lotesse: (Default)
Looking back through my fic over the years - wow, that bit from Tolkien about eucatastrophe - "he waukened then and turned to her" - must've really struck a chord with me, cuz I stg i run some form of it in everything I write.
lotesse: (Default)
from f-fa: here is a link to an 09 podcast interview with Andy Blake, aka thanfiction, aka Victoria Bitter, from back when no one knew he was the same person as VB. His interview segment starts at about 1:33, and beyond the hillarible accent, the most striking thing is his insistence on presenting himself as the newbiest of newbs - looking up "fan fiction" on the net with his bandmates for a lark, never written a thing before, no experience with fiction - when zie had been in media fandom for more than a decade at that point, actively producing fic in Star Trek: Voyager and Due South and Hornblower and Sharpe and LotR.

it's super weird to hear Andy as a voice; I'm used to hir being this disembodied and now largely ghostly presence, the author of works that zie can no longer claim because zie's killed off the associated personas that originally posted them.
lotesse: (narnia)
Abbey/orangeblossom did an AMA over at her journal about VB/Andy/thanfiction over the weekend. All of her retrospective writing on Bit of Earth is fascinating to me - I was there, but on the outside. I interacted with all these people without knowing what was going down in meatspace. Some of the stuff about LotR being real came through, but it seemed like pastiche play at the time, taking Tolkien's mock-editorial stance very faux-seriously. Spoiler alert, it was not.

Abbey left me some of my first ever fic reviews, back when I was just getting started, and I will always think fondly of her for it. But it's such a strange experience to be poking around in the back of an old fandom and recognize one of Andy's pseuds. I wouldn't engage with his work now, but ngl some of the old VoyagerBabe stuff in Due South gets me there, mashes the buttons nicely. idek.
lotesse: (glamazon)
So I guess it's Edmund Wilson's birthday toady? 'Oo those awful orcs' Edmund Wilson.

I have to say that one of the great unexpected pleasures I've found in reading up on Edna St. Vincent Millay's biography is the grace, persistence, and brutality with which she dismissed him and his overinterested dick over the years.
lotesse: (narnia)
Interesting convo over at Shakesville that deconstructs the "but rape is historically realistic" canard by showing all the historically realistic ways medieval women had to gain power that are written right out of Westeros.

More and more, Game of Thrones reinforces my conviction that it's essential to include author positionality in SFF analysis, maybe moreso than in other genres? because of the imaginative freedom/responsibility worldbuilding confers. GoT has some cool-sounding ladypersons in it, but I look at the author and I look at the stans and I don't think their fantasy about ladypersons in a crypto War of the Roses with dragons added is the same as mine. There's an investment in - I don't quite know the word, but bad history and rape culture and something liked medievalist evopsych? which I do not, will not, share. Sometimes you can cut the texts up and rearrange the pieces; but Rape Rape Martin, from what I can see, lays down some hard patterns; those books kind of sincerely scare me, I'll admit it. And the question becomes if it's worth doing the work.

Ironically, bc Martin is so often presented as an improvement on Tolkien, Middle-earth is actually much better at allowing realistic paths to power for women apart from fighting or fucking; there aren't many named ladypersons in LoTR but of the few there are two are Ioreth and my personal cotdamn hero Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. And maybe it's part of the reason why I'll always love Narnia best of all: because women in Narnia gain power through insight and imagination, and they don't have to fight OR fuck if they don't want to. It's much easier for me to mentally wander around Gondor or Cair Paravel and add in realistically diverse, complex, and powerful women than I feel like it would be to attempt the same thing around the Iron Throne.
lotesse: (narnia)
There is a way, now, more than ten years out from it all, that I'm beginning to see the Lord of the Rings movies as a deep and appalling travesty, misrepresentation and missed chance - or, worse, maybe not so much that last thing. But the chances they took weren't the ones I would have wished them to, not in the service of fidelity to the ethos of the source text and not in the service of bending the long arc of the universe toward justice.

