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Learning literature does more harm than good. (Background inside)

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Reading The Handmaid's Tale and especially The Road, I must admit, I was overpowered by the despair and hopelessness depicted in them. It kind of got to me as well. Has a book ever gotten to you so much that you feel hopeless?

So, is literature, and its power, a harm to society if it will inflict/drive you to take detrimental actions (like, depression or suicide for example?)

What do you think?

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2 hours ago, Befuddled said:

Reading The Handmaid's Tale and especially The Road, I must admit, I was overpowered by the despair and hopelessness depicted in them. It kind of got to me as well. Has a book ever gotten to you so much that you feel hopeless?

So, is literature, and its power, a harm to society if it will inflict/drive you to take detrimental actions (like, depression or suicide for example?)

What do you think?

Lmao I had those exact same books for Part 3, along with Metamorphosis - even more despairing if you ask me.

Tie that down with Macbeth, The Great Gatsby, and Atonement for Part 4 and you got yourself the most depressing set of literature to read XD

But in all honesty I don't really like the books that much, and so I don't really get into them. I enjoyed analyzing them, but it almost felt mechanic. There are books I really enjoy reading and getting into, but not the ones given in class.

All literature, as other forms of art, have the means of evoking emotion in their audiences. Whilst it may undoubtedly cause some harm to society, the real question Imo is whether it causes net harm. I'm sure many more people have felt inspired or awed from literature than there are people that got depressed. Hence, I would not say literature is a harm to society. 

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I don't really know if I ever felt this way about works we studied in Literature. The most consistently hopeful book we studied was probably Cloudstreet, though I found it an awful period piece. On the other hand, I found works like Waiting for Godot (extremely nihilistic) and Wuthering Heights (violent and dark) to be my favourites. I don't think its at all a bad thing to have nihilistic or dark literature, because it provokes thought and brings you to the heart of a part of existence or a way of understanding life that you previously never thought about. Maybe a good strategy to disconnect yourself from negative feelings is to view it as an intellectual piece, making meaning of it as an abstract argument for a way of understanding life and analyse it on those merits. 

Side note: At the very least, you should be impressed by the fact you have some sort of connection with the works, most people (including myself more than a few times) come to view literature as a laborious chore over the IB.

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Oh boy, you don't know what it was like reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Honestly, a great book about the Vietnam War. I did my IOP on it and did a performance from the POV of one character who went so insane he broke his own nose. That was a scary experience for me and it felt real while I was doing it. Art can suck you into the imaginary realm and make you see things you couldn't see before, and it's both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

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I mean I feel like the emotions are only temporary though. Such as after an action movie you feel motivated and empowered, but these feelings dimish in due time. 

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23 hours ago, Waris said:

I mean I feel like the emotions are only temporary though. Such as after an action movie you feel motivated and empowered, but these feelings dimish in due time. 

In the long run, everything's temporary...       except death, that is.

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On 29/11/2017 at 2:03 PM, Waris said:

I mean I feel like the emotions are only temporary though. Such as after an action movie you feel motivated and empowered, but these feelings dimish in due time. 

Ahh... but books you physically keep. A movie's on disk. So shouldn't the emotions stay with you? Whenever you touch the page, smell the book, read a word, the emotions and memories seep through.

*To be seen through a lyrical point of view.*

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On 12/6/2017 at 10:55 PM, Befuddled said:

Ahh... but books you physically keep. A movie's on disk. So shouldn't the emotions stay with you? Whenever you touch the page, smell the book, read a word, the emotions and memories seep through.

*To be seen through a lyrical point of view.*

Gosh, the sheer level of exaggeration in one post has reached levels that should not have been possible. XD 

To be fair though, would you rather have the capacity to feel various emotions, even the depression-inducing ones, or be numb and deprived of any emotions whatsoever? 

Personally, I would choose the former. 

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1 hour ago, Felix Wong said:

Gosh, the sheer level of exaggeration in one post has reached levels that should not have been possible. XD 

Haha, I'll take that as a compliment ;)

Right, of course it's better to feel emotions and know you are capable to relate to others and empathise. That's part of us being humans. However, my issue revolved around it being so overpowering that you weren't able to handle it and did something you shouldn't have.

I guess, the real argument here should be amended to: How can we determine the capability of a person to handle literature like that?

Age? Some young ones are more mature than most. 

Culture/Education level/Attitudes to topics? Whoa! That's discrimination!  And then there's the whole thing about free speech and rights, if we withhold it from people we're determining them to be incapable in a way. But if we do allow literature to be freely spread, we're back to the same situation of literature potentially harming you/others.

It's an endless loop: ethics. :beccacalc:

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32 minutes ago, Befuddled said:

Haha, I'll take that as a compliment ;)

Right, of course it's better to feel emotions and know you are capable to relate to others and empathise. That's part of us being humans. However, my issue revolved around it being so overpowering that you weren't able to handle it and did something you shouldn't have.

I guess, the real argument here should be amended to: How can we determine the capability of a person to handle literature like that?

Age? Some young ones are more mature than most. 

Culture/Education level/Attitudes to topics? Whoa! That's discrimination!  And then there's the whole thing about free speech and rights, if we withhold it from people we're determining them to be incapable in a way. But if we do allow literature to be freely spread, we're back to the same situation of literature potentially harming you/others.

It's an endless loop: ethics. :beccacalc:

Interesting perspective. :P

However, I would like to throw the question, in which you have raised, back to you. 

Is there actually a need for us to determine the capability of a person to handle literature?

Rather, shouldn't we be asking: How can we better prepare ourselves to handle the ugly side of this world? 

The nature of this world is characterized by the perils and uncertainty that surrounds us. Too many things in life have the potential to jeopardize our well-being, including day-to-day things we interact with (and the dreaded literature which you speak of XD), but does that really indicate the need for us to abolish its existence? Not really... It is our responsibility to properly equip ourselves with an open mindset and attitude when handling issues like literature, free speech etc.

Edited by Felix Wong

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