lotesse: (l'engle_unicorn)
So, I've got to say - I'm halfway through Blackfish, and it's a whole different experience from the one I'd been expecting. I avoided the doc in theaters because I was afraid of Sad Animal Feelings, a genre of pain I find unnecessary. But instead it's doing this wonderful thing of detaching me from my species loyalty; these American brats and white tourists treat majestic, powerful creatures like gratification machines, less respect than they'd give a dog, so that when the whales turn on their trainers you see the heroic nobility of their soldierly attempts at escape, communication, sabotage. Free the prisoners, fuck the police. The footage of orca violence comes off as remarkably considered and strategic, from the hunting group in the wild that works together to overturn a seal's icefloe to the precision way they dominate and damage their primate tormentors. Some of the anti-SeaWorld commentators talk about psychosis, but the attacking whales remind me more of that moment when you just can't take the bullshit anymore. Don't fuck around with beasts. They have more mojo than you.

I've had Virginia's bit from Three Guineas in my head a lot of late: "Set fire to the old hypocrisies. Let the light of the burning building scare the nightingales and incarnadine the willows. And let the daughters of educated men dance round the fire and heap armful upon armful of dead leaves upon the flames. And let their mothers lean from the upper windows and cry “Let it blaze! Let it blaze! For we have done with this ‘education’!" She backs down from it, and by all pragmatic thinking she's right to do so; but although no being should have to kill for its freedom, I end up hissing and baring my teeth and curling my toes with the intensity of watching "trainers" getting schooled on the real powers with which they've dared interfere. "Trainers." there's a difference between teaching and training, between training and genuine interspecies interaction. I don't train my cats, and all jokes to the contrary they don't train me; we communicate. Reciprocally. In a non-hierarchical fashion. ime anything that thinks of itself as a trainer lacks knowledge and spouts disinformation.

I'm drifting from my first thought, but stream-of-consciousness style: what is up with Disney princess movies normalizing the abuse of domestic animals?! I've been clipping for a vid about princesses tripping balls, and keep noticing really cringeworthy stuff. Cinderella is unforgivably rude and disrespectful to that poor cat, for one thing, and on reflection I think he was actually quite decent about it all, far more decent than she deserved. And then, how is killing a cat literally a part of the movie's Happily Ever After? It's not confined to the 50s, either; in The Princess and the Frog, the little white girl is shown treating animals in a borderline abusive manner. It indicates how CUTE!! and BOUNCY!! she is. And I guess just screw the poor beasts that she mauls? becuz animals, amirite? Definitely lower than humans on the Great Chain of Being.
lotesse: (l'engle_unicorn)
bfp's first post in a week-long series at Feministe on Detroit has some wonderful comments appended to it; all sound so familiar to me. Childhood in Michigan, adult life currently divided between Illinois and Indiana, an extended family rooted on both sides in Chicagoland - these places are my home turf, and I love 'em in all their messy brokedownness.

[personal profile] rachelmanija and Sherwood Smith are resisting editorial pressure to straighten out a YA novel and speaking truth to power, right on

The Decade of Magical Thinking, on the 9/11 anniversary and toxic narrative centrality

I had to reread A Room of One's Own this weekend - I know, right? terrible! - and the thing that struck me hardest this time through was how lowered my expectations were. My edition's preface, written in the mid-90s, suggests that the current US equivalent to Woolf's "five hundred a year" would be $37,000. And I believe her, I do, when she says one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. The lamp in the spine does not light on beef and prunes. We are all PROBABLY going to heaven, and Vandyck is, we HOPE, to meet us round the next corner — that is the dubious and qualifying state of mind that beef and prunes at the end of the day’s work breed between them - but it's also so terribly true in my life right now that obviously we cannot have wine and partridges and servants carrying tin dishes on their heads, she said. We cannot have sofas and separate rooms. ‘The amenities,’ she said, quoting from some book or other, ‘will have to wait.'
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: (winter)
Thank you for writing a story for me!

