Whence the hate?

There sure is a lot of hate for Jeffro’s work on Appendix N:

The fact is, there are people that can only enjoy contemporary works, that have a difficult time reading anything from before 1980, and that have a meltdown when they encounter things from before 1940. And whether they know anything about me or not, they are my enemies from the moment they catch wind of anything related to my efforts.

Reading about Appendix N and the Pulp Revolution has made me realize how lucky I am. For awhile there I was scratching my head wondering why there was frequent talk of “surprise” that these old works were good. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading Burn, Witch, Burn, I wasn’t surprised. Then I realized something: Whereas Jeffro often references people refusing to read anything prior to 1980, that would be the year that apparently my parents stopped reading anything. They know nothing of Appendix N but my dad was a big fan of ERB and my mom loved Andre Norton. They never adhered to any camp or faction in SF; the only thing that mattered was if they liked it. I grew up on a very different diet of entertainment than other people my age, and since I was also homeschooled, I avoided outside influences telling me they were wrong. I’m not surprised because this stuff is normal.

The surprise I’d hazard to guess comes from being seeped in a culture that hates the old–even if the person himself may not be conscious of having the attitude or may even be trying to reject it. Many people will embrace things currently out of fashion if it is presented the right way. Just look at how Fallout 3 got people listening to big band music. Kids if given the opportunity will get used to and greatly enjoy things that one might not expect; I’ve had a lot of fun showing my brother’s kids silent movies for example. But there is something going on that teaches or pushes people to reject all that came before.

I don’t expect people to like silent movies. It’s a particular interest of my own and definitely an acquired taste (though as I said my nieces acquired it with alacrity). But I was surprised by the disgust and contempt displayed by certain people after watching The Artist. The reaction was something akin to someone who has just stepped barefoot on a slug. Old books have an even harder time than movies because so many people have been taught to hate reading in general.

But the people who don’t hate reading somehow have been infected with an over the top hate for things they don’t like. If you don’t like something, you don’t like something. It doesn’t hurt you if someone else does.

Then again maybe it does. The old works have a different set of values inherent in it, ones which no longer jive with popular culture. Being exposed to these ideas are dangerous because it might make people thinking about them. They might even decide that they like it better.

Some of it may also boil down to simple narcissism. After all, you, being the most wonderful person in the universe, know better than I. By expressing an opinion contrary to yours, be it on literature or food or some other noun, I am challenging the awesomeness of all your opinions which, because you are the most wonderful person in the universe, are the only opinions worth having but which you are strangely insecure about.

Regardless of the cause, it’s a disproportionate response. These people act threatened by something that shouldn’t threaten them.

As for myself, finding more good things to read is annoying; I read far too slowly to be able to enjoy them all.


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