|Sunday, March 9th, 2014|
5:50 am - I Think The Last Time I Did This Was To OSC... Irony Doesn't Exist In A Vacuum Either.
And yes, this is about Kameron Hurley's Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum, or: Understanding the Complex Continuum of Internet Butt-Hurt*" |
[You know the 'doesn't exist in a vacuum' part of that title stems from a time when science was pretty sure that life* could not exist in a vacuum. This was way back when one of a science geek's best parlour tricks was to shove someone's parrot (or other pet animal) under a sealed bell jar, pump out the air, and watch while the animal died... or, if you weren't a complete jerk, just almost died but not quite (that night anyhow) Back in those days people had to make their own entertainment and they didn't have the internet.]
I made the mistake of not going to look at the footnote -- if I had I could probably have saved myself reading on, because thereafter you realise that Ms Hurley knows exactly why the word butthurt should be left to the usage of teenage boys for whom homosexuality exists as a threat rather than a possibility. Still, as long as someone else, who may only be repeating the current internet word-of-the-day, says it, Ms Hurley can overlook that she knows better and use it because it's dismissive and been used dismissively and the other guy isn't specifically talking about anal rape (or whining about a less than satisfactory experience of anal sex). It's a damn-good-reason but the discussion she refers to in the footnote does not appear to agree that 'it's okay to use butthurt if it's not about rape' -- and the only usage of a word that anyone can totally control is their own usage. One can be angry or upset about other people using a particular word but if you find yourself making excuses as to why you should use it, having apparantly no argument with it being a word the use of which should be discouraged, then how is it wrong for someone else to use it out of ignorance, or because they also believe that this is an instance where it's excusable?
My use of it in this post in particular is in response to this dismissive tweet about latest rage, which employs it in its generally annoying way.
Butthurt is a word of derisive dismissal and very seldom actually used at a point where someone has suffered injury to their butt but almost always in a generally annoying way. The word butthurt is not often used in a vacuum, after all, but in response to someone being generally annoying (in those internet spaces where complaint is generally taken as annoying) So Ms Hurley is excusing using it in her case because she's using it the way it's normally used...
Okay, fine, enough about the footnote... [*mumbles* it's just that the footnote kind of sums up the rest of the essay.]
Ms Hurley continues with a true story about an unpleasant incident in which she used rage to good effect -- and here I am in awe of what she did and the outcome. She did good. If she were a character in a book I'd have bonded with her because of this incident. In third person anyhow. As it is I kind of wish I knew nothing about her but this story (and that she'd told it in third person)**.
There are some digressions, which if I'd been critting this as fiction I'd have recommended removing -- the whole lot about how people kept telling her that bad things happened and her being angry about it appeared to belong in another story. One where Ms Hurley responded as she did not because she couldn't stand by silent, or because her body was pumping up adrenaline for the much over-simplified flight-or-fight (and as many small mammals will tell you, screaming in a predators face can be a lifesaver) , but was raging because the two men were proving all those other people right in their assessment of the place they lived.
But that’s a post for another time.
And, sadly, I misread the intent of the story because Ms Hurley's explanation for why she yelled is entirely different from what I'd assumed. She's not angry at the predatory men, she's angry with people who're not there... people who warned her that there were predatory men about.
To an outsider seeing my screaming meltdown at these two men, in which I raved and shouted and told them how they were utter assholes for harassing us, and they should fuck off, and who the fuck did they think they were, this might have seemed like the raving of some unhinged person. After all, from afar, all you see is two guys at a bus stop talking to a woman who seems deeply uncomfortable.,
I have actually seen people raging at other people in the street more than once: sometimes they're drunk and haranguing a randomly picked victim, sometimes they're using a fairly effective self-defence strategy which I believe even comes up in self-defence training. So I'll admit my bias here -- if I'd seen a woman yelling at two men who weren't walking away in a hurry I'd have assumed I should be getting her help. I'd have assumed that the two men being yelled at were the problem.
But my rage, my “sudden” outburst was actually the result of the venting of six full months of increasing dread and terror inflicted on me not even so much by actual bad people, but people ostensibly concerned for my safety, whose admonitions that I “stay inside” and watch my back, and be careful, and who would then go on to talk about who’d been raped, shot, stabbed or mugged that week, had really started to get to me. It was a rage at the entire situation, at being expected to shut the fuck up and go inside all the time because I was a young woman. It was rage at the idea that the threat of violence so clearly worked to keep people in line.
[Maybe it's because I have a really bad reaction to adrenaline bursts that I am so very aware of those times when adrenaline is flooding my system.. rather than revolutionary zeal]
Where does 'shut the fuck up' come from? Did the people trying to warn her that she was putting herself at risk say that? Were they all trying to 'keep her in line'? Or were they, perhaps justifiably, concerned that as a stranger in their country they had some kind of duty of care, at least a duty of warning. Tourists frex do seem to be more likely targets for street crime so it's perhaps not unreasonable that they'd be considered generally more vulnerable. I'm unsure why Ms Hurley's anger was so overwhelmingly directed at the people offering warnings -- because she could have been unaware of the threat of violence? Because if she hadn't known there was a threat of violence she wouldn't have been kept in line? Which she wasn't. Two men are verbally assaulting a woman standing next to her and she yells at them not to defend the other woman, not because she's sick of having to put up with men like them, but because she's angry at the people who tell her men like them exist?
[ Yes, there is a social/political strategy called 'leopard in the grass' -- it's another supposedly natural history derived one, over how monkeys react when one individual calls out that there's a hidden danger and the monkeys respond to that perceived threat. The idea is that frex a political party creates a fear of danger (one that isn't ever substantiated) and uses that threat either to win power (we see the threat and we will protect you) or keep control of the population (if you don't do what we say you'll be outside of the group and the leopard will get you). For that to be what was happening to Ms Hurley would tend to require that there was some kind of pay-off for the people creating the leopard scare and I'm not seeing one.]
Anyhow, the lesson I take from this is that warning strangers to a place that there have been a string of assults/rapes/murders is not good. You can never know what baggage they've brought with them and they might get really angry with you.
BTW because people were likely to jump out of the woods and haul me off to the terrible fate all young white girls traveling abroad are assumed to inhabit, eventually. Ms Hurley isn't only dismissive of the unpleasant usage that is butthurt, she can be dismissive of rape in her own words (likewise 'sexually explicit threats and promises' is a really odd turn of phrase to choose)
After I raged for a few minutes, the guys milled about for a bit, confused, and finally wandered off. When they did, the young woman next to me breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Thank you so much. I was afraid to say something, because I was afraid they’d knife me or something.”
End of a perfectly good illustrative story a little confusingly told but yup in some circumstances yelling in someone's face is more than appropriate behaviour it can save your life. Or someone elses.
When the internet loses its shit over what, to many, looks like a single, insignificant incident unrelated to anything else, it’s easy to say they’re fucking nuts. They’re raging over some perceived slight that’s been blown waaaaay out of proportion. That, in truth, is the easier narrative. There’s a reason folks say things like, “Women are crazy,” to explain away some perceived hurt or slight, because it’s easier than thinking through why that rage makes one so uncomfortable (often because that person is complicit in acts that contribute to that rage in some way by perpetuating both sexism and the belittling of women’s voices). It’s easier to say people are crazy than to try and figure out why.
Ah, okay that's why the bit about how people looking at her yelling at those guys would have looked like she was insane. You know, maybe it's just me but the story doesn't really seem a good fit for the purpose to which it's being put.
Especially when you’re in a place where it’s never your butt getting hurt.
People discounting or dismissing your anger is not the same as being raped. Or being threatened with rape. Maybe it's because those same teenaged boys who love the word butthurt also like talking about how they totally raped some other player in a game etc but while I'm okay with rape being used metaphorically in some circumstances here it's making me uncomfortable. I don't think it's because I'm in any way complicit but a lot of this post is using rape and the threat of rape and a casual dismissive attitude to rape to create a subtextual landscape.
Internet rage is almost never a one-off. It happens in a continuum. It’s seen as one more event in a long line of connected events.
I don't think continuum is a particularly good word for this. But yes, people like stories, they think in narratives and often create them out of entirely unconnected events. The trouble is that, as in history, people will have different narratives, they will find some events more important than others etc. Conspiracy theorists often put together extremely convincing strings of events -- sometimes they're right, sometimes they're assuming that everyone involved is deliberately moving events in a certain direction (rather than not trying to control events, or other people, at all, or cackhandedly trying to say or do or achieve something else entirely).
This post includes a lot of generalisations about how other people think, including the one that says people dismiss shouting women as crazy because they're 'complicit'.
About ten years ago, some dude blogger with a big following would ask, about every six months, “Where are all the women bloggers? I don’t read any women bloggers. So women must not blog!” And the feminist blogosphere would fall on him. Every. Six. Months.
