First of all I want to say that it upsets me that you would take my arguments so personally as to belittle me with snide comments


word „female“ isn’t a harsh word to me. I agree with you that it’s used
more often in biology. I suppose I use it more than „woman“ because I’m
majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Why do you
think it’s a harsh term

I also didn’t misuse the word „mundane.“ My dictionary
says it means „dull, routine, normal.“ Of course, the meanings of words
change from year to year as our language evolves.

In class, you had told us that
was a genre of literature. I asked you last week in class,
„If the genre of realism imitates real life, literature reestablishes categories,
and paraliterature questions these categories, then where does the genre
of realism fit in?“ You answered that realism is a genre of literature.
You didn’t say then that realism isn’t a genre. 

I also
had looked up realism on the internet. The website

an example of when Ripley lied to himself. On page 10-11, Ripley told himself
he was going to Italy for Mr. Greenleaf, and not just for a free trip.
He didn’t want to tell Bob about it because „all that crummy bum would
see in it was a free trip.“ Ripley didn’t care about Mr. Greenleaf or Dickie.
He had no interest in Mr. Greenleaf’s problem with his son until the offer
of a free trip came up on page 7. He really was in it for the free trip,
but he tried to convince himself it was for a nobler reason. 

I wasn’t
afraid of „being accosted by a fictional character.“ I was I was saying
that the character of Ripley fit a category, much like those re-enforced
by literature, that women are taught to
Ripley is an imitation of real life. 

What I
was trying to say was that because everything was so mundane through out
the first half of the novel, there wasn’t any expectation of it being anything
but mundane. Suspense novels would have at least some anticipation building
up by the middle of the novel. I should have been clearer on that point. 

When you
were lecturing about Patricia Highsmith, you said she’s more concerned
with how and why than who. The only information she gave about why Ripley
was so psychologically and morally messed up was his Aunt Dottie. So, yes,
I think there’s enough information in the first novel to draw that conclusion. 

Tom’s drive
is an imitation of a real life drive. He’s not real, so his drive isn’t
real, but an imitation. 

My whole
point was that The Talented Mr. Ripley is an imitation of real life (realism),
which is why I said it’s story line is similar to something from the newspapers.
Newspapers report crimes from real life, thus the similarity. 

I was arguing
that The Talented Mr. Ripley is not suspense fiction, but is in fact a
part of literature, which is why I compared it to the Man in the Iron Mask,
and The Prince and the Pauper. They have similar themes. Doesn’t theme
play a part in categorizing a novel? I think I made a valid point, and
I don’t appreciate you making fun of it. If you disagree with my point,
why don’t you just say so and tell me why, rather than belittling it? 

You didn’t
think Ripley’s trip to Italy was tragic? He killed two innocent people
and got away with it. I think that’s tragic. (By billboard, I meant those
huge corkboards that college campuses post events and crimes committed
on campus.) 

There wasn’t
just one thing in the novel that imitated real life. The whole novel imitated
real life. I don’t understand how you could say in class that realism is
a genre, and then turn around and say that it isn’t when it includes a
novel you don’t think belongs there. 

My dictionary
defines anticipate to most nearly mean expect. I wasn’t expecting anything
interesting to happen. Suspense novels are suspenseful. There’s a long
period of uncomfortable anticipation for answers to some question in suspense
novels. There was no question in The Talented Mr. Ripley to be answered
so there was no suspense or anticipation. Even if there was a question
in Highsmith’s novel, I would have to care about what the answer could
be, in order to feel anticipation. 

I don’t
think people are as protective of little boys as little girls, which is
why I don’t think men are as suspicious of people as women are. Because
of this, I think women are more aware of morally and psychologically disturbed
people existing in the real world. I think this is why The Talented Mr.
Ripley seemed more mundane to me than it did to you, and this is why I
brought it up in my paper. 

I think
to care what the outcome of the novel is, you do have to care about the
characters. If you don’t care if the character lives or dies, then why
finish reading it to find out? 

What do
you think anticipation means? 

Charleotte didn’t kill two people in her Daddy’s gazebo.
Her lover’s wife killed her lover in the gazebo, but you don’t find that
out until the end. Hush, Hush Sweet Charlette is a great movie. You should
see it. 

What do
you mean by „You needn’t fret for her“? Is that sarcasm? I’m aware that
none of them existed. What’s the point of reading a novel, if you don’t
care how it ends? Shouldn’t you want to know what happens to the characters.
I agree that you can absolutely hate a character and want to know what
happens to him, just to see if he gets what’s coming to him. 

some characters don’t bring out any emotions at all. 

I’ve understood
anticipate to mean the feeling of expectation, like when expecting an answer.
It implies strongly wanting to know the answer, and waiting for the answer. 

