lotesse: (afrofuturist)
Late-night hypothesis (i had a hard day i'm not thinking about it): might the weird misdirectedness of "sj shipping" and whatnot be a possible aftereffect of the hardcore fannish embrace of the death of the author?

Instead of accepting all fannish responses while questioning the motives/credentials of directors, movie studios, and various financiers, we seem to be ignoring the latter classes of being almost entirely to instead police fannish response.

I am pretty sure that a substantial chunk of this is "women can be easily made to feel badly about libidinal desires," but also think it's interesting that, after having gloriously launched myself into the arms of Barthes during the Harry Potter years, I now find myself endlessly wanting to remind fellow fen about who gets paid for these stories, who has control, and who exactly doesn't (hint: it's us).
lotesse: (Default)
here are some points about Quantum Leap, idk idk:

-it's just about the clearest possible example of the 90s White Knight Hero Disease a girl could ask for. It goes like this: as it starts to become clearer in the mid-90s that media needs to be more diverse and attentive to social issues, diversity and social issues become popular and also increasingly important plot elements/drivers. But make no mistake the heroes are still gonna be white men and no homo. These white male heroes thus end up hogging the stage while ostensibly crusading for minority rights/representation. ATS did that for basically the whole first season, coulda called it "Angel and Hurt Women: The Series."

In QL, this manifests as a particularly weird version of What These People Need Is A Honky, one that basically translates to "if this white dude lived your life, he wouldn't fuck it up the way you do." The reason why it's so weird is that it almost comes all the way back around to working. Not quite, but, like, almost.

One of the reasons why social prejudice is bad is that it screws people up long-term. Traumatized people make bad decisions. When you already carry so much extra pressure, deal with brainwashing, with microaggressions, shit with macroaggressions, dealing with the other shit in life doesn't always work out well. Oppression leads to cascading failure and emotional/psychological depletion. So it makes some realistic sense that a character like Sam Beckett, with his background and privileges and personality type, would be able to get over the rough ground of the "Leap-ees"' lives lightly, just by being soft and calm and brave and intuitive and gentle - and, most importantly, by being confident in himself and his rights.

As a woman, I see this operating most clearly in the crossdressing eps. Sam doesn't have the same lifetime of taught assumptions about how men are allowed to treat him (poorly), so when he's victimized as a female Leap-ee he resists it and makes changes - when the woman who had actually lived that life had been quiet and accepted it, and had been careful not to rock the boat.

This is one of the things that (dis)privilege is. Does the show know this? man idk. I sort of doubt it. It doesn't really work as a progressive narrative paradigm. You can't dismantle the master's house with the master's tools like that. What happens to those women when they return to their lives, for one thing? Female niceness is protective camoflage, bro, maybe they needed it.

-okay so also another thing: in a way, that (horrible, painful) ending is some spiritually righteous shit. It just feels really weird coming after a whole show that didn't engage at all at that level. I got a similar thing here where I can't get my head around there being authorial intent but the signification works out anyway.

[personal profile] giandujakiss's vid Coming Home was pivotal for me in seeing the possibility of this reading - although I might also be extrapolating wildly in the opposite direction of her intent? But - when I first watched - and loved - the vid, I was struck by the assertion of GK's fannish power with the manipulation of that final text card. Her use of her editing suite allowed her to "over-write" the ending, blacking out the word "never" and transforming the story from one where Sam never came home to one where he did. I liked that; I don't like "one goes alone" endings as a rule, and will cheer on anyone who resists them.

On subsequent watches, though, GK's music choice started hammering in something about the canon for me: while Sam Beckett may canonically have never have returned to his own timeline, he was always already "coming home" during each and every leap - building community with other humans at a level of intensity practically unreachable in mundane life. If "coming home" = attaining community/communion/belongingness, rather than = going back to Sam's particular space/time biological/social embodiment, well, he wins at the end, and that makes it almost a happy ending.