I'm not sure if this is the same blogger or a new one -- and I'm in small mammal thinking so I wonder if this isn't like people blowing on hamsters. I came across the phenomenon on Youtube but it's your basic human compulsion to tease. Dwarf hamsters, as I understand it, mostly don't like having wind blown in their faces. Some react with displays of rage, and some by leaping backwards etc Many people find this hilarious. They make vids of the reactions. They find it cute or hilarious or... whatever. The hamsters probably aren't enjoying it and may well fit this event in to a string of other abuses of ignorance that they suffer and believe the monkeys are being intentionally cruel and that they should always bite back... (but then blowing on hamsters is often given as a usable reprimand for biting so that probably doesn't help interspecies communication)
[On Youtube you can also find vids with really ugly lablels and (mostly) inside they're not what they're labelled as being. They're supposed jokes, often involving promises of animal cruelty. Maybe they're looking to get hits from sick bastards, or maybe they think it's funny to get the animal rights folks reporting them and making angry comments, or maybe they're sick bastards who're one step away from doing what they're pretending to do. I don't know which of those narratives is true. I don't even know if they're not so hopelessly innocent of what people do to animals that they think it's genuinely outrageous comedy (I've seen a few professional comics voyage into similar territory and there's that thing with the kitten in Brothers Grimm...). People do not all think the same. But a lot of them like scoring points off, and bullying, and offending, and causing distress to those they see to be vulnerable]
Did the feminist blogosphere ever wonder if they weren't behaving like a windblown hamster?
[And is the term 'fall on him' not making any of those inclined to fall heavily on others uncomfortable? Probably not, because like butthurt it's about dominating someone and forcing them to behave the way you want them to behave. It's done for a range of reasons that are mostly summed up by notions of personal satisfaction and aggrandisment]
We’d clog up his blog comments with our voices. We’d link to other women’s blogs. We’d point out that the reason he never saw women is because it was easier to not see them. It was easier to link to the dudes that he knew. You don’t see people you don’t listen to. That went on for a couple of years. At some point, after Wonkette got big and Amanda Marcotte got tapped to do social media outreach for a major political candidate, these conversations stopped
Do I think that those two events in two women's lives were the reason the conversations stopped? I guess I should but since I don't know them from Eve and the logic pursued is that the dudes weren't listening to women and didn't see them, it seems sort of unlikely that there was a link. Things do just stop. Pranks stop being funny, hamsters die... people grow and move on. The linkage between the events mentioned is one narrative possibility, but it's just as if not more likely that there is no connection.
[ (now it’s “here are all the white people you should be following on Twitter” lists that don’t have a single person of color on them, even though people of color make up over 40% of Twitter users and generate the majority of tweets and some of the biggest online memes and movements have originated with influencial folks on that end. Same shit, different pocket).
I don't do Twitter much. Clearly lots and lots of nonwhite people also don't use Twitter (I believe that's going to be an excuse for putting large numbers of low flying drones over the developing world... which isn't sounding like a creepy scary conspiracy at all). None of what are given as reasons why the 40% should be followed are reasons for which I follow people -- kind of the reverse.
Seriously, I follow very few people and I'm beginning to skim a couple of them because their tweets are getting kind of generic. That is, I think, a flaw of Twitter as a social medium... an infinite number of monkeys will type the same strings of keys over and over and over... and then hit retweet]
We got all sorts of push back on this, about how we should be more “civil” and “settle down.” We got told we were “over-reacting.” We were being “pushy bitches” and “making something out of nothing." But the truth was that unless we made a big fucking stink, people went back to the status quo.
And apparantly after Ms Hurley et al made a big fucking stink people went back to the status quo. So quo was the status that the stink happened every six months. And if the difference was made by Wonkette and Marcotte gaining notoriety then how was it the stink that did anything to the status quo?
Folks will always, always, always go back to the comfortable status quo, with its silent voices and lack of conflict, if you give them the chance.
Or the status quo with its regular slapfights and endless conflict? Cycles of violence are also pretty comfortable institutions for some. People have been known to make careers on regular bloodlettings. People yell at other people on the internet. Hamsters get stressed into eating their own babies. The world goes on barely noticing.
“Settle the fuck down, you got your way,” also doesn’t work after a fight is over, because though dudes may go “Yeah, we get it, women blog” unless you’re on it like a fucking trainwreck, you’ll have the conversation again six months later.
So angrily falling on people and clogging up their blogs etc doesn't achieve any lasting results. (And no we're not talking about a conversation we're talking about unleashing rage and in rage there are no conversations.) At least none of the lasting results those orchestrating the trainwreck want. I'm pretty sure from my own observations that shouting in people's faces does change how many of them feel about the people shouting in their faces and how they communicate with others from that point on.
They forget. They start rewriting the narrative.
Or write it from a different perspective.
But it's kind of weird to claim that print newspapers are rewriting a narrative that's only days old because they've had time to forget. Their narrative is simply different. My narrative of events would also be different from Ms Hurley's. It's one thing screaming and raging like a madwoman in a situation outsiders can understand as involving threats of bodily harm, quite another using that same kind of rage in reaction to an announcement that a chat show host one does not like is in danger of handing someone an award... It was pretty obvious what the story would be if the mainstream media decided to comment at all.
Calls for civility, as good-intention as they may be, smack to me of folks telling me I should have swallowed my tongue at the bus stop. After all, it’s not as if the men were physically harming the young woman. And I should have held my tongue when people said women don’t blog, because obviously, if I wrote well enough, and shut up enough, and acted demure enough, people would just magically notice me, right?
None of what Ms Hurley has said so far is about calls for civility. And there's a serious difference between civility and silence. I'm not being silent. I hope I am being civil.
But we are back to comparing a situation of actual threat, with clear right and wrong, to... yelling at people on the internet (and quite often making threats about their livelihoods, persons, etc) because frex they don't think women blog.
There is a massive gulf between silence and screaming in which almost all the great words of wisdom have been spoken. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea that the internet should live a little more in the place between silence and oppressive volume. Because, so far as I've witnessed, it is the oppressive volume that silences people, not some dude saying 'women don't blog'.
And is all that yelling about a cause? Or so that people will notice Ms Hurley?
Clearly, ya’ll have no idea how this works.
Well I do know a fair bit about being shouted at. And bullied. And about standing up to people who want me to do what they say, or go away (some on the internet and some where you feel the heat of their breath on your face as they scream).
If I shut the fuck up, then all the people you quote, all the people who write the post-narrative, the big pieces that folks look back on to create the history and narrative of an event, even a successful one, will be made by the powerful, influencial people who believe their hurt feelings at being called out as problematic somehow outweigh the concerns of an entire community of folks with no media pull and no platform whose voices have been marginalized their whole lives, and are now being reduced to a crazy, screaming, angry mob acting up out of nowhere, instead of a passionate community of folks reacting to an event they see as existing on a problematic continuum.
I just don't get how people being asked not to scream into the microphone always ends up in the realms of censorship. But then the word 'passionate' in ref to people being violent or angry has always made me wince... it's an excuse-me word. He's not a violent man he's just passionate. She's not got poor self-control she's just passionate. Passionate people get to hit or slap or coerce or force because THEY'RE PASSIONATE DAMN IT! and all those other people are grey and dull and passionless and there to be hit, slapped, coerced, and forced into doing whatever the passionate people want them to.
[Mostly I've found the alleged grey dull people in this world to be more truly passionate than the screaming shouty hitty ones... the screaming shouty hitty ones tend to be passionate about themselves and their own desires and rights, the grey dull people get passionate about gardening or knitting or volunteer work or injustice... they get passionate about something other than themselves and those passions are long lasting and deep and real. It's true love versus narcissism]
We have a strange habit of falling back on “civility” as if every social movement was entirely civil. Like unions didn’t bust up on scabs. Like Nelson Mandela didn’t blow shit up. Like MLK would tell us all to shut the fuck up, and women never chained themselves to the fences in city squares, stormed political buildings or committed acts of arson and violence in an effort to achieve suffrage.
We have a strange habit of falling back on civility because it works. I say please and thank you and keep to the basic code of behaviour. Other people do the same. No one gets hurt. No one is dismissed. I show people the same respect I expect them to show me. That way everyone gets some respect. I do not piss on other people's doorsteps and count as civil those people who do not piss on mine. Yes some social movements are uncivil--
Wait, yelling at people on the internet is a social movement? Is it me or is this getting a little... odd?
Yes, unions bust up on scabs. And in the 30th anniversary year of the Miner's Strike, you can probably still find families who were split forever by bitterness over that legacy. Is it right to break people's legs? Or their tools? Or was that taking things too far and part of why the unions in the UK lost so much support that they've gone from being power-brokers to a virtual irrevalance? Less influential than internet petitions.
Yes, Nelson Mandela blew shit up. In response to people being shot, tortured, wrongfully imprisoned... He went to prison. He suffered. He was released from prison... and was responsible for there not being a shouty hitty screamy bloodbath but a really civil and peaceful reconcilliation. He's not respected for being an angry young man but a wise elder statesman.