I don’t
understand how you can criticize how I categorize my novels based on my
„own, very private system“ when we all categorize novels based on our own
private system, seeming as our expectations of a genre aren’t set on a
specific set of novels. You haven’t given us a definition of the suspense
genre; instead, you left it up to us to decide for ourselves where the
boundaries of suspense lie. My boundaries are closely set, I suppose. 

What is your definition of suspense fiction? 

This is a good example of what I mean about shared co
and agreement about 

Terms used for the sake of having
a conversation. To me, „female“ means the female sex

of any individual of any species – not necessarily human. To refer to women
as „female“ chiefly to me sounds as if the reproductive function is given
priority over all other aspects of the individual’s life.

Now, I emphasis that that is
how I hear it. The minute you told me you were a molecular, cellula, and
developmental biology major, that word in your text lost that aura for
me. Because I had the context for your use of it. (See, the meaning of
a word depends on a lot more than a dictionary entry.)

Reversing the tables now, just as I now understand your use of the term
„female“ here, I would like you to understand why I found the use of the
word „mundane“ confusing in the context of a paper on defining paraliterary
. Since „mundane“ is one of the first words I introduced
into the course as specialized vocabulary with a very specific purpose
within science fiction discourse, it is difficult to read „mundane“ in
these papers as anything but the genre-related use of the term. I am mostly
on my guard for people confusing the technical and non-technical uses.
It’s easy to do, and when I call people on it, I’m just doing my job. In
order to facilitate a subtle and nuanced conversation, we have to have
a shared lexicon, even if only to disagree more precisely. I am not banning
the word, I’m just pointing out the use of it these contexts to mean „ordinary“
or „everyday“ blurs that meaning with the category of fiction „mundane“
that serves to distinguish narratives about the given world from speculative
fiction. Many people used the term in their papers in the last couple weeks,
with varying degrees of success. This also sensitized me to the occurrence
of the word. In ordinary English, moreover, „mundane“ has a pejorative
connotation (unlike the use in genre -category discourse). It doesn’t just
mean „of this world“ but it means „drab,“ „banal,“ dull,“ etc. This is
the other reason it’s not particularly a handy term in non-technical moments
of these papers anyway, since that jarring quality of its semantics makes
it read even more so that it’s being used to in the technical generic sense.
(If you reread your paper, you’ll note where you use it it could just as
easily be describing the type of fiction the Ripley novel is by virtue
of the „world-that-is-the-case“ it portrays. And to designate different
part of the the novel „mundane“ and others not, in this meaning of the
term, is, of course, impossible, since it is a category that covers not
only an entire text, but whole genres. 

[Meaning is use, and shared
context, beside dictionary definitions.]

I said there are genres that are dependent upon a realism. When I was speaking
more formally I spoke of „realism“ as a movement. I remember distinctly
mentioning different national „Realisms“ and saying that there is no such
movement currently anywhere to the best of my knowledge. That is one way
you can tell the difference between a literary movement or school and a

But what you quote me saying
is inaccurate in another direction, and this I can show you because I have
the paper in front of me from which I was quoting. 

You write that I said:

„literature reestablishes categories,
and paraliterature questions these.“ I did a paraphrase close to that but
The important thing was the text I quoted on which I modelled my intervention.
It was from the essay, „The Evidence of Experience,“ by Joan Scott. The
statement I read was:

„History provides categories
that enable us to understand the social and structural positions of people
(as workers, etc) in new terms and these terms define a collective identity
with potential political effects. Literature relativizes the categories
history assigns, and exposes the processes that construct and position
subjects.“ (p. 791).

Now I inserted into the critical
mix here the oppositional binaries of literature and paraliterature. But
I don’t think my argument was very well developed. I would also point out
that what you recall me saying would be contradictory if I thought realism
was a genre: Because if „realism imitates real life“ then „literature reestablishes
categories“ is confusing since realism would be part of literature. It
comes down to categories. Ok I think I beat that to death, sorry.

You’re absolutely right about Charlotte. That occurred to me after I had
already posted this. I must have been addlepated. I have seen that movie,
by the way. I was a huge schlock horror-film Davis/Crawford fan as a little
kid. In fact, I first saw „Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,“ in approximately
1963, when it was first released. [Now, that’s true, but I include this
here as a self-parodying ploy some people use to „win an argument“ {which
this isn‘} to pull rank on someone just by pointing out how many years
you’ve slogged through the mundane hodgepodge. ‚-). I have more and am
very happy to open up conversations. But I think I have to wait until a
little later. Best, Earl

I don’t really have one.

A conversation on

A conversation on

A conversation on

A conversation at the Budapest

A conversation on teaching,
sainthood, desire

On jouissance

To Guide to Pat