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Why! by Nooty




This 182 message thread spans 13 pages:  < <   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11   12   13  > >  
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by Account Closed at 11:27 on 15 February 2007
    I would define class in terms of intellect rather than wealth or position.


    Well you might do, but everybody else doesn't. Rightly or wrongly, "class" is well-understood to refer to sociological issues rather than intellectual capacity. Your redefinition is a bit like saying "I've decided I'm going to refer to people who wear hats as 'men' and people who don't as 'women'." Good luck...
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by geoffmorris at 11:29 on 15 February 2007
    I think there is such a thing as dross.

    I work for the Porbation Service, though in a training capacity (dealing with the IT systems and operational processes) but I've had enough experience of offenders to know that there are many out there that can be changed and will go on to lead productive lives but there are hundreds of thousands that won't. They will go through the system time and time again.

    It certainly isn't true in all cases but once a person reaches a certain age and had developed a certain view it's almost impossible to change them. That's why probation isn't so much about rehabilitation as it is law enforcement and control. Though how you control offenders on the community with the pitiful resources we have is anyone's guess.

    Today we are faced with the serious issue of having to deal with third or fourth generation criminals i.e. offenders that come from families of offenders. The values that these new breed of offenders hold tend to fall one degree below full blown psychopathy, they are almost totally incapable of feeling regret or empathy. Time and time again you will find offenders refusing to believe they have done anything wrong, it's always someone else's fault or the state oppressing them or whatever. Many don't even view their actions in terms of right or wrong it's all a matter of getting caught versus getting away with it.
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by EmmaD at 11:29 on 15 February 2007
    I do think that one the reasons Marx makes less and less sense - maybe because he was German, where it's also more rigid - is because he, being a product of the 19th century, assumed that class divides are as rigid as Freud, being a product of the 19th century, assumed gender divides were.

    The thing is, I think, that English class is a mixture of birth and other much more mutable stuff. It's not like Russia, where if you're a serf, or a noble, that's who you are, unchangeably, as much as if you're a Brahmin or an Untouchable in India.

    If we're talking about the 19th and first half of the 20th century in England, there's a very basic divide between gentry and everyone else, but all the other divisions - working class, skilled working class, clerks-and-shopgirls, small business owners, large business owners - are much fluid. Elizabeth Bennet says of Darcy to horrible snobbish Lady Catherine de Bourgh, 'He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman's daughter; thus far we are equal'.

    How to define it? Very, very roughly, gentry used to own land and now own shares, have servants, are officers if they go into the army, (while the only other socially possible professions if you can't live on your unearned income are the Law, the Church, and latterly doctoring) have a paid-for secondary education (the rest of the world stops at elementary education, while a few gets scholarships to grammar school and university), don't have a regional accent (except Scottish or Irish) thanks partly to that paid-for education, are members of the Church of England (except some old recusant Catholic families), their women are always referred to as 'ladies' and don't work for money and would regard it as wrong to take jobs from working men, even if the family's on its uppers.

    It's perfectly possible under this system to be born in a hovel, and brought up a Methodist, make a ton of money, send your sons to a minor public school, where they may be scorned for sticking to their background or attempting to hide it, but will lose their regional accent, make the 'right' friends and then go into Church/Army/Navy/Law, and become more-or-less gentlemen, ready to marry a lady whose ancestors have been small landowners since... they made their fortune trading opium from India into China in the 1740s. And their sons can go to a major public school, and definitely will be gentlemen, worrying away when their son wants to marry a chorus girl.

    I'm horrified to realise how much of this stuff I know, but it's amazing how many historical novelists get it wrong... And you only have to read Trollope or Dorothy L Sayers to get it right. Because writers until recently very rarely sprang from anywhere other than somewhere in the middle classes, they take an awful lot for granted. Very, very rarely, for example, do you see anything from a servant's point of view - they are the great 'other' in so much fiction. Nicola Humble's very good on this.

    Emma

    <Added>

    That, believe it or not, was an answer to ashlinn, about ten posts back!

    <Added>

    But actually, mobility is entirely different now, and I rejoice when I realise that lots of all these ridiculous markers simply don't apply any more. I just have to get them right for what I write.

    But Geoff, isn't intellect, as opposed to education, one thing that crosses the traditional class categories at random?


    I think this is very true, and pray it remains so.

