November 23, 2009

"unmercenary" readings, reviewed

It seems that the symposium at Unmercenary Readers has ended. There were more reviews (four) than comments on reviews (three), which is not a good sign. Participation was very low. Some blame may be put on the book being an odd combination of unsuited for its role, level-headed and somewhat bland. It was not bad, nor was it particularly good. I think this also is an artifact of its (likely) construction and condensing from previously written material. I suppose I will never get confirmation on that suspicion; though, reading the full book, if I could ever get my hands on it, would go a long way towards that goal.

Much of the blame may come from it being on a totally separate blog, with no particular "big names" (in the small world we are talking about, here) participating. Maybe some blame lies on the too-cute "rules" for the site putting off some readers and writers. (I for one am thankful they were not followed to the letter.) Some blame also may be laid on the fact that none of the reviews–and I include my own–had anything terribly interesting to say about the book, perhaps because there was little to say. A selection of the dozen or so great lines in the book would probably have been the most lively offering possible, but that is not so much a review as a substitute for the work entire.

My guess is that future symposia would be better organized by one blogger or another, inviting other bloggers to take part in a discussion to take place on a particular day or week in the future. Posts would go up naturally, later posts could take into account prior ones, and there could be some more of the "organic" development that our medium is suited for. Just a thought. I certainly welcome discussion on this point, because I do think that such gatherings on topics or books are fruitful uses of the internet.


  1. The pseudonyms and the far in the future deadlines may have also caused the momentum to slow down. As far as the book goes, I thought it was interesting and I liked reading the reviews. I guess that makes me a nerd.

  2. I suppose pseudonyms may have hurt if folks weren't able to eschew them. I obviously just put my review under the same pseudonym as my blog (but they did not require my "secret identity", either).

    I didn't find the book uninteresting, which is another thing from it being particularly good or bad. I just don't think it was well-suited to debate within the circle that the book was presented to. Maybe if we had brought in some anti-Palamite Catholics or something.

  3. Your pseudonym is a more identifiable id, but I think the way they were made a big deal, like the rules, became sort of a distancing distraction. I don't mean that the use of pseudonyms per se has to come across that way. "Who are you, I must know", "Get used to disappointment", "OK". - Princess Bride

    Do anti-Palamite Catholics always need an invitation?

  4. I was making a sort of joke in that last sentence.