Sorry, I am going to pause in writing this because really... raging on the internet with some dude who says women don't blog is not the same thing. It's not that it isn't in the same league it's that it isn't the same game. Ms Hurley is not throwing herself under the King's horse she's being unpleasant on the internet. Raging from the comfort and safety of her home at people she doesn't know.
Surprise! My specialization is in the history of revolutionary movements, and let me tell you, folks – being nice and holding hands didn’t get shit done. Or sure, it was one tactic. But never the only tactic. I wish a nice circle jerk got shit done as much as the next person, but if it were so, history would look much, much different.
Wooo! Someone did this to me the other day -- asking if I'd done a course on X recently that I dared talk about it -- which amuses me since the places you go to do courses are all about the sexism, racism, and the money. Looking for the results of being nice and holding hands when specifically studying revolutionary movements is silly because courses about revolutionary movements seldom cover the quiet revolutions. The same way they seldom talk about the influence of women in history.
And of the four examples given, only MLK's quietish and civilish approach brought results. Sitting on buses instead of blowing them up. The suffragettes direct actions achieved very little in the UK... it was WW1 and the women working on the home front in a total war (and a shortage of men post-war) which helped tip public opinion. The miner's union lost and provoked a public reaction that haunts any strike action to this day. The ANC carried on blowing things and people up long after Mandela was imprisoned, and violence was the status quo for decades, until it stopped being the status quo. The violence didn't make anything better. Other things did.
Without the quiet social changes the world would indeed look very different -- and is it me or is it really really ironic that someone who wants to rage about people not acknowledging women bloggers etc bases her argument on internet rage on a historical narrative viewpoint which has systematically downplayed the influence of women and non-violent men in favour of a dominance-submission fantasy of a time when men were real men, women were real men, (and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.)
[And mostly the important ones were white etc]
I personally, would welcome a history that looked much much different. Such a history could easily be written without any change in past events. But imagine if the shouty hitty stabby people hadn't done their thing? Certainly there'd have been a few fewer dead witches.
Change is messy. It’s angry. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of angry people saying angry things, because they’ve been disrespected and forgotten again and again and again and again, and they’re tired of being fucking nice because it makes you uncomfortable if they act in any way that is not deferential or subservient to you and your worldview.
Change may often be messy but it isn't always bloody and violent with a legacy of resentment and hatred. The same can't be said for internet rage.
BTW anger is not the same as rage. A person can be angry without expressing that anger, without letting it get out of hand, without screaming in someone's face. And being uncomfortable around people who scream at other people because they say something 'wrong' isn't about being complicit with the perceived offence, it's pretty much the same as being uncomfortable when two men start making sexual threats to a stranger at the bus stop. Or when someone starts screaming at the person standing next to you.
[And civility is not subservience or deference. When I thank wait staff I am not being subservient. When I say please, I am not showing deference. I am demonstrating respect -- I do not expect you to do something for me without my saying the magic words... the words which turn 'pass me the salt' into a request not an order, and acknowledge when you do so that you have done me a favour]
I’m sorry if we’ve interrupted your latest Kickstarter, or pin-up calendar, or the purchase of your million-dollar estate in California, and you’re throwing all your Hugo pins into Mount Doom in the hopes it will shame us into silence. That must be really, really tough..
Really? Can people actually read this without wincing?
I’m sympathetic, I really am. Because I too know what it is to be comfortable and safe and pretend everything’s fine. I’m white. My parents aren’t poor, and I make decent money now. I get how annoying it can be, to get called out on that, and to have to listen to people who have problems you don’t. Real fucking problems and issues that exist on a continuum of shame, disrespect, and forced subservience they’ve had to deal with their whole lives.
Everyone on the internet who says 'please stop shouting it makes me sad/afraid/angry' is not white, or middle class, or living in denial. Nor are all the real problems of life related to belonging to an oppressed/angry minority. (And I suspect continuum does not mean what you think it does here either) Some people who are white and middle class demonstrate sympathy with and understanding of complex social problems and actively work to overcome problems that they don't have. Many people who consider themselves the victims of complex social problems are interested only in their perception of their own problems and unsympathetic to the problems of people in similar or worse situations.
For a community of folks who grew up reading comic books and farmers-who-become heroes, we sure do balk when we suddenly go from farm boy to hero. Because that’s a heavy fucking responsibility, and it’s easier to pretend you’re still mewling Peter Parker, complaining about how no girl will fuck you. You may not feel like you have power or influence, but you do – as do I.
Who is going from farm-boy to hero? Who are 'we'? And err so far as the film versions I've sat through, Peter Parker and Spiderman are pretty much equally unpleasant characters.
I hate heroes who I'm told are heroes because they've got a white hat and know how to wear it at a jaunty angle while kicking puppies. I like heroes who use their powers for good, but I have a deep mistrust of anyone in real life or fiction who seriously thinks of themselves as being heroic. ("I will just help this little old lady across the street because I am a HERO!!!" is kind of creepy. I guess this is why superhero narratives and I do not engage well).
[ I ask little old ladies standing by shopping bags looking cold if they're okay or need help because it's what you do not because I'm a hero in my own lunchtime. When they tell me that they're just waiting for their husband to bring the car round but thank you for asking I rush on my way trying not to blush. I keep an eye on people I suspect are going to steal a dog because I care about the dog not because I want an excuse to wear my underpants outside my tights. I write posts like this not because I have influence or power but because I don't have influence or power, all I have is self-published words and a deep mistrust of people who continually justify their own behaviour while condemning lesser misdeeds in others.]
What is so heroic about ganging up on someone to make unpleasant threats and promises? I don't see heroism in the predators at the bus stop, and if I'm forced to compare events then how can I see heroism in a mob descending on a blogger to silence him?
There are a few things we can do when we have power and influence. We can take our toys and go home. Or we can get the fuck up and fight for the people who are continually shit on, and act like a fucking hero would act. I know which I’d rather do.
And clearly your heroes are not my heroes. I watch action movies -- but they're fiction. I turn off my brain and watch the pretty explosions. In action movies every man the hero kills deserves to die. Even the collateral damage is acceptable. The hero is never wrong and whatever they hate is worthy of hate. In Hollywood-land all Russians are bad, they always have been and always will be, and if the hero happens to kill half a dozen random Russians, while he's running around doing some terribly heroic thing that's all about increasing US dominance, he's still a hero. Standing up for the rights of oppressed US citizens everywhere.
I have an icon that reads 'what would Beowulf do?' but I don't mean it literally -- I'm not about to go hack someone's arm off -- nor am I actually comparing myself to a hero of Old English literature. ( Beowulf probably wouldn't have spent time posting on live journal but possibly he'd have been able to adapt that whole insult contest thing to Twitter... ) I don't have an icon saying 'what would Nelson Mandela do?' or one saying 'what wouldn't MLK say?'.
And is it me or is the idea that someone rides out as a self-appointed hero for the oppressed kind of... disturbing. I'm not opposed to narratives where a priviliged individual becomes an ally of the needy, though I prefer if they first demonstrate an actual learning process and affinity, but a narrative where a person who considers themselves priviliged sets out to be the hero of the revolution because being a farm-boy equates to invisibility? Not so hot on that one.
Here too is where I'd want to deploy the word continuum -- there is a lot of middle ground between going home and starting out swinging. There aren't only two options. There's a whole lot of room in between for all those other and less 'heroic' acts like giving up tea and coffee and writing blog posts and petitions and raising money for charity and working with food banks and raising awareness and being one of the people who keeps on and on talking quietly about injustice. It's not only a choice between join-the-mob or walk away. Men of violence*** the world over just like to pretend that it is.
*No one ever said that nothing exists in a vacuum, because plenty of things that are not life are perfectly comfortable in a vacuum.
** I have the same problem with Katniss -- the first film really did the book a service by *not* spending time in her head.
*** I believe that there are times when violence is appropriate or at least forgivable -- I believe that people resort to violence more often than is reasonable or forgiveable because it is the easiest narrative to develop. And that's in fiction as well as real life and vice versa.
(comment on this)
|Sunday, February 23rd, 2014|
6:42 am - Remember This, There Is No Doubt That Your Name is On Somebody's List.
And the SFWA row goes on. I looked, briefly. Dave Truesdale was doing his thing. I got in trouble over him a decade plus ago. People used to rap me over the knuckles for getting into rows with some of those who're open targets now. And for not being more understanding towards some of those doing the yelling. Some of it was on sff.net even. |
A bunch of bigwigs from SFWA once called round here to make me really really sorry for remarks about the membership requirements. And yeah, I learnt that there are people with nothing better to do than read the journals of nobodies they've taken a dislike to in order to reek their rewengey... And no, I can't not make a joke of that because those people are not new in my life -- I've been bullied from primary school on for not being the right shade of pink or the right kind of snow on the line.