I'm a happy-ending kind of girl. I like stories about people in love, sexual or otherwise - stories where people care for and help one another. It satisfies my idealistic streak. I do love angst, oh do I ever, but I kind of need happy endings afterward. h/c is probably my biggest kink. I'm also really into family-of-choice tropes and stories about strong or passionate emotional intimacy.

I like female characters really a lot. Not all of my requests center directly on women, but it's important to me that narrative spaces reflect gender parity/equity, or specifically condemn the lack thereof in more realistically patriarchal 'verses. I like non-standard sexualities and imaginative modes of sexual engagement. Similarly, cultural diversity that opens up the imaginative space of the canon makes me seriously happy. There's no reason why kyriarchal western values, images, mores, or cultural practices need to rule speculative stories that are fairytales or take place in outer space!

Battlestar Galactica (1978) )

Limberlost books )

Tamora Pierce, Tortall )

Orlando )
lotesse: (Default)
'Cause I love me some historical ladywriters. From the top: 1. Christina Rossetti, 2-3. Charlotte Brontë, 4. Emily Brontë, 5-6. George Eliot, 7. Louisa May Alcott, 8. Gene Stratton Porter (<3), 9. Lucy Maud Montgomery, 10-12. Virginia Woolf, 13-14. Edna St. Vincent Millay

of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen )
lotesse: (vindicate)
I had a jonah week of it this last - too many readings that made me feel angry, attacked, policed, chastised for my politics and for the way I want my politics to interact with my scholarship. (One of my classes is stuck on surface vs. symptomatic reading, and neither camp seems to speak for me, or in any way that I find useful. it's been very irritating.)

But - blessedly! - I get to read Virginia Woolf for next week. It's been so soothing, so comforting. Reading her makes me cry - I weep with her, but I also weep because it feels so good to have her state, with her own inimitable grace, the truths that I hold most dear. She gives me solid ground to stand on, and as grad school thus far has been an exercise in painful attempted destabilization, I felt pathetically grateful to come back to her.

Three Guineas has new resonance for me this time around, now that I've moved up a layer in the academic establishment. And this long passage in particular made me weep and sigh and cheer, rather embarrassingly as I was reading in the grad student work room:


'But it is also plain that outsiders who find you thus occupied must ask themselves, when they receive a request for a contribution towards rebuilding your college, Shall I send it or shan’t I? If I send it, what shall I ask them to do with it? Shall I ask them to rebuild the college on the old lines? Or shall I ask them to rebuild it, but differently? Or shall I ask them to buy rags and petrol and Bryant & May’s matches and burn the college to the ground?

‘These are the questions, Madam, that have kept your letter so long unanswered. They are questions of great difficulty and perhaps they are useless questions. But can we leave them unasked in view of this gentleman’s questions? He is asking how can we help him to prevent war? He is asking us how we can help him to defend liberty; to defend culture? Also consider these photographs: they are pictures of dead bodies and ruined houses. Surely in view of these questions and pictures you must consider very carefully before you begin to rebuild your college what is the aim of education, what kind of society, what kind of human being it should seek to produce. At any rate I will only send you a guinea with which to rebuild your college if you can satisfy me that you will use it to produce the kind of society, the kind of people that will help to prevent war.

Read more... )
lotesse: (feminism - Buffy)
I've been thinking about women's anger in narrative. My Boy just read Jane Eyre for the first time, and while he loved Jane's passionate rage as a child, he was disappointed by the way that she cools down and reigns herself in as an adult. Also, Hoyden About Town posted a feminist exploration of The Taming of the Shrew yesterday - the one Shakespeare play that I can't get my head around, that I can't figure it out.

(I also saw Australia last night, and while I loved the film I rather wish that the heroine had been more Mary Lennox or Jo March than Indiana Jones Sidekick No. 2)

I love angry girls in books. Anger is a useful resource; if you are oppressed, anger is a necessary reaction. Out of anger is born activism. I love the angry girls because they see gender oppression as the crock it actually is, and they aren't willing to play along. As a girl, the angry girls made me feel validated, like I wasn't making it all up - like I had a right to my anger. I felt with their fire.

