Been a while. Life keeps happening. Here are some readable bits of it.
- The Thing with gay romance and surprise vaginas therein has become a minorly big deal and there’s a must-read link roundup of the pertinent bits on Radish Reviews.
To my knowledge the review blogger in question is still publicly trying to pretend it never happened. Lol.Oh no wait she’s acknowledging it to the tune of LA LA LA I DON’T CAAAAARE. Cute and unsurprising. Anyway, the section on harassment in the SF&F community is also a must-read.
- “I Was a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.” This is quite simply fabulous.
If I’d known what women have to sacrifice in order to write, I would not have allowed myself to be so badly hurt when boys whose work and writing I found so fascinating found those same qualities threatening in me. I would have understood what Kate Zambreno means when she says, in her marvellous book Heroines, I do not want to be an ugly woman, and when I write, I am an ugly woman. … I would have understood quite clearly what I was choosing when I chose, sometime around the time I packed two suitcases and walked out on Garden State Boy, to be a person who writes her own stories, rather than a story that happens to other people.
- And an equally fabulous response: “Myths of glamor: faerytale archetypes & female form”.
Most folklore concerning pixies describes them as downright dangerous unless approached with the correct measure of respect. The narratives of pixies who steal infants from their cradles, who charm men to sleep for a hundred years with sleeping potions, who hold great feasts and build mountains of gold, and dance in the moonlight has been stolen from human-kind and replaced with some bullshit Hollywood fakery of a manic pixie dream girl and we collectively are the poorer for it.
- On the horrifically self-centered fetishization of “authenticity”.
A naïve belief in authenticity eventually gives way to a deep cynicism. A conviction in personal success that must always hold failure at bay becomes a corrupt stubbornness that insists on success at any cost. Cynicism, in this mode, is not the expression of a critical stance toward authenticity but is rather the runoff of this failure of belief. The self-help industry itself runs the gamut in both directions — from “The Power of Now,” which teaches you the power of meditative self-sufficiency, to “The Rules,” which teaches a woman how to land a man by pretending to be self-sufficient. Profit rules the day, inside and out.
- U2’s Zooropa is twenty years old, and while much of the rest of the U2 catalogue has frankly gone stale for me, this album has not. Here is some of why.
Here’s how Zooropa is important. It may never rise above a general estimation as a minor work in U2′s catalogue, but it’s important because it’s an example of a massively successful pop band taking some big chances, molding their sounds with all sorts of elements of the underground. This might be a bit extreme, but I’m not sure Kid A happens without predecessors like the one-two punch of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. I’m not sure Yeezus happens. For those of us who grew up when How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was new, it’s hard to imagine that this version of U2 ever existed, and certainly hard to imagine them ever becoming so bold again. But we can hope.
- We don’t know what’s actually going on in Syria because our media doesn’t either, and doesn’t seem all that interested in finding out.
In the middle of a ferocious civil war it is self-serving credulity on the part of journalists to assume that either side in the conflict, government or rebel, is not going to concoct or manipulate facts to serve its own interests. Yet much foreign media coverage is based on just such an assumption.
- Frederick Douglass – What, to the American Slave, is the 4th of July?
I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
- “Torture and Taboo: On Elaine Scarry”. The Body in Pain was a massively formative book early on in my graduate school career, particularly the section on warfare. She introduced to me the idea of national identity literally as a thing embodied, rendering injury and death on a battlefield politically meaningful. There are a lot of flaws in the book, though, and a lot of places in her line of thought to which I’m unwilling to follow. This is a great piece on the work as a whole and the cultural taboo of torture as it’s come into being in the past century.
Politics involves comparing always dirty regimes and seeking better alternatives, and the absence of this sphere is what is most questionable about Scarry’s universe. That we focus on torture so single-mindedly—as if the institutional contexts for it and the institutional sequels to it were not more important—is due to historical experiences that, because they are the conditions of Scarry’s criticism, may escape her gaze.
- No one should die for a house.
We need to stop seeing wildfire as an enemy to be exterminated forever and instead accept it as inevitable. We need to recognize that communities built without wildfire-mitigation measures are tinderboxes waiting to burn and stop incentivizing homeowners to rebuild with kindling.
Be a fucking diva.