I've been told, several times by friends and notfriends that I've screwed any chance I have of getting really published by -- what was the last thing some 'name' said... oh yes, the upshot was that I was trying to make other people feel bad by pretending to be nicer than them.
And yet I believe in what I'm saying (at least when I say it -- I can and do revise my opinions in the face of actual facts or convincing emtional argument) many of those loud noisy voices are being loud and noisy but don't believe. They're opportunists.
The saddest thing this time is that where the current screamfest began was with eyerolling and murmurs of disquiet. Comments were made, people took notice, and for the most part nodded agreement. It looked very much as though changes would happen organically... which is what neither side in the following screaming match wanted. There is no glory or fame in bloodless coups. The heroes of the revolutions created sides and some people volunteered and others were conscripted.
With some the weak join because they're afraid of being blacklisted by those they deem to be powerful careerbreakers, and the strong because they rely on the word of those who drag them in or because they owe their support to friends and associates.
With others it's because the other side is genuinely disquieting in nature and people will always find their friends more trustworthy with power and less noisy. They will sympathise with those they know best (and excuse their faults).
And I can see how both sides appear genuinely disquieting.
One side has Dave Truesdale and his lesbian friend deciding that sexual objectification makes the world go round.
And yet having an extra panel/committee/whatever in the chain of command between editor and president does make me wonder how often adding a layer of supervision works as opposed to making it less possible to assign responsibility. Yes, I understand that something went wrong, but that appears to have been because no one took the Bulletin seriously enough to express a desire for change to the editor. Unless the previous presidents have done so and been ignored... I'm not a fan of adding quangos so that they can announce that 'lessons have been learned' each time there's a train crash. And every time there's a train crash.
The other side started off with a just cause and right on it's side...
But then there was screaming and much rage and hate and people happily joking about how the only contribution an elderly writer can make is to die... Cheering a leader who talks about other writers as being dinosaurs -- who again have nothing to contribute. That person also went off on a rip once about young authors having nothing worth saying... Oh yes, and if you're a mammal (not one of the cockroaches who writes what will sell) you're just a dinosaur in waiting... There are a lot of writers not worth the deadtrees or electricity, it seems.
Disquieting? I've been being told to shut up most of my life. I've learned to cope with people looking at me and seeing a waste of space/food and I expect to be one of those lonely forgotten people who die unmourned -- if I don't live long enough for my death not to be optional. For anyone who has actually experienced oppression or studied things like the Holocaust the idea that those incapable of acceptable contributions are the walking dead... unwanted, unneeded... The young and the old cannot be made use of, they are expendable... more than expendable they are a threat to the economy etc. Even those who have already contributed.
These sides were created by people I don't have any faith in. I don't like either side or what they're saying.
So how does any would-be dinosaur-mammal pick sides in a fight where both sides are led and supported by people saying creepy and disquieting things?
I guess if you don't mind losing friends you say something stupid like this.
Or else you sign up with a Pals Battalion.
But as things stand in this row -- it's the people with loud voices and creepy and disquieting ideas about how things should be who're going to win.
[As a reader I like pretending that I'm being told stories by people who love and believe in them. I know some writers who will write whatever sells. I understand to some extent, but I don't want the cockroaches to entirely take over the industry. I'd rather have mammals. Hell, I'd rather have dinosaurs. ]
(comment on this)
|Monday, January 27th, 2014|
3:48 am - For Reference
I posted this comment on the relevant WB post at SFWA and am in twenty-fourhour moderation. Then I tried at Story Surgeon General and Firefox crashed a couple of times because the comment wouldn't take. So here it is, just in case I said it out loud and find I never do|
"Thank you for calling attention to this. The idea of fanfiction on steroids where “fanfiction” becomes the ability to change the existing text… An ap for that and ‘filters’ that can be shared means that even if I get less marketable stories published (the ones with too many characters who’re not white middle-class heterosexual American males) they can be altered after publication so they’re more palatable. Stories my friends have written where the societies of the future are predominantly non-white (like the current population of the world) can be quickly and easily corrected to look like Firefly. With Story Surgeon disturbing elements can vanish, making my work safe for exactly the kind of people I didn’t write the story for and didn’t care if I offended by not writing it for them. Or they can keep the gay characters but have them die of AIDS. The uppity women can get raped or romanced into their place. My fears of vanishment are short-sighted when with a few minutes extra work there’s the possibility of adding a teachable moment to the text. A character is a drug-dealer — clearly they *should* be black. Likes to cook and is married to a man — definitely a woman. Even in the rewards it’s made plain that you can have Harry Potter rewritten as Harriet Potter — but she’ll be friends with Hermione and marrying Ron. (Which means that the object here is *not* a simple insertion of a name change or a reader choosing to skip any sex or violence in the text) I could end up discovering that the major source of any money I make writing comes from bigots, or else have to make it known that I don’t support fanfiction of any kind so as to keep ‘filters’ of my work from being spread via the site (which may or may not be a binding commitment once the new form of Story Surgeon is up and running).
What’s as bad is that in order to stop this kind of thing happening, the same interests that have made copyright law unfit for the purpose of protecting the creator against unprincipled exploitation will use popular and creative revulsion to call for even more protections for *their* properties. And get them.
Mr Hancock, everyone runs into disappointing books *coughLittlebrother* and many people have to deal with the conflicts of belief/desire and a culture that doesn’t cater to their personal wants. Rewriting a book may seem like a solution but it doesn’t actually change that the person who created the original didn’t write the new version. Plus, creating and marketing a substitute for pork-based bacon may let one eat a kind-of BLT but still means one is trying to get around a religious prohibition and tempting others to do the same. Please stop. Please don’t do this. Doubtless it will come, because ideas are bulletproof, but please don’t be the one to take it forward. Once you’ve released this into the world it’s pretty much a given that it will be used to add violence and rape and incest and bestiality. Have you *seen* what people write as fanfiction? You may well find yourself loved by people you do not like, and disliked by people you admire, and leaving a legacy that shames you. And you won’t be able to say that you weren’t warned, or that you didn’t know what could happen. There are other, simpler, ways to expurgate text (frex simply masking text would be an odd but acceptable form of censoring ones reading material) — please, if you must do this thing, at least consider limiting the potential for abuse by considerably limiting the scope of the ap you’re creating — be a surgeon, not a literary Jack the Ripper, and abstain from doing harm."
(comment on this)
|Sunday, January 19th, 2014|
5:05 am - Thirty-Three and a Third
Or possibly just 33...|
Which may be the title of the story or just a weird message about the place it should be set -- France -- or both.
I suspect if I start digging for it more pieces will come together, but I think given I'm a little busy right now I may just try and preserve the idea of 24 deaths, all fixed (if you know where to look) and all necessary -- this isn't amusing ways to kill off characters a la Final Destination, or GRR character culls. I hate redshirting. I hate death as a trick. What I want is to kill these characters, who are all characters and not crash test dummies, in a purposeful and meaningful string. The reader should, fairly quickly, understand that more than two thirds of the characters will die but that their deaths are for a reason (in the story not to give the writer a turning point).
So far this year there are two new stories -- or things like stories.
Calculating Vermin and (possibly) Remade Both are SF.
I suspect 33 will be more of a fantasy -- but I've been wrong as to genre before at this stage in a storys life.
And yes, I get far far more ideas than I will ever use myself. Some die young, some die old, some become too personal and some too -- odd -- for any attempt at publication.
Yeah, maybe this is really an allegory about the story process -- 24 deaths out of 33 births (not simply meaning ideas but ideas welded together to mean a story exists or could exist independantly) could be about right for the short story attrition rate.
(comment on this)
|Saturday, January 18th, 2014|
6:34 am - It Only Seems Like A Splendid Idea...
Or... Yes, I am challenged by the idea of a story/book in which I kill off twenty-four characters (that I've made the reader care about just a little) in such very various ways (I have a list already) but...|
No, even writing an lj post about how it's not a good idea isn't working.
(I counted hoping to make it 33 deaths, but it's 24...)
I can tell it's not working because I'm being obscure.
(2 comments | comment on this)
|Thursday, January 16th, 2014|
5:17 am - ...Because Women Writers *ARE* Traditional SFF
This was an overlong comment here -- http://stillnotbored.livejournal.com/870018.html?view=4744066#t4744066|
I think the 99 women writers list demonstrates a problem with how we're treating women in SFF. I know that there's a call to add to the list of 99 names... but however many bucket loads one adds in the comments (which many people will skip because that's the mainstream advice especially where controversial(???) subjects like this are concerned) it's still a list of proof that women write SFF. No one asks the boys to prove they're writing SFF. It's also a list of women whose contribution can be reclaimed, versus an assumption that everyone else writing SFF was a white male (and American). I'm pretty certain I could quite quickly write a list of a thousand women who've published SFF books or enough stories to qualify as SFF writers in just this last decade. More than. But too often we let the Vox Penii's of the genre influence what we say about women in our genre, including the idea that women SFF writers are countable.
