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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Hart's Hope .vs. Mr. Card's bio (spoiler)

   
Author Topic: Hart's Hope .vs. Mr. Card's bio (spoiler)
brentb
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Hi all, I'm new here. Have not read a whole lot of OSC's work but managed to stumble into Hart's Hope which captured my imagination and intellect. Hart's Hope (HH) both reminds me of the EarthSea series by Leguin in epic tone and also The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell for it's brutalism. But what struck me most of this story was the interplay and development of Orem's love for his son and the utter grief that arose from youth's murder. There was potency and weight to this plotting that seemed informed and I was curious if any of you know when OSC lost his children? I realize this is probably private stuff but I'm curious if the story was a way of dealing with one of his child's death.
I was also shocked to read in an interview the OSC has much disdain for Carl Jung. Perhaps it's unavoidable to use archetype when writing fantasy but this story seems to distill these archetypes into pure form that is at times rigidly humorous. The use of archetype does not make him Jungian but the use of these strong archetypes (good king, twisted king, good queen, twisted queen, neophyte, master, warrior/general, wizard) sets a stage for Orem's development and maturation that has a Jungian quality, although I would be hard pressed to say exactly why.
I get the impression, though, that one of OSC's gifts as a writer is his ability to raise ideas and questions of morality and ethics without imposing his views, which seems in contrast with his nonfiction writing, which seems chock full of views. An interesting dichotomy. This may be why I can read and interpret through a Jungian filter even though OSC is decidedly anti-Jung(I think he calls him a fraud).
What do you think?

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Amka
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Hart's Hope was written before Card lost his two children.

For most things, he's very good at seperating his fiction and his views. This is why a lot of people read him, think he must agree with what they think, and get surprised and even hurt when he disagrees with them.

The high value he places on family and children is almost always present.

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brentb
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"For most things, he's very good at seperating his fiction and his views"
-Is this possible? Don't you think that Card is actually making moral statements. I've not read much of his fiction but his essays convey strong and unapologetic opinions. How can it not be an aim of his to interweave his morality within the bones of his storytelling? It must be there.
This question has actually been teasing me. In Harts Hope it seems like one of the larger, if not central questions Card is posing is when is mercy crueler than vengeance? The other way of asking this question is does the compassionate act of mercy serve the greater good, or, does it serve the dispenser's conscience. In this story we see the after effects of a merciful act as the gods are bound, the protagonist is banished, the major players are confined to an internal hell, and the population of the world is subjugated. So in this case the greater cruelty is not killing the child as was decreed by Palicroval's god because the aftershocks of this personal decision lead to much greater strife. So it seems like Card is saying that mercy, which seems in line with goodness and rightness can actually serve evil, when it counters the objective and divinely inspired morality of god. This seems like a statement to me, although the end of the book is asking the question again in different circumstances.

The more I think about this book the better I think it is. A lessor writer, given the same quantity of ideas and world making in this book would require a trilogy and a very good editor.

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Magson
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He's commented on that, actually -- says that an author may try NOT to put his views in his work, but becuz his views are how he sees things, that they unconsciously are on every page no matter what.

However, this doesn't preclude him being able to have characters with views different than his own, nor his ability to make them sypathetic and for us to identify with them. And it seems to me when I read his work that he is pretty good at suppressing his unconscious views and promoting the views of his characters.

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Scott R
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The mercy Palicroval extended to Asineth did not cause Asineth to be brutal.
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DDDaysh
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Magson...

He writes Elemak very VERY well, even though Elya has almost opposite his views on almost everything. It's also quite scary what some of the characters in his short stories do. I certainly HOPE that he's expressing views that are not his own in those...

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brentb
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quote:
The mercy Palicroval extended to Asineth did not cause Asineth to be brutal.
The natural course of emotions for a victim (Asineth) is hatred towards the perpetrator (Palicroval). I think people tend to want to hate as they want to love, which is fully and without regard. Mercy in this instance can create a state of ambivalence which is in tension with this motion of hatred. I can see how this would create an even bigger propensity for hatred--in order to swallow up the ambivalence. At this point a person becomes blind and full of rage. But more importantly, and I think this is what Card is getting to, is that mercy extended, which is vengeance curtailed, creates a situation of prolonged suffering. This more than anything is how the drama of the book unfolds, as suffering deferred and prolonged.
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Scott R
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I don't think Asineth was the one suffering for most of the book.
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brentb
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From where I stand Asineth suffers more than anyone, unless you are willing to completely dehumanize her, which is she is not set up for in the first act. What do you think eating your baby does to ones conscience and sense of self?
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Scott R
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You have to already pretty much be a monster to eat your baby.

Trust me on this one.

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rivka
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[Laugh]
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Achilles
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[Angst]
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brentb
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Cute that, with the faces. A shibboleth perhaps?

So the question is wether or not you're willing to view Asineth with a bit more imagination instead of seeing her as a pure villain. If you cannot then there is no discussion.

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TomDavidson
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Brent, maybe you want to take this a little less seriously. [Wink]
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brentb
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'Brent, maybe you want to take this a little less seriously. '

Ummmmm, no. Life's short. I don't like wasting time. I just read one of the finest examples of fantasy literature and I wanted to talk about some of the themes and characters but seems like thats not what this place is for.

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Scott R
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quote:
So the question is whether or not you're willing to view Asineth with a bit more imagination instead of seeing her as a pure villain. If you cannot then there is no discussion.
Pure villain? Who said that? I said "monster." Which Asineth is; which Ender is. Asineth uses her powers for self-aggrandizement and for the repression and torture of those she feels have abused her; Ender uses his genius to kill the enemies he believes threaten him and all of humanity.

