Re: Cross about Fabian comment

James G. Carrier (jgc5p@UVA.PCMAIL.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Fri, 1 Apr 1994 06:48:56 EST

Of course we have to think when we read. In fact it is not possible to read
without doing so. That is not the point I was trying to make.
Rather, I want some indication from the material that I am reading that
the mental work will produce something that is worth the effort. I have a lot
of things to do and have to decide what to spend my time on. The author needs
to persuade me (usually by example) that it is worth spending my time on
working through what the author has to say.
Also, I value clarity extremely. Complex and subte ideas can be
expressed and argued in a clear way. It is particularly helpful to the reader
if the writer gives illustrations. These need not be complex ethnographic
examples, brief asides can do as well. In the absence of these, it is harder
for me (and most readers, I suspect) to figure out what the author means by
the abstractions that he or she invokes.
Obviously this is all a matter of degree. With Fabian and a few others,
I find (found) the absence of clarity especially irritating; with some other
writers it bothers me much less. Equally, and equally obviously, some topics
attract me less than others.


James G. Carrier

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