In 2001, with the United States coopting Tolkien's rhetoric of dark and light and moral war to justify casually stupid militarism - at the start of what is now the longest war the United States has ever fought, one of the longest wars of the modern era - they took Tolkien's peacenik epic and retold it to emphasize and valorize violence. And admittedly Peej isn't American, but a lot of the project, including a lot of the money, came from either the US or Great Britain, who were allied with the US at the time in the famous "Coalition of the Willing." So I'm not sure the films' Kiwitude can excuse them from this one.

They "empowered" characters by giving them more violence to do, as in the case of Arwen. They recut and rebalanced Tolkien's multiple interwoven narratives to give more heft to Aragorn's military prowess and to minimize the intensity of Frodo's long slow sad story of grinding pain and unendurable pressure, endurance beyond hope. They erased both the story of the scouring of the Shire, which brings home the aftermath of war and shows its price on a more intimate scale, and the story of Frodo's shellshock, which he never really recovers from - the price on the internal scale, the price to the soul. They bring war back home with them. Merry argues for its necessity; Frodo stays "shocked and sad."

Tolkien:

‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, ‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’

‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.

Jackson:

Sam But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo ... and it's worth fighting for.

... I'm not at all sure that those two passages are from the same story. Not deep down where it counts. For one thing the relationship between the characters totally reverses, from Tolkien's naive Sam who hopes beyond reason and worldweary Frodo who always knew just how much he was losing to Jackson's butch assertive Sam and passive unthinking blank slate Frodo, who is merciful to Gollum because Gandalf told him to be more than out of any considered personal conviction. But also - there's a difference between book!Frodo's "give them up" and movie!Sam's "worth fighting for," although battle is certainly one of Tolkien's recognized modes of self-sacrifice. But the one emphasizes the omnipresence of the cost of war while the other doesn't mention it - apparently once you figure out that there's "some good in this world" you become the equal to any task, no matter how impossible, and of course as the films demonstrate the wages of fighting is glory: the only one who visibly pays is Frodo, and even in his case going to the Grey Havens seems kind of like a trip to Disneyland. Eowyn's choice to ride to battle loses a lot of its unhealthy/suicidal undertones, and her choice to turn away from violence in the Houses of the Healing is omitted. Both Merry's and Pippin's battle traumas are skimmed over; the psychological aspects of Merry's hurt after the Pelennor is disappeared altogether. Back in the Shire, before he sails, Frodo seems physically pained rather than shellshocked; and I'm using that word rather than PTSD for a reason, because Middle Earth came into being while Tolkien was resting in a field hospital after the Battle of the Somme and is fundamentally bound to World War I because of it.

And just as I am filled with rage and bitterness that Dubya is in art galleries rather than in chains at his own trial in the Hague, so too I find myself unwilling to happily accept the place that the Lord of the Rings has come to inhabit in sff pop culture since the films came out: elegant but somehow George-Lucas-esque pieces, real pretty and with some totally cool bits, some strong female characters and some stirring speeches about hope and change, and underneath it all an incoherent attraction to violence, callousness, hierarchy. A New Hope ends with that bizarre visual Nazi reference, The Return of the King with some pretty frank and unreconstructed monarchalism. Not to mention the pervasive racism of the orcs, the nastiness of the Haradrim, the general failure to imagine a diverse world. That last is, yes, also a failing of Tolkien's, and certainly you can find nastinesses he's said, but the business with the orcs at least isn't a failing of the text's.
lotesse: (lotr_moon!frodo)
Good Maude y'all they're publishing the Tolkien Fall of Arthur. I remember reading about this in the Humphrey Carpenter biography as a middleschooler and being absolutely crushed when I discovered that I couldn't read it - the Matter of Britain had been my main squeeze before I got into Tolkien, and the idea of the two fannish streams crossing was the most exciting thing that I'd ever thought of before. Am superpsyched about getting to read it at long last!
lotesse: (fairylights)
I love it when Long-Expected Party Day and the equinox coincide. So many happys to wish: happy Our Birthday, happy Mabon, happy end of (effing) summer.

eta: the book week meme, because synchronicity
It's international book week. The rules: Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 52, post the 5th sentence. Don't mention the title. Copy the rules as part of your post.

"They parted and Pippin hurried back toward the citadel."