My heart had leapt. My cheeks had burnt. I had flushed with anger. )


14 Apr 2008 06:04 pm
lotesse: (fairytale - snow white)
From the first book of To the Lighthouse:

With stars in her eyes and veils in her hair, with cyclamen and wild violets—what nonsense was he thinking? She was fifty at least; she had eight children. Stepping through fields of flowers and taking to her breast buds that had broken and lambs that had fallen; with the stars in her eyes and the wind in her hair—He had hold of her bag.

“Good-bye, Elsie,” she said, and they walked up the street, she holding her parasol erect and walking as if she expected to meet some one round the corner, while for the first time in his life Charles Tansley felt an extraordinary pride; a man digging in a drain stopped digging and looked at her, let his arm fall down and looked at her; for the first time in his life Charles Tansley felt an extraordinary pride; felt the wind and the cyclamen and the violets for he was walking with a beautiful woman. He had hold of her bag.

and then also this one, from the same:

that it was real; the house was full; the garden blowing. If he put implicit faith in her, nothing should hurt him; however deep he buried himself or climbed high, not for a second should he find himself without her. So boasting of her capacity to surround and protect, there was scarcely a shell of herself left for her to know herself by; all was so lavished and spent; and James, as he stood stiff between her knees, felt her rise in a rosy-flowered fruit tree laid with leaves and dancing boughs into which the beak of brass, the arid scimitar of his father, the egotistical man, plunged and smote, demanding sympathy.
lotesse: (shakespeare)
Then the naming meme:

1. My username is ______ because ______.

lotesseflower, because it always has been. I picked Lótessë as a name for myself back on the TolkienOnline.Com boards, when I was maybe thirteen. Sometimes I think about changing it, because it's a bit girly and flufftastic as a representation of who I am now. But I like that it links me to Tolkien: I don't talk about him much anymore, but he was my beginning place, and he's lodged all deep down in my heart.

2. My name is ______ because ______.

"My heart is like a singing bird," from the Christina Rossetti poem "The Birthday." Virginia Woolf uses this poem in "A Room of One's Own" to talk abut the purity and the joy of love poems before the war, the uncapturable perfect happiness of the past. I'ma post the excerpt, actually, because it's beautiful:

What poets, I cried aloud, as one does in the dusk, what poets they were!

In a sort of jealousy, I suppose, for our own age, silly and absurd though these comparisons are, I went on to wonder if honestly one could name two living poets now as great as Tennyson and Christina Rossetti were then. Obviously it is impossible, I thought, looking into those foaming waters, to compare them. The very reason why that poetry excites one to such abandonment, such rapture, is that it celebrates some feeling that one used to have (at luncheon parties before the war perhaps), so that one responds easily, familiarly, without troubling to check the feeling, or to compare it with any that one has now. But the living poets express a feeling that is actually being made and torn out of us at the moment. One does not recognize it in the first place; often for some reason one fears it; one watches it with keenness and compares it jealously and suspiciously with the old feeling that one knew. Hence the difficulty of modern poetry

3. My journal is titled ____ because ____.

"Isle of Gramarye." It's a quote from a Tennyson poem, but my association is actually with T.H. White - the poem is his epigraph to the first part of "The Once and Future King." White is another thing I don't talk about much, but he was my first in every way that matters. My daddy read OAFK aloud to me when I was five years old, and it was my first Arthur story, and it was the first time I really thought about good and evil, love and death, and it was the first time I thought like a philosopher. I'm a pretty big King Arthur buff, though the stories sit quietly at the back of my heart and don't burst through into speech all that often. I picked the quote as a name for my fannish home-base because T.H. White has always meant home to me.

4. My friends page is called ____ because ____.

"will the circle be unbroken," from the folk song. Expresses the concentric circularity of conversation and community on eljay, speaks to happiness and connection and again, for me, home. My grandma used to sing this song with me at bedtime.

5. My default userpic is ____ because ____.

A new one, actually, from the Waterhouse painting of Miranda, with text from Neruda. Miranda's one of my babies right now - I'm working on a bit of (publishable!) derivative fic with her in it. I have a pet reading of "The Tempest" that exposes the tension between Miranda and Caliban as the propagandistic lie that it really is, the black male rapist narrative that both demonizes black men and at the same time deprives white women of any access to their own sexuality. Um. The Neruda because I love him, and because I'm living away from my big water right now, and because like Sam Gamgee the sound of the sea has sunk down deep into my heart, and I can never be free from the longing of it. So the icon as a whole means the sea, and wanting things, and rebellion, and hope, and naivete, and new chances.

