fictional: (regency)
Item: Lord Peter Wimsey.

Sadly Dorothy Sayers wrote Lord Peter mysteries of a finite number, and then moved onto religious plays, and Dante of all things...[and I say, wasn't one infernal poet enough??? I ask you. When the world could have been blessed with tales of Lady Peter (nee Miss Harriet Deborah Vane) and the Wimsey sproglets in WWII to say nothing of Bunter & Lord Peter's engrossing activities in Intelligence as well as those of Viscount St. George alias Jerry (it occurs to me that nickname couldn't have done him any favors in the RAF, now could it???) and his adventures in the Battle of Britain... from where I am sure he effected a daring escape of some kind, Miss Sayers' opinion to the contrary. And Winnifred. Perhaps we might actually meet her. And some more Dowager Duchess wouldn't come amiss. But I digress.]

So, okay, you read all the mysteries, then move on to the continuations by Jill Paton Walsh, then you want more. Naturally, being a person of sound taste and judgement, you proceed to the Wimsey fanfic on the web, all of it being of a surprising quality, but small in number. (Perhaps the explanation of the former lies in the latter.) You watch the filmed adaptations (Strong Poison and Have His Carcase excellent; Gaudy Night unforgivably awful).

And then? What then?

There are numerous directions to go: one can proceed to the incomparable Miss Heyer for the regency worldbuilding tinged with a gorgeous and delightful twenties/thirties aesthetic - (Incidentally Lord Peter's world, and Heyer's Regency are... surprisingly similar, now that I think of it. Including rhythms of phrase, etc.; says something about our tendency to merrily and muddily accept anything prewar and historical as "back then")... and know the path from there is straight towards comedies of manners, and probably on into fantasies of manners. Unexceptionable, what?

But suppose that's not desired... one can go and read inspirational texts... not the spiritual kind (not the chicken soup meaning anyway), but the ones that have their genesis in love. I've got Lois McMaster Bujold at my fingertips... and I remember my last reread of the Sayers oeuvre was in fact a sort of reverse application of this phenomenon -- I was desperate for more Miles Vorkosigan, and clearly the only thing to do was apply poultice of Lord Peter and hope for the best.

However! Ruthlessly back to the original quandary. One could go straight into P.G. Wodehouse say, and maybe after that wind up with a little Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)... and then... maybe a soup├žon of Evelyn Waugh? Or backwards instead and choosing to indulge in a little, as Lord Peter might say, coming over all Galsworthy? I've always meant to give the Forsyte saga another wallop. And from thence backwards to Miss Austen? And then through to Emily Eden's "The Semi Attached Couple" and oh golly, back to la belle Georgette. A person could get dizzy with all this perambulating backwards and forwards in time.

[Incidentally, it occurs to me there is something quite Wimsey-esque to the Doctor and his TARDIS. Screwdriver/monocle, TARDIS/enviable Lagonda, post-(Time)war PTSD -- the arrogance, and the angst over condemning those that must be condemned... the list goes on and on. There's the fun of it all too.

Anyone up for a Tennant-Wimsey remake????

Incidentally, I wonder what pre-WWII era Torchwood would have made of Lord Peter....

...I but stir the pot.]

Thoughts? The important thing is to have a Plan.

Also, I really need a "reading books" icon.
fictional: (academic)
So, I think about fanfiction a lot, y'all may have noticed. And serial fiction. And the whole act of making fiction "real". What is it in a narrative that makes us think -- after the door is shut, after the windows are pushed down, after the covers are closed -- that the story goes on, before the first page, and after the last?

If you think of a single-author book as a window, or a doorway, you realize that even through you can only see a small portion of the world (i.e. what's framed by the aperture), there must be so much more just out of frame. If there isn't this sense, then the story is flat, two dimensional -- it doesn't encourage wandering. But in a good story, you don't think that the small, squared off picture is all that's real. Because if the thing is three-dimensional, it has solidity. You can pick it up and turn it around. It still exists when you look at it from another side.

