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Worlds, Why the Violence?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by intipablo, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    i am reading it right now! very intruiging! (i think that's how you spell it?) :)
     
  2. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    I wanted to thank you particularly for this statement. I've had the very same thought, almost verbatim. It always baffled me how anybody could buy the whole "violence never solved anything" platitude. A casual perusal through a history book blows that theory to hell.
     
    Malik likes this.
  3. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Really? It's never baffled me. When violence is treated as a viable solution to a problem can you trust the average guy on the street to have the discipline to not use violence on a problem when it isn't necessary? If so then all the more power to you, but for the rest of us eh, just better to taboo the whole thing, no?
     
  4. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    And yet Swordspoint, the book which launched the series and which I adore, is violent in many aspects. There is the quiet violence of intrigues which can end in death. There is the mental instability of the MC's lover, who is prone to explosions of self-destruction. There is the MC's own history, where he killed another lover in the past. There are the lethal and illegal duels which can end in assassination or murder. And there is the fact that Riverside, the area that the series takes its name from, is itself an impoverished, secretive place with a long history of violence.

    intipablo, you are pursuing the question "Why do we use violence in fiction?" but I think you may be asking in the wrong place. Speculative fiction is a genre where violence is a common plot convention for a variety of reasons, and academic debates, such as in The Fall of Kings, as an extended plot device are very rare. You would probably be happier looking in the genre of literary fiction, where it is far more common to find works focusing exclusively on internal conflicts and much less on external conflicts, which violence most commonly represents.
     
    Malik likes this.
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    There is violence in the Riverside series no doubt, but there is a lot else going on, and the focal points of the books aren't always fixed on situations that revolve around violence or considerations of violence. So they're different that a lot of what is currently popular, by the likes of GRRM, Abercrombie, Lawrence, etc.
     
  6. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Key words being "never" and "anything." It's solved plenty of things. Not stating morality or right or wrong, just stating a fact. Violence has solved lots of things.
     
  7. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Yes and if we said that violence sometimes solves some things then one day one idiot is going to try to use it to solve something it can't so suddenly we have a bunch of hurt or dead people on our hands which might not have been hurt if violence as a whole was taboo-ed in our culture. Of course there's still people who break such a taboo, but more people will be prevented from using it if it's forbidden instead of if it is merely discouraged. The exageration is required just so the intended message can potential sink in without getting blocked by humankind's natural contrary-ness.
     
  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    This would be interesting to talk about in terms of a fictional setting.

    Let's try doing that, shall we?
     
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  9. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Was there something wrong with what I said? I was merely providing a simplified example for what I believe is the reason behind such a saying. You see it time and time again particularly in lessons we give our kids. Simplified and exaggerated lessons such as that if you're not good then Santa Claus is going to give you coal for Christmas or to never talk to strangers. Such lessons are also most effective for adults who are presumed to be idiots until proven otherwise.

    If you liter rally mean it in terms of a fantasy setting, I'm.... not sure what other way to put it. It only takes one person who views violence as an option but who lacks the will to not use that violence to cause people to be hurt. For a culture that allows such an option it would need some sort of mechanicism in place to teach when to not use violence. Most likely such a thing would be tradition or dojo based instead of law as having violence be an option generally would require a state to weak to prevent the use of violence. They're more or less taking the law into their own hands after all. Mmmm.... though now that I think about it, I suppose formalized duels would work for a stronger state, but that's a leashed sort of violence.
     
  10. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    For the record, I actually have entertained the idea of a world without war as we usually conceive of it. It was a world populated by small bands of human hunter-gatherers whose egalitarian culture valued cooperation and sharing. Of course they would still get into arguments and even fights at times, but they wouldn't have condensed themselves into clans or tribes large or xenophobic enough for all-out war. In other words, these foragers would have been as peaceful as any other human society you could imagine.

    Nonetheless these people would still come into conflict not only with nature and wildlife but with extraterrestrials with a far more aggressive and technologically advanced culture. You could say I had a reverse Avatar in mind. Unfortunately I ended up scrapping it because I didn't know if Stone Age people could kick futuristic techno-butt to an extent that mattered.
     
  11. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    You could go the "War of the Worlds" route with that. Wipe out the invaders with an infection they aren't immune to, because it isn't a thing they encounter on their planet. Even better if the Stone Age people are ignorant of the advantage they have, since they'd have no inkling of what germs or other microbes are. Best they'd know is that weapons + mud and blood = wounds that go icky and turn colors, and people getting sick and dying.
     
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  12. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    The humans' world did have a warmer and more humid climate than the invaders' home planet, so yes, it would be conceivable that the aliens might encounter hostile microbes. Come to think of it, all the humans would have to do is puncture the visors on the aliens' protective suits with arrows or spears to expose them to native microbes.
     
