Saturday, February 13, 2010

But It's All Subjective!

Hello, you rotten monsters. I'd like to talk to you about objectivity. It's not too common, but every now and then a cuddlefish comes by and insists that we have no right to talk about XKCD because it's all subjective. This is demonstrably false.

I'm going to start by defining some terms. We may as well start with objective, shall we? When someone makes an objective statement, they are making a statement which is true independent of the observer. With a subjective statement, that statement is only true regarding the observer. An objective statement describes the object; a subjective statement refers to the subject. An objective statement is not an indelible law of the universe, and no one is claiming it is. If you think that everything which is not stamped on the very foundations of the universe is subjective, you should die.

This does get sticky when describing art, because many sentences are both subjective and objective; that is, they make an observation about the object while simultaneously describing how that observation affected the observer. This is called criticism.

Objectivity Objectively Exists, You Fucking Moron
With the terms out of the way, let's begin properly. This first section is just establishing the fact that objectivity objectively exists in art. Let's begin, shall we?

Anyone who argues that there is no such thing as objectivity in art is demonstrably wrong. I'm a writer, so I'm only going to deal with writing, here. If any visual artists or musicians out there would like to provide examples from their own fields, that would be excellent--I know that there's a lot to both of them and I wish I were versed enough to provide examples.

We'll start with the basics. These are on the level of "so basic people probably forget about them." Every story has a word count which describes how long it is. Most novels can be described based on how many chapters there are, and what the plot of the story is, and who the characters are. You can objectively describe these things about any story which consists of them. But it would be really uninteresting to stop there.

You see, every story has pacing. There is an objective difference between, for instance, the pacing of a comic with a beat panel and the pacing of one without a beat panel. And most stories have a theme and motifs that help drive a certain point home. Most stories have character arcs and similar elements of broad structure.

But also, on a micro level, which is far more important to XKCD, every sentence has objective elements. Each one contains a certain number of words which affect both the pacing and cadence of the sentence and the complexity of the sentence. Individual words can be objectively described both in terms of their own length, which also contributes to pacing and cadence and so on, but also their definitions and their connotations, as well as describing their sound.

Words also have a certain interplay with each other, both in the form of sentence structure and in the form of how they combine to affect the overall meaning of a sentence. This interplay also is what turns a sentence from a lifeless combination of descriptions into something which evokes certain emotions and ideas beyond what the words say in their most literal sense. This is a very complex thing, because language is a very complex thing. It is unlikely that every sentence someone composes is entirely original, but it is also very likely that even the most uninspired of individuals have uttered sentences that no human being has ever uttered before. This, combined with the fact that even if I utter the same sentence as someone else, it will be in a different context and with different subtext, makes the system unfathomably complex. The interplay will seem (emphasis important) different to different people because they will come to it knowing different things or understanding different things. But this is rather like the stars seeming different to an observer in Australia compared to the stars an observer in Finland might see. This does not change the fact that the stars have objective reality.

Finally, we have subtext. No words exist in a vacuum. Every word that is written is saying something without saying it. Subtext is a very complex thing, and it requires a lot of careful observation, and in many cases it requires knowledge of events that are removed from the sentence itself. (The other day, a friend said, after I played a certain song by David Bowie, "You know what you need to play now? The same song again." The subtext was that I should put on a very excellent cover of that song that we've both discussed; that subtext was there objectively, and anyone in possession of the knowledge that we both knew and discussed that cover would have been able to piece it together.) Once again, the system can be unfathomably complex.

We Can Describe Things Objectively
And yet, it can still be described objectively. Now, I am not and have never claimed that there is no subjectivity in criticism. Indeed, the interplay between objectivity and subjectivity is what makes it into criticism rather than simply a rote description. But it can still be described objectively.

I think the best way to describe this is to explain what a critic means when he says "this is bad." Ideally he goes on to explain himself, but this is not an example of pure subjectivity. What he is saying is this: "many of the objective elements in this are ineffective or badly put together, or the ideas, feelings, and thoughts they tend to evoke are otherwise negative." This is partially subjective, certainly--but I will then go on to describe why I think that something is put together. If I dislike the pacing, I will explain how the pacing doesn't flow very well, and tends to be highly disjointed--this is an objective description of the pacing. It does not rely on me as an observer to make it a valid statement. I will then say that I think the pacing is ineffective because of its disjointed flow. This is a subjective statement! You may think the disjointed pacing lends the story a really brilliant, fragmented flow. But when you have finished with a criticism, you should be able to identify precisely what it is about the story (its objective qualities) that evoked that subjective reaction in the writer.

The reviewer's goal is to make the subjective reaction seem as logical and universal as possible--as well, of course, as to make it an entertaining or otherwise worthwhile read.

The Implications of Talent on Objectivity
There are rules in art. If you practice, you will get better. There is a reason that people who have spent a lot of time studying visual art can produce better pictures than me. There is a reason that skilled photographers take consistently better photographs than amateurs, and that first novels seldom sell. There is such a thing as talent. There is a reason that if you take a class or go to a workshop and listen to criticism on your works, the result is usually that you are better at writing than you were before.

There's also a reason good criticism actually works, and receiving it is one of the most helpful ways for an artist to improve. It's not just about subjectivity, and being able to manipulate your audience. I am fully prepared to acknowledge that there is an art to making something that has mass appeal, and that there are rules to that. But what talent is really about, the way to make something which is truly and lastingly excellent, is in knowing instinctively how all of the objective elements work together to produce the desired effect, to create something which does exactly what you intend it to do.

This is not entirely subjective. Discussing art (even art as terrible as XKCD) can be highly productive and informative, and the interplay between objectivity and subjectivity just as much--for in the end, it's not just criticism which is defined by this interplay, but art itself. If it were exclusively only one thing it would be really boring.

275 comments:

  1. Do you really need to make it that long and seperate it into sections? How long did that take you type? All the while your sitting there, giggling uncontrollably while picturing the stunned looks on cuddlefish everywhere, muttering "oh, I never thought of that! I WAS WRONG ALL THAT TIME!"

    No Rob, no matter how much you argue like this, people will not suddenly change sides. It's useless, man, useless, like ticking with the glock and salsa~11``` do the mango tango

    UUURRR-WREAAAHAAAAA

    Excuse me I am a bit intoxicated

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes and yes. It took probably, eh. 30 minutes, give or take? I don't think you understand the purpose of essays. I do think you are a fucking idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why is there a need to write essays on a people who think a webcomic is good, but is actually bad? I know that that's not a purpose for an essay.

    No one cares. That was an absolutely worthless essay

    ReplyDelete
  4. And you also have the reading comprehension of a retarded hamster. Christ Almighty.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Can anyone actually tell what the anon is trying to say?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think it's saying "I'm incredibly stupid and can't read more than two hundred words in a sitting without my fragile brain exploding, but I'm going to troll and complain about the text without having actually read it anyway."

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rob, could I have a version of this that isn't explicitly about XKCD?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, most of it isn't explicitly about XKCD anyway. I think there's only three or four sentences that mention it. If you remove those references I think you've just about got it. You can feel free to do that if you like. (If you don't like my random hostile statements they can also be removed without diminishing the whole.)

    Though I think I will post a version of this one on my own blog sometime soon, if you want to wait for that. It'll have the XKCD and abusive bits trimmed out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. you're begging the question regards how you can judge art as good/bad: "why is this thing bad? because the objective elements are badly put together."
    or else you're undermining yourself: "because the ideas, feelings and thoughts evoked are negative". i don't know how you'd argue that someone's thoughts exist "independent of the observer" but i'd recommend not trying.

    you're not arguing "the existence of an artwork is objective; its appraisal is subjective" but that's actually a consistent way to interpret what you've said.

    more elaboration on how it's possible to judge art as being objectively good/bad plz.
    aside from that, i liked. good work.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't think he's ever said that a "good/bad" judgment of a work of art can ever be completely objective. The entire thing is a response to people who claim that a judgment of a work of art is the opposite--completely subjective. Rob's point is that there are tons of components of our judgment of art that are objective, and acting as though there is nothing but subjectivity in art (and hence it's impossible to meaningfully communicate about art, more specifically it's impossible to legitimately express dislike for art) is asinine.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "you're begging the question regards how you can judge art as good/bad: "why is this thing bad? because the objective elements are badly put together."
    or else you're undermining yourself: "because the ideas, feelings and thoughts evoked are negative". i don't know how you'd argue that someone's thoughts exist "independent of the observer" but i'd recommend not trying."

    That would be true if I ever made claims that quality was objective. Analysis, however, can be. Note how right after the bit you quoted I said "this is partially subjective," and how earlier I said that criticism is the interplay between the objective and subjective.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Which is to say: I don't really believe in "objectively good" or "objectively bad," but I believe that when describing why something is good or bad (subjective) it is entirely possible to be objective (listing elements which not only exist independent of the observer, but what it is about those elements that you found to be ineffective; the latter is mostly objective, since it consists mostly of describing the elements and explaining the reaction it evoked and why it evoked that reaction).

    Due to the complex nature of the interplay between subjectivity and objectivity, it's difficult to ever be wholly objective or wholly subjective, but as with anything, a fact without an opinion is lifeless, and an opinion without facts is worthless.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think what the anon is trying to say up there is: "You've wasted your time, Rob".

    I wouldn't disagree, if we're talking about the cuddlefishes's reaction. And to be honest, I was pretty unaffected by it. Ok, so you say there are objective elements in a work of art, but these elements' significance, their meaning and their relevance aren't exactly absolute, you know. So, in the end, being "objective" or not doesn't matter anyway

    ReplyDelete
  14. The thing is a story consists almost entirely of objective elements, which can be objectively described and explained by objective observers. It's the reason it's possible to do nothing but describe a story without injecting any opinion in it. Objectivity is not just possible in analysis, it's the core of it. To say it doesn't matter is to say that "I didn't really like Dark Knight" is the same as saying "Dark Knight was a well-constructed action film, but the pacing was wonky and the cinematography tended to overuse certain tricks to artificially build suspense." The latter is not "completely objective," but it describes objective elements and then explains how effective they were. It's an opinion which is based on the actual facts of the movie.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Very interesting read Rob.

    In all honesty, though, I don't know how you made this in 30 minutes. I write a fair amount of essays (On my free time), but I take a ton of time ironing out errors, improving the content and otherwise trying to make it something enjoyable to read. (On the order of over an hour, just doing that)

    Does that just come with writing experience?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Also, you might want to add a bit that explains "Not all harsh criticism is deconstructive." People seem to have this skewed idea that
    "I hated your essay, your writing looks like it was written by a fourth grader. Just look at when you say "He can't have touched the bole of fruit," is deconstructive, whereas
    "Your essay could've been better. Instead of saying "He can't have touched the bole of fruit," you could've wrote "He couldn't have touched the bowl of fruit," is constructive.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Rob: right. i'm not sure i follow?

    if it's possible to be objective when you're giving reasons why something is X, then isn't that thing objectively X?

    where's the subjectivity coming in from?


    or, tied in with that point, i don't see why you're invoking subjectivity at all, except as a kind of smokebomb for when explanations get a little tricky.
    so i'm also asking: the role of subjectivity? its remit its function?

    why aren't you just saying "art is totally objective" (aside from that you'd be instantly undermined by the big obvious evidence against that perspective)?