The closest book because the newest; I picked up a new big paperback RotK at Goodwill this afternoon because first printing, special edition, September 1970 was just too cool to pass up.
lotesse: (btvs_wishverse)
some things make a post!

i. I had a lovely encounter with a little old lady outside of the Uni library this afternoon, I was picking up a book and on a meter so couldn't stay long to talk to her, but she was handing out informational flyers about the fact that in Indiana 17.3 percent of girls in grades 9-12 have been raped. The woman must have been 75+, and there was something beautiful about the interactions I saw taking place between her, earnestly handing out her flyers, and the teenaged students she was reaching out to her. I admire the hell out of her dedication, drive, and chutzpah.

ii. on a less good note: I wish my extended family could grok that the way to help your introverted grandkid is not to poke her about her lack of a social life until she feels completely crushed by social expectation and her failure to measure up. I hate my patterns of response to that sort of thing, because I also recognize that I do need to keep trying to be social, especially in the collapse of a lot of my support structures after The Breakup last fall. But the overwhelming fear and self-hatred that inevitably swamps me in the aftermath of those conversations makes it difficult for me to do anything but retreat to the safety of my room & my computer & my cats. Just. Not helpful, you guys. I love you, but not helpful.

iii. on a more geeky note: 12:30 am last night, while hiding from social anxiety with help of internet, I had a brainwave. Steve/Tony = a more sexed-up, contemporary, potentially-edgy rendition of a lot of the things I loved as a kid in Sam/Frodo. Strong fairhaired earnest genuine do-gooder paired with angsty cerebral guilty-about-the-past, not to mention physically damaged by past contact with objects of mass destruction. No wonder this ship is eating my life. It's like a whole bunch of my favorite tropes have grown up with me, and started critiquing heteronormativity and the military-industrial complex.
lotesse: (lotr_samwise)
Heard a great lecture from Suzanne Keen today - I think I need to my by own copy of her book Empathy and the Novel.

my answers to the ten-questions meme from this weekend, each comprising a nice little babble: Fullmetal Alchemist, SG-1, the Aubreyad, The Dark is Rising, Prydain, Eight Cousins, Star Wars, Downton Abbey, and Westmark.

I am sitting here morbidly avoiding the tab in which I have opened today's Mark Reads - it's the Choices of Master Samwise today, and I can't take this chapter, I can't, just thinking of it makes me start tearing up, I couldn't read this chapter aloud to my little sister when we were kids because it made me cry so hard. I love it so, it's the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me. And I have the tab open and I keep, like, accidentally switching to it and then covering it up again really quick.

...

Oh, hell. Now I am crying. God, Samwise, Samwise, Samwise. Further inarticulate muttering and general weeping & gnashing of teeth will continue until morale improves.
lotesse: (neverland)
The first drawerfic I ever wrote - well, I never even dared to write it down, because I had a strong sense of shame & propriety as a kid, and knew it was a subliterary impulse - was about Wendy Darling. It was about how Wendy got to come back to Neverland, and have what she wanted: Peter, and a family, and the Neverland as well. Romance and reproduction and pirates and adventures. I just looked back through my "peter pan" tag here, and saw that I almost compulsively reference this fantasy - I've still never written a word of it down in earnest, but clearly some part of me is burning to express or realize it.

I feel ashamed of it. I had a feeling - still do - that it was wrong to fight against the terrible inexorabililty of the ending. I've always found it easy to fall into fatalistic, obedient acceptance of that particular kind of wrenching ending - the one that asserts that you can't always have what you want, that there's always a price to pay and you can't choose. Narnia and Lord of the Rings and The Dark is Rising and His Dark Materials - the list kind of goes on. This xkcd sums the trope up pretty nicely. I've been working on learning to subvert, to disobey even there. But I've always had a hard time disobeying J. M. Barrie. I was always more cautious and circumspect with the Peter Pan daydreams than with anything else. I have no problem screwing around with Narnia, but even in the context of this journal I don't seem to have ever managed to so much as question Barrie before. I pulled off a Grey Havens rewrite years ago. Why is Barrie so unresistable?