Then there's a tendency to fall in with the idea that women SFF writers will write about women. That traditional male SFF writers write about men -- only Asimov and Heinlein and Phol and... lots of others all gave female leading ladies a go, or at least demonstrated a world with women in roles very different in equality with men from those in their own eras (I could read about women flying spaceships where in life if a non-qualified man was in a bus with fifty qualified women he'd be the one driving it :P). Maybe what they tried to do doesn't look as spectacular now (although Susan Calvin had to be demoted for a 21st century 'I robot' movie to be made), but we really need to start questioning why SFF has *lost* that vision of the future. Ripley was a product of the 70s (1979) -- Lara Croft of the 90s (1996). And in this century the biggest heroines of SFF can't even decide which boy they should... marry (nor is screwing one and then marrying the other an option, apparantly).
I'm not going to knock the usefulness of talking women up. Of providing proof (although I'd really prefer to see it done as reviews and conversations about their work rather than I Spy lists or '20 funniest cat vids on Youtube'). I just think there are other and possibly more persuasive approaches. Ones that may even be... chewier.
We know SFF has Grand Masters -- who're *our* Grand Dames? How do Nehwon and Lemuria stack up next to Witchworld and Darkover? We all know Le Guin is a goddess but which men are fit to be her cup bearers? Does Alan Dean Foster's canon compare to C J Cherryh's for range? Which five men writers would you suggest to a woman who doesn't read SFF, or one who does but is afraid to explore the depth and width of the genre because of all the stories she's heard about the misogyny she'll find there?
Women SFF writers (and fans) have been persuaded into defending their right to be a part of the genre. Our forebears, female and male, bequeathed that right to anyone with the imagination to travel their worlds. Female and male it is our genre. Our place to play... These are not boys toys. Women's SFF is not a sub-genre we should accept as our proper place (or YA).
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
― George Bernard Shaw
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we *don't* exchange these apples then we'll never know there're all kinds of apples, and they taste different, and have different uses, and some of them can even bring you the knowledge of good and evil and others immortality. That goes double for ideas.
-- Kat Allen
(comment on this)
|Sunday, January 12th, 2014|
4:28 am - Did I Mention?
So with the late and very shortened '2013 -- end of year report'|
Following my mother's near death experience at Harrogate Hospital the first part of the year involved trying to fix the damage -- much of which was hospital related not a result of the pulmonary embolism. The dental work was the easiest -- there were several appointments with a geriatritian, whose expectations were (happily) disappointed. Not sure if she'll be listening to her colleague quite as trustingly again. Anyhow -- the dementia magically faded. A healthy weight was regained. The physiotherapists and phlebotomists visited very regularly (and the GP service was... marginal). There was a lot of hospital waiting, and home waiting, and just plain waiting. I think any shadow of 'the daughter complains a lot because she's abusing her mother' suggestion lifted with the improvement in her medical condition. The nightmares about being in the hospital faded. She has very few clear memories but the idea of being an inpatient ever again is an instant panic attack. I don't think I'd be able to persuade her into an ambulance ever again. The second half of the year didn't go quite as well because... well choices made by my mother in 2012 came back to haunt her (as badly as getting rid of the couch ... which left me sleeping on a recliner chair or across my comfy chair in the first weeks when she needed close round the clock care) -- plus they found a shadow wrapped round an artery in her lung. They're not willing to do any tests (and the appointment for a six-month follow-up scan hasn't arrived... so I'll have to chase that up some time) but we have ended up seeing the pulnonary nurses and I can't help thinking that her breathlessness has actually got worse since they started giving her various inhalers and nebulisers. (A little before Christmas I realised that one was causing her rashes and heart disturbances to worsen so now it's hard to get her to take any preventers). I'm hoping things will get better once winter is over -- but things like her addiction to daytime tv make keeping her healthy much harder than it could be.
Pretty much all of last year I had worsening symptoms of my own. In the last month of 2013 I ended up having a total hysterectomy. There is a difference between letting a chance slip away and having it cut out of you, however remote the chance. And there is a lot about the post-op that they do not tell you pre-op EVEN IF YOU ASK QUESTIONS. I don't know yet if all the symptoms will clear up, but at least the anaemia shouldn't be as bad since I won't be bleeding like a waterfall every month. My post-op is being slow and possibly going wrong but since my last GP visit resulted in the declaration that a pain in my groin could not be related to the hysterectomy because it's below where they cut my open... I guess I'll give it the wait and see. The thing about being so involved with my mother's care is that it's used up most of my patience with being a patient. (And why *doesn't* the GP computer system have a sticky notice on the first page of my records with a list of the drugs I have bad reactions to? Why do *I* have to remember them all on the fly when I feel ill?)
The third major medical event was my father having a stroke -- at first I thought he might be dead/dying. This was not what happened, however, but he is going to need closer supervision and care. So just before I went into hospital I found myself locating and bidding on a flat for him to live in. It is less than a five minute walk away -- because whatever the emotional problems with that it's the logical and humanitarian thing to do. I don't know how it will work out -- I have a feeling the answer is 'not well' -- but... I managed to knock six thousand off the asking price of the flat. It looks like his second wife and family have managed to blow through most of his cash and investments but he has a decent pension... (I am loaning some money so he doesn't have to sell before moving here -- that's really scary too)
2014 is starting out with serious handicapping in the 'happy new year' stakes
Writing? I did some. Mostly on the punk band revege on faeries story. And then there was the story that will never sell -- I don't know if it's broken or just too... me... to sell.
I also started reading again. A large amount of non-fiction -- because fiction keeps ending badly/disappointingly. The Hunger Games books, The Milkweed triptych, etc. Delia's Shadow (by Jaime Lee Moyer) was a bright sun in the fictional void, but I've not got the energy to read ten books to really enjoy only one. Non-fiction has been safer -- although in the case of Sarah Wise I've found a historian that gives me the same thrill as a really good story.
From the summer to just before I went into hospital I spent quite a few hours making the front garden look better. I haven't solved the path widening fail -- my brother have promised to do it again and better but that may take a while. In the mean time there is a new fence on the righthand side, a trellis for the climbing rose, a lot of weeds and overgrowth hacked back, pots added, and a lot of planting done. If it works out it should look great -- of course I wasn't expecting a winter with this much rain :)
Next year I need to try and tackle the back garden (my brother took charge of the gardening a decade or so ago... sadly he only does edible things and lives in London, this year I was finally allowed to take back the front, which he just ignored, the back means dealing with stuff he ignored *and* filled with veg and fruit bushes/brambles)
Also I want to get mother a wheelchair with pneumatic tyres.
I guess I'll have to fix up the Boss's place, and get his bungalow sell-worthy.
And that's about as much of the to-do list as I want to think about.
Except -- I keep chewing over the idea that in 2014 I should try and be a bit more mouthy on the internet. Not sure what I can write/talk about -- but at least that would give me moral high-ground for bemoaning the loss of content from others :)
(2 comments | comment on this)
|Wednesday, December 25th, 2013|
4:56 am - Merry Christmas!!!
The header says it all :)|
May your Christmas be the Christmas you need *and* want.
(comment on this)
|Thursday, December 19th, 2013|
4:45 am - What Doesn't Kill Me... Makes Me Grumpy
You have to starve before an operation. Also bath/shower. Also turn up with a bag (or two) by 7.30 am. Then you get labelled and stuff (including people assuring me that the GP on my label being the wrong GP was because they were old labels -- not actually true as it turns out), you undress and get into a hospital gown, dressing gown and slippers.|
You meet the anaesthetist -- who questions the painkilling possibilities but is mostly unconcerned and assures you that reactions to morphine are in no way hereditary.
Then you meet a slightly odd and jovial man -- who it turns out is your new consultant/surgeon. Your second woman consultant has taken compassionate leave and your operation today will be done by this guy. You try to remember to check that he knows what was supposed to happen -- he seems nice enough and nods a fair bit, and tells you you'll be second on his list and he expects to be seeing you at about 10am.
You go back to the waiting room and wait some more. You go to the toilet an awful lot for someone who hasn't had more than a few sips of water in the last eight hours. You send your brother back to look after your mother. He takes your outdoor clothes with him. He'll bring them back when you need them.
You wait an extra half hour and are taken along the corridor to the surgery suite ad another waiting room. They take you bag away. They come for you and you excuse yourself briefly to go to the toilet again. Your bladder is still pushing out respectable amounts of pee.
You walk into the corridor beyond the double doors where they took your stuff, you walk into a room, take off your slippers and dressing gown, and lie down on a black padded table. You go through the identity and allergy questions again. And again. The anaesthetist arrives. He tries to fit the cannula in your hand. He taps the back of your hand until it feels bruised. He finds a place in your wrist and settles for that 'I'll put another in under anaesthetic' he tells the nurses. There's an oxygen mask on your face, but it's stale smelling and you don't realy appreciate it. They push a chemical in your veins. The oxygen turns to a bitter gas. You breathe as hard as you can, so you can be unconscious and stop smelling and tasting it and stop feelin the sting and bite of the stuff in my arm, but you don't go under. The anaesthetist looks down, checks the mask briefly, speaks, and you finally feel the drift, the edge of somewhere under your mental feet.
