I rarely begin with a quote, but this one struck me: "Review this book if it seems any good. If not, send it back. We don't think it's worth while to print simply damning reviews." (p. 667)
That's malarkey considering a review is designed to be a reflection upon content, producing arguments as to why certain perspectives and conclusions were arrived. It's purpose is content-driven evaluation. Thus, if one requests a review, they request another's perspective about the material, including value judgments. Since reviewing is an intellectual process in search of determining if the meaning of the plot or essay was conveyed clearly, concisely, and evenly, then you can't get around the fact that when reviewing something, value is the name of the game, and judgment is the guideline. Otherwise we're just politicking, demonstrating only things that we find subjectively palatable and potentially useful to our causes, irrespective of actual reality.
This example of objectivity infiltration is not unique to literary review. After all, the only thing stopping us from being objective about everything in our lives are the limitations we choose. Objectivity isn't robotic, it's simply a perspective of allowing a myriad possibilities, and conforming our mind to reality, rather than reality to our beliefs and preconceptions. Don't mistake simplicity with ease though, it takes practice. Every objective endeavor is a demonstration of evidence, and although that doesn't mean all our evidence is always strong, it does mean that we're oriented toward strengthening the evidence. (Not our evidence, but the evidence). Book reviewing that is manipulated by economics doesn't change the quality of the book, it only limits the clarity and meaning of its own paradigm because it becomes confirmation-biased and self-interested, rather than interested in the argument put forth in the book, the meaning it conveyed, and objectively how well or poorly it was done based on those parameters.
This seems so simple and intuitive, doesn't it? That's because books are so dislocated from our realities that it's easier for us to hear an argument about the pitfalls of literary special-interests.
My best friend told me a similar argument the other day regarding asking for personal advice. He said not to ask someone for advice if you're just going to transfer the constraints onto them which causes your own lack of understanding. Again, intuitive; if you want to drink clean water, don't wash your dirty feet in that same source. Isn't this branch of the argument much more difficult to digest than the one about books? It is, I'm not going to deny it. But that doesn't make it right or truthful. Asking for only a positive book review is no different than asking someone only for personal advice that you're willing to hear. It robs us of the treasures of objectivity, but instead of someone else doing the robbing, we're stealing the treasure away from ourselves. And from where I sit, that an all-cost, no-benefit affair, hence bad moral and intellectual economics, not to mention what it does to our relationships.
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