Sam's abandonment of his self in order to restore Beth and Al's relationship is a gesture of perfect spiritual abegnation, and he ends by ascending to - basically - sainthood, forsaking ordinary life for continuing deep communion with suffering souls. I used to use the iconography of the Hindu Bodhisattvas when I relied on this fantasy to justify my being abused by my Ex: the being that becomes perfectly compassionate and so attains enlightenment, dissolving individual singleness in the process. I do not know how I feel about Sam Beckett's story being about the holiness of the abandonment of the self in order to serve the needs of the world. But - watching the show now, man, that's kind of all I can see.
lotesse: (starwars)
It's easier for me to project my trauma, insecurity, anxiety, and pain onto male characters. It's too - hot - to do it with female self-avatars. I haven't been able to casually re-watch the last season of Shameless before now, because the way I identify with Fiona is so intense and cathartic that I sort of don't want to touch it. Sometimes the nerve is too sensitive. Rose Campbell makes me just sob and sob and sob. Writing about Ekaterin Vorsoisson is like looking into the mirror and forcing myself to tell the truth about what I see. In some ways, these are the important identifications: they're the ones that are really keeping me going, the bedrock of story-stuff that I know will always be there for me to fall back on when I need support. They're the loci where I'm working through my shit; and I keep swearing to myself that, if nothing else, I will work through my shit. But it's fucking painful. With male self-avatars, it's a lot easier, a lot lighter, and pretty painless.

I think it's so much easier and so much more painless for me to work through trauma via male self-avatars for two reasons. One is that I've been culturally conditioned to love, forgive, and excuse men. In my real life, this has caused problems for me; through the transformative effects of fiction, it can give me a way to love, forgive, and excuse myself with greater ease and confidence.

The other reason has to do with distance; there's a line that I've always remembered but haven't ever been able to google down, from someone's meta about slash from way back in the early millennium, about how slash is a retreat from a figural female body "soaked through in semiotic ink." My own body is, for me, tremendously overdetermined; it all means too much. My selfhood has come to feel similarly; I keep touching off painful epiphanies and moments of unwanted self-knowledge, and it's a lot. Boy characters with whom I can identify - Will Stanton, Benton Fraser, Luke Skywalker and Miles Vorkosigan and Bellamy Blake and Daniel Jackson - let me sidle up to my damage without the incendiary risk. There's a representational veil that protects me, so that I can indulge in h/c or grovelfic or praisekink or whatever soothing stuff my id wants without self-protective sensitized pulling-back.
lotesse: (Default)
One of the biggest and most valuable things I've learned through fannish engagement is just how complex identification actually is; because we're operating outside of the cultural paradigm that assumes identification based on likeness - she's a girl I'm a girl therefore she's automatically my identity character - you can see how much potential variance there is in degrees and types of identification. We talk a lot in fandom about the "do I want to be them or have them?" question. Because there's the identification of "you are the person I want to be," and the "you are everything I hate about myself" identification, and the weird hurt/comfort-y one where you recognize your own pain or strangeness in a character and go about trying to fix it for them in a sideways attempt to bring it right for yourself. Sometimes loving a BSO is like loving a partner, but a lot of the time I find that it's more about loving myself. Or - this is maybe more right - about loving myself the way I would love a partner.

I was reading Slings & Arrows fic a moment ago, and just thinking about how passionately I loved Geoffrey Tennant, and how much he was the person that I wanted my Ex to be able to become, the person he was, in reality, never ever going to be. I - well, he was dark-haired and scruffy and creative and mentally disordered, so I can see where I was going with it. If he'd be Geoffrey, be that creative and powerful and effective, I thought, I could be Ellen, I could have my creativity elevated by and expressed through my partnership. I'm big on power-couple fantasies, and it wasn't a problem for me to chill in the supporting role.

But then I had this weirdly intense and transgressive-feeling thought: that of the two of us, I had really been the most like Geoffrey. I was the one overflowing with creative and intellectual energy. He - he was fucking Claire, pretty much.

Is my tendency to classify Geoffrey Tennant as a love-object, rather than an identity-object, a way of shrinking from a claim of identification with power that I subconsciously find too presumptuous?

When I'm loving Geoffrey Tennant, is that truly me loving on an expression of my own most powerful potential self?