  13. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    The problem, again, is that if the man on the street has no respect for -- and therefore no perspective on -- violence, then he can't be trusted to use it. This problem is, for the large part, unique to our time. Violence and mayhem are entirely different things; as different as internal combustion and a house fire. The problem is a proliferation of amateurs who have led to a popular misconception of the role and usefulness of violence. Controlled violence is an absolutely viable solution to some problems; the issue we face today is that the ability to apply violence in a controlled manner toward a specific end has for all intents and purposes become an alien concept, so we tend to associate violence with mindlessness and idiocy.

    An excellent example of the utility of force is the Sikh tradition in which non-violence is approached from the perspective that a Sikh is required by his faith to do violence in order to stop another from doing violence to the innocent. This is why Sikhs carry daggers. Everywhere. Not as a weapon, but as a reminder.

    Violence -- good, solid, professional violence -- is like a fire extinguisher. You don't walk around carrying a fire extinguisher. You keep it charged and handy wherever you think you might need to use it, and you have 911 on speed-dial.

    My characters inhabit a world that is violent, but not particularly chaotic. Everyone understands the practicality of force, and this understanding - along with the understanding that the typical man in the street has a handle on how and when to apply violence to solve a problem - keeps idiot-borne violence in check. It also makes wars interesting.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    There is also, as has been touched on previously, something to be said for historical context. Specifically in fantasy fiction, we tend to draw heavily on actual history and culture as a launching point for our worlds. Some of us more than others.

    For example, in our urban fantasy series we are essentially writing about a hidden fantasy subculture set as firmly within the modern real world as possible. This subculture is very violent, and one of the major reasons for this is because historically violence - not just war, but a common place might-makes-right mentality - was very much a way of life pretty much right up until the Industrial Revolution brought stability to large portions of the world (it should be noted that this is not normal, and not currently a world-wide phenomenon). This subculture, which we call the "preternatural community" in a rather euphemistic sense, still operates by this older mentality because there are many immortals within the community who are hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old, and they make the rules. In this we combine the dual ideas that people are the products of their times, and that when a lifespan is not limited to a handful of decades sometimes people can be slow to change.

    Now, we're not saying, "Violence, yay!" We don't moralize. What we are saying is that this is the way the preternatural community is, because this is the way the world was. These are people who lived it, who do not understand that killing other people is difficult, that there is more than some abstract morality attached because to them killing is the way of things. It is what you do to stay alive. Killing is not dying. They see a world that has changed in many ways - and in many ways it has stayed the same.
     
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  15. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I previously assumed you were talking about large-scale warfare. Are you talking in terms of acts of individual violence? (In terms of warfare, a certain amount of mindless mayhem is to be expected. It takes agreement between two countries to establish concepts like war crimes, and it's a given that at least some soldiers won't honor those agreements.)
     
  16. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    I'm not sure if you understand what i said. I did not say that i did not like reading violence, it is entertaining. What i meant was why are almost all worlds or books these days about violence. I am even writing a book on violence right now because i didn't say i didn't like it.
     
  17. intipablo

    intipablo Scribe

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    I am not sure if you all understand, i was saying, Why the violence? not no more violence!
     
  18. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Ok, this has been touched on here and there in this thread, but let me try to condense it and break it down.

    People have, for centuries, even millennia, found contained violence to be exciting and entertaining. Examples that come to mind are the gladiatorial fights of the Roman Empire, chariot races (much like car races of today, they were most exciting when crashes happened), football/rugby/name-your-extreme-sport-of-choice, martial arts as sport (or not), action movies, video games, and action-oriented fiction (be it the thriller, the fantasy novel, or alien adventure). This sort of contained violence lets the audience indulge in the experience vicariously, and they can have the adrenaline high, the excitement of the intensity, without risking their own health, pain, or possibly their life. Excitement is addictive, and audiences keep coming back for more.

    We are entertainers. We entertain ourselves, and we hope to entertain our readers. I hope this makes things clearer.
     
  19. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    At risk of being unnecessarily combative, I'm not sure how much of an answer this really is. In writing erotica, I've been faced with a lot of situations where the scene that would be most likely to entertain my readers would be shallow, simplistic, or wouldn't fit the story I wanted to tell. Entertainment is my primary goal, but it's not my only goal, and I do back away from it sometimes.

    Most genres aren't faced with the entertaining/artistic chasm quite as much as erotica is, but I do think most writers reach a point where there's something they want to do as well as entertain. They make a line somewhere, and they usually don't cross it.

    From what I've seen of how readers respond to stories of sexual violence, I'm not entirely convinced that it's healthy to package violence neatly and put a nice little bow on it. That's a claim I'm willing to stake, and while Intipablo is being overly pushy, I do think American culture might be a little less screwed up if more American writers staked it.
     
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  20. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Oh, goodness, Feo, you're right on a lot of levels. My response was very simplistic and condensed - and to be honest, in our series we deal with issues of violence and sexual violence a lot. The screwed up nature of American culture in this regard is one of my personal hot-button issues.

    It's just, for the original purposes of this thread, and this clarification alone, that I made that response. Maybe now we can have fun and really tear into this very complex and multi-faceted subject? ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014
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