Show Notes for Ep. 26 "The Good, the Bad, and the Chocolate Cake with Jed Hartman"

Is there such a thing as good and bad writing? What place does absolutism and relativism have in the critique of writing quality? Or is it all just about reader pleasure? These are the questions that have been brought up time and time again over the years in heated debates between Mary Anne, Ben, and Jed. This time, they are bringing it to the podcast. 

Content note: mention of calorie counting.

Recorded 21 September 2020 / Published 11 October 2021


  • 0:00:00: On where Mary Anne, Ben, and Jed stand on “good” literature
  • 0:03:17: On religion being an influence point in the discussion
  • 0:07:00: Defining sources of reader pleasure
  • 0:09:17: Defining “good” and “bad” writing
  • 0:17:15: Ben on the semantics they are using in the discussion
  • 0:23:06: Absolutism vs. relativism
  • 0:29:08: Jed on disagreement
  • 0:46:18: Mary Anne’s chocolate cake analogy
  • 0:55:36: On high art and Duchamp’s fountain
  • 1:03:00: Intermission and following discussion of popcorn reading
  • 1:10:47: On past writers and their writing quality
  • 1:19:27: Ben on fan fiction
  • 1:28:06: Mary Anne on reading Barbara Cartland as a kid
  • 1:33:18: On writing speed vs. writing quality
  • 1:45:00: Mary Anne on her choose your own adventure novels
  • 1:48:13: Closing statements

Notes and Links