During an energy-reading a few weeks ago the reader said that I was a creative genius. I felt so awkward. I spent years sitting next to my Ex with our writing machines, and he was failing to finish his third draft, but I was finishing better and better fanworks, taking on more ambitious projects, writing solidly and consistently - but he was the writer in our relationship, no question about it, that was what we both said and believed. Why did he get to call himself a writer, and not me? His (unfinished) works had been read by classmates in workshops and that was about it; during the same period of our lives together I was getting positive feedback from the source author on my yuletide story. And he asserted his "creative genius" all the time - so why did I feel so awkward over the same claim applied to myself? Why was I so much more invested in establishing his genius than my own?

I think there's something to the way that female-driven fandom tends to love on heroes rather than inhabit them that's really about gender and the (in)accessibility of power-claims. Not all of it, but something.
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."


‘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.


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: (panslabyrinth_book)
My head is going firecrackers over this tumblr post from saathil013 that identifies fanac with the negative space of poetic enjambment, possibly because I have Keats' line about negative capability ("being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact and reason") written down at the bottom of my desktop background so that I can always see it there under whatever other windows I've got open. I really, really like the idea of fandom as the inhabitation of negative space, because it gives me language for the common factor in the attraction to negative space that I tend to feel in my engagements with poetry, fanac, meditation, academia, and most of the other things that matter to me in my life.

Fen have the shiniest brains, y'all.
lotesse: (books_sapphic)
[personal profile] schemingreader, Writing Fan Fiction: Doing Something or Doing Nothing?: Fandom is weird. It's a great way to meet new people and to reconnect with old friends. There's no better way to meet a lot of goofy intellectual oddballs of the type you want to hang out with all the time. The way you meet them is, you sit in a room by yourself and type while imagining fictional scenarios. Then you sit in a room by yourself and read stories. Then you sit in a room by yourself and type responses and read other people's responses.

Of course, you type "ha ha ha" or "lol" or "I <3 u" a lot.

In essence, it's a way to fall in love with a lot of people who are far away and whom you might meet once or twice if you're really lucky. It's somehow both social and isolating, at the same time.
lotesse: (prydain_ship)
So I have been doing all this reparative/critical work with Prydain. For a while now - and I swear I will finish and post some of it soon. It's interesting turf in terms of sex/gender: on the one hand, so dated in terms of narrative focus, with the male protag getting all the real development and the female protag being just a little Too Perfect - or just being airheaded. But on the other, Lloyd Alexander was always someone who really tried to write inclusively & to have Strong Female Characters, and I know that I found more for myself in Prydain than I did most other places, as a kid.

Prydain does a really good job, imo, separating sex from gender. Gender tends not to matter; sex does. Representation remains as issue - why are there no women in this universe?! but for all that, it does some interesting things with fairly feminist sex/gender politics. Lemme 'splain.

cut for length, nattering )
lotesse: (classic)
just a tiny bit of meta, because it's summer and I'm apparently incapable of writing longform, so I'll just link: so [personal profile] thingswithwings made this amazing vid, posted with this accompanying meta, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about manpain since.

Because I am, arguably, a Manpain Queen. Pain makes me happy - in fiction, that is, ahem. My problem with mainpain - and it is a problem, don't get me wrong - is that it actually minimizes the amount of pain available. What if Sha're was taken by the Goa'uld and we got three seasons of Daniel angsting over it AND of Sha're dealing with possession/strugging to hold on to her own subjectivity/becoming increasingly radicalized and badass as she saw more of the world and its cruelties? Instead, manpain structures limit us to half the tasty suffering and weemo.

It's not that I want white dudely protags to hurt less. It's that it'd be cool if we had a more catholic camera in regard to pain in media, that was willing to explore ladypain and pocpain and trans*pain and other such interesting and possibly very moving sorts of things. Not restriction, but rather broadening of narrative focus. And the attendant increase in the gross volume of narrative pain for me to splash around contentedly in!

