|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next four weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
TAKING BACK THE HIGH GROUND
Why Pandering To The Lowest Common Denominator Is Just That, Pandering!
First of all, let's take a quick look at the dictionary definition of of the word 'pander'. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it this way, "pander v. [no obj.] (pander to) gratify or indulge (an immoral or distasteful desire or taste or a person with such a desire or taste): newspapers are pandering to people's baser instincts." Now, secondly, why does a fiction writer, modern poet, and blogger who spends as much time as I do on the Internet, worry about this? In a realm that has been overcome by the chilling advice, 'write in language that is easily understood', where criticism of quality has been drowned by the right of everyone to express themselves regardless of content or form, is it relevant to feel pain when asked to read some of what passes as people's best efforts?
The 'Editor and Wife' and I just returned from the movies. (If you've been following me you know that we're having our home fumigated and so we're camping in a hotel with time on our hands.) The movie was the latest permutation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's, THE GREAT GATSBY. Granted, there are things in this latest evolution I found over the top, but I accept the fact that the movie going public, in this country, is far more visually oriented and far less able to maintain attention through a primarily story driven work. There was one moment though, in the very last few feet of film, that brought back to me what it was that makes Fitzgerald's work as memorable and fixating as it is. It was the last line, quoted directly from the book, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
This is the poetry of the English language, written at, and about, a time viewed as the height of modernity, that sacrifices nothing to an attempt at being as proletarian as possible. This is a writer who trusts his reader's ability to understand an expression of complexity and emotion, written with lyricism of phrase and depth of expression. This is what we, as writers, should be aiming for in our attempts to convey our own stories. Instead, I see time and again, work that relies on the kind of language skills you would expect from the Ultimate Fighting Championships and no one is being called out for this.
This is pandering at its basest level. That so much of this is offered at ninety-nine cents a download on amazon isn't surprising. These are the equivalent of the "Dime Novels" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which were meant only to titillate and appeal to a population of the barely literate. So is much of what is being promoted today. All of this under the defense that it serves a sector that, otherwise, wouldn't be offered anything they found accessible. Really? That one will definitely demand a lot of thought. Any comments, pro or con? Glad to have them.
Of course, this is just my opinion.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis