Another thing about sentimentality

by look i have opinions

“I was puzzled once to hear [David Foster] Wallace say on NPR that, whenever he felt a writer was trying to manipulate his emotions, he put the book down. Puzzled because surely, necessarily, most of what fiction writers are doing is trying to manipulate readers’ emotions. Perhaps Wallace was thinking of passages where he, as a reader, felt an author was trying to make him feel something the author didn’t feel. His point maybe was that people are too ready to accept the velveteen emotions of prime time TV and political speeches instead of the real thing, and that writers have to be constantly on guard against serving up the same kind of thing, cashing in on a debased emotional pseudo-currency.”

—James Warner in this essay in Identity Theory

In art, sentimentality (as it’s commonly defined) is frequently a manipulative shortcut, not just an error.