(I've been trying all morning to think of source texts that actually do this. Um, The Scarlet Pimpernel? possibly Tamora Pierce's books, though she still has issues with chromatic masses and white privileged protags, but the gender stuff is better most of the time. hrm.)
lotesse: (btvs_womanwarrior)
So I know I'm late on this one, but life has been – well, life. And actually writing things out is hard. But that needlessly sexist Know Your Stereotypical Female Characters flowchart collided with the queer feminist theory I've been trying to get my head around this last month, and here I am. This is totally me thinking through several things simultaneously here, so it might come out garbled – and I'm also transposing queer theory onto an ostensibly feminist critique – but I think I've understood something. But it's all weird and destabilized. Let's see if I can manage to articulate it.

What makes pleasure and amelioration so 'mere'? )
lotesse: (classic)
1. Because I value the emotional freedom fandom has taught me to value my id and the contents thereof.

I love the awareness of my id I've been building in fandom. I look back at my baby fic, and the thing that strikes me most isn't how badly written it is - and it is! - but how tragically unaware that little girl was of what she wanted. My baby stories dance around my id, and sometimes they just miss it altogether, because I had no idea what I was doing. No one had ever talked to me before about the erotic pleasure of (nonsexual as well as sexual) stories. I just knew that some bits of books made me really happy, and I was trying to figure out how to replicate that feeling.

I'm happier for having a name to put to my id. It means I spend less time chasing it, and more time experiencing pleasure. My feminism values women's pleasure pretty highly.

2. Because I love all of your ids, and I love knowing and seeing them.

Even if they're not my own. You read anyone's work for long enough, and you'll end up knowing quite a bit about her. [personal profile] cesare gave the example of narrative emphasis on advanced degrees in a porn story, and that's pretty much exactly what I mean. We're writing to please ourselves here, and if you cross fandoms with somebody you're going to see her reapplying tropes and being attracted to similar stories and yeah, that's going to give you some information about her.

But when I think about the phrase "my id is showing," I think of prowriters who don't know how to approach or harness their ids. There's something very uncomfortable about reading someone's book and both seeing their kinks and knowing that they didn't mean for you to see their kinks. Um. Lots of dudely sff gives me this feeling: Orson Scott Card, (occasionally) Frank Herbert, Stephen Lawhead. It's awkward, because you can tell that they're not doing it on purpose, their ids are just creeping out and they can't get them back in the box. They're not doing anything with that id pleasure, just flailing. In contrast, writers like Tamora Pierce or Baroness Orczy, heck like, Tolkien, who knew how to use the id if ever anyone did - the ones who know what they want and tie the power of their ids to some pretty masterful purposes - I love seeing their ids. Not a problem. Their ids work for my benefit.

And I love seeing fandom's collective ids in particular, because of that thing mentioned above re: women's pleasure. You guys, I think our id vortices are so cool. I think it's so cool that we have language for all this stuff that critical communities don't - woobie? that's our word. Literature's jam-packet with 'em, but academia hasn't been over-arsed to name the phenomenon. I love that we have structures and spaces that let us really get to know our pleasure buttons, and that uncritically celebrate our happy feelings. And, y'know, that whole thing where "good" writing is totally a narrative kink anyway. So.

If your id is showing, it might not gel with my id. I might scroll down or backbutton out. But unless your id is talking about, idk, Indian princesses - Sherlock Holmes kinkmeme, I'm looking at you - I'm not going to have a problem with that. If your kinks are really obvious in your writing, I'm actually pretty likely to think it's cute, and to grin when I see them pop up. I don't feel the need to police either your id or my own.

3. Because I just can't see us resisting all the baggage about ids and good writing bouncing around our culture. [personal profile] telesilla's already been burned. It's inevitably going to be more panopticon than we want it to be, I think.

or not.

3 Feb 2010 12:25 pm
lotesse: (sorrow)
MSNBC recreates the same tiresome linkage of internet use and depression. I hate the way this gets talked about - I had so many struggles with my mother, as a kid, over my internet use. I was a lonely socially-isolated kid in the middle of nowhere, and yeah, slash fandom felt like a better place to be than all the high school social events.