Gone, gone, voice calling me, gone, voice, wanting to be gone. Mumbling something in response not altogether awake and definitely not wanting to be more awake. My belly feels... like I don't want to feel it at all. A big wired handle with a button on it is pushed into my hand. I'm told to press the button for morphine when I feel bad. My hand is pushed down round it. I have an oxygen mask on my face. It smeels slightly fresher and less industrial. I drift.
I feel I want to pee. I say so. They say I have a catheter. I realise that I didn't know that even though the pee is draining out it feels like you need to pee. That little itch before you let go, except that there's not letting go, no release, just the itch.
After a while the recovery room team's voices start getting stressed. They've called the ward, the ward have said someone is coming to get me, no one has turned up. The conversation repeats again somewhile later. And again. The nurse is annoyed. I don't want to be a nuisence. I don't want stressy voices. Eventually the same complaint is made again, maybe to someone who can agree the plan, and it is decided that they won't wait any longer but will take me (or get a porter, I don't open my eyes).
I understand why they're annoyed, the journey to the ward is really very short, just down the corridor from the operating theatre suite. I see the light briefly as we pass the window to the magnolia tree, but for some reason a few moments later I am convinced it is night. I spin and wheel and I have my eyes closed tight again. There's a hand-off. I am on Nidderdale ward now. The bed starts humming, someone using the controls to lower it but the bed stops descending and the noise becomes strained
'Oh it's caught on the table!' a voice says, and my brain jolts and I try to remember how to speak but it's too late and the speaker has tugged at the wheeled table. The bed lurches and drops about four inches. I suddenly know why my abdomen feels fuzzy and weird. The pain is incredible. It tells me I am cut across the belly. It tells me I am cut deep. It tells me to scream. I know I make a noise, I'm not sure if it's as loud as it wanted to be. I remember being told to click the button if it hurts. I try, but I realise I don't really know how the button works, if I've clicked it, if it should beep, if it should feel like it's clicked, if... I hear the same idiot voice saying. 'It's caught on the chair now'. I hear her moving and expect the bed to lurch again and am realising it isn't good to tense...
I don't know exactly what happened. If the chair wasn't really caught. If I lost consciousness a little. A nurse talks to me, the bright wheedling 'pay attention' voice I open my eyes. I see the woman on the bed across from me, the nurse, me. I think it's then that someone asksif this (she holds it up) is the only bag I have. It's one with my dressing gown and slippers, one they must have slipped them into as I took them off and got on the trolley (that wasn't this bed). I say I had another bag... two labelled bags one tucked inside the other. They have lost my luggage. They mumble about finding it. I fret because I had expected to have my nightguard -- I don't sleep without one and with this much pain involved I fear grinding my teeth to bits. I lie, drifting in and out, often between sentences, maybe, because I see a staff member and then have vaguely disturbing images of them close up and threatening.
There is rummaging beside my bed. It's the pharmasist, I realise, looking for any medecines I have. I tell her about the lost bag. She says she'll come back in the morning. It makes me think it's night again. But fairly soon after my brotehr is there. He brings the bag with the pillow. I reach for it, hug it, and curls very slightly into it. He gets me an extra blanket. Puts water within reach. Tapes the bed control close enough that I can raise or lower myself. Checks the bag of urine on the bed, when by now it should be hanging. Eventually someone does come and hang it by the bed, and hurumps because the tubing has been put badly so it isn't draining as well as it should (and could be tangled and kicked in my sleep). Someone says I look comfortable, nestled to the pillow. I can't really be confortable, and I am coming out of the post-anaesthetic mist. I start to feel sick. I am offered anti-nausea medicine but I feel better by the time they bring the syringe and excuse myself. My brother finds out that my bags are still in the theatre suite. Visiting time ends and he leaves. I wake and drowse and wake. There's a fair bit of pain. Especially when I cough. I resolve to avoid doing that. (It isn't until the following day that I am told what I should be doing to reduce the effect when I cough) I won't be going home today (Gynacologist two had held out the possibility) I find I don't mind as much as I probably should. My bags have not arrived and I realise it is getting late in the afternoon -- I worry that the operating suite will close for the day and the bags will be locked in overnight (which is I think entirely possible) so I ring and ask about them. And ask again a little later. Finally the bags arrive. I get the woman bringing them to give me my nightguard and finally feel safe to sleep.
My brother comes in the evening. I think that's when I wake feeling really sick and wretching and that hurts a lot and someone brings the anti-nausea shot and after a bit I'm not feeling as sick.
He brings my mobile (which had lost all it's money for lack of use) and I talk briefly to mother. We arrange the furniture, the bags, the table and water. He has forgotten grapes. Mother is my ally and gets resident brother to drive out with them quickly, just before visiting ends.
Eventually I am alone. The evening stretches on and on. I keep having my blood pressure etc taken, every hour? By 9pm everyone on the ward is trying to sleep, the ward lights unrelentingly bright. The night time drugs cart comes round. Again I take my paracetamol and have to explain what's on the notes -- it's the only painkiller I can take. Other people are having trammadol. It makes my heart go weird and fast. The lights finally go dark at sometime a little after midnight. But I'm still woken though the night, and then there's being awake because the other occupants of the ward are having their vitals checked. It's an incredibly long night and I get only tiny snatches of sleep. I've started feeling sick again and one of the nurses has said I've been hitting the morphine too much -- I don't know, I still am unsure when I have or haven't 'clicked' the button right. But there's no indication that I can have another shot for the nausea so I put the button aside. At some point in the early morning I start feeling weirdly passive, and the nurses smile a lot as I switch on the bedlight and they strap the sphygmometer band round my arm.
The night is almost as endless as it was before they turned the lights out. I start to bond wordlessly with the younger woman in the bed across from me.
(comment on this)
|Friday, December 13th, 2013|
2:15 am - Busy, Busy... Ouch
Also known as -- Autumn just got cray with the amount of things happening that needed long posts to explain that I either wasn't in the mood or awake enough to write... and then I got to December 3rd having finished the front garden project but not the 'enabling comfortable internet access' ...|
And then I got spayed.
I have a heap of war stories.
I also haven't been able to have a bath since December 3rd -- because the wound is refusing point blank to seal (and still seeps just a little)
And should an anasthetist tell you that reactions to morphine aren't hereditary -- laugh at him -- I experienced exactly the same reactions as my mother, not just the nausea but the hallucinatory sense of threat/dread towards the nurses etc Also I had to quit using it at all after about twelve hours... leaving me with just the paracetamol.
You do not want to heave within hours of surgery.
You also do not want to cough. (And by extension you do not want to need to cough and be unable to grab a pillow to hug or curl up round and hold your abdomen so anything that obstructs your lap is not something you do for long)
The sneeze caught me entirely unaware about five days along... I am reminded of a section of a short story I read -- one of the slush readers sharing pain kind IIRC -- involving a man endowed with a barbed penis performing a sudden vaginal hysterectomy... Yuh, that pretty much describes the feeling :D (I'm just so happy it didn't happen when I was less healed up)
Anyhow... big scar (I think it's actually shrinking a little but something like nine inches), a deeper understanding of the kind of discomfort the chaffing of a chain mail bikini might cause, and apparantly (as of getting my unhealing wound checked this morning) a viral throat infection...
(And I think the morphine has messed around with my dream/story production because it ain't happening -- if it's womblessness I could be in trouble :P )
(comment on this)
|Tuesday, September 10th, 2013|
3:58 am - You Did NOT Let That Racist Crap Get Through Editing!
Which is what I yelled at the lunchtime news on BBC1 earlier today. I regularly yell at the TV for bad journalism, twitterage, poor word coice and incomprehensibility due to grammatical errors -- now and then I also laugh mockingly at the amusing ones. |
Very seldom do I pick up the telephone and menu my way to the complaints line but today it happened and I'm still annoyed that I had to.
It happened in a report about the Flodden commemeration -- which was full of poorly thought out arguments in any case so perhaps the agenda of the reporter is why we got some vox pops, all from tourists over to experience their roots, and one of which was from a South African -- who happily stated that it was a good thing because (and I can't exactly quote but it was close to) 'I'm from South Africa and we only have about two hundred years of history'...
That part of South Africa only burst from the cosmic egg two hundred years ago. Rose from the sea. Fell from the sky.
It was terra nullis.
So I rang the BBC to explain why it struck me as odd to allow a comment with such powerful racist overtones (a place has no history until it has white history) to be broadcast -- it being factually inaccurate and not in a news item which in any way highlighted the inaccuracy or unconscious (or conscious) racism of the remark.
