evidence of careless reading, and no one doing this in a real seminar would be allowed to continue on sidetracking the discussion, so what's uncivil about requesting that he read the point of reference more carefully before commenting further?


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