    ReplyDelete
  18. You forgot to sign this essay as Summer Glau (yes i just went there)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Nope, the only objectively bad comic is Dinosaur Comics

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh my God! How controversial!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think that objectivity and subjectivity are really being misrepresented here. I always perceived objectivity in art to be the facts of a piece as created by the author, where subjectivity is as they are interpreted by the reader. So while a cuddlefish would be partially right in saying that "everything is subjective, I can have my own opinion on Xkcd" but would be severely diluted for thinking that that doesn't make them dumbshits. They are, in effect, superimposing their own subjective ideas about a comic over the actual objective intent (or our closest guess to that). They are making up their own reasons subliminally, rather than accepting the fact that a piece of art failed to achieve its own goals.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I think the main problem with your essay is that you don't tackle head-on the fact that criticism is, ultimately, an argument. There's no standard to hold it to except its persuasiveness, which is (vis-a-vis the reader/viewer) subjective. If one person could say, "Avatar is the greatest film in the history of cinema" without qualification and walk away, and another says, "Avatar is derivative because X, Y, and Z", you'll probably be more inclined to believe the second critic. This isn't because of any universal truth; it's simply because he seems more reasonable.

    You may find this assessment pedantic - and it is - but I asser that your essay is likewise rooted in meaningless semantics. Yes, a good critic will "show his or her work" by supporting his or her argument with data, but that doesn't mean the heart of the criticism itself (and almost always much of its support; what is "poor" pacing?) is not itself de gustibus.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This site is an awesome attempt to leach off of something popular to try and generate traffic without doing anything worthwhile.

    Excellent trolling, keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I remember a year or so ago when I criticized something Carl said and Rob responded:

    Realist, honey, humor is one of those things that is--oh, fuck it, what's the word, it's like objective but the opposite, because it's relative or--SUBJECTIVE that's what I'm trying to say! Humor is subjective.

    When I told him how hypocritical he was being on a blog titled xckdsucks, he responded:

    But here's the thing. Critics are expressing an opinion which simply can't be 'wrong.' Because there is always an implied 'to me' in there. 'This joke would be better if it had X.' You can disagree--and apparently you do!--but to say the critic is wrong is to reveal that you are, in fact, a useless human being, worthy of no better treatment than a malformed, hideous monster, best locked away in a cunningly devised labyrinth and used to frighten small children.

    But I suppose he eventually came to my point of view on the issue, given this post.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I should write an article about "expressing your opinion as fact."

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey guys. Great news! Out of the abhorrent sample of "People I personally know whom I have incidentally* spoken to about XKCD recently" + "People in chatrooms I frequent where I have incidentally spoken about XKCD recently"*, it would seem at least 50% agree that, at this point, it sucks, admittedly with some disagreement as to when it started sucking, usually between 80-200 comics ago. And, about 40% seem to accept that it's been going downhill long enough to be considered a prolonged trend, but simply have not reached the point of agreeing that it does indeed suck.

    *these being entirely made up of people who I know and continue to know outside of my webcomic fandom.
    *Also, former fans. Otherwise a conversation about XKCD would not have ensued in the first place. Probably.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "There are rules to art. If you practice, you will get better".

    You keep telling yourself that, artfag. I'll be over here with Jackson Pollack and his piles of cash.

    ReplyDelete
  28. ... so what was the point of the essay?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anon 12:24, did you just read that single sentence and deliberately misunderstand it?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Bashing an art form is becoming an art form in itself.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If you want examples for objectivity in music you have the key(s) that the music is in, as well as any scales/modes employed. Most songs will have chords (something like a solo performance by a clarinet would be an obvious exception), and therefor a progression of chords in which the listeners perception of each individual chord is changed by the chord. While we're talking chords, it should be noted that a proper chord is composed of at least three unique intervals (two easy examples, a major 1-3-5 chord, or a sus2 1-2-5 chord), with twelve available intervals the possibilities are nearly limitless, and each one has it's own unique sound based on the combination of notes contained within, though the chords that don't sound like ass are really limited.

    In addition, you can specify what one note (not a chord) is, and how it is made to sound by the preceding note (for example, in a progression of 1-b3-5 the 5 is made to sound minor by the b3, while the same 5 if following a natural 3 would sound (duh) major), as well as how each note interacts with whatever happens to be playing at the same time, be it a bass, piano, or just brushes on a high hat.

    Then there's pacing. Tempo, and time signature are harder to figure out from just listening to something, but are still very important, as is how much time is between each individual note/chord. writing this is really starting to get tedious, if you want to include musical objectivity in your final essay and want something more in depth just e-mail me

    ReplyDelete
  32. Your last claim, that first novels suck and so forth, is a very bad one for a variety of reasons.

    First: People can get better at a skill and yet still have the output be subjective. I can get better at making drawings of poop, but whether that's art will become no more contested.

    Second: It is entirely possible, and likely in part TRUE, that people getting "better" at novels or comics is just them figuring out what other people like more effectively.

    A good way of testing this is to look at the kind of movies film buffs like vs. the general population, or humor that comedians like vs. the general population, or... They become very different sets. Now note that the SAME PEOPLE who became comedians or film critics or what not often USED to like the prior movies, so one can't say that the people who become film critics are different.

    Third: In fact, many first novels are very good, and a lot of people who put in bad first novels would never put in ANY good novels.

    Fourth: The reason why we can find some principles about what "works" in general is because we're not some hypothetical infinitely variant group. Humans as a whole obviously have limits as to what they'll like: A movie in infrared or ultraviolet is likely to be disliked by the vast majority. And then there are cultural differences. So what is apparent objectivity may in fact be INTERSUBJECTIVITY. An alien might look at recent sucky XKCDs and think they're hilarious. Her opinion would be just as valid as a human who did so.

    If you tell me that the pacing in a comic doesn't work, or the punchline is bad, and I LIKE the pacing or the punchline, your argument is moot.

    The reason why art criticism WORKS is because, in fact, there is a constrained range of things that people like. When I say, "This doesn't work", I'm in fact saying, "This element doesn't work for the majority of the target audience according to my estimation." One can make accurate assessments about that, but that doesn't make it objective. It's just an objective guess as to everyone else's subjective opinion.

    I happen to think that recent XKCD sucks on average, but often for different reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  33. "If you tell me that the pacing in a comic doesn't work, or the punchline is bad, and I LIKE the pacing or the punchline, your argument is moot."

    No that just means you are a dumbass.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Actually, if you want a really simple way to sum up all the time I just wasted, Stravinsky had this to say on the subject, "I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the variety of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust."

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have an erection for the polyrhythm in Rosetta Stoned. Just throwing that out there, and I will not shut up about my sexual attraction to Tool until, um, someone tells me to. Or until this particular kick ends. I give it 4 more days.
    Do you like polyrhythms Nick? Or does something in 25/16 that doesn't sound like ass appeal, as in Meshuggah's Rational Gaze? Actually, probably I am the only one aroused by time signatures alone.
    I feel all weird. But I have New Millenium Cyanide Christ to comfort me.

    ReplyDelete
  36. And hey, what happens when everything has to be quadruple polyrhythmic flaxomopoop (the instrument of the imaginary future!) solos to be original? WHAT THEN?
    We're already pushing the envelope with rhythms from what I can see.

    ReplyDelete
  37. @Rob

    Great read, I'll do a quick post later on how this works for the visual medium, especially moving pictures.

    @Femalethoth

    beat you to it http://srzbzns.blogspot.com/2010/02/ok-here-i-am-sitting-at-work-and-i-have.html

    ReplyDelete
  38. @Rob

    If you're going to take all this time to put together logical responses to complaints about this blog, then why the heck are you undermining yourself with ad hominem attacks? People aren't stupid just because you disagree with them, and ArekExcelsior2 makes a good point.

    Pacing and all the other elements of written works are simply tools, nothing more. "Ender's Game" has very fast pacing; "The Lord of the Rings" is much slower. Does that make either of them lesser than the other? Only in the minds of different people. Even a disjointed pacing (fast, then slow, then fast) can be used intentionally to capture a mood or feeling.

    Humor is different for different people as well. Some people appreciate sarcasm, others go for wordplay, and sometimes slapstick is key. Applying these categories to humor is objective. Peoples' preference of the different categories is not. So if I like a particular punchline and you don't, that might just be a result of different preference.

    Also, I'd be interested in hearing your response to Realist's point. The post he's referring to, in case you've forgotten, is here:
    http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2009/01/comic-535-xkcd-is-not-political-comic.html?showComment=1233205980000#c6465650388590482252

    ReplyDelete
  39. Why can't any woman over 40 give a decent blow job? What the fuck did you GenXers do to your women that makes them so inadequite in the sack? I swear, every young chippie I've fucked this year was a huge disappointment.

    Listen up, chippies:
    1) If you are using your hands during a blow job, you are a failure at pleasing men. Sure, you please the boy that your sucking ... I mean you will never please MEN!

    2) Fucking is more than laying there with your legs wrapped around my waist and throwing out the obligatory, "Oh god. Oh. baby. I'm cumming." BORING! Have you chips ever heard of "snapping pussy?" Get those vaginal muscles strong, move your lazy bodies and start producing a decent hump for once! Stop taking your cues from porno movies. Learn your bodies and use them!

    3) Shaving your snatch doesn't make you sexy to anyone other than pedophiles. When you remove the hair, you remove the musk that so invigorates a man.

    Let's see some action out there you worthless, workless wannabe women.

    ReplyDelete
  40. ArekExcelsior2's arguments are completely dumb and I replied to his comment in my blog.
    Just scroll down towards the end.

    http://srzbzns.blogspot.com/2010/02/objectivity-in-art-is-serious-business.html

    ReplyDelete
  41. When I was zealous against Animal Rights, I dealt with the implications of subjectivity on activists' parts regularly. Anyone heard of "inherent value"?

    I suppose dealing with XKCD fanboys isn't all that much different.

    (Oh, and I still hate AR, I just don't focus on it as much these days.)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Nick: "Proper chord" is quite subjective no? Two tones are quite sufficient to make a chord, even in traditional western harmony. Also, a solo instrument can definitely produce harmony through the suggestion of chords in the melody line. Ask Bach.

    ReplyDelete
  43. "Objectively objectively exists"?

