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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:31 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Screw the bales; where's the pitchfork?


Likely to have been wooden, and maybe not that deadly. And actually, unless the hay is loose in the mow, you don't a fork up in the loft - you just throw down bales.

Image

(The frame around the outside is there to mold it to the right curve. It's not a part of the actual tool.)

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:41 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Likely to have been wooden, and maybe not that deadly. And actually, unless the hay is loose in the mow, you don't a fork up in the loft - you just throw down bales.

Sure, but things being pseudo-Medieval, we must keep up appearances. Even with wooden tines, it's the pitchfork for me because a) it's pointy, b) it's longish, and c) it's a lot lighter to swing and jab with than trying to lug and hurl those damned bales like some pre-toolmaking ape. I haven't worked out in a while. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:59 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Again, precision is called for. Whether in or on, if the author did in fact mean a postindustrial bale, then I pass the jugular back over to s1m0n.


I assume the author just wasn't thinking. It's not an uncommon error in the genre. I posted about it because I'd recently spotted three separate hay-bale howlers (2 different authors) in three different novels set in pseudo-medieval worlds. In one, the hero, trapped unarmed in a hayloft, fends off an attacker by throwing hay bales down on the attacker in the stable below. That doesn't work with loose hay; it's clearly the 40-50 lb small rectangular bales the author is thinking of, and they're well post-industrial revolution. Really, while there were a few not very successful attempts at making a steam-driven reaper-binder*, the first really successful binders were post internal combustion engine.


I've enjoyed this discussion for the practicality of it. I also agree that the hay bale is anachronistic.

For the sake of discussion, lets talk about the need for precision and reader expectation.

What if the editor(s) of these Fantasy stories is of the opinion that modern readers would expect hay bales in the hayloft and leaving hay bales out would make the story seem unrealistic. (For an example of this type of thing, here is an article and podcast about doctors using stethoscopes because modern media still portrays doctors always having stethoscopes and people have come to always expect them. The podcast is basically identical to the article; so choose your favorite medium and enjoy: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-stethoscope/)

Second, s1m0n, what are your reasons for reading fantasy? Is it just for leisure?
Also it sounds like you really enjoy when authors know the setting that they are writing in and about. However, I think there is a difficulty here. Depending on the author's goals, you may be somewhat outside of their intended audience. A similar thing was alluded to in the earlier posts of this discussion: the issue of translation. For example, translating a metaphor from one language into another: cultures differ regarding what organ is the seat of emotion (liver, bowels, kidneys, heart) in these instances, one cannot translate 'literally' or else meaning is not communicated to the recipient, so translators typically have to translate metaphor into metaphor. One enters into a similar type of issue with story-telling: if I tell a story some of the details may have to be altered in order to communicate effectively. This is also going to differ based on genre and audience. Now, I also want to admit that this type of thing drives some people crazy (as you well know) but I want to argue that precision isn't always necessary. That sometimes it is more important to communicate a concept or tell a good story rather than be precise regarding historical details. I suspect the books you are reading are more aimed at people who want to hear a good story, right? Rather than people looking for more of the historical facts?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:17 am 
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Good fantasy worldbuilding fosters the illusion that there's an entire breathing world that cradles the narrative. That you could turn your back on the action, walk in some other direction, and find other lives & other stories to follow. Bad fantasy worldbuilding screams that you're standing in a set, and that from any other camera angle what you'd see is cardboard, stretched canvas, and painted plywood.

Howlers like anachronistic hay bales, then, destroy the suspension of disbelief.