    But there's a long way to go. When Michael Howard was elected leader of the Tories, what astonished them most wasn't that he was Jewish (and not, unlike Disraeli, a baptised Christian) nor that he was Welsh (which still seems to be the one thing that it's socially acceptable to be racist about) but - ssshh! - A Grammar School Boy.

    Hmm.
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by Account Closed at 11:39 on 15 February 2007
    I was amazed at how it seemed to be OK for the chattering classes to mock Michael Howard as "Dracula" etc., because of his Eastern European roots, before roundly condeming racism in the next breath.

    <Added>

    Yes as a Welsh person I can say that it does seem to be socially acceptable to be racist about us. The other discrimination which is allowable is a prejudice against ginger people.

    (nb I am not ginger THANK GOD AS THEY ARE SO AWFUL)
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by polysharratt1 at 11:42 on 15 February 2007
    Aspiration is part of it but it's also about ability to aspire, having a voice in the first place.

    It's about credibility and whether you are acceptable. What I argue is that there are processes going on in society that are, in effect, ensuring that there is a permanent and developing group of people who are being brutalised by the industries of crime, law and social service that have no 'interest' in re-inclusion!
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by geoffmorris at 11:43 on 15 February 2007
    Ashlinn,

    That's exactly what I'm saying. It doesn't matter where you come from at all. It's how you conduct yourself and where you're headed that counts.

    And Griff yes that's again what I've decided to do. For example, whenever someone raises the issue of race I will challenge them on it. I often come across the case of my African colleagues talking about how white people are like this and black people are like that, which is complete nonsense. Just because a billion people say something doesn't make it true but I think we've already had that discussion.

    And I'm not alone on this issue either. I remember reading a collection of essays about mankind and it's progress in the 21st century. There's strong evidence to suggest that in the coming decades international boundaries will become less and less important as people start classifying themsevles in different terms. This can actually be witnessed at present with people calling themselves, christian, muslim, buddhist etc. Particularly with certain sects of Islam there is the strong notion of the Islam nation which defies geographical borders.

    Taking this to the next step intellectuals will more likely associate themselves with other intellectuals regardless of origin, colour or nationality. Again this can be witnessed in the multitude of international collaborations.

    The old classifications of lords and serfs, of fiefdoms will with time disappear, as will the notion of different races. One of the articles looked further ahead to the point when the human race was more or less homogeneous and other that random variation everyone was more or less the same colour.

    We've got a long way to go but I'd consider myself an early adopter.
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by ashlinn at 11:50 on 15 February 2007
    I think there is such a thing as dross.

    Geoff, I have a friend who is a primary school teacher who teaches 4 to 5 year olds in a fairly deprived part of Paris. In her class she has a little boy who is the child of a single mother, she is in prison at the moment and he is being 'cared for' by his aunt who is overwhelmed by her own troubles, couldn't be bothered about him and only keeps him because otherwise he goes into care. He is very troublesome and my friend can't let him near a scissors for fear of what he might do. Growing up in a loveless environment like this I can't imagine how he could ever be 'normal'. IMO, prison is not the answer but I'm not sure what is. The most important thing for a child to grow up well is not money or class but love and depriving him of his parents isn't the answer.
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by Account Closed at 11:52 on 15 February 2007
    Just because a billion people say something doesn't make it true but I think we've already had that discussion.


    No, but it does make it true that a billion people say something.
    So if there is a discussion on "how does the class structure actually work in England or elsewhere, what are the details, what actually happens", which is what people here were actually trying to pin down - it is not exactly engaging in the debate to say "never mind what actually happens in the world around us, here let me give you my own new definition of how I think things ought to work."

  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by polysharratt1 at 11:54 on 15 February 2007
    Cool. This is a wicked thread....
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by EmmaD at 12:00 on 15 February 2007
    Yes as a Welsh person I can say that it does seem to be socially acceptable to be racist about us. The other discrimination which is allowable is a prejudice against ginger people.

    (nb I am not ginger THANK GOD AS THEY ARE SO AWFUL)


    Griff, don't! My very new nephew's hair would give a ton of carrots a run for their money. D'you remember the fuss about a Catherine Tate sketch on this issue?