    UNACCEPTABLE.

    UNACCEPTABLE, ROB.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Saying that the pacing doesn't flow well is a subjective statement simply because there are people who will disagree with you. "There are ten words in that sentence" can be proven to be true or false (with a clear definition of word); "the pacing doesn't flow" is subjective because there are people who will disagree, and neither side can be proven. Saying "this comic isn't funny" can never be objective, because some people found it funny.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Also ArekExcelsiors point about first novels being good is fucking retarded.

    First point (if I have understood what it's trying to say from its poor wording):
    This is just a retarded truism. Of course the enjoyment of anything to an individual is subjective. That doesn't mean it doesn't have qualities that can be objectively described. If a comic trying to describe a realistic conversation between two modern people has somebody say, "Good morrow to thee fine sir, I think I shall partake of the cantaloupe to break my morning fast", then it is objectively a poor representation of a real-life dialogue, because, as Carl often says, nobody fucking talks that way.

    Second point:
    This is another retarded truism. Of course being able to write effectively entails understanding your audience. If you write a childrens' picture book with words like "ameliorate" and "obfuscation" or include a sentence like "Lots of milk makes little boys bones grow very well!" then you have written an objectively poor book.

    Third point:
    1. Just because there are "many" first novels that are good doesn't mean there aren't many more that are bad.
    2. Most first novels don't get published. Of course the first novel published will be good because most publishers aren't idiots (Twilight and Eragon's nonwithstanding, although, they made a shitload so I guess it's just the readers that are idiots.)

    I don't know what the hell your fourth point is even trying to say. Unless you're suggesting that xckd's intended audience are aliens, it's completely irrelevant.

    Long story short, as Rob said, you are a dumbass.

    ReplyDelete
  46. @AdamTM - http://srzbzns.blogspot.com/2010/02/ok-here-i-am-sitting-at-work-and-i-have.html

    That's not really what I'm talking about. I mean people who claim "Okay, you can express your opinion, but don't express it as though it were a fact. So it's okay to say 'IMO, to me, xkcd is not enjoyable, but I can understand why it would be to other people, in their opinion' which is expressing your opinion as an opinion, but NOT 'xkcd is bad' which is expressing your opinion as a fact."

    ReplyDelete
  47. @Anonymous K
    "Saying that the pacing doesn't flow well is a subjective statement simply because there are people who will disagree with you. "There are ten words in that sentence" can be proven to be true or false (with a clear definition of word); "the pacing doesn't flow" is subjective because there are people who will disagree, and neither side can be proven. Saying "this comic isn't funny" can never be objective, because some people found it funny."

    You're full of shit, of course you can disagree if I say "the pacing doesn't flow", it doesn't make it true.
    Either you can support your argument why it does flow, or shut up.
    It CAN be objectively proven that a pacing doesn't flow in a certain piece, especially in writing and in movies.
    Just because YOU don't even understand what pacing means doesn't make you right.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Femalethoth, ok, well yeah

    If you are talking about facts call it fact, and not opinion.

    Fact: Battlefield Earth is a bad movie.
    Opinion: I did/did not enjoy Battlefield earth.

    My rant was more directed at people that will put IMO in front of everything and call it a day in an argument, because they think it makes it invulnerable to argument.

    ReplyDelete
  49. No, that's...exactly the sort of retarded shit I'd be arguing against. Something is an opinion by virtue of its content, not by virtue of whether or not you recast it into a ballsless "I" statement.

    Actually, I think "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie" is an opinion (about Battlefield Earth) and "I didn't enjoy Battlefield Earth" is a fact (a statement about me).

    It's dumbshit ass-covering.

    ReplyDelete
  50. i'm really confused. isn't xckdsucks supposed to be subjective?!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Femalethoth, I'd disagree on this.

    "An opinion is a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion

    The key words here are interpretation and emotion.

    In the statement "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie" I make a statement of fact, without interpreting or using emotion. I did not get this statement from interpreting the movie FOR ME, but as an objective fact towards its craftsmanship. I do not invoke a feeling about it.

    In the statement "I did/did not enjoy Battlefield earth (and therefore I like/don't like it)." I make an interpretation based on emotion (enjoyment).

    ReplyDelete
  52. In the statement "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie" I make a statement of fact, without interpreting or using emotion. I did not get this statement from interpreting the movie FOR ME, but as an objective fact towards its craftsmanship. I do not invoke a feeling about it.

    There's not a lot I can say to this but that everything you just said is wrong. "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie" is not a statement of fact, you did derive that statement from interpretation and emotion, and you can't possibly have derived it by interpreting the movie for anyone BUT you. It's also not a statement about its craftsmanship--you didn't say "Battlefield Earth is poorly crafted", you said "Battlefield Earth is bad". I'm not sure what "invoke a feeling about it" means, but I'm damn sure that you're doing so.

    ReplyDelete
  53. @Scottmctony I am definitely one of the unwashed masses who are honestly unable to tell what the time signature of a song is just by listening to it, and simultaneously one of the very washed masses who doesn't really like Tool. My Quadruple Polyrhythmic Flaxomopoop for Dummies book never came in the mail, so I can't speak to that. I was going to talk about polyrhythms, because those are pretty f-ing cool, but I wanted to watch Korean speed-skaters screw themselves out of 2 medals, then sleep.

    @anon 6:32(the one who was talking to me): I was taught that a power chord was an incomplete chord, sort of in limbo between being a note and a chord. I believe my music theory teacher called it a chord fragment, but I could easily be mistaken on that one, it's been a few years. Also my point was easier to make with three notes lol. Excellent point about the solo suggesting chords, even on instruments incapable of producing actual chords, I am well and truly owned on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  54. "Pacing and all the other elements of written works are simply tools, nothing more.... Even a disjointed pacing (fast, then slow, then fast) can be used intentionally to capture a mood or feeling.

    Humor is different for different people as well.... Applying these categories to humor is objective. Peoples' preference of the different categories is not."

    I think these points are the key to objective criticism. A particular pacing produces a particular mood or feeling. More generally, the objective elements of a work produce subjective experiences in the audience. A work of art is also intended to produce a particular subjective experience. In a good work, the intended and produced subjective experiences will match; in a bad work, they won't. Like Ebert said, "When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher."

    Where personal preference comes in is whether or not you like that intended experience. I like Ebert's review of Taken where, at the end, he said, "Truth in Reviewing compels me to confess that if the movie I was describing in the first paragraph sounded as if you'd like this, you probably will." What the movie did, it did well, even if it wasn't something he really cared for. If someone didn't like it, it's important to know if they didn't like it because they thought it was a bad action movie, or because they don't like action movies and, essentially, didn't like it because it was a bad romantic comedy.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Eh, it was a good essay. Other anon-fags can piss off. Nice one, Rob.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Anon 12:57PM

    Don't you mean "cuddlefish"? :P

    ReplyDelete
  57. "There's not a lot I can say to this but that everything you just said is wrong. "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie" is not a statement of fact, you did derive that statement from interpretation and emotion, and you can't possibly have derived it by interpreting the movie for anyone BUT you."

    I think we really are only arguing semantics of the word "bad "here.
    I never say "bad" as a statement of emotion, I do not have any sentiment towards the something that is bad.
    I never mean "bad for me" but rather an objective BAD.

    A turkey sandwich can be bad(rotten), and its a fact.
    Now i have the opinion that said turkey sandwich is not enjoyable, but someone else might disagree and call it delicious, however, its still a bad turkey sandwich.

    "Battlefield Earth is poorly crafted" and "Battlefield Earth is bad" are interchangeable expressions I would use.
    A poorly crafted (and therefore poorly functioning) car is a bad car.

    I see where you are coming from, but for me, i really do distinguish between objective fact and an opinion based on said facts.
    Its a fine line, but i walk it.

    ReplyDelete
  58. So basically what you are saying is that you have no idea how idiomatic English works.

    ReplyDelete
  59. "Pacing and all the other elements of written works are simply tools, nothing more. "Ender's Game" has very fast pacing; "The Lord of the Rings" is much slower. Does that make either of them lesser than the other? Only in the minds of different people. Even a disjointed pacing (fast, then slow, then fast) can be used intentionally to capture a mood or feeling."

    Jesus fuck, are you TRYING to be illiterate? I never said that "a certain pacing is objectively better than any of the others," you retarded piece of shit. LEARN. BASIC. LITERACY. Christ Almighty. I even used your fucking "even a disjointed pacing" example IN MY FUCKING POST. What the FUCK is wrong with you? (Related: the reason I "undermine" my posts with "ad hominem" is that you are a fucking retard and I hate you. You aren't retarded because you disagree, you are retarded because you are incapable of thinking an intelligent thought to save your life. There's a difference.)

    "UNACCEPTABLE, ROB."

    haha. oh snap.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Man, I'm not sure how I missed the idiotic claim "if there are people who disagree with you, then it's subjective" in the original post. That makes me inexpressibly sad.

    Basically, it's like this: can you find people who disagree that the world is round? BAM! Looks like your "science" is subjective. SUCK MY DICK, COPERNICUS. Switch in any given basic fact if you like. Don't agree that Obama was born in Hawaii? BAM! His birthplace is subjective! Don't agree that he's even the president? BAM! The executive branch of government is subjective!

    Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Regarding just saying "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie," I think this is realted the to comment in the essay that "ideally [the critic] goes on to explain himself, but this is not an example of pure subjectivity."

    The problem is that when you just say, "Battlefield Earth is a bad movie," you don't go on to explain yourself so there are several things you could mean. It could be an objective claim about the movie (e.g. the story was incoherent and, unlike something like Slipstream, that didn't seem to be the intent) or it could be a subjective claim (e.g. the speaker doesn't care for the story regardless of how well it was told).

    ReplyDelete
  62. Way Walker, yes of course i need to support my statement with arguments, thats a given.

    Also i think Femalethoth should know that, because she/he/it should have read my goddamn blogpost i linked, in which i clearly state you need to support your statements REGARDLESS if its an opinion OR fact.

    ReplyDelete
  63. wow, that was really lame and disappointing after all the buildup in the last few days/weeks.
    and it seems like Rob was a fucking relativist a year ago, from what "Realist" quoted. damn, relativists are pretty much the pinnacle of stupidity.
    And you suck even more for ignoring this "Realist" guy. grow some balls and explain yourself

    ReplyDelete
  64. yeah, I should clearly explain a comment that I made a year ago which doesn't contradict anything that I've said here.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Incidentally, has anybody seen the latest CtrlAltDel comic? I know that comic isn't very well regarded by a lot of people, but the latest one about Heavy Rain just made me laugh for a long time

    ReplyDelete
  66. though I do find it creepy that Realist has been nursing this grudge for a whole year. so, congratulations on that?