~~

I don't believe the author I'm thinking of placed deliberately anachronistic hay bales in her barn because she thought that's what her readers might expect to find in barns. I think she put them there because that's what she expects to find in a barn, and she wasn't thinking critically about whether they really belong in a pseudo-medieval barn. Horses matter a good deal in this story, and its clear that the author has spent a lot of time around real horses, and in real stables. I think that this setting is so familiar to her that it never occurred to her that hay comes differently in her novel's setting.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:12 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
Howlers like anachronistic hay bales, then, destroy the suspension of disbelief.
I no longer subscribe to the "suspension of disbelief" hypothesis. A few years ago, I saw a production of the musical Once on stage. Guy tells Girl that he repairs hoovers for a living. Girl says she just happens to have a hoover that needs repairing. At that moment, a stage hand rolls an aging vacuum cleaner onto the stage in full view of the audience. There was never a pretence that the action was "real life", yet I was fully engaged with the storytelling. A stage production of War Horse, with full-size horse puppets, was similar. There was no pretence that those were real horses on the stage, but the storytelling was more engaging than it would have been had the horses been real.

I still don't know quite what that engagement is, or even have a name for it. And I don't deny that a hay bale in the wrong place can shatter it.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:24 am 
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Tunborough wrote:
I no longer subscribe to the "suspension of disbelief" hypothesis. A few years ago, I saw a production of the musical Once on stage. Guy tells Girl that he repairs hoovers for a living. Girl says she just happens to have a hoover that needs repairing. At that moment, a stage hand rolls an aging vacuum cleaner onto the stage in full view of the audience. There was never a pretence that the action was "real life", yet I was fully engaged with the storytelling. A stage production of War Horse, with full-size horse puppets, was similar. There was no pretence that those were real horses on the stage, but the storytelling was more engaging than it would have been had the horses been real.

I still don't know quite what that engagement is, or even have a name for it.


The name is "suspension of disbelief".

All art is artifice, and it's obvious that it's artifice. Some is done well, such that you engage with it as if were real, despite knowing at every moment that it isn't. Some is done poorly, such that you don't. Perfect verisimilitude is never a factor. In fact, art that's too real is horrifying.

Edited: I think the stagehand with the hoover is a piece of artifice carried out with aplomb. The audience buys in, so disbelief remains suspended. In contrast, picture a scenario in which an actor on stage accidentally breaks character - a sneezing fit, say, followed by a fit of the giggles. That might work in a comedy, but maybe not in the heavier parts of King Lear. I posit that the hay bales are an accidental breach of character, and thus much more destructive of SoD.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:36 am 
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My view is that we are not "suspending" or turning off any of our faculties; we are turning something on, making an active choice to engage with the storyteller. We don't necessarily have to "believe" anything to appreciate a good story.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:07 am 
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Tunborough wrote:
My view is that we are not "suspending" or turning off any of our faculties; we are turning something on, making an active choice to engage with the storyteller. We don't necessarily have to "believe" anything to appreciate a good story.


You're not turning anything off; you're deciding that the fact that it isn't real doesn't matter.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:54 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
You're not turning anything off; you're deciding that the fact that it isn't real doesn't matter.
I would agree with you. Whereas ...
Wikipedia wrote:
The term suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.
To me, "suspend" means "turn off, at least temporarily."

Meanwhile ...
Wikipedia wrote:
Not all authors believe that suspension of the disbelief adequately characterizes the audience's relationship to imaginative works of art. J. R. R. Tolkien challenges this concept in his essay "On Fairy-Stories", choosing instead the paradigm of secondary belief based on inner consistency of reality. Tolkien says that, in order for the narrative to work, the reader must believe that what he reads is true within the secondary reality of the fictional world. By focusing on creating an internally consistent fictional world, the author makes secondary belief possible. Tolkien argues that suspension of disbelief is only necessary when the work has failed to create secondary belief [or thrown down a hay bale]. From that point the spell is broken, and the reader ceases to be immersed in the story and must make a conscious effort to suspend disbelief or else give up on it entirely.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:43 pm 
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AaronFW wrote:
What if the editor(s) of these Fantasy stories is of the opinion that modern readers would expect hay bales in the hayloft and leaving hay bales out would make the story seem unrealistic. (For an example of this type of thing, here is an article and podcast about doctors using stethoscopes because modern media still portrays doctors always having stethoscopes and people have come to always expect them. The podcast is basically identical to the article; so choose your favorite medium and enjoy: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-stethoscope/)