In Card's fiction, there are rarely "pure" characters. OF COURSE Asineth is no exception. But at some point, she went beyond exacting justice from Palicroval (righteous) and became his torturer, and the torturer of all those who ever helped him. Ender needs to defeat the Buggers (even if that need is a lie developed by his teachers); Asineth has no need to torture Sleeve, or the Hart, or the Sweet Sisters, or God, or Weasel Sootmouth (sorry, I don't remember her real name).

Asineth's actions overflow the evil Palicroval did to her. Palicroval and Sleeve made her a monster; but she made herself villainous.

quote:
Life's short. I don't like wasting time.
Dude. Welcome to the internet.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
Life's short. I don't like wasting time.
Dude. Welcome to the internet.
[Big Grin]
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Scott R
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Also, any time someone uses the word 'shibboleth,' I think of shoggoths.

I wish I didn't, because it's murder on my SAN.

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TomDavidson
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http://xkcd.com/386/

-----

quote:
Also, any time someone uses the word 'shibboleth,' I think of shoggoths.

I wish I didn't, because it's murder on my SAN.

Thus the reason that any CoC game is, over the long run, at best a slow, spiralling descent into ruin. [Smile]
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Scott R
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Hmm...

One of the reasons I don't like to watch horror flicks (aside from the fact I'm a terrible coward) is that so often, the protagonists are not sympathetic. They are specifically designed to be non-noble, so that by the end of the film, we want them to be reduced to chunky bits of gibbering madness.

We wind up rooting for Cthulhu.

Which is a thing I never want to do.

***

Perhaps the best example (IMO) of Card's use of a monstrous villain is in the short story, The Princess and the Bear. SPOILER


The prince starts off so good, so kind-- but when he returns to the princess, he's a monster. Even at the end of his life, the princess sees him as that boy she loved; but that doesn't excuse the brutal things he's done.


/SPOILER

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Orson Scott Card
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Morality enters into stories with or without authorial intent. It cannot be avoided - it's inherent in the nature of any and all causal assertions, and any and all choices about what elements of a story to show, which to narrate, and which to eliminate from an account.

In my experience, the "morality" (worldview) that is unconsciously part of a story is much more effective in persuading readers than anything the author consciously does. With rare exceptions, I trust my unconscious storytelling to convey whatever morals there are, and leave my own views out of things.

But i don't leave my CHARACTERS' views out, because they do the things they do because of their beliefs. I am often amused or irritated by readers' automatic assumptions that characters' views are my own. And when, because of my essays, they notice that a character has an opinion in common with me, they assume that I'm "preaching" - ignoring the many other sympathetic characters who have views very different from mine. It's as if they think I should show ONLY beliefs I disagree with. I wonder if that's how they live THEIR lives - never stating any of their own opinions, but only stating opinions they don't believe in. I figure if I'm fair to all my characters, that can include characters who share some or many of my own values. As long as i don't privilege them, then I can let them all have their say.

But then, some readers have a chip on their shoulders and WANT to get into a fight with the author. It's rather a sad way to read.

For instance, I just read K.J. Parker's Scavenger and Engineer trilogies and found them brilliant. I don't agree with Parker's worldview on most points. But I don't have to get into a fight with the author about it. Instead, I can experience, enjoy, be moved by, and be taught by a truly brilliant writer doing truly brilliant work. My worldview is broadened when I read works that I disagree with; it doesn't make me angry, and I don't understand why it affects some readers that way.

Meanwhile, though, the specific question about Hart's Hope: It was written before I lost children. But even before I HAD children I understood that to lose a child is the worst thing in the world. I know several parents who have had that experience, and the agreement is universal.

As a writer, I don't have to have gone through an experience to imagine it. I feel fully qualified to write characters who are or do things that I am not or have not done. I can write (for instance) people of other genders and races and national origins, people with vastly different cultures, people who have done things I have never done or would never do ... If I couldn't do that, I can't imagine how I could write any story worth reading.

All fiction is ultimately an exercise in projective empathy.

As for Jung: Have you read a biography? Have you seen how he just made stuff up and called it science? He cultivated disciples, turned his phony science into a religion, etc.

The only reason it worked is because he played on archetypes (which other, more honest people had already pointed out and discussed) that resonate with people. HIS theories about them were pure bunk - racial memory? puh-leeeeeze - but he managed to coopt the whole study of archetypes as if he had invented the whole thing. Even in this thread, the assumption is that if you study archetypes you somehow owe something to Jung. You don't. It's like saying that Darwin invented the idea of evolution. Not so - that was already obvious to most scientists of his time. What Darwin did was create a hypothetical mechanism which he believed was a sufficient explanation of evolution. Quite a different thing. Archetypes are real; Jung invented an explanatory hypothesis and declared it to be scientifically proven, which it was not. He was as much a fiction writer as I am - only he claimed his fiction was science. That's why I am so dismissive of him - even as I take archetypes in fiction very seriously.

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String
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word
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trance
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Nothing in science is expected to be proven. No amount of proof can ever prove that the hypothesis in question is without doubt true. In science, there is no absolute truths because all science is based on theoretical assumptions. Thus being said, the only way to prove that something in science is "true" is the inability of all else to prove that it is false because no matter how many times a theory is proven true, if it is proven false only once, then it is false. THAT is science. So to create a religion based on science and say that it is proven true is both blasfamy and foolishness. To say that it hasn't been proven false seems more logical to me. If it's possible to prove it false is a whole other story. But in science, it it can't fail at being proven false then there's no way to know that it's not false. Right?
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