    ReplyDelete
  67. EXPLAIN YOURSELF ROB

    YOU'RE A SECRET RELATIVIST AND YOU'RE TRYING TO COVER IT UP, AREN'T YOU?

    AMERICA WANTS TO KNOW ROB

    Captcha: kididder. I'm not saying Rob is a kididder, and I'm not saying he's not, I'll let AMERICA decide.

    ReplyDelete
  68. well

    I am a hardcore skeptic who believes that it's totally acceptable to pretend that it's possible to know anything, because otherwise things are just annoying. does that count?

    ReplyDelete
  69. AHAH SEE HE ADMITS IT

    ReplyDelete
  70. Why do you hate America, Rob? Why do you want to destroy this country we've worked so hard to make great?

    ReplyDelete
  71. "LEARN.BASIC.LITERACY"

    If you're going to froth at the mouth, can you at least do it in a somewhat grammatically correct fashion?

    ReplyDelete
  72. Hahahaha. Are you really complaining that "LEARN. BASIC. LITERACY." is grammatically incorrect? I didn't know they still made people as stupid as you.

    ReplyDelete
  73. This is the most worthless attempt at making a point I've ever seen on this blog. It's not going to convince anyone who argues that XKCDsucks is subjective and therefore wrong, because those people are fucking idiots, and it's not going to tell anyone else something they shouldn't already understand about standard criticism of standard artistic expression. There's no reason to explain a point in a long (and kind of boring) essay to people who won't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  74. anon 5:22: Or in other words "BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW I CAN'T READ :(((((("

    ReplyDelete
  75. Obviously Rob is trying to redirect you to his old usenet dealy where he complains about illiterates.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Rob 5:24: Or in other words "BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW I CAN'T READ :(((((("

    ReplyDelete
  77. Yes, that is what I said. Congratulations on knowing how to work copy and paste within your browser!

    ReplyDelete
  78. Rob 5:31: I'm sure you realize how much of an asshole you are, but I'd like to point out that, for a critic, you really don't seem to do well on picking up subtleties.

    ReplyDelete
  79. No, I'm actually really excellent at picking up on subtleties. The problem is that what you think of as "subtle" and "clever" is actually "fucking retarded." I know you were probably sitting there thinking "oh man EPIC BURN," but it turns out you are just an idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  80. By the way, if anyone's interested, I did a short review of XKCD on my own blog.

    http://sturgeonawards.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  81. I strongly disagree with your claim that art has objective value... I think that you only need to look to history (or even across some international border) to see how different aesthetic qualities have been considered 'good' or 'bad' over time, and how absurd it is for you to think that yours are right.

    That said, anyone who says "you can't criticize xkcd because it's all subjective" is a fucking moron, for two reasons. First, because as a person alleging to work in a popular medium in a certain culture, it is reasonable to hold someone to values consider 'objective' within that culture. Second, and more importantly, because RANDALL IS A FUCKING DICK WHO MAKES STUPID FUCKING COMICS ABOUT HOW STUPID 'SUBJECTIVE' FIELDS OF STUDY ARE. Think back to all of his comics mocking English majors, literary criticism, etc.--those were essentially mocking 'postmodern' studies, in favor of his belief in the beauty and wonder of pure, 'absolute' science. This is why his shitty art and his stupid, non-sensical shit matters. Because he MAKES IT MATTER, because the fact of SCIENCE AND OTHER OBJECTIVE CONCEPTS MATTERING IS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF 90% OF HIS JOKES.

    Fuck, damn. I hate xkcd.

    ReplyDelete
  82. "I strongly disagree with your claim that art has objective value... I think that you only need to look to history (or even across some international border) to see how different aesthetic qualities have been considered 'good' or 'bad' over time, and how absurd it is for you to think that yours are right."

    I never claimed that anything has objective value. I said that art can be described objectively, and that the interplay between objectivity and subjectivity is what makes criticism happen. It is also objectively true that certain things are more likely to elicit certain reactions than other things. (The word "fuck," for instance, is objectively more likely to offend than the word "candy cane.")

    ReplyDelete
  83. Not to someone who doesn't speak English :)

    Anyway, all I was trying to say is that you could make a much simpler point here... rather than dismissing the defense that 'it's all subjective' outright, you could just point out that Randall goes out of his way in his so-called 'comics' to assert how much better 'hard science' is than everything else, how superior/smart/sexy he is for knowing about 'objective' things like math and science, how stupid deconstruction is, etc. etc.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Randall's douchey worldview undermines any defense of his drawing skills based on the non-objective nature of art, is what I mean.

    ReplyDelete
  85. "Not to someone who doesn't speak English :)"

    Not quite. To a non-English speaker it is subjectively less likely to offend; the word itself is still objectively more likely to offend whether or not you speak English. It is that way independent of the observer.

    ReplyDelete
  86. For someone who shares my hatred of xkcd so wholeheartedly, you really are sort of a dumbass.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Yeah? So, explain to me, then, how it is that the word "fuck" is not objectively more likely to cause offence. Because it seems to me that you haven't even grasped the basic definition of any of the words involved, and are just talking out your ass.

    ReplyDelete
  88. "I'm going to start by defining some terms. We may as well start with 'objective,' shall we? When someone makes an objective statement, they are making a statement that is true independent of the observer."

    The word 'fuck' only has meaning if you speak English. It has no meaning outside of that given to it by the observer--that is, the person who uses their prior language knowledge to comprehend it. Otherwise, the word 'fuck' is just a series of lines and symbols sitting on a page, no more meaningful than the word 'candy cane.' Indeed, for some English speakers, 'fuck' may not even be that offensive. I have some particularly strange friends who find the idea that 'fuck' is offensive itself to be offensive, based on the fact that the word 'fuck' is only considered offensive because of its historical link to the foreign lower classes. And no, the fact that I can't imagine a scenario that isn't as convoluted as the setup for an xkcd pun in which 'candy cane' is offensive doesn't change the fact that, based on your definition, words are not things with 'objective' meanings (meaninds independent from the observer).

    ReplyDelete
  89. So, the word "fuck" changes meaning based on who looks at it? Really?

    Like, if I were to write the word "fuck" on a piece of paper and hand it to someone, it changes meanings based on whether or not they've ever heard it? Just like that? There's no actual definition of the word? A text requires a reader in order to have any meaning, and without a reader it lapses into a shapeless meaninglessness, just lines and curves intersecting with neither meaning nor purpose?

    And you're calling me a dumbass?

    The actual fact is that "fuck" is more likely to cause offense to a human being than "candy cane." It's sort of like it's objectively true that well-educated people in America are more likely to vote Democratic. This is true even if you can find a Republican with a PhD--in which that objective fact didn't subjectively play out for them for whatever reason. It still remains an objective fact.

    "Fuck" has a definition which exists whether or not you know that definition. The definition describes the word, not the observer. The fact that it causes offense does not describe the observer; it describes the word. Whether or not an individual takes offense to it is subjective; that it causes offense in people is objective. It's a property of the word itself that exists even if you have never heard the English language before.

    Water's ability to dissolve sugar is objective, despite the fact that it doesn't work on ceramic.

    ReplyDelete
  90. I don't even really feel a need to respond to your response. Look at what you're saying:

    "A text requires a reader in order to have any meaning, and without a reader it lapses into a shapeless meaninglessness, just lines and curves intersecting with neither meaning nor purpose?"

    YES, you fucking moron. That is exactly correct. The meaning of things change over time. There was a time when the word fuck didn't mean anything to anyone, and there most assuredly will be again. When all the humans are dead, the word fuck won't mean fuck-all, because there is no one who understands it. Fuck may 'have a definition that exists whether or not you know that definition,' but it doesn't have one definition even within one slice of time, let alone in the cosmic spanse of its existence.

    I see what you're saying to a certain extent. Yes, most English speakers who you talk to will be more offended by the word 'fuck' than by the word 'candy cane.' But that doesn't even fit YOUR OWN definition of objectivity (having meaning outside of the observer)--in fact, you're depending on the observers to define your word for you! "The definition describes the word, not the observer." Who the fuck describes the definition? A bunch of people, deciding through whatever cultural zeitgeist to define 'fuck' as 'offensive slang for sex.' It's ALL about the observer.

    And seriously, your water-sugar-ceramic thing is a retarded non-sequiter that makes no fucking sense.

    Please allow Poore to take over your blog, he's funnier and makes more logical criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  91. "The meaning of things change over time."

    Wait, so if something changes over time it's subjective? Are trees subjective now? What the fuck is wrong with you? Let's go back to my definitions, shall we?

    "When someone makes an objective statement, they are making a statement which is true independent of the observer. With a subjective statement, that statement is only true regarding the observer. An objective statement describes the object; a subjective statement refers to the subject."

    Huh, that's funny. Nowhere in there does it say that in order for something to be objective it has to remain true and constant for the entirety of time. I must not have put it in there! How strange. I guess it makes sense, though, because that's not what objective means, you fucking idiot.

    Dead languages still have an objective reality. Words spoken in dead languages still have objective meaning that no one can access. Merely because there are no living speakers doesn't mean those meanings are completely and utterly objective.

    "But that doesn't even fit YOUR OWN definition of objectivity (having meaning outside of the observer)--in fact, you're depending on the observers to define your word for you!"

    Objectivity: it's true independent of the observer. That is: whether or not I (the observer) find the word "fuck" offensive (subjective), it is still likely to cause offense. It is likely to cause offense independent of me, as the observer. Its tendency to cause offense describes the word (or object) as opposed to me (the subject). I'm not sure how you can be stupid enough to fail to grasp this, but I'm assuming it involves your complete inability to grasp even the most obvious of nuance.

    "I find that offensive" is subjective; "people are likely to find that offensive" is objective. Are you capable of grasping the patently obvious distinction, you shitfucking imbecile?

    ""The definition describes the word, not the observer." Who the fuck describes the definition?"

    Oh, I think I see what is passing for thought in your tiny brain here! You think that anything which involves people at all is inherently subjective, for some reason! Probably because you're one of those idiot fucks who thinks that "objective" means "written indelibly into the laws of the universe."

    "And seriously, your water-sugar-ceramic thing is a retarded non-sequiter that makes no fucking sense."

    Nah, you're just a fucking moron.

    "Please allow Poore to take over your blog, he's funnier and makes more logical criticism."

    Hahaha. It's not my blog, dude. Way to demonstrate your reading comprehension skills!

    ReplyDelete
  92. Wow... I wish I could arbitrarily change the definitions of words and then somehow act like I single handedly reduced (and ridiculed) centuries of philosophy into one boring tirade.

    Stick with criticizing webcomics and leave the philosophy to the philosophy 101 freshman. They'd be quite a bit more insightful.

    ReplyDelete
  93. those are the actual definitions of the words, dude.