I wonder if it isn't because Wendy Darling is female. And, maybe even more, because she's feminine, and because the things she wants get tangled up in both a reification of gender roles and a reactionary repudiation of the same.

Apparently, I have ~thoughts~ )
lotesse: (beauty)
five icons, to be blathered about below!

keyword: Sheeta/Pazu

Laputa! My favorite Miyazaki film, largely due to this scene. I love this moment, when Pazu touches her but isn't quite holding her yet - it's this little soapbubble of not-quite-yet, because as soon as her crystal releases her into his arms, he's lost to her completely. The text is from Pablo Neruda, and is possibly the most romantic sentiment I've ever heard: "let me remember you as you were before you existed." I use this one for Miyazaki stuff, innocence, romance, and potentiality.

keyword: p&p

This was a silly - watching the Pride & Prejudice with my partner, as one does, and making snide Buffy references at it. Big swelling music, panoramic landscapes, period frocks = Spike, apparently. Somehow it turned into an icon, idek, these things happen. Possibly the most random thing I've ever made?



This is from a set I made a while back, when I really started to become dissatisfied with the films as visual reference points to Lord of the Rings, and for the hobbit characters in particular (no one's the proper age! they're all too skinny! seriously, this ickle teenager is supposed to be Frodo Baggins?). Frodo/Merry is my secondary hobbitfic otp - I have this thing for the eleven years of Frodo's life we know so little about, when he was Merry's fostersibling and playmate. And Frodo's Brandybuck lineage doesn't get enough play! I'm really pleased with how the layout on this turned out, restrained and balanced and playful without losing a certain sense of formality.

keyword: virginia

Virginia Woolf is one of my three Patron Saints. The other two are Tolkien and Charlotte Brontë - Tolkien teaches me compassion and patience and plainness and love, Charlotte helps me connect to my reserves of anger and determination to change my life and my times - but I call on Virginia for aesthetics and politics, and being in pursuit of a higher degree I tend to call on her a lot nowadays. Talismans of all three pop up in my living spaces, and this is one of them. I think that Virginia Woolf was one of the most heartbreakingly lovely women I've ever seen - that curl at the nape of her neck, oh god! The photomanipulation with the embroidered flowers in the background was a sort of visual loveletter to her. I thought, when I uploaded this icon, that I would use it for feminist stuff, but I never seem to. It's queerly romantic rather than stridently political - for the latter, I go to Mary Wollstonecraft!

keyword: sherlock

Unf. Sherlock and his violin. This is, like, half the appeal of the fandom for me, and I haz a sad over how many media adaptations dodge or avoid or halfass the violin. The late nineteenth century produced some of the most marvelous violin music I know - Mendelssohn, Grieg, Dvorak. It's all so hopelessly overfull, oversexed, mad with feeling and beauty - and the idea of Sherlock Holmes of all men hooking into that makes me just about faint with happy. This tends to be my grumpy Victorianist Holmes icon, deployed resentfully against bloody modernized adaptations that blow right by all my pretty history in ways that I Do Not Appreciate. (point of interest: in my keywords, "holmes" means Holmes09, "sherlock" the Granada series. which is actually rather strange - don't know what I could have been thinking.)

Give me a yo if you want to do the meme, and I'll give you five icons to talk about!
lotesse: (lotr_moon!frodo)
I haz new apartment! It is pretty and filled with books and I'm quite entirely in love with it - pictures (possibly) forthcoming when I get all the boxes put away, and if I remember to post them.

So I'm doing all this decorating stuff, and in the process of doing that I discovered a deep terrible need lurking in my heart - I don't have a map of Middle-earth right now, and that's just not okay. But here's my problem: I don't want the film merchandise map. That doesn't hold enough *feelings*, I guess. I want a big print of the black & white & red map they used to print as foldouts in the books, with the old lettering and topographical notation, not the one that Peej and company re-drew. And I can't find a copy.