    More seriously, I'd never met anti-Welsh prejudice growing up (well you don't if at home there's no telly, no radio except R3, and no newspaper except the pre-Murdoch Times) and was staggered when I first heard such jokes in Birmingham, c.1982. Then my tutor at Glamorgan was a very passionate and convinced nationalist, and I began to notice these things... Though he was pretty scornful of my proudly-produced Welsh ancestors, because they came from Tenby, aka, Little England Beyond Wales...

    Emma
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by polysharratt1 at 12:05 on 15 February 2007
    I agree with you.

    Perhaps what this means is that when one person suffers we all suffer.....
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by Account Closed at 12:09 on 15 February 2007
    Griff, don't! My very new nephew's hair would give a ton of carrots a run for their money. D'you remember the fuss about a Catherine Tate sketch on this issue?


    I do! Ginger people do get a lot of stick these days...

    More seriously, I'd never met anti-Welsh prejudice growing up (well you don't if at home there's no telly, no radio except R3, and no newspaper except the pre-Murdoch Times) and was staggered when I first heard such jokes in Birmingham, c.1982. Then my tutor at Glamorgan was a very passionate and convinced nationalist, and I began to notice these things... Though he was pretty scornful of my proudly-produced Welsh ancestors, because they came from Tenby, aka, Little England Beyond Wales...


    I got a bit of good-humoured ribbing when I moved to England and went to university in Sheffield, but not much. Actually I would say that I come across more anti-Welsh jokes on TV and radio. For example in Blackadder when they tell General Melchett there's something "wrong" with his new girlfriend (who is actually a bloke in drag) he thunders "Dammit she's not Welsh is she ?!" and it brings the house down. It seems to be one of the lazy comic staples, like "gays love musicals" which seems to be obligatory on every edition of every Radio Four comedy panel show broadcast.

    Of course the Welsh are as bad as anyone when it comes to prejudice. When I grew up in Cardiff, there was a lot of anti-English prejudice, and I can't imagine things are much different now. And then the North Welsh think the South Welsh aren't proper Welsh, and nobody else in Wales thinks that people from Hay-on-Wye are proper Welsh, and so it goes on...
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by geoffmorris at 12:11 on 15 February 2007
    God I've got so much work to do!

    Ashlinn, you'll net absolutely no argument from me which is why I mentioned early that once people get to certain point. Once that nurture and nature have been moulded essentially. Being brought in that environment is not good for any child and I agree taking away his mother and putting him into care is awful but then so is leaving him with a mother who manages to commit acts that result in prison.

    It's perfectly possible to be born into the worst family in the poorest setting and be subjected to horrendous events and still go on to become Prime Minister but unfortunately the nature and nurture of such enviroments makes the chance of that very slim indeed.

    Again one of the problems we're faced with in this country is we have people having children who should be even giving birth to let alone raising children, compounding this over a number of generations is recipe for disaster.

    Prison is the answer for many but not all but the real problem is in the deciding of which is best for any given individual. Again all this tends to boil down to the same limiting factors of time, money and resources.

    Griff, my original post suggests that people might want to read Alain De Botton's book, Status Anxiety I was simply having my say and maybe raising a point someone else may have found useful or interesting as I think think they did.

    And yes this is a cool thread But I really really need to work!

    <Added>

    Sorry for all those typos, hope it makes sense!
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by debac at 12:26 on 15 February 2007
    Aspiration is part of it but it's also about ability to aspire, having a voice in the first place. It's about credibility and whether you are acceptable.

    Sorry, Paula, but I don't really agree with that. Aspirations are surely what you have, not what you might have if you could - so if you have it, you have it, and if you don't then you don't.

    And as for credibility - I disagree with that even more, because I think credibility is more about how you present yourself.

    Deb
  • Re: Literary fiction - a definition?
    by ashlinn at 12:44 on 15 February 2007
    I agree taking away his mother and putting him into care is awful but then so is leaving him with a mother who manages to commit acts that result in prison.
    I don't agree with this, Geoff. I think that a child is infinitely better off with a mother of father who loves him even if that parent is a law-breaking criminal and the love is expressed in ways that are sometimes not very good than being deprived of that love. The point I was making was that I believe that the essential element necessary for a child is the presence of love. Prison has been around for a long, long time and has not worked in curbing crime (in fact, there's a lot of evidence to say it aggravates it) so we need to look at other options.
  • This 182 message thread spans 13 pages:  < <   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10  11   12   13  > >