    ReplyDelete
  94. @Rob:
    I even used your fucking "even a disjointed pacing" example IN MY FUCKING POST. What the FUCK is wrong with you?

    I'm not sure; is it wrong to repeat something you've said in order to reveal an inconsistency in your arguments? Let's examine the exchange that prompted my post:

    "If you tell me that the pacing in a comic doesn't work, or the punchline is bad, and I LIKE the pacing or the punchline, your argument is moot."

    No that just means you are a dumbass.


    Okay, fair enough. You've made an objective statement and he disagreed. Since it was objective, you're justified in saying he's stupid for disagreeing, right?

    Oh wait, hold on a second. I think you said something about this in the blog post. What was it again?

    I will then say that I think the pacing is ineffective because of its disjointed flow. This is a subjective statement!

    Aha! So feelings about pacing and its effect are subjective, not objective. And could you remind me what that means?

    With a subjective statement, that statement is only true regarding the observer.

    Thanks. Since reactions to pacing (and similar aspects of a work, of course) are true relative to the observer, then it's perfectly acceptable, and even reasonable, for people to disagree. That doesn't make them wrong, and that doesn't make them stupid. Which, of course, brings us to my major issue with you.

    the reason I "undermine" my posts with "ad hominem" is that you are a fucking retard and I hate you. You aren't retarded because you disagree, you are retarded because you are incapable of thinking an intelligent thought to save your life.

    Arguments and debates should be built upon facts, not conjecture. That's the reason ad hominem arguments are fallacies, after all. Since your statement that we're incapable of intelligent thought is both ungrounded and unprovable, it's not a valid reason to attack us. I can only assume that since you don't believe your responses are ad hominems (why else would you put the term in quotes?) you believe you're justified in thinking we're stupid; that is, you think we're wrong about a subject by nature of disagreeing with you. Therefore, the natural conclusion is that you do in fact believe us to be stupid because we're disagreeing with you. That's the wrong attitude for a contributor to a blog like this!

    The whole point of this blog is that XKCD is demonstratively bad, and the whole point of the blog posts SHOULD be to support that point of view with logic and reason. That's a valid cause and I agree with it. However, when you attack people for disagreeing with you, and justify it with another attack (adding "begging the question" to your list of logical fallacies), especially people who are ON YOUR SIDE, you're damaging the blog and its legitimacy. Please, if you're going to keep posting (ostensibly with the goal of countering arguments with real logic), then try to cut back on your ungrounded and invalid personal attacks.

    ReplyDelete
  95. "Arguments and debates should be built upon facts, not conjecture. That's the reason ad hominem arguments are fallacies, after all. Since your statement that we're incapable of intelligent thought is both ungrounded and unprovable, it's not a valid reason to attack us. I can only assume that since you don't believe your responses are ad hominems (why else would you put the term in quotes?) you believe you're justified in thinking we're stupid; that is, you think we're wrong about a subject by nature of disagreeing with you. Therefore, the natural conclusion is that you do in fact believe us to be stupid because we're disagreeing with you. That's the wrong attitude for a contributor to a blog like this!"

    See, it's writing paragraphs like this that makes you an idiot who has no more right to life than a turnip.

    ReplyDelete
  96. As a musician, I thank you for this post. People try to argue with me all the time that music is all through personal taste and that there is no objectively good or bad music. All pop music has taught me is that Pachelbel's Canon has a whole lot of fans who don't even know what Pachelbel's Canon is.

    ReplyDelete
  97. It just has no grounding in reality. I'm clearly not interested in having a friendly debate with you, or I would be having one. This isn't high school debate club. This is arguing on the internet.

    The reason that I only spend my time abusing you instead of building arguments is because you have yet to demonstrate that you're a person who is actually worth talking to. People who attack positions that I don't hold by using as counter-examples things that I myself used in my post are not people I want to engage. The internet is filled with people who are inexpressibly stupid. If you act like one of them, I am going to abuse you until you go away. And if you're the sort of person who can't handle me cussing at you, I don't want to talk to you, so I will cuss at you until you go away.

    You'll note that I do, in fact, engage people on a regular basis who disagree with me. I just don't have the time to argue with people whose arguments are clearly based on a fantasy version of reality. But from time to time they come back and complain that I ignored them because I know they're right, so I like to spare them the effort by telling them that they are dumb. This way they get to tell all their little friends that they "won" because everyone knows that the first person to be a meaniehead in an argument is automatically wrong and their ideas invalidated, and I get to not have to deal with them later on.

    Sherlock: "As a musician, I thank you for this post. People try to argue with me all the time that music is all through personal taste and that there is no objectively good or bad music. All pop music has taught me is that Pachelbel's Canon has a whole lot of fans who don't even know what Pachelbel's Canon is."

    I really wished, when writing this post, I knew more about music theory, because it's got a lot of strong arguments to be made regarding objectivity and rules and things. It's a lot clearer because most people don't think they understand music, whereas everyone thinks they understand the English language, especially people who don't.

    ReplyDelete
  98. hey guys new xkcd is pretty lame and fails to ride on the coattails of other, funnier comedy

    ReplyDelete
  99. I'm glad the Anonymous poster who followed our exchange was so succinctly able to express my feelings towards your argument in my absence.

    I only have one comment: I see now that I made a mistake--that this is not, in fact, your blog. I'm quite happy about that, since it allows me to appreciate it again without having it tainted by my awareness of your obvious retardation. It's also nice to see that I managed to outargue you thoroughly enough that you had to resort to the sort of ad hominem attack you seem to find so reprehensible in others. Clearly, my failure to correctly identify the owner of this blog renders the obvious flaws in your retarded worldview irrelevant.

    Maybe someone should start a blog called xkcdsuckssucks that discusses the various ways in which your criticism of xkcd fails to accurately express how or why it sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Invoking Danth's Law here. Thanks, Alex.

    ReplyDelete
  101. So the new comic doesn't really make it joke it just goes "HEY WHAT IF THESE THINGS PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF WALKED THROUGH SNOW?! HOW WILD WOULD THAT BE."

    It's a "oh i get the reference! I'm smart!" comic that I'm sure the fans will eat up.

    Where is the "Randall curb stomped by edward norton" panel?

    ReplyDelete
  102. @Rob:
    I've spent some time trying to decide how to best express my feelings about your 10:32 response; hopefully it will suffice to say that I worry that actually writing them out will come across as excessively sycophantic.

    I'm actually very impressed with the response, and I admit that your method of dealing with, eh, "internet people" is probably quite effective. Best to weed out the trolls so you can focus on the legitimate concerns, after all.

    For whatever reason, your two paragraphs took all fight out of my mind. Perhaps it's the understanding that your "personal attacks" are simply calculated preemptive conclusions to an unwinnable battle. Perhaps it's the revealing of your ability to consider other points of view, which was just hidden behind your sharp responses. And perhaps it's simply that I don't feel comfortable defending the one-time complaint posters anymore. At any rate, thanks for actually considering what I had to say and being honest with me.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Alex, if you look at the "meta" sidebar on the left side of the page you'll see that there already is a "xkxdsuckssucks" (Plus many more permutations thereof)

    ReplyDelete
  104. Latest: I have a weak spot for puns (HARE DRYER) but the set-up is really fucking contrived.

    Also, fuck Longcat. It stopped being funny even before Scribblenauts came out.

    ReplyDelete
  105. 702 is another fine example of slapping popular nerd references into a comic and calling it a day.

    I actually chuckled at the higgs boson panel though, for reasons unknown.

    Else its as always uninspired.

    ReplyDelete
  106. Gamer: I'm glad that was actually helpful. I should also mention that I really enjoy a debate full of swears. Swear words are really my favorite words. They're so packed full of meaning and emotion.
    I'm also probably more hostile with concern trolls than straight up trolls. (You mentioned something about being hostile to people who agree with me; these are usually concern trolls.)

    I'm mostly here because I like talking to people. I'm not interested in Winning Debates or Changing Minds. But I will talk to you about art and philosophy and politics and whatever else if you like. The great part about XKCD is that it's not just terrible, which is boring; it's terrible in a way which is fun to talk about.

    ReplyDelete
  107. The Longcat track would definitely not look like in the comic. There's just no way it can leap like that. The footprints would likely be spaced similarly to an ordinary cat.

    And this is not even the worst thing about this xkcd. Looks like Carl is in for a treat.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Someone on the forums noted that longcat has a long body, not long legs.
    Also, would the normal cats stride even be that long?

    ReplyDelete
  109. No. If I recall correctly they're pretty evenly spaced.

    ReplyDelete
  110. I don't hate the new comic but it's certainly not good. I didn't get the Knight panel at first. I'm assuming it's supposed to be the chess piece? But knights don't move like that. They move two squares in one plane and then one square in the other. The way he drew it it looks like he thinks they move one/one instead.

    I also see he couldn't resist trying to gain nerd cred by referencing (TWICE no less) a comic that is infinitely funnier, more introspective, and better written than Randall could ever hope for xkcd to be.

    But that's okay. After looking at a newspaper comics page for the first time in about three years a couple of days ago, there isn't a single comic artist who can fill Bill Watterson's shoes, so Randall isn't alone at least (now I remember why I stopped reading print comics).

    ReplyDelete
  111. The Knight one is bugging the shit out of me. Like, I'm sure the joke is supposed to be knights moving like a chess piece, but even looking for that I can't see it.

    ReplyDelete
  112. you're a fucking retard rob.
    the knight goes:
    2U 1R
    2U 1L
    2U 1R
    2U 1L
    2R 1U
    2R 1D
    2R 1U
    2D 1L
    2R 1D
    2R 1U

    jesus christ man. this comic is completely boring, which is par for course with xkcd, but it shouldn't be too hard to be as smart as the thing you criticize when you're criticizing fucking xkcd

    ReplyDelete
  113. except it doesn't move like that at all.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Rob, this was pretty much the most boring essay ever. Especially the part where you say 'words consist of letters.. and you can COUNT the words within a text ... that's like totally objective!'
    Come on, WHO THE FUCK CARES?!
    "D-" for the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  115. It moves exactly like that Rob.

    ReplyDelete
  116. http://forums.xkcd.com/download/file.php?id=21174
    It totally does. If you screw up the proportions of the squares slightly.

    ReplyDelete
  117. "If you make a grid specifically designed to fit this pattern, then it moves exactly like that!" Sure, I will grant you that, if you don't assume that chess pieces move in actual squares and instead assume that they move a kind of vaguely diagonal distance that you then retroactively declare to be a grid, then yes, it does. But looking at the painting as is, without a contrived grid, it does not.

    ReplyDelete
  118. Wait wait, are you trying to tell me "exactly" and "vaguely" do not mean the same thing? You really are a fucking retard, Rob!

    ReplyDelete
  119. Says the man who is defending Randall Munroe's art.