Just to point out that (according to Wikipedia) while up-to-date cardiology may have largely outgrown its use for the stethoscope, for primary care, pediatrics, and physical therapy - which taken together well outnumber cardiology - the stethoscope is still very much in use and probably will be for some time to come, so the idea that the stethoscope is outmoded and may be regarded wholesale as an anachronism is patently incorrect. My own GP uses one to check my lungs and bowels, and it's not for lack of adequate technology, nor do I believe the frankly reckless assertion that he doesn't really know how to use it and simply does so because it makes me "feel reassured". It certainly does not. I think it's just one more pain in the ass.

I never really noticed before, but I'll be seeing the cardiologist today, and I'll make note if he wears one over his neck. If he does, I'll ask him about it and see if he squirms. :twisted:

This is exactly what I mean by the need for precision in writing: not so much a need for fact-based presentation in storytelling or stagecraft, which of course has some leeway which is part of the art, but the need to apply due precision in language itself (I am in no way suggesting stilted delivery or high vocabulary, here; stilted writing's my gig, and I think we can all agree that one is plenty enough! :wink: ) and, where called for, to likewise apply precision in the matter of day-to-day facts or errors such as the putative "anachronism" of stethoscopes. That sort of blithely careless writing is very much a disservice to the reader, and carried far enough could possibly be dangerous. The counterargument that it's merely entertainment, or that it's always the reader's responsibility to run a fact check on every writer's vanity project, are fatuous assertions in light of the fact that the credulous abound, and it will always be so. As I said earlier, the writer has responsibilities. Without them all we have is spewing that is basically of the same dirty cloth as propaganda.

Anyway, I haven't read the rest of this thread yet because this jumped out at me and I just couldn't ignore the urge to scratch that itch but good. And now, on to the rest...

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:23 pm 
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Tunborough wrote:
To me, "suspend" means "turn off, at least temporarily."


To me it means "hold in abeyance", which isn't quite the same thing.

I'm not switching off - even temporarily - my ability to tell true from false. I know its not true at every moment. What I'm doing is making the decision that this question isn't as important as the pleasure I get from participating in the illusion.

Consider Orson Welles famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast. Listeners who heard the disclaimer at the start knew it was fiction, and found it an exciting radio drama. Listeners who didn't thought it was true, and many were terrified. That's the difference between belief and suspended disbelief.

BBC's 1992 Ghostwatch drama is another example. Here, the clue was in the program's Radio Times listing, but a lot of viewers missed it, and many were upset. One was reportedly spurred to suicide.

This is what I meant when I said that art that's too believable can be horrifying. You need to know it's not true, and too make the decision to participate anyway, in order to find the vicarious pleasure that viewing art provides.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:44 pm 
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There's a cycle that words & meaning go through. First you have an initial, narrower or more specific meaning. Then, this gets used as a metaphor or a euphemism. Hearers are aware that this usage is a figure of speech, that it's not literally true, and that they have a puzzle to solve to find the true meaning behind the figure. Then, the figure of speech becomes a cliché, and people begin to lose sight of the fact that pure, literal truth wasn't intended. Finally, the cliché becomes so ubiquitous that people have forgotten that what they're seeing is a metaphor, and the new broader meaning just becomes a new definition of the original word.