Think about mythforms. Superheros. They all exist and the more people use them, carve another perspective onto them, the more solid they actually get.

From Henry James's preface to Portrait of a Lady (a little wordy; James never used one word where fifty would do) :

The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million-- a number of possible windows not to be reckoned, rather; every one of which has been pierced, or is still pierceable, in its vast front, by the need of the individual vision and by the pressure of the individual will. These apertures, of dissimilar shape and size, hang so, all together, over the human scene that we might have expected of them a greater sameness of report than we find. They are but windows at the best, mere holes in a dead wall, disconnected, perched aloft; they are not hinged doors opening straight upon life. But they have this mark of their own that at each of them stands a figure with a pair of eyes, or at least with a field-glass, which forms, again and again, for observation, a unique instrument, insuring to the person making use of it an impression distinct from every other. He and his neighbours are watching the same show, but one seeing more where the other sees less, one seeing black where the other sees white, one seeing big where the other sees small, one seeing coarse where the other sees fine. And so on, and so on; there is fortunately no saying on what, for the particular pair of eyes, the window may NOT open; "fortunately" by reason, precisely, of this incalculability of range. The spreading field, the human scene, is the "choice of subject"; the pierced aperture, either broad or balconied or slit-like and low-browed, is the "literary form"; but they are, singly or together, as nothing without the posted presence of the watcher--without, in other words, the consciousness of the artist.

Now, apply this not just to fiction in general, but to a single story. Isn't this the act of fanfic? To make things real?

D. and I argue about this all the time. He thinks that contradictory/differing versions make things less real. I think they make them more so -- just like multiple eye witness accounts differ, if they're true. When they're identical -- that's when you begin to think people are lying.

What d'you think?

I wonder about this a lot.

On a not entirely unrelated note, remember the Paul Cornell thing? Here is my version, the lovely [ profile] magnetgirl's version, the dulcet tones of [ profile] rm's recap...and Paul Cornell's account of same.

Kind of funny, no? We loom so large in our own minds. For everyone else, we're all just sidekicks and extras. Sometimes we're the cool best friend, or the romantic interest. But protagonists? We're all our own. As it should be.

I almost called my thesis "Windows on the World" but then decided the WTC/9-11 allusion was not quite... what I was going for. Fucking terrorists.
fictional: (palin master)
First, there were the PUMAs. Have you guys heard about these folks? PUMA apparently stands for Party Unity My Ass, (??? Really?) and they seem to be American feminists women of a certain age who feel utterly betrayed by the election, and spend a lot of time totting up grievances about who has suffered more, people of color, or women? (And what about female people of color? They don't seem too bothered. The sisterhood, it seems, doesn't contain them; it doesn't even seem to occur to them that it ought to...?)

In all seriousness, they actually seem certifiably nuts.

I spent a good portion of today rubbernecking the traincrash reading [ profile] palinpumawatch and clicking on through to associated links. Whoa. If you don't want it filtered, go straight to Reclusive Leftist and look around. I think the mod, Violet Socks, or whatever is a deranged fruit-bat, but the real gold (or tragedy, depending on how you look at it) is in the comments, and the community being fostered. Here is a pre-election sample. At first I was mesmerized (and enraged!) but then -- I began to see the heartbreak of it. Because, from my reading, these seem to be women who have sad, sad lives. They talk about marital discord. They talk about giving up everything for their families (occasionally in really bad poetry.) They are among the casualties of the system, right? And their lives are ordinary, and seemingly filled with a host of claustrophobic, petty disappointments. And so this neo-con cult of aggressive mediocrity (Exhibit A: Not!Joe the War Correspondent1) is going to be terribly appealing to them. Something that makes a virtue out of victimhood, that places all the blame for everything terrible that has happened to them squarely on the shoulders of someone else -- much like Sarah Palin, and her post-election, 2012 prep interviews that accuse everyone of being so unfair. At least the bizarrely named NiceDeb who actually compared Obama to Hitler (!!!) is the most offensively wingnut of conservatives; these other ladies seem to be left-leaning? Or believe that they are left leaning? But I don't think the word means what they think it means. Much like their beloved Hillary being named "secretary" of state? Because some of them don't seem to like the idea. Why? Not just too little, too late, but ...the idea of being a man's secretary? ...kinda sticks in the craw, doesn't it???