Am I pipe-dreaming? Is there such a thing in existence in all the world? There has to be, right?
lotesse: (lotr_meriadoc)
I'm having a hard time hanging on to my cynicism today. First the notice of the reintroduction of the ERA made me go all open and longing. I've been having ~feelings~ about the ERA anyway - I keep reading and watching media from the late 80s/ early 90s that's just heartbreakingly sure that it will - and ought to - pass someday soon, and getting all maudlin about the fact that we still don't have that language on the books. It strikes me as highly unlikely that it will pass this year, not in context of the massive anti-choice legislative push, but - yeah. Not feeling cynical at all.

And then I saw these: the first pictures from The Hobbit, and my whole heart fell out beating onto my desk. I have no confidence at all in the narrative coherence of these movies, and I don't see how/why they're being made, to what point or to what purpose, but oh my god here are all the ~feelings~ just pouring out of me again. Hobbits trump ennui.
lotesse: (fairytale_goldenbird)
The meme's been going around - if there was a zombie apocalypse and I had to choose five of my own stories, they would be these five.

(bind you with love that is) graceful and green as a stem Frodo/Sam postquest h/c, 21435 words - because this is the one where I finally feel like I managed to say what I mean about hobbits, and also to coherently feel through my half-opposition to the Grey Havens. Because I still feel proud of myself for finding a way out of that ending I could live with. Because I feel like I could happily bask in hobbits taking care of each other for ever, yo.

Of Smoke and Gold and Breathing The Dark is Rising, Will/Jane/Bran multiple histories, 9421 words - this was my Yuletide 2007 main story, and I still have very tender feeling for it, and for this canon as a whole, and for the girl I was when I wrote it.

Calligraphilia Hermione + autoeroticism + pens and ink, 1307 words - an old story, back from a moment in my life when I was just starting to really explore my own sexual identity and the excitement of that was erupting into my fiction.

until you cry:now you must try my greed Holmes/Watson rentboy porn, 6440 words - because this one gave me a chance to play it oldschool, and use pretty nineteenth-century words, and everything in it was pretty and Victorian and sexy. One of the pieces I'm most content with - I feel like it's doing everything I meant it to, and that's not nothing.

we have laced the world together Sherwood Smith's Wren books, Wren/Tess/Connor/Tyron ot4, 9158 words - my Yuletide 2009 story, which got positive author feedback homg! But only if I could also save that review!
lotesse: (lotr_moon!frodo)
Or brushed a royal gown

Lord of the Rings, Frodo/Sam. 2,320 words, implied sexual content. Post-quest genderswap, always!a!girl!Frodo. Fashion. When Frodo came up, the gown and stays and petticoats and jewels were already spread on her bed, sparkling and strange, and somehow cruel.

As if I breathed superior air, Or brushed a royal gown; )
lotesse: (lotr_samwise)
heaven and earth, nothing can make me cry like hobbits do. It starts so terribly easily. And it's like the tears start from all the way down, but they somehow don't really hurt, and after crying them I feel clean and worn smooth.

I feel bad, sometimes, teaching these summer classes on Fellowship, because I'm not giving my poor students any warning as to the heartbreak that lies ahead for them, should they choose to finish the work. I haven't told them yet that it's the saddest story in the world.
lotesse: (lotr_moon!frodo)
So, part of my stupid busywork summer job involves teaching the first part of The Fellowship of the Ring to disgruntled high-schoolers who don't like to read. Possibly, will be fun when in implementation; at the moment, I'm just watching through endless training videos about how to spoonfeed the text to them. It's all vaguely hysterical. Did you know that Frodo was an unconventional hero, and that the Ring shows us that it's important to not kill people so you end up like Bilbo and not like Gollum? And of course there are no class divisions in the Shire, what are you talking about?

Sigh. Am surviving by consuming hobbit porn. Frodo Hill; or, Memoirs of a Hobbit of Pleasure has been of particular help.
lotesse: (Bronwe Athan Harthad)
I just had an omg-fandom-is-awesome-nowadays moment - was hungry for new, unread hobbitslash, poked del.ici.ous unfruitfully, and then remembered that we have an archive of our own now, that can be searched! And that contains stuff! And I found new fic, just like I wanted to!

Also, my cat has spent the afternoon sleeping half-in, half-out of a paper bag on my bed; the bag is on the bed, and the cat is spilling out of it, dead to the world. Ridiculous beast.

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin

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