Suspension has undergone this process. It's been used as a euphemism for "terminate" so much that, to you, this is what it means. But when the phrase "suspension of disbelief" was coined, this wasn't the case. Here, it's still a metaphor. In this case, the image is of a solid under suspension in a fluid, like silt in a glass of water. When the mixture calms down, the solids will precipitate and it'll become easy to tell the sand from the water. Suspension of disbelief is maintaining a state of excitement that keeps things in that undetermined state.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:47 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I never really noticed before, but I'll be seeing the cardiologist today, and I'll make note if he wears one over his neck. If he does, I'll ask him about it and see if he squirms. :twisted:

Okay, I'm back from the doctor. First, I'm afraid I have bad news. Nano is going to be around to plague you all for what looks to be a long, long, time. I sympathize. Really, I do. :twisted:

While you process these grim tidings, let me regale you in the meantime with my tale of the cardiologist and the stethoscope:

First the nurse took my blood pressure, and as is often done, she used a stethoscope in the process. Of course, as befits the image so repeatedly pointed to in the article AaronFW linked in this thread, it had been over her neck. Was I reassured by the image? Hardly. I didn't even notice it was there until she used it. I asked her about the claim that stethoscopes were outmoded in cardiology and hardly in use if at all, and she laughed. Then came the cardiologist. Of course he also had a stethoscope draped over his neck, again as befits the classic image. Only I didn't notice that, either, until later. We consulted, and toward the end he took his stethoscope and checked my heart and lungs. There being no better possible moment, I brought up the same article, and just like the nurse, the cardiologist laughed out loud in what I would call a very honest, forthright way; I detected not even the minutest whiff of embarrassment that one would register at having been caught. No reddening of the cheeks. No contraction of the pupils. Nada. He said that the stethoscope sometimes helps him determine important details that the electronic gizmos can't tell him. And there you have it.

Is there some reason to suspect both he and the nurse would actually lie to me about this? I don't think so, unless that reason would simply be yet another conspiracy theory from someone outside the field, and frankly, that's really scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one. The likelihood of meeting two stethoscope-wielding sociopaths in a row is vanishingly small. To be honest, I'm inclined to conclude that the author of that article is probably an out-and-out liar for sensationalism's sake, and that his sources were in fact misrepresented if not entirely contrived. My evidence says that even Wikipedia had it wrong in stating that the stethoscope has no use in cardiology any more. This shows how susceptible we can be to misinformation and disinformation.

Writer integrity. How passé.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:01 pm 
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Or maybe they're using the tools they're familiar with. It might be true that there's a new gizmo that does it better, but not everyone's an early adopter. In fact, most aren't.

Also, there's a lot of BS in medicine. Nearly every doctor is wary about telling too much truth to patients, because some of medicine is a (benign, usually) confidence game. In the room, they've nearly always got their game faces on. "I can only ever really relax around other doctors," is a sentiment many would agree on.

In your situation, should a mistake get made, any doctor could easily envisage trying to defend a malpractice suit and being forced to answer the question "And did you not admit to Mr Nano that you were deliberately using outdated medical equipment?"

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2017 7:33 pm 
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s1m0n wrote:
Or maybe they're using the tools they're familiar with. It might be true that there's a new gizmo that does it better, but not everyone's an early adopter. In fact, most aren't.

Grist for the mill to be sure, but even so I still see no reason to conclude that the stethoscope is anything less than a normal, working, and for good reason regularly relied-upon adjunct to the whole array of tools at the physician's disposal. The doctor in question is not in a private practice where he's free to indulge his more retrograde quirks, but in a hospital where standards tend to be held to if for no better reason than you're not operating in a bubble.

s1m0n wrote:
Also, there's a lot of BS in medicine. Nearly every doctor is wary about telling too much truth to patients, because some of medicine is a (benign, usually) confidence game. In the room, they've nearly always got their game faces on. "I can only ever really relax around other doctors," is a sentiment many would agree on.

I'm afraid I just don't have it in me to be so suspicious in this case. I don't see the value in it.

Call me a Pollyanna-eyed fool if it suits you. I'd rather be easygoing about it than plagued by what-ifs that profit me nothing, and besides, these people actually do seem genuinely motivated to lessen suffering, and so far as I can see they have done me nothing but good, to the best of their abilities. I think that hardly qualifies as a pig in a poke.

As to your last, next checkup I'll demand the doctor use his tricorder instead. And don't think that I won't: that's exactly the sort of monkeybusiness that makes me live. :twisted:

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