And a poem. Leonard Cohen counts as both songs and poems.

Hunter's Lullaby )

...which is my spn happy place at the moment.
lotesse: (literature - Victorian)
Gaaaack I'm never going to be able to write on Virginia Woolf! I have no critical brain for her at all, I'm just all happy sighs and perfect contentment and I don't even really have to understand what's going on cause it still makes me swoony. Is hard to write on objects of fangirlish passion.

I need to buy some goddamn pants. The top rivet on my jeans popped off, and for like a day I was squeezing it back together every time I went to the bathroom. Problem was eventually solved with superglue, but still. I think it might sort of be a sign. But then again, it's almost summer, so maybe I can get away without buying jeans until next fall. I hate pants so frelling much. I think I will go to the Salvation Army this weekend and buy a million tops to salve my wounded soul.

... I can totally tell that Supernatural is on hiatus right now, because my fanbrain is empty, and that makes me sad. I think I need to find a new shiny thing. Maybe we'll start watching Farscape. I want to keep streaming first season Xena from Netflix, but the Boy can't seem to get beyond the camp of it all. Eh. Am watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice in the background to take the edge off.
lotesse: (firefly - forbidden fruit)
It hailed here yesterday, and I was reading Virginia Woolf all by myself with my bones all chilled, and I got a bit blue. So naturally I had to go watch Joss things while I worked on the Thesis O' Doom. and I have sort of long thinky thoughts about Mal and Inara. )

Poor dears. Patriarchy does mess them up so.

Also? I think the main reason why I haven't started reading the Buffy Season 8 comics is that I kind of can't deal with the fact that Buffy and Angel still aren't back together. It's crazy, how much I need to believe that they'll still happen.

I have to send out my Honors draft tomorrow. Eeep.
lotesse: (the voice I heard crying)
Last night I finally--finally!--read How's Moving Castle, which I've been trying to do all summer, ever since I first saw the movie. Which, oddly enough, is better than the book. All the pasts that made me gasp and hurt and cry were Miyazaki's additions. Not that the book isn't lovely, because it is. But the moment when Howl pulls back the curtain and sees that Sophie is the girl he met in Market Chipping under a curse, and then just lets the curtain fall again...I love Miyazaki so much. So much. And Howl is the best thing he's ever done. He makes small beautiful quiet things that break my heart with too much feeling.

The market at Chippingford is the place where Puzzle and Shift go in The Last Battle. There was a book that I read as a little girl that explained how "chipping" is an elision of "cheaping," and refers to haggling.

The names that Virginia Woolf uses in Room of One's Own--"Here then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please—it is not a matter of any importance"--come from and old Scottish ballad about Mary Hamilton, who was hanged for bearing and then killing the King of Scotland's baby. And it makes me terribly, terribly happy that Virginia Woolf quotes old ballads, because I love them so, and her as well, and the two really do go together perfectly. "The Four Marys" is one of the songs that Joan Baez sang.
lotesse: (Desire)
I'm doing jobshadowing work at the University of Michigan, tagging along with a family friend who workds in the School of Education with a focus on English. She's one of the directors of the Michigan chapter of the National Writing Project, an attempt to change the way that teachers think about writing and the various ways that it can be taught.

It's incredibly fascinating to talk about writing in high school and academically and creatively, especially because one of my foci as a student is to blur the line that I drew in high school between poetry and stories and expository or academic writing. I was taught that these are different things, but then I read Virginia Woolf, and she told me differently.

Today I met with the curator of the University library special collections, and my god. the sheer sexiness of the books that this guy can get his hands on is staggering. There were some very pretty bits of papyrus covered with Greek text that go a squeak out of me (it's funny how much I like Greek now that I don't have to do any for class). I love the physicality of books; for me, the tangible books is a huge part of reading. I remeber the first time I read books, remember what the edition was like, how old it was, what the text felt like and the scent of the pages. Because of this, I can visualize the children's section of my hometown library almost perfectly. I read so many of those books, spent so much time sitting with them that I know their places and their heft, the feeling of their embossed titles and deckle edging. I would love to end up working with old texts.