Um. No.

And yet, there's legitimacy in their quarrel with the world, right? Hasn't socialism/communism failed women in a stunning myriad of ways? Of course it has, just like capitalism, and well, basically every system in the world. It's a sexist world, no question.

And then I started thinking about feminism. Third wave? Radical? Sex positive? Post-feminist? What is the place of feminism in my philosophy?

I mean, not the PUMA way, obviously. Voting the other way for McCain and his "women's health" and Palin, who is NOT a feminist, saying that abortion wouldn't be necessary if young girls weren't "sluts" (yeah, these PUMAs are really pretty weird), dissing on Michelle Obama, who is just pretty awesome, even if she's got the most thankless (if prestigious) unpaid job in the world, AND voting against the man who not only supports a woman's right to choose, and you know, equal pay for equal work, and incidentally, say what you will, is closing down Gitmo, and trying to make government transparent, and is shutting down the secret CIA prisons round the world [And that's just the first three days in office!] cannot be considered left or feminist, in my opinion.

But what can? How do we appropriately deal with a climate of institutionalized and internalized sexism?

Unrelatedly -- but to close with a taste of awesome, via [ profile] rm, author Cathrynne M. Valente makes this post of sheer poetry about our new world.

1 I don't even like Rick Sanchez, but I must admit to enjoying that clip. But this begs another question. I love participatory culture. I think the ability of the internet to give ordinary people a voice, and an impact on affairs is staggering, and awesome (in the old, non-valley sense of the word). And yet, (oh god, am i agreeing with Sarah Palin?) -- we shouldn't be getting our news from blogs! Because there's a difference between reading people's opinions (the Op-Ed page, the Editorials) and the actual news! Is it wrong to want journalists to be, you know, trained? I don't think I've got any right to go to Gaza and be a war correspondent...! And I'd like my president to be smarter than me. I mean, the problem with majority rule is that the majority of people kinda suck, don't they? But if we agree that the Great Man theory of history is wrong...? ...Although ever seen a movement succeed without some stellar spear-heading? I just go back and forth on it all the time. But this just leads me back to one of my central problems -- how does one unite a desire for excellence with an allegiance to the interests of the common person? And the old problem of communism - what is it that binds the intelligentsia and the workers together? But this is another post, for another day...
fictional: (full face)
Check out [ profile] deepad's post, I Didn't Dream of Dragons, a thoughtful, lucid, poignant essay on race and reading fantasy.

Excerpt from my comment:

But here is my problem, and that problem is love. Brought up on a steady diet of white fantasy and British boarding school novels, now, even when I can identify the alienation imposed by them -- these are stories by people who think of me as sub-human -- I still love them. They are still the fabric of my childhood, the patterns of my inner landscape. It's like Stockholm Syndrome.

And I still don't know what to do with that? How does one cope with the politics of desire?
fictional: (Default)
So... [via [ profile] faris_nallaneen], it looks like Apple is doing good things for the end of DRM. How does this fit in with the fiasco over youtube, and song fingerprinting? I think it's ridiculous, personally. Aside from the vidding as fair use thing, how many times have I fallen in love with a song from a vid and then trotted over to itunes to purchase it?

When do you think business models are finally going to understand how to deal with "new" technology?

What is going on with the internets?

Windy City

Oct. 29th, 2008 12:32 am
fictional: (doctor traveling)
Hi guys!

Speak to me of Chicago; I've not been since I was about six or so, and I imagine both it and I have changed sufficiently since then to require some new information regarding happy fun times there. I, and the lovely, effervescently delightful [ profile] magnetgirl will be there starting Thursday evening, and leaving Sunday afternoon. This means, among other things, that Halloween'll be spent far from home. Recommendations for things to do, places to spend Halloween, bars, restaurants, sights, etc, would be much appreciated.