    ReplyDelete
  120. Still, although I don't really understand the thoughts of the forumite that made that grid, it's always perceptibly moving more in one dimension than the other. Which says Randall has, at minimum, the drawing ability of a 4 year old. Fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  121. ooooh, its supposed to be chess.
    Well fuck that, i tought it was a monty python reference of a guy skipping while clapping coconuts together.

    Now it certainly makes sense...except not.

    The fact that people have to look for the joke is proof that it sucks balls.

    ReplyDelete
  122. I won't lie, the Legolas pannel got a laugh out of me.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I laughed at Legolas and "hare drier" since I found them kind of clever in a lame pun kind of way. The other panels were kind of meh.

    ReplyDelete
  124. Here's what real cat tracks look like: http://bp0.blogger.com/_gaiq4zJYuY4/R3p1rCpgfFI/AAAAAAAABNY/IrvrHUj9wso/s1600-h/Cat+tracks+08-01-01+1.JPG

    Close, Randall, but no cigar.

    ReplyDelete
  125. I think this was pretty well said, Rob. I also appreciate your ability to keep collected.

    As far as xkcd goes, in the older days I considered it funny, and the minimalist art was just part of its charm. In recent days, the reason it's falling apart has become more apparent. The art is definitely part of it.

    Randall's proven he can draw well and consistently, and his art is generally well constructed for anything that isn't a person, in his comics. Lately, the art has actually gotten in the way of telling a good joke, mainly because relying on visual cues with stick figures is very hard unless they have defining features.

    It's possible to draw minimalist human figures without losing expressions and visual cues. Order of the Stick proves this time and time again. So why hasn't xkcd gone that route? Why can't it move from the formula of these lazy stick figures? Every person is drawn like that.

    As for today's comic? Meh. Also, Bill Watterson called, he wants his box back.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Is xkcd a constrained comic now? Randall Munroe has set a challenge on himself to include at least one blatant reference to another piece of media in each comic.

    ReplyDelete
  127. I had a few chuckles, but the alt fell utterly flat. Why explain the hair dryer joke for the 3 people in the world that didn't get it?

    ReplyDelete
  128. xkcd just referenced Calvin and Hobbes? AGAIN?

    Randall, your work is nowhere near the same quality as Calvin and Hobbes. When you reference something that you enjoy and your work is at least somewhat comperable to it, it becomes a decent reference. When you reference something and you're this far below it, it becomes a step above fan fiction.

    And I thought the other two C&H references were bad enough (and don't even get me started on the Look Around You alt-text from the "science is boring and should be portrayed as such, even though I draw flying sharks" comic).

    ReplyDelete
  129. Hey chuckleheads,

    You will want to Google "Higgs Boson" for the next strip so you can properly tell us why the joke isn't funny. Don't go to wikipedia though .... I purposefully edited the text so that any citings from that source will be woefully inaccurate and identify the "expert" here as the boob he is.

    *smirk*

    ReplyDelete
  130. Dammit, I hate it when I post something and even more complaints crop up a mere two minutes after the fact.

    At least Bill Watterson could actually draw impressions in the snow, Randall. And he could do it in a confined space and in grayscale. You have no excuse for "rabbit stopping to use hair dryer" looking like you spilled ink on your own comic.

    And will you let up on the Higgs Boson already? You could've picked ANY particle and made it look like the same path. I can't imagine why you're on about the fucking Higgs so much. Is it because the LHC is geeky enough to get a reference where the rest of quantum physics is, somehow, not?

    Referencing a lot of shit does not equal humor. There's nothing funny about "moose and squirrel" or "mouse riding bicycle". You're not making a joke there at all. How can you not see that?

    ReplyDelete
  131. Anon 6:45,

    My god, you've changed it forever. It's not like someone can click on the history tab and select a revision prior to today's. You, sir, have hacked the Internet.

    ReplyDelete
  132. "Hey chuckleheads,

    You will want to Google "Higgs Boson" for the next strip so you can properly tell us why the joke isn't funny. Don't go to wikipedia though .... I purposefully edited the text so that any citings from that source will be woefully inaccurate and identify the "expert" here as the boob he is.

    *smirk*"

    Dry those tears!

    ReplyDelete
  133. Randall's proven he can draw well and consistently

    Uh, what? No, he hasn't. He's drawn a few tolerable portraits. That big panel in 599 was okay. But no, he hasn't proven he can draw well, or consistently.

    Unless you mean that some of his drawings aren't quite as awful as the tripey lazy stick figures he uses in XKCD. Not quite the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Randall's proven he can draw well and consistently

    So did Hitler. Your argument is therefore invalid!

    ReplyDelete
  135. I thought one of the Five Axioms of XKCDSucks was "Randall can draw well if he wants, as we saw in the very early days of the comic"?

    Anyway,

    "I had a few chuckles, but the alt fell utterly flat. Why explain the hair dryer joke for the 3 people in the world that didn't get it?"

    This. Also, Higgs Boson panel made me angry. Yes, the Higgs Boson does make (more-or-less) those tracks. Well done. There's, er, not actually a joke there.

    But I liked mouse riding bicycle (is that really a reference to something?), hare dryer, pogo stick and Prius (would have been better w/o the speech bubble).

    Also, Rob, that totally is a chess knight.

    ReplyDelete
  136. Femalethoth: Go back further. Waaaaay further, to the beginning of the comic's archives.

    He's done some interesting work many years ago, stuff that looked like it fit well as a beginner's sojourn into comic making. He's done some very detailed drawings way back. Most of his consistent work is in geometric images, but he's proven that he could learn to draw figures consistently as well, if he bothered to.

    He just doesn't. So, why? Why does he stick to the sticks?

    ReplyDelete
  137. 'Cause they're sticky.

    ReplyDelete
  138. It's interesting to see what poore will do next, because I really liked the new comic because it's finally not something about weird relationships and it was slightly witty.

    Will he just pretend he is mad about some unclear reason and continue to stutter like the last post? Will he go like "oh this is mediocre, this is done millions of times, the punchline is nonexistant, the alt-text sucks." Or will he say "hmm this comic was pretty good, despite using calvin and hobbes references."

    Hint: it's not the second or third one.

    ReplyDelete
  139. ^Poore week is over, I think.


    Randall's sketches at the beginning of the comic are not even that good. Above average at best.
    What are you talking about?

    ReplyDelete
  140. WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT XKCD 7

    ReplyDelete
  141. Actually Ann Apolis, the "mouse riding bicycle" could be seen as a reference to Beverly Cleary's famous novel "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" except for the fact that Randall fucked that one up by saying BICYCLE instead of MOTORCYCLE.

    Also, I don't get the Legolas one, probably because my knowledge of him is that he can't float, so he can still leave tracks, unless he can leap from tree to tree but as near as I can recall from the books... no one did that.

    Someone wanna tell me what I'm missing that makes that reference oh so funny?

    ReplyDelete
  142. The idea is that Legolas runs very lightly. In the first book, when the rest of the party had to physically plow their way through deep snow, Legolas managed to run on top of it (something that even the hobbits couldn't do).

    ReplyDelete
  143. Yeah, guys, when I said he's done some tolerable portraits, that's what I mean. Sketch of a sleeping girl, portrait of Robert Smith. Stuff that looks like it was done by a bored amateur, because it WAS done by a bored amateur.

    I mean, what, is this supposed to be impressive? Or this balls-droppingly beautiful whirlpool? Really, he's never posted particularly good art.

    His portrait of Robert Smith is probably his best drawing, and even that's nothing special. I mean, what, was he blending by running his thumb over the drawing?

    Will he just pretend he is mad about some unclear reason and continue to stutter like the last post? Will he go like "oh this is mediocre, this is done millions of times, the punchline is nonexistant, the alt-text sucks." Or will he say "hmm this comic was pretty good, despite using calvin and hobbes references."

    Since this comic WASN'T pretty good, I'm gonna say: No. He won't say that. The comic consists of NOTHING but acknowledgements that Randall is aware of things that his audience is aware of. "Hey, you guys know LotR and Calvin & Hobbes and Rocky & Bullwinkle and longcat and A Mouse and his Motorcycle and particle physics, right? SO DO I HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT" isn't the same thing as a comic. It's jokeless pandering.

    ReplyDelete
  144. "The idea is that Legolas runs very lightly. In the first book, when the rest of the party had to physically plow their way through deep snow, Legolas managed to run on top of it (something that even the hobbits couldn't do)."

    No fucking shit.

    ReplyDelete
  145. Maybe Randall was thinking of Biker Mice from Mars but wasn't aware that they used motorbikes.

    ReplyDelete
  146. Those two examples? No, and no, Thothy. But some landscapes and surreal vistas showed promise, marred by the fact that they're on lined paper.

    Yes, he was an amateur, but that pretty much describes most webcomic creators. He proved he had aspirations and the possibility to learn some far more impressive art skills over time.

    He's failed to deliver.

    ReplyDelete
  147. Dear Rob:

    I do understand the meaning of essays, and yet, I too find this one particularly long winded and maybe in need of a little trimming. As you you said, critique makes you better.

    I love this blog, really I do, but this is a touch long for something aimed at an audience which either already agrees with your viewpoint, or is so predisposed toward disagreeing with it, that they'll never make it to your well-established point. I say as inoffensively as possible, that you may as well be talking to yourself. Hopefully, so that it will help.

    Ipsum

    ReplyDelete
  148. The process of creation is objective, but the perceptive influence of the creator and the perception of the creation is subjective. That's generally all there is to it, I'm sure.
    Bloggers like Rob and Carl can't really ESTABLISH that xkcd is "not funny in an objective sense", but they can showcase the objective goods-and-bads of Munroe's creation process. It's a fine line.
    It wouldn't be right for Munroe to change his signature stick-figure style right now anyway. It seems like he's trying to enhance it anyhow, it's just at an awkward stage.
    Either way, most of you are bitter, bitter, bitter, and bitingly sarcastic. That makes your critiquing (good/bad, of xkcd/of each other) hard to relate to and emotionally hard to accept by many.
    And Rob's 46 words per minute/wonderful lucidity/lack of error/organization of thought is to be admired/questioned.

    ReplyDelete
  149. programmer, mathematitian, xkcd fan.February 15, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    Hi. I'm sorry, I didn't read the whole thing (I started, but it's too long). I just wanted to tell you a couple things i think of this. One is that you shouldn't see his repetition of the references to computer science etc as a bad thing, because ever comic or a tv show or whatever has their own like theme, or their field, or whatever you wanna call it. Being that you said it has "too many" references to computer science means that comic may just not be right for you. Because making jokes out of something that refers to computer science actually is what we, computer guys, like to read on occasion. Second thing is that I heard of your blog from some random Randall's speach, where he mentioned reading this blog and he said you completely missed the point of some comics. And one last thing is, as I started reading this, I expected to be convinced that xkcd is in fact unoriginal. But that didn't even start to happen because your text is written in such rageful manner, it seems almost as if you're angry at Randall himself, for something personal. So that objectivity you were talking about, seemed to me while I was reading, is something you lack. NHF.