Also, am rereading "Middlesex" again, which is one of the most beautiful books ever written. Everyone go read it right now.
lotesse: (erised)
I've been trying to understand why feminist critique, both in fandom and outside of it, has such potential to cause me pain. Because I know that it's necessary, god above I do, and I wouldn't banish it for the world. But I do get that sinking, painful, want-to-look-away-now feeling, and I'm not usre that I like it.

This semester has been one of major feminist conflict for me. I have an instinctive attraction to the feminism of women like Virginia Woolf, Emma Goldman, Carol Gilligan, and Ursula LeGuin--the idea that women should not have to turn to the yang side of things to be good feminists, the idea that there is another way of doing things that has traditionally been alotted to women that's worth hanging on to.

Gilligan is a perfect example of this: she points out that men and women tend to view moral dilemmas differently, men focussing on rights and women on responsibilities. Only men's way of thinking has been regarded as correct and/or mature by the psychological establishment. Gilligan argues that the other way, the one that has traditionally been sociallized to the female role, is just as valid. LeGuin does this, too. She talks about writing with the female voice, tellling the yin-ish stories. And I like this idea. This feels like somewhere where I belong. Because I do, as a person, value caretaking above individual achievment. Heck, I'm a socialist. Something Le Guin mentions: the story has been definied (by men) as a thing with a conflict, something that moves the way a thrown spear does. She rejects this, talks about the novel as a vessel, as a carrier bag, something to tuck bits of things into.

Okay, all well and good. but a lot of these ideas are criticized as being part of feminist backlash, trying to tie women to the domestic role again. And I want to say, "no, really they aren't. All women don't have to be like this, it's just that I am, and I don't want to be devalued for it." But I can see their point. And it makes me oh so anxious.

Perhaps it's that I vehemently don't want to be part of the problem. I see the reality of sexism, and I want to make it better. I want to help. And I hate feeling like I'm supporting the misogynists by being the way I am.

Or maybe it goes even deeper, to a desire to not be controlled. I hate the idea that all these things that I think and feel, that I think are me, are really the result of my brainwashing at the hands of those who I would oppose. I want my thoughts to belong to me, not to someone else. And yet I know that there are women who have stuck their heads in the sand and refused to recognized the reality of sexism, and I know that they impede the progress of feminism. It happens. but I don't want it to happen.

I don't want my pleasures to turn out to be guilty ones. When LeGuin or C.S. Lewis or even my own darling Tolkien makes me happy, I don't want to think that it si only so because my thoughts and feelings are not my own. Re-reading Anne, I realized that Anne's life made me happy, and wasn't that horrible, because she goes to college and all but then goes back home to raise six kids and Gilbert gets to have a career. I felt this pang of anger towards myself for enjoying this portrait of the feminine mystique. And then I thought that LeGuin would talk about writing motherhood, writing the yin story, that Gilligan would talk about the fact that Anne chose to help individulas rather than fight the system, and that it maybe wasn't so horrible after all.

The end of the matter is that the things that make me happy, the images and dreams that I most cherish, are not going to be acceptable to a certain brand of feminism. And that makes me very, very afraid, because the success of the feminist movement is something very dear to my heart. And when the things that I love are accused of sexism, it's going to freak me out, because it will plunge me into re-evaluating myself. Someone over on [livejournal.com profile] miriam_heddy's journal brought up shaving, but for me the equivalence isn't there. I know that, when I do shave, I'm caving to social pressure. I don't do it often, but I recognize that it makes me far less likely to wear skirts. I know my motivations in that scenario. I'm not acting with complete courage, perhaps, but I'm certainly not deluding myself. And it's that delusion that I worry about, that I will do anything to end.

If the things that I love are sexist, if I love them for the wrong reasons, then I regard that as something I must change. Because I am determined to lead the self-examined life.

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin


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