I know people sometimes use similar expressions as a shorthand for 'no written history' or 'no recorded history' or even 'no examined history' -- I am not intolerant of such usage -- where it's not broadcast nationally without either listeners or speaker being able to correct or enlarge on the comment. But it's a comment that is all too easily made and received unquestioned in a country where any history learnt is very heavily biased to the parochial. African history from before two hundred years ago? Fat chance anyone knows some (or much from the two hundred years).
My phonecall was either one of a few and smacked of a potential twitterage or the news cycle moved on -- because the item had been recut and restyled for the six o'clock news.
On a small groups of islands like the UK history is everywhere (which is why some of the Flodden item itself was a little silly -- if you commemorate every battle that someone thinks is important you'll be commemorating at least one a week). Because of the density of sites and sights it's easy to confuse density with mass or duration -- that somehow there's *more* history in the British Isles rather than the same amount of history packed into a small and busy place full of people who write quite a lot of things down for posterity. I love my very busy country, I love that I could have spent my whole life traipsing around it and not have seen *everything*, but you can be proud of your history, and proud of how much of it is visible around you, without running down the history of other countries and other peoples.
[And then I watched little of the extrememly silly and poorly thought through "Blackout" and wondered whether it's *good* to have non-white characters in a drama if they're going to be the neighbours you've never spoken to who you'll do a favour for and who're obviously going to ask further favours and end up going beyond threatening into violent... I'm not sold on the idea that people get that desperate that quickly -- or turn nasty in a crisis -- but I'm kind of uncomfortable that at the point where I turned over the message appeared to be that in the presented scenario the 'nice' people would all be under threat from criminals and ethnic minorities -- including the guy on life-supprt being triaged out of existance by a black doctor/nurse. Thank you ITV for alerting me to the dangers -- I was kind of surprised we didn't get to cannibalism by Day 4 given the level of stupid involved and the levels of stupid displayed by the *nice* characters (and their antagonists)]
(comment on this)
|Tuesday, July 30th, 2013|
6:09 am - Bigotry Uses The Same Tricks Over And Over Again.
"In the mid-18th century Empress Maria Theresa (1740–1780) and Emperor Joseph II (1780–1790) dealt with the Romani question by the contradictory methods of enlightened absolutism. Maria Theresa enacted a decree prohibiting the use of the name "Zigány" (Hungarian) or "Zigeuner" (German) ("Gypsy") and requiring the terms 'new peasant" and 'new Hungarian' to be used instead. She later placed restrictions on Romani marriages, and ordered children to be taken away from Romani parents, so that they could be raised in 'bourgeois or peasant' families.|
Joseph II prohibited use of the Romani language in 1783. The forced assimilation essentially proved successful - in the 19th and 20th centuries the vast majority of the Romani population, who had settled hundreds of years earlier and held onto their customs and culture for a long time, gave up, even forgetting their native language and assimilating in Hungarian society." -- Wikipedia
In the mid 1980s Mrs Thatcher tried to rid the UK of Gypsies by renaming them "Travellers" (so causing confusion with New-Age travellers who were seen as an even more unwelcome set of nomads). At the same time she removed the 'red tape' which had imposed several duties on Councils, such as providing camp sites (which many had never fully done but now could not be forced to do).
Gypsies are nomads. Nomads are not nomadic because they really really want to settle down, and pretending that not calling them Gypsies and at the same time making it impossible for them to travel (or making it only possible for them to settle down like 'normal' unpersecuted people) is some kind of enlightened gesture to a persecuted minority is... very very wrong.
No. Really. It's been done to them. Repeatedly.
Gypsy is not a slur in the UK
The Gypsy Council would never have called themselves the Gypsy Council
[Also, remember that Gypsy is the English word. Words that translate as Gypsy from other languages are not actually the word Gypsy. frankly I have no idea how many countries use the actual word Gypsy as opposed to a word in their own language that translates as Gypsy -- especially as the Gypsies themselves reached England later than they did most of the rest of Europe. I suspect there are words -- like Zigany -- which may be slurs and go entirely unnoticed or are taken as being the *same* as Gypsy... much as one would 'translate' Pikey -- as being Gypsy though the first is offensive in the UK and the second is not]
Imagine if (mostly) non-Jews were running around Twitter saying 'Jew is a slur that's been used as a term of hate for centuries' and insisting that Jews not be called Jews any more...
Or that people should not describe themselves as Gay because 'that's so gay'?
You don't do that.
If you have to chime in with the crazy at least remember -- and say -- that in *some* countries Gypsy is a slur. It is an important equivocation given that UK Gypsies are proud of the identity the name represents.
Anyhow, so the word Gypsy appears in a movie as a name (Gypsy Danger) and in a heroic context --
-- because everyone knows Gypsies don't fight in wars (there were Gypsies fighting on *both* sides in WW1 -- yes, I've actually had to correct people on this... it's up there with 'non-settled Gypsies don't pay Council tax!', a reasonable answer to which is 'well they don't have houses or get to use many of the services' I have a fair number of reasonable answers to Gypsy related slanders because I'm that bitch who won't just nod and agree).
Instead of pissing about in a Twitterage over a supposed 'slur' actually do some bloody thing -- boycott C4's anti-Gypsy 'reality' tv shows (or if you're in a country with similar Big Fat Gypsy Wedding bigotry boycott those programmes and let the channel showing them know it), ask the makers of Grimm why they had stereotyped 'Gypsies' in the baby-selling plotline (ask anyone who uses tired old stereotypes of ethnic minorities WTF they're doing), and push for fiction to have positive realistic Gypsy characters (where positive isn't that they've settled down and behave just like the 'civilised' people).
Or if you're in Europe -- go crazy and talk to your MEP about insisting on countries tackling discrimiation and forced settlement and not allowing new members in unless they have made positive changes to protect nomadic minority groups -- including protecting their traditional way of life (Protecting not enforcing)
Now I was supposed to be writing a difficult story that I can't make words for because I'm so damned scared of not doing the source material justice or that I'm sensationalising or exploiting it and instead I'm being that bitch on LJ.
Twitter -- will fuck you up even if you're not getting fifty rape and death threats an hour. #Lovetwitter
(comment on this)
|Tuesday, July 9th, 2013|
4:01 am - Night Noises...
There's a lot more wildlife in the centre of town than I'm guessing that most people suppose -- but in a new first... on my way to the computer (about 3am) I hear a commotion outside.. crows doing their stuff and another call... and look out into the really dark blue of summer night sky to see three birds wheeling around in, I think, the upwards shaft of light from a skylight. My guess would be two crows and a red kite.|
The crows round my bit of town are... often quite odd. (A couple of months ago, early one morning, there were the best part of two dozen sitting scolding, and at first I thought they were being mean to a magpie, and then I realised they were taking group action because a cat was trying to climb a tree, where I think perhaps the magpie had children... They did something similar once when a cat had a baby pigeon)
Red kite stalking at night has to be a bit further into eccentric than merely odd...
(comment on this)
|Sunday, July 7th, 2013|
4:15 am - Catch a Falling Star...
Or at least catch sight. I was just closing the curtains -- the sun setting outside, the sky clear bright blue, when I saw a really bright, short, contrail. Bright enough against the blue that I paused and pulled the net curtain back to look 'closer'. Which was when I noticed that it didn't look quite like an aircraft trail -- single line, very bright, and very short, but not being broken up (the way it would be if it were short because a wind was pulling it apart). Then it seemed even brighter. And a few seconds after it stopped dead. Gone.|
Daytime meteor sighting, I think. I've never seen (or not seen anything I could be so sure of being) one before. I made a wish, but I'm not sure if that counts if the star doesn't fall, and I doubt it fell. I'm not sure either that it burned up. My impression was that it just skimmed/bounced.
It could, of course, have been a piece of space junk. But a bit of a dead planet or planet that never was is more inspirational.
Science was wrong -- Rocks do fall from the sky.
And sometimes they fall sideways and then race back into the void, a little singed, briefly warmer, and a little slower -- if only for a while.
Apparently my brain now thinks I need to write a story with weasels... actually a story in which weasels are plot pivotal. I know this because I have a title -- A Brace of Fine Weasels (and a Sprig of Rue). Brave, noble, teensy weasels. (Weasels are terribly cute, really, and they're even more fun at the bottom of your garden than fairies).
(2 comments | comment on this)
|Thursday, June 13th, 2013|
3:17 am - Synchronicity Is Love.
(while watching a consumer programme about bad quality leather furniture)|
NRB: rumphrumph I blame the collapse of the Nauga herds.
Me (waking up): Huh?
NRB: The Nauga were wonderful magestic beasts.
NRB: N A U G A. Nauga.
Me: It's said Nauga.
NRB: How do you know? Have you ever heard it said?
Me: Yes, it's in the lyrics of a Monkees single.
Me: And they say naugahyde.
NRB: What song?
Me: ... (thinks words while searching the lyrics filing cabinet) Alternate Title AKA Randy Scouse Git.