    ReplyDelete
  150. Anon 11:28 - Are you serious? Some shakily-drawn floating cubes and the world's most generic sunset, executed poorly, do not "show potential". They sure as fuck don't show aspirations.

    He has "potential" in the same sense that literally anybody who can physically hold a pencil and observe the universe has potential. Don't make him out like he was just shy of being totally great but then got lazy. He was never particularly good, and now he IS particularly awful. What a fucking surprise, a guy goes from amateur hackery to professional shit.

    One is that you shouldn't see his repetition of the references to computer science etc as a bad thing, because ever comic or a tv show or whatever has their own like theme, or their field, or whatever you wanna call it.

    There's a difference between Arrested Development always doing episodes about the self-induced humiliation of Larry David and Carlos Mencia always doing jokes about the laziness of Mexicans. It's possible to have a theme without telling the same joke a hundred times.

    Second thing is that I heard of your blog from some random Randall's speach, where he mentioned reading this blog and he said you completely missed the point of some comics.

    Possibly Randall completely missed the point of this blog. Your claim is so utterly nonspecific and unsubstantiated that it's worthless to mention it.

    And one last thing is, as I started reading this, I expected to be convinced that xkcd is in fact unoriginal. But that didn't even start to happen because your text is written in such rageful manner

    You're a moron.

    ReplyDelete
  151. "the pacing doesn't flow very well, and tends to be highly disjointed" is a subjective statement. Rob, you should have let Carl read this or something before posting it, because you don't make any extraordinary point, and the points you do make are not well supported or well thought out.
    And it does make you look bad when you waste time cursing out the more oddball commenters. Your essay was written in a pretty classy (if condescending) style, and to see the same guy writing so crudely in response to people's thoughts on that essay is weird.

    ReplyDelete
  152. this essay was so fucking boring and irrelevant.
    you stole 5 minutes of my life with this uninspired crap AND I WANT THEM BACK.

    ReplyDelete
  153. It only makes him look bad to retards who think that personal attacks are a sure sign that the attacker has lost the argument (and probably his mind). That is, morons who think that as soon as a post evidences anger or passion or anything but detached politeness, the poster has gone off the deep end and nothing he says can possibly be of any relevance. In other words, people we don't actually give a shit about because they're relentlessly stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  154. Anon 3:03-

    If dicking around on the internet, reading an essay on a blog about a webcomic, is the best thing you can do with your time, then you probably don't deserve any more.

    ReplyDelete
  155. Ipsum: "I love this blog, really I do, but this is a touch long for something aimed at an audience which either already agrees with your viewpoint, or is so predisposed toward disagreeing with it, that they'll never make it to your well-established point. I say as inoffensively as possible, that you may as well be talking to yourself. Hopefully, so that it will help."

    See, that is a perfectly valid complaint. Really, I don't mind people complaining so long as they aren't just saying "lol too long didn't read," which mostly makes them sound too dumb to understand the subject matter. There are probably bits that could be trimmed; I'm very inclined to overdevelop anything I'm writing for fun.

    "Bloggers like Rob and Carl can't really ESTABLISH that xkcd is "not funny in an objective sense", but they can showcase the objective goods-and-bads of Munroe's creation process. It's a fine line."

    Right, it gets pretty sticky. There's not a lot to say for "objectively unfunny" but there is "I think this is unfunny because of all of these objective qualities it has" with explaining.

    "It wouldn't be right for Munroe to change his signature stick-figure style right now anyway. It seems like he's trying to enhance it anyhow, it's just at an awkward stage."

    I think he'd be fine if he stopped trying to use it to convey visual messages that it doesn't convey very well. Alternatively he could start over, use his sticks as storyboards if necessary, and get a real artist.

    "Either way, most of you are bitter, bitter, bitter, and bitingly sarcastic. That makes your critiquing (good/bad, of xkcd/of each other) hard to relate to and emotionally hard to accept by many."

    It's part of the fun, I think. Good or bad, a hate blog attracts a lot more trolls and hate than your average blog post or news article. You can either deal with it by acting like everyone's here on good faith and being very nice and ignoring the ones that aren't, or you can be an asshole all the time.

    "And Rob's 46 words per minute/wonderful lucidity/lack of error/organization of thought is to be admired/questioned."

    It's hard to keep track of time because I do other things while I'm writing. I type about 80-100 wpm (depending), and had been mentally developing this for a while, so I figured it was probably safe to assume a pace of roughly half that for writing. It's very possible it was closer to 45 minutes or longer, but I seldom rewrite or reorganize; pretty much everything that goes up are a first draft.

    ReplyDelete
  156. "Yes and yes. It took probably, eh. 30 minutes, give or take? I don't think you understand the purpose of essays. I do think you are a fucking idiot."

    And what, pray tell, is the purpose of an essay?

    Is it to convey a message? The people you're conveying the message to already disagree and won't give a shit about what you say. You're raging at the wind. The internet wind.

    Is it to improve your writing through practice? here's a tip - you suck as much as Randall, and you should both stop.

    Is it to give your wrists a change of pace so you don't get RSI from masturbating to your own "wow, this one sucks too, let me tell the internet why it sucks" thoughts?

    I fucking hate XKCD.
    But I hate you even more, because you fucking go off on how you don't care about people who disagree with you, then you spend your life raging at them. You always claim "What, this? this took me THREE whole seconds to write!" But even a cursory examination of the amount you post will show that you spend considerable hours every week dedicated to raging and trying to "win" an argument no one is participating in. And you do it in the same shitty, self-realized bullshit that Randall uses to make XKCD.

    So shut the fuck up you piece of shit.

    ReplyDelete
  157. Are you aware of the concept of doing something in the background? Nah, of course not. I default to XKCD sucks in my downtime. Like if I'm having a conversation (a concept you may have heard of once upon a time) and someone is gone, or if I need a break from a paper or story I'm working on or an article I'm reading. The brilliance of modern technology is the ability to multitask.

    What you see as "raging and trying to "win" an argument" (which I never do), I see as "talking to people." Maybe you've heard of it? Human interactions? We're discussing ideas. Some people do that, for fun. It's actually pretty enjoyable! You should try it out one of these days. It's sort of like sitting at home and posting misanthropic comments on the internet about how you just got so mad about how some guy wrote an essay you disagreed with, except instead of seething with rage and trying really hard to make someone else feel bad, you get to interact with people in a positive fashion and read their ideas and learn new things or discuss new concepts. You should really consider it one of these days.

    I'm curious now, though. Maybe you should run up all of my posts in a week and tell me how many words I really wrote. Everyone wins! You get to decide that because it's more than 1000 I'm a horrible, pathetic monster with no life, and I get to actually run an analysis on it and estimate approximately how much downtime I had this week.

    ReplyDelete
  158. "As a musician, I thank you for this post. People try to argue with me all the time that music is all through personal taste and that there is no objectively good or bad music."

    Yeah! What's up with people fighting objectivity in music? Objectivity has been trying hard for centuries to keep music from progressing, changing and evolving, trying to stick it to rigid, yet arbitrary and pointless rules. Screw those subversive assholes! Screw Stockhausen, Beethoven, Satie, Eno, Sean Booth and Rob Brown, Stravinsky and Xenakis.

    Music is the most abstract art form in the world. Therefore, we must kill all the possibilities and keep it enclosed in a nice, tiny box.

    ReplyDelete
  159. I like how literally every person Fernie just cited produces actual tonal music which follows the strict, rigid rules that he's allegedly complaining about.

    ReplyDelete
  160. Fernie's the best post I've ever seen here

    ReplyDelete
  161. I also especially enjoy "the most abstract art form in the world." Yeah! All those music theorists with their "keys" and "pitches" and "chords" and "modes" are full of shit! It's only subjective that a beautiful symphony has greater depth and complexity than a three-chord pop punk song! Those singers who suck aren't actually out of key, you just happen to dislike them!

    ReplyDelete
  162. Hey Fernie, isn't originality frequently cited as the biggest quantifier of musics "objective quality" by people touting such a thing?

    ReplyDelete
  163. "Yeah! What's up with people fighting objectivity in music? Objectivity has been trying hard for centuries to keep music from progressing, changing and evolving, trying to stick it to rigid, yet arbitrary and pointless rules. Screw those subversive assholes! Screw Stockhausen, Beethoven, Satie, Eno, Sean Booth and Rob Brown, Stravinsky and Xenakis."

    To be fair though, both Stockhausen and Xenakis produce objectively deplorable music.

    My way of determining objectively is this:
    I play random notes on the piano for someone in another room. Then I play a recording of piano solo pieces from those two.

    Can 9/10 people correctly identify which of the 3 is random? HELL no

    Also, Rob eats shit again big time. The average piece from Stockhausen or Xenakis isn't tonal in the slightest. It's one of the reasons they blow.

    ReplyDelete
  164. I love your little fixation with me, Necky. It's cute. I still won't be your valentine though, sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  165. Wait, 1/10 people could tell, without it being a random guess, which one you did?

    ReplyDelete
  166. Yeah, that's not a believable number if there's a 1/3 chance of getting it correct.

    ReplyDelete
  167. You know, guys, I released a harsh noise album a couple years ago. My one-man band Viduus did a demo of technical death metal, then an EP of noise, and is currently on hiatus while I recalibrate my emotive manifesters. I should hook you up.

    ReplyDelete
  168. If anything from any of those projects is better then the proceeding link, you can be my new best friend.
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/795661/CONTINUUM.mp3

    ReplyDelete
  169. "Most abstract" is nonsensical. Something is either abstract or it is concrete.

    Criticism is wholly subjective; otherwise it is simply description. Just because it relies on the interpretation of objective things and contains objective evidence does not make it objective; that assertion is guilty of a fallacy of composition. Objectively.

    ReplyDelete
  170. It would only be a fallacy of composition if he'd said criticism is wholly objective.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Yes. I do believe I defined criticism as the interplay between objective (description) and subjective (opinion and reaction). Without either it's not criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  172. Nope, nothing new.

    Objectivity in description is fine, you can make a fairly compelling case for acceptably objective descriptors such as "disjointed" etc., as these all have parameters which you can fix for the purposes of discussion. Fine.

    The criticism itself is the subjective effect of evaluating those objective criteria (with varying levels of precision) for valence, i.e. positive or negative affect inspired. Great.

    Bickering about whether people will be offended by any one word or not misses the point, of course, but that's what trolling's about.

    Fact: I don't really know why I even skimmed this whole discussion.

    Fact: None of what I read out of the essay was in any way new to me.

