Take the Potter taste test challenge

Harry Potter jumps the sharkMy comments about JK Rowling were mean spirited naturally, but the reaction was like I’d made a snotty put-down of something exalted. Was my criticism limited by subjectivity?
 
This is not Fancy Feast versus the same thing in an economy brand can. Do you think quality is a matter of subjective taste? In such case you are confused by the hyperbole of marketing. A Coke tastes like its commercials, a Pepsi like theirs. That’s not taste. In many things involving our senses, the human being was designed to judge quantitative differences.
 
Why raise the subject at all? No one expects a symphony from an ice cream truck. But when promoters want to drive an ice cream truck unto the stage at Carnegie Hall, naturally some of us want to intone.

To me, you know literature when you see it. You’re reading along, and before you know it you become distracted by notions not linearly related to the physical events of the plot, musings, asides, descriptions which express larger truths. They don’t stand out necessarily, except you find yourself reading more slowly, lost in thought. That’s literature. It’s more to chew.

Of course everything doesn’t have to be literature. I can appreciate a Big Mac, even praise it, without having to pretend it’s filet mignon. I’m not defensive either way. But I’ll also add that if you were to serve me the same Big Mac reconfigured as Haut Cuisine on an oversized plate with pepper and Special Sauce cast about artfully, I could easily delight myself confusing it for something nutritious. Though it be the same poison.

And here is my point. My palate is not very sophisticated about food. I can enjoy a claret or a cheap Shiraz equally. I’m uneducated and inexperienced with them. Similarly I can’t tell a saxophone from the hydraulic exertions of a garbage truck.

Just as we fall short teaching critical thinking in our schools, might we also raise readers lacking discernment for meaningful writing? Readers who might confuse writing of nutritional value with writing that can give you heart disease?

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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