I'm giving my paper Saturday morning (at 9am, manifestly unfair, I think) and will be visiting the Newberry Library at some point to look at their children's books exhibit. Other than that - I've not the faintest. Help!
fictional: (Default)
Hi guys! So. Some of you may have seen [ profile] rm's recent post. Just in theory, if I were in need of a male pseudonym - what should it be?

Time Warp

Aug. 8th, 2008 04:02 pm
fictional: (Default)
Time Warp Wives.

What do you lot think of this? I am at a loss. I never know what to make of these people. On the one hand, I admire their dedication to detail. For another, I am really into vanished worlds as well. (Hello, cosplay! Dressing up is awesome. Recreating lost worlds, equally so.) In addition, it's nice to live in a time, where people can be this weird, and not get, y'know, stoned to death or whatever. I support people's constructed, fictional lives, no matter what fashion, as long as they're not hurting anyone, - and it's great that they've been able to find people of like mind to live with etc.

BUT. They are crazy. tin. hats. Like, I get the desire, but not the 24/7 of it all, you know. Obsession can be taken too far.

Here's the other thing. It's like the male-dom thing in bdsm. Like, I've been known to find it really hot. BUT. in sex! Not in real life, right? Politically I find it to be repugnant and stupid. (Femme-dom too, for that matter, but you know what I mean.) For me, the great thing about recreation of these vanished times, means that we can keep the things we like for play, and lose the things we don't. Also I like running water, the internet, eyeglasses & contact lenses, etc etc.

I just don't know.

fictional: (Default)
As part of the Dr. Who methadone program*, I watched my very first episode of Red Dwarf the other day. [Honestly, I wasn't that enthused. But I have an oddly unticklish sense of humour. I also don't get the Monty Python thing, which I concede to be blasphemous. I'm not proud of it or anything. They just don't make me laugh.] However, when watching a multi-fandom vid, I noticed that it a) included Red Dwarf, and b) had the two guys kissing. Wow. Slash everywhere, omg.

Screw you, British Empire for being such freaking wimps. If you hadn't lamed out, we could ALL BE BRITISH. And enjoy the beautiful, beautiful spectacle of boys kissing in every single available medium. Instead you were all, oh noes! My tea! My taxes! Hippies on salt-walks! Minutemen! [Talk about an unscary moniker there] Come on. You should be ashamed. White man's burden, my ass.**

In other news, I seem to have got a job. So there will be a new College Which Must Not Be Named come September. I'm teaching kidlit @ Hunter on Mondays & Thursdays. While I was there for the interview (the speediest, most railroad-y interview of my life; they had me filling out my paperwork so fast I thought my head would spin off!), I ran into in rapid succession: [ profile] jlh, [ profile] sykii [*waves* Hi guys!], another friend of mine from the grad center, and another woman I went to high school with, whom I cordially loathed***. Any omen interpreters on deck? Sybilline oracles? Anyone? Bueller? What does it all mean???

*Netflix queue now includes things which are British, include time travel, or are about death. Like methadone, ultimately unsatisfying.
** I'm kidding. Mostly.
*** I really mean both the "cordial" and the "loathing". It was the friendliest non-liking I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. We were both equally close friends with one other girl, so spent any number of drunken evenings having civilised conversation about how much we despised each other. With my kinks, I can only be surprised that it didn't blossom into romance.
fictional: (dr. who family)
Let me start by saying that I have finally found the answer to who I identify with in Torchwood, and the answer is I'm not actually ever there.

This is both sad and awesome.

Awesome because (among other reasons) I was actually really worried that I was going to have to cosplay the pterodactyl.


No, really.

It is very strange to have a certain exterior, and feel totally different on the inside. I wish so hard that my physical body reflected the interior landscape. It does not, so I constantly feel incongruous. It's not that I have self loathing (although, well, yes.); but more, it just doesn't feel right. It doesn't line up with my brain.

Sometimes this makes me feel crazy.

In other news, tonight I had drinks & dinner with [