    Opinion: The essay doesn't contribute towards "solving" the objection made by "cuddlefish", but it's worth a read.

    Opinion: It's really depressing watching you all fight about this really rather ridiculous minor point.

    Opinion: I don't really care what you think of my opinions.

    Feedback: You make a clear and concise statement. It is, of course, debatable whether an opinion loses validity if it's not backed up with objective descriptions (or, to put it another way, whether one should demand a certain level of introspection as a prerequisite for an opinion). It is also very clear that you're not interested in talking with people who don't back up their opinions. That is, at the very least, admirably stated.

    Thank you for allowing me to enjoy xkcd again. The post makes me feel better in doing so. I don't really care about the art or the formulaic jokes, so I just enjoy smiling occasionally when I see a new comic that I like.

    #702 isn't one of these, nor is #701, but hey - many still are.

    Disjointed and rambling? Yes, I am. It's late. I always say that. It always is. I have an excuse.

    ReplyDelete
  173. "It is, of course, debatable whether an opinion loses validity if it's not backed up with objective descriptions (or, to put it another way, whether one should demand a certain level of introspection as a prerequisite for an opinion). It is also very clear that you're not interested in talking with people who don't back up their opinions. That is, at the very least, admirably stated."

    You are free to express opinions without backing it up, but it's hard to have a conversation about that. You need to actually support it with something that has reality outside of your opinion if you want someone to be able to respond to it (unless your idea of conversation is "I hated it" "me too" "man it sucked" "yeah"). It's not about validity so much as about "is it even possible to have this conversation."

    ReplyDelete
  174. I think of music theory similar to how I think of theory in engineering. The theory will help an engineer produce the desired result. It doesn't tell you what makes a good building, just how to make it stand or fall. If you're trying to demolish a building, then "stays standing" is bad and "falls down" is good. Music theory won't tell you how to write a good song, only how to make the song harmonious or discordant; it's up to the composer/musician to use that information to create the desired effect.

    I think the problem with learning theory is that it does hinder you at first, but only until you've learned to incorporate it properly. Science labs where you have to predict, say, how far a ball will fly off a ramp are common in physics classes. A lot of students would do better to just weigh the ball in their hand and get a feel for it than if they did the actual calculation, and that works well for a lot of things. Many houses' foundations have been laid without knowing the theory of soil mechanics, but they look for more than a gut-feeling when building sky scrapers.

    And that may be why people don't see the need for music theory: they aren't building sky scrapers. Most people are playing relatively simple songs with relatively few instruments. Theory is more necessary when you're writing a symphony for an orchestra, less so when you have a guitarist playing power chords, a bassist doing fifths, and that's half your band right there.

    ReplyDelete
  175. Seeing as I havent seen nor read any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I assumed the Legolas panel was a really weird pun.
    Legolas
    Leg o less
    Less Leg
    No Legs
    No footprints?
    Anyone care to explain that panel, if I am wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  176. God damn, where the hell is Carl, I want to read something that is not written by a moron, with his head halfway up his ass. The main difference between you to is that Carl doesn't take this to seriously, while your goal seems to just be insulting is a self satisfied way, where as Carl is actually ... oh yeah funny, because he isn't a rigid ass hole who takes way to much pleasure in insulting internet morons. Probably because he is too much of an idiot to actually make arguments that would fly anywhere else. And while I am doing the same thing as you in this one post at least it is not anywhere as long as your post and I have and I see no reason to follow this and vehemently argue against internet morons who disagree with you. So seriously, chill out, and you may actually become funny.

    ReplyDelete
  177. At the risk of saying something which is patently obvious to literally everyone else who read this, this was not intended to be funny. Though I feel bad for you if you really think I actually take anything seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  178. Everyone is ridiculous. Every existence is absurd. The idea that the wordsof any one existential blip on the semi-infitinte radar of the ntirity of existence could be meaningful in any sort of critical capacity is laughable. Everyone is dumb. Everyone is terrible. Have a drink. Laugh a little. Then shut your fucking mouths.

    P.S. - I am very drunk and it took me far too long to type this.

    ReplyDelete
  179. Well the frequency at which you rebut posts from internet morons, like me, shows you to be an insecure ass, who does take this seriously, but realizes how stupid that makes him, so he denies it. Two, I read this blog for humor and enjoyment which Carl brings. Now, bye as I will put no more time into this, and if you reply to this you really are an insecure idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  180. "Now, bye as I will put no more time into this, and if you reply to this you really are an insecure idiot."

    Haha, nice projection! So afraid of someone responding making fun of him you preemptively say "RESPONDING MAKES YOU INSECURE." No it doesn't, dude, it makes me bored and easily amused.

    ReplyDelete
  181. Way Walker, while I do insist that something must be rhythmic, and tonal to some degree, I agree that everything else are more tools than rules.

    ReplyDelete
  182. For those of you arguing about music - if it speaks to your soul, great. However, there is a tonal system that will create either distress or comfort based solely on tonal relationships. Play a minor second versus a third and you will be able to tell a difference between dissonance and harmony, even if you don't know the words to describe it.

    Unfortunately, all arguments about the "goodness" or "badness" of a piece of art hinges on whether or not the artist effectively communicated meaning, and the fact that a) all humans can lie and b) humans can create meaning where there is none causes complications.

    ReplyDelete
  183. Rob I don't have a fixation with you, but you made a very prominent pseudo-intellectual post up there, and you insist on alternatively feeding the trolls and making asinine statements.

    About the listening test, it would obviously been something like an ABX where you eliminate guessing with repeatedly trials. I assumed you weren't mouth breathing mongoloids so I didn't spell it out, but there it is.

    ReplyDelete
  184. "Rob I don't have a fixation with you,"

    Keep telling yourself that, honey. It's adorable the way you deny it.

    See, the thing is I don't believe you actually perform the test, nor that you actually thought it out. Mostly because I think you're an idiot, but also because I think you're full of shit. I guess the two are probably related.

    ReplyDelete
  185. Rob, you should stop writing here every free minute of your little pathetic life and get some sleep instead. You look seriously ill on your photo.
    Do yourself and us all a favour and go. You should have realized by now that the majority of people here does not like you anyway and thinks you're an idiot.
    Bye--we won't miss you.

    ReplyDelete
  186. What Bowie song? I'm curious. (and what cover, if it isn't obvious immidately based on that)

    ReplyDelete
  187. Rob, you are my least favourite person in the world. You're worse than Ray Comfort, Hitler, and Robocop combined!

    ReplyDelete
  188. @Way Walker said...

    "I think of music theory similar to how I think of theory in engineering. The theory will help an engineer produce the desired result. It doesn't tell you what makes a good building, just how to make it stand or fall."

    Which, incidentally IS EXACTLY WHAT A BUILDINGS PURPOSE IS, TO FUCKING NOT COLLAPSE!

    If the building falls the fuck down and collapses ITS INHERENTLY A BAD BUILDING!

    moron

    Fuck, do you even think once about your argument before you post it?

    ReplyDelete
  189. Coren: Rock'n'Roll Suicide. Camille O'Sullivan did a cover of it (it's on Youtube) and it's really quite excellent. I'm not sure why I didn't link to it.

    "You should have realized by now that the majority of people here does not like you anyway and thinks you're an idiot."

    You know, that would be a lot more compelling if you weren't posting anonymously, or if it were remotely feasible that you'd somehow taken a poll of the regular posters here. Also, if you weren't clearly trying really really hard to be offensive (and, alas, failing). Which, really? Is that the best you can do? "You look sick, you should get some sleep?" You couldn't even pull out a "you're ugly" on top of that? My God, I had no idea that having naturally pale skin and dark circles under your eyes made you look unhealthy living in New England in the winter.

    I do love all the comments I've gotten here. Over 190 as of this writing! That's a lot of discussion! Mission accomplished.

    Now, because I'm bored, I've skimmed through this thread looking for reactions that were clearly negative to the post and reactions that were clearly positive. I didn't include people who just posted disagreeing with a point as clearly negative (since encouraging discussion is the entire point here), and I only included as "positive" people who expressed unambiguously positive. I may have missed a few, but the trending is clear.

    I split it into "anonymous" and "unique," and didn't count the same uniques more than once, and if it was clear an anonymous was the same person I only counted them once. (This happened I believe once.) I should note that due to its anonymous nature I consider anonymous feedback significantly less valuable most of the time. This is no exception.

    My final count: 12 negative anonymous posts; 4 positive anonymous posts; 6 negative unique posts; 11 positive unique posts. Negative anonymous posts were much more likely to be something on the lines of "this is a complete waste of time," whereas negative unique posts tended to be more on the lines of "this was underwhelming." Positive unique posters tended to stick around and engage with other comments in the thread.

    Anecdotally, just about every guest poster gets a fair number of "you suck, bring back Carl," whereas Carl always gets a fair number of "you suck, let someone else take over the blog." Additionally, just about every guest poster is accused of having nothing better to do, of wasting their lives, etc etc. There's a lot of aimless hatred, mostly from anonymous people, directed at anyone who posts or comments on the blog.

    It turns out that when you run a hate blog you get a lot of negative comments. Who knew?

    ReplyDelete
  190. "It turns out that when you run a hate blog you get a lot of negative comments. Who knew?"

    The more you know _.-***-._

    ReplyDelete
  191. programmer, mathematitian, xkcd fan. (#response to earlier)February 16, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    okay, I understand now that you're not willing to let people convince you otherwise. Which you're, ironically, expecting to achieve with this blog. People who are so sure that they are right, with millions of other people proving them wrong, are the true definition of moron. Have a crappy life, jerk.

    ReplyDelete
  192. programmer, physics enthusiast, bored with xkcdFebruary 16, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Or... he could just be responding to what's been said thus far, and refuting statements as calmly and directly as he can. I'm noticing a lot more angry commenting from his opposition than from himself.

    I've been posting anonymously on here, up to now (still am, technically). Rob still seems like good folk from here. If you want to look for asshats in the comments, look for a different user.

    I used to think that xkcd benefited from its minimalist stick figures. I don't believe that anymore. There've been too many visual effects ruined by having a featureless stick cast doing the action. If you're doing a visual joke, use clear visuals. It just stands to reason.

    ReplyDelete
  193. "Which, incidentally IS EXACTLY WHAT A BUILDINGS PURPOSE IS, TO FUCKING NOT COLLAPSE!"

    But sometimes buildings are repurposed, as it were.

    Or, you know, you could've read the next sentence where I said as much.

    ReplyDelete
  194. In conclusion, before writing this, Rob should have taken the epistemology and function of literary criticism modules in school. When studying literature, he should have read "7 types of ambiguity" and any reader response theory critic.
    But he wouldn't even have had to do all that to realise that producing evidence for an opinion does not turn it into fact.

    I'm not sure what would have made rob write with less condescension in his tone though.

    ReplyDelete