NRB: That explains it, people from Liverpool don't speak English.
Me: (goes upstairs singing WHY DON'T YOU CUT YOUR HAIR?)
Half an hour later I cut the celophane on Fringe series 5 (which I have not seen before). Sit down. Start watching. A few minutes in Astrid is at the computer and says '... naugahyde was a premium pleather...'
Me: You see, the universe wanted you to know I was right.
There was a red kite flying over town/The Stray when we drove to the Hospital. They were re-introduced at Harewood about ten miles south, and I love when I see one (I used to when I went to get a Xmas tree near Harewood), but I don't recall ever spotting one over the town centre before. Somehow it looked much bigger.
(comment on this)
|Saturday, June 1st, 2013|
5:08 am - One Hundred Derby Days Ago...
At the running of the 134th Derby, a woman committed herself to a protest which, whatever the intent, left her fatally injured. |
Today isn't the one hundredth anniversary of that incident, or of her death, but it is the 234th running of the Derby. The organisers rejected suggestions that there be a minute's silence to mark the anniversary.
Whatever your opinion of militant/direct action, I believe that Emily Davison deserves sixty seconds out of Derby Day -- if you read this post please consider offering up just one minute of silent thought or prayer to her memory.
Because there are still a whole load of nice guys in the world who'd hold down a struggling woman, shove a rubber tube down her throat (or nostril) and pour milk or eggs or brandy or whatever into her stomach (or lungs). Twice a day.
Emily endured this torture forty seven times.
Nice people sent hate mail while she lay in a coma and slowly died of her injuries. This after it was clear that neither horse nor rider had been seriously injured.
One minute. Sixty seconds. A token of respect for the death of a fellow human being. It's a lot to ask.
So I'm asking.
(I know there's yet another SFWA row happening -- and that it is of significant enough size for me to have heard about it... but eh -- if you're hurting for something meaningful to read try stillnotbored's post on poverty. There's maybe a little too much wicker and self-promotion -- and whining about reviewers who didn't loff them like they should -- with Resnick and Malzberg for me to be particularly drawn to engaging)
(comment on this)
|Thursday, May 30th, 2013|
3:49 am - Midge -- That Man Can Sing -- Ure: Live and Acoustic.
Or 'I finally got out of the house for a couple of hours'. He was appearing just round the corner, literally, and so not-going wasn't an option.|
Nice warm-up duo called 'Just by Chance' (their most memorable number being the song about thrush -- no, not the bird or a Man from UNCLE ref)
Then Midge sang for pretty much an hour and a half, hitting almost every song I could have wished for -- except Fallen Angel. I should imagine it takes (or took) some guts to face people who're familiar with your songs as previously performed when you're out on stage alone with just a guitar (and a couple of wizard add-ons for effects here and there). But great songs really do still sound great pared down to the bones and he is also a smart and funny onstage presence :)
Go see him. Don't hesitate because it's just him -- the man can still lean back almost ninety degrees to the microphone and produce a perfect run of notes at full volume.
[He played a song in memory of Trevor Bolder, he of The Spiders from Mars -- so there was Bowie in my Ure]
In -- the universe teaches us -- mode... "just like in writing," I thought when he said that the people behind the microphones are there because they were fans of other people behind the microphones -- and still are.
That the best songs are written by people who, to paraphrase Mr Ure, try to come on a subject from a different angle to the usual.
And... in further paraphrase, there are so many love songs written that soon we'll have to grab another planet and tow it along with us just to house the love songs. The first thing any aspiring songwriter does is write a love song, but they all tend to be mushy ones -- love is more complicated than that -- love comes with bits of hate and envy and grief and bitterness.
Yeah, I do like a gig where I get to think too -- and yes, people like simple, they want songs that are about mushy hearts and flowersy love, uncomplicted, unthreatening, undemanding. Easy listening. They'll even try and force songs into the mold they're comfortable with hearing.
So they end up playing Every Breath You Take at a wedding, or dismissing it as a stalker song.
They do the same with stories, and characters. With their enemies and neighbours and friends and lovers too.
Back when Ultravox was New Romantic (not Old New Romantic -- there was an unwelcome epiphany while looking at the rest of the audience that they were all a little old... like fifty plus... and then I remembered I'm nearly there too :P) anyhow, before my aged brain misses its train of thought, back then my liking Ultravox was supposed to mean I couldn't like Punk, or Meatloaf, or Abba, or... There were unwritten rules and people worried more about those than the ones that could get you expelled or sacked. Government, religion, advertising, whatever -- they just don't have the same power to make people climb into boxes and sit quietly while their friends and neighbours nail down the lids.
(The sound isn't so good -- and it is the recording not him -- but that's close to what I got to see and I wanted to finish with that song)
(comment on this)
|Thursday, May 23rd, 2013|
5:50 am - White Flag - An Experiment. Part 3(b)
(I started so I should probably do a part 3b)|
I'm going to link the post about White Flag being a stalker song because I want to mention the influences of framing etc (which I have done now so...)
In youtube comments there are a smattering of 'stalker' comments -- but then people often feel freer to comment where they know their opinion will be agreed with.
Still, the number of people who hear the lyrics as being a stalker is pretty... high.
[including the idea that shelf after shelf of framed photos of one person is less stalkery than the more spontaneous 'stalker wall' -- which demonstrates that it's hard to create a creepiness to compete equally with an accepted trope]
And then we get to the additional 'reader' reactions -- the baggage starts being unpacked.
This is something you can see quite a bit with internet reviewers -- the blogger posts that a book has this or that evil content, and a bunch of people agree even when the evidence presented doesn't support the claim.
[some day I'd actually love to do the full on experiments just because it's kind of fascinating]
To cut a lot of wordage short -- if you are writing a book about unrequited love, or non-traditional relationships, or relationships with non-fictionalised people... you will make the folks with baggage yell. No matter if that's how real people sometimes (or often) feel.
I've seen it in crit groups -- where I discovered (with stories not my own) that some people (generally men) can be incredibly wedded to stereotyped romances (girl meets boy and falls in love but doesn't then carry on with other boy just because original boy is not available -- aka extreme monogamy). In film reviews -- where I remember Ghost causing much shock and horror because how would the poor widow be able to have a full and satisfying life knowing her dead husband was in heaven... (???)
Generally I'm the kind of writer who tries to direct the reader... careful word-choice and the tricks of making people think what you want them to... so it'd be great to get to the end of this little trip with a solution. But there are 'readers' who will start with the plain lyrics and still go straight to stalker -- or are just uncomfortable with unrequited love as a concept. This cannot be fixed by word choice, or framing, or explanation.
There will always be some people who do not get what you're saying -- or get what you're saying and do not like what they hear. People believe differently. People carry different baggage.
Check that you're saying what you mean and mean what you say -- but don't try to please everyone or you'll say nothing at all. (Not even 'I love you' or 'I like this')
(5 comments | comment on this)
|Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013|
5:10 am - White Flag - An Experiment. Part 3(a)
Traditionally authors don't have very much control over the publishing details of their book/s. Publishers choose the marketing category, the typefaces, the production values, the covers, the jacket copy etc Even where there's author input it's contributory not controlling.|
From what I understand of the music business, the talent likewise has limited control of the machinery.
So, what does the official video for White Flag look like?
Watch. Thinking about what you're seeing and the thoughts/emotions you feel :)
( Read more...Collapse )
(comment on this)
|Tuesday, May 21st, 2013|
5:08 am - White Flag - An Experiment Part 2(b)
(apparantly a couple of really complicated and overly engrossing dreams in the past twenty-four hours, plus a gyppy elbow, have made me forget exactly what part 2 (b) was supposed to be about :P)|
Some of the links I posted yesterday have stills or videos --
This one has a narrative (I'm not sure I get exactly what the story is but it's definitely trying to tell a story with the lyrics of the song)
A few decades ago, when I was young, I heard (and bought the single of) Terry Jack's 'Seasons in the Sun' (which was very unusual because I didn;t have a record player of my own) I was ten years old: it's a song about a man dying. He says goodbye to his friend, his father, and a girl... I loved the chorus (We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun) and I only gradually became a bit uncomfortable about the dramatic deathbed scene being conjured up. Something like a decade later the BBC turned a bunch of video makers loose on a list of older hit songs that had happened before videos became the norm. Some of the videos in the series were brilliant, some less so, and just a few -- like the one for Seasons in the Sun -- changed my idea of what the song was/could be about. The director set it somewhere on a battlefield in WW1 with a dying soldier thinking about his loved ones and his fading life. These days when I hear or think about the song those are the kinds of images I have -- even though I haven't seen that video in at least two decades (I may have had it on tape but I'm not sure of that so it could be nearer three)
Visuals are very powerful. The more striking the images the more likely they are to influence a person's perceptions of the information being provided visually and aurally. We're animals of sight -- our eyes are the windows to our soul.
(comment on this)