There's something profoundly irritating in being treated as if, by simply being a depressive, you've lost the capacity to make choices and fulfill your own needs. If I'm having a depressed day, I can decide how I want to handle it. I can examine myself and make the call as to whether I need to be firm and get myself out into the world, or if I just really need a day to puddle and nest and re-center and recover. Because of the social and time/space structures online, it's pretty much always going to feel safer and easier to me than face-to-face interaction. That doesn't mean that the internet is hurting me!
lotesse: (stargate - a singer must die)
Okay, there's a line where that sort of thing goes from fun into badficland, but still. It's the girly men that I'm looking for. I fetishize and get off on their youth, their physical smallness, their visible and invisible innocence. Their tendency to use words instead of fists. Their ability to speak the language of emotional need. Their understanding of c retaking, and their own need for the same.

Their receptive sexuality, which basically gives you girl-pov hetsex with two guys.

I know that, objectively speaking, Daniel Jackson is a tall, strong man some five to ten years my senior who can more than take care of himself. But for some reason, I want to read about the side of him that's needful, young, sweet, vulnerable. This is one of those things that has more to do with identification than with sexual preference – so it's not that I'm irl attracted to femmy guys, so much as it's the fact that I'm a cis, femmy woman myself.

I think that what I'm really looking for in slash is some foothold for my gender )
lotesse: (stargate - a singer must die)
Having a sick day today, watching Stargate:SG1 season 7 on telly (which is weird, because I've never had a telly - this one belongs to my auntie, for whom I am housesitting), and having worries. We've watched seasons 1-5 on Hulu now, and I've found Japanese internet sources for the Daniel-relevent bits of season 6 plus "Fallen" plus "Moebius," and I'm trying to figure out where I go from here wrt this fandom.

I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war )
lotesse: (porn?)
I keep feeling like I'm not the fan everybody's looking for, at least wrt the warnings debate. Because while I'm fortunate enough to not have any real-life triggers, I also prefer my fic plastered with warnings and spoilers of every sort.

I do this with all narrative, actually, because I don't like suspense, and I find the first reading/viewing/hearing of a piece to be the least interesting. I connect much harder to characters once I know where they're going - and often I love sequences in hindsight that bored me the first time around, because I've since fallen in love with the people in them.

I also have fairly ironclad characterizations and interpretive patterns - so what [personal profile] ratcreature's been talking about with the deeper issues relating to the Blair Sandburg haircut warnings definitely applies to me. I often have a very inflexible vision of canon - I'll read exceptionally good fic that falls outside it, but I'll put up with a lot more mediocrity when my preferred tropes are active. So my Daniel Jackson needs to be a gentle civilian geekboy, and my Jim Kirk is really damn smart and personally withdrawing, and my Frodo Baggins is unquestionably an adult as opposed to a teenager, and my Faith Lehane is something more than an evil bitch, and my Edward Elric is weird about his little brother.

Most fics that deviate from those characterizations get closed out of - they have to be really, really good for me to keep reading. And I like it when it's fairly obvious from the outset what character facets particular writers subscribe to, because I hate it when I read far enough in to get invested in the plot before I find out that an author's characterizations are just too different from my own for her story to work for me. And when warnings, descriptors, summaries, and author's notes give me such information right upfront, well, the happier I am.

I realized, in talking with my beta about my (almost finished I swear!) big postquest LotR fic, that the direction of the ending is not actually obvious in the narrative climax. And I thought about trying to hide the outcome, to keep any eventual readers in suspense. But then I realized that I would absolutely hate it if such a thing were done to me - particularly, in this case, because the question at hand involves the Grey Havens, which are traumatic enough that I need to have fair warning going in if they're going to happen as read. If I read through a whole novella thinking that there was hope only to have it snatched away from me - or vice versa - I remember, about two years ago, reading Middlemarch for the first time having only previously done Eliot's depressing stuff. I was sure until the end that everybody was going to die horribly, and I was shocked when they didn't. And I was less involved in Dorothea/Will than I might have been otherwise, because I was bracing myself all the time for a blow that never fell.

At any rate. As a rule, I don't click through to stories that don't have posted summaries, warnings, and indicators as to length. I want specific data before I commit! Am I really that unusual?

eta: just to make clear, I'm not making a political argument, or one of social responsibility, though I think those are important. I'm arguing from the practical - if your story doesn't have information tags all over it, why would I click that link? I'm arguing that information tags are good for fanwriters and fanreaders, as advertisements.
lotesse: (lotr_movie!sam)
I've been watching LotR movie documentaries, and I’m sorry, but I just can’t get with their rationale that what they did to Faramir was in any way necessary. I've tried to see their point, read around, tried to fall in love with the filmic vision of my characters at this narrative point, and pretty much totally failed. Mainly because I think the Henneth Annun chapters of the book have plenty of tension, drama, and anxiety.

Frodo’s tone was proud, whatever he felt, and Sam approved of it; but it did not appease Faramir )

The films' messing up of things galls at me, because those are my absolute favorite chapters of the whole epic. We go from "What's taters?" to "I love him, whether or no," and then on to "do not love the bright sword for its sharpness." Sigh.
lotesse: (lotr_movie!sam)
I'm writing Frodo-doesn't-sail-from-the-Grey-Havens fic. I feel sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. I don't think it would be overstating things to say that the Grey Havens were pretty much the central trauma of my adolescence. The pain of that unhappy ending - the loss of the Elves, of Frodo, of the beauties that burn like cold iron - I'm still not over it. I both love and hate Tolkien's ending.

It's not the only ending I feel that way about. Peter Pan, Narnia, His Dark Materials, the Matter of Britain. These awful, inevitable losses of faerie, of innocence, of hope. But all of those terrible endings I can abide by. I feel like they're unquestionable. Right. Proper. I might want Peter Pan to have a different ending, but I would never dream of making a new one. That would be denial of an undeniable truth. Wrong, somehow.

But I keep trying to rewrite the Grey Havens. The first fic I ever wrote was a Sam-sails-too, and the first long piece I ever managed was a Frodo-returns. So what is it about that ending in particular that renders it malleable to me? Why doesn't it feel wrong to try and keep Frodo in the Shire?

It's on Frodo's behalf that I want to object to the Havens. I've never been able to imagine Frodo over the Sea, to picture what he would do or be there. It feels all wrong, too. And I absolutely cannot imagine that any Elf or Maia could give Frodo better care than Master Samwise could. Frodo is a Baggins - he belongs in the Shire. He needs community, not even more isolation.

A while ago, [livejournal.com profile] fictualities gave me an interesting - and utterly brilliant - frame to stretch this issue across. She picked apart that quote of Tolkien's, "I think the simple 'rustic' love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, the longing for Elves, and sheer beauty."

Read more... )
lotesse: (love)
Tangentially jumping off of a topic on narrative friendship at fangs, fur, & fey -

It's a mistake, I think, to see all fannish involvement with a text as somehow indicative of what fen want that text to be. Ficcing a pairing doesn't mean you want them together in canon - although it can mean that, of course - so much as it means that you see an interesting possible story in their hooking up. Fanwriting is spidery. Unlike prowriting, it doesn't per se drive toward a goal narrative.

This is negative capability with a vengeance - no irritable grasping, just flinging webs of possible, divergent stories. Ideally unprivileged? Like some sort of pornographic quantum event, where everything is everywhere at once until we look straight at it, and becomes so once again after we look away.
lotesse: (hope)
I've been thinking long and hard about RaceFail09. Being quiet, trying to deal. Maybe too quiet - I've been melancholy, and so perhaps too disengaged. But I think I've come to one point of absolute resolution - namely, that in a world of infinite art, theory, storytelling, I don't think I have time for shoddiness or shallow thinking. And I define defensive, racist, blind behavior as ultimately and fundamentally and irrevocably shallow.

It was shallow last spring when this went around the feminist blogs, in the same way that those selfsame feminist blogs recognized that it was shallow years ago when the fauxgressives at DailyKos decided that feminists were sanctimonious harpies.

And I'm look for the smart stuff, here. I left those blogs because I'm looking for the best possible analysis, and Kos' rejection of feminism and Amanda Marcotte's appropriation of the work of women of color both tell me that neither of those bloggers can correctly parse intersectional oppressions. Here's the deal - I don't read Black feminism out of respect for diversity or multiculturalism or whatever. I read Black feminism because without that analysis, how can I ever come to any understanding of a patriarchy that also bases itself in racial hierarchy?

I'll read a book if I think it's likely to be smart. Generally, I can't help but think that anyone who has such extreme lack of self-recognition or cultural consciousness as Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, and especially the Nielsen Haydens have shown in their responses to this business is unlikely to have enough creative intellect to create a world or a character or a novel in which I'm interested.

I guess what I'm really saying is that the fail on display in all of this is more than just insensitive, hegemonic, and asinine. It's also the evidence of deep loss of imagination, compassion, inspiration and creativity. Diversity enriches us! Other perspectives enrich us. I know that I, as a white feminist, have found so many of my really big important answers in the writings of non-white women - Cherrie Moraga, Audre Lorde. Heck, even though her rhetoric probably comes to us through distortions, Sojourner Truth. Their work has shown me my paths to liberation in ways that Gloria Steinem's never has. Of course, that doesn't mean that I can take what I want from women of color and then run off with those spoils - because they helped me, I have an ethical responsibility to be an ally, to reach back and lend a hand, to not leave anyone behind, to not silence any other mouth.

We're arguing towards not just a more humane world, here, but a better literature - more free, more imaginative, with greater scope and passion and empathy. Any writer who bails on the revolution is also, I believe, bailing on her art. Poetry demands our complete honesty, and the poems of oppression are sad, dead, sterile things. Literature, creativity, and intellectualism all demand that we be willing to consider, to listen, and to evolve. When we stop doing those things we all die a little inside. No one is served by heirarchy, though some may benefit in the short term.

And I so don't have time for sterile stories or intellectually dishonest theories. I don't care how shiny the spaceships and dragons are - if they're resting on systemic oppression, there's nothing there but tired illusion.
lotesse: (feminism - Buffy)
I followed all the conversation a few weeks ago on the female gaze in pornography - link here to Cathexys - with interest, but I couldn't quite figure out how to voice my discomfort with [livejournal.com profile] bradhanon's argument.

But now I have thoughts. Jezebel posted an article this afternoon called Exposed: Are Women Better at Controlling Lust? And while I don't appreciate the evo-psych bs title, the thesis is pretty cool: women look in the same way men do, but they get that you don't act on every impulse. Obvious, yes, but the essay throws in one think that I never see brought up in these debates. That is, that women restrain themselves for - at least - two reasons. The first is societal - women aren't supposed to have desire, blah blah blah.

But the other reason is for purposes of pleasure. The article quotes Emily Maguire as saying "[Girls] learn that yearning for male bodies can be expressed only if those bodies belong to smart, funny boys who are kind to puppies and old people." In other words, hot boys can sometimes hurt you. The best way to enjoy your sexuality is to consider the non-physical merits of your sex partners, at least to some degree. Sleeping with jerks is good for nobody and nothing.

I love this explanation for gendered sexual behavior, because it grants women their sexual agency. It's not that we don't notice the pretty boys. It's that we have standards. Even in one-night-standing, there are some guys that, well, no. Indiscriminate promiscuity tends to be bad for you, but promiscuity with thought is a horse of a different color.

This is the thing I've never understood about guyporn. If it's a hot blonde, they're good. But I can think of a kajillion very very pretty boys, both in real life and in media fandom, that I'm just not that into. Erm, sideways example - after I saw Zack and Miri Make a Porno, I went out at got Knocked Up, which I hadn't seen before, because I was so totally into Seth Rogen's character in Z&M. But I was utterly grossed out by his character in Knocked Up, because he was a repulsive manchild fuckerd. Same guy, same appearance, different character types = different levels of arousal. It's possibly really weird that I just used Seth Rogen as an example of a hot guy, but eh.

I think part of the slash aesthetic lies in the recognition that there are different kinds of sexy, and that responses may - and probably should - vary. Every individual, and every couple, works differently. Doesn't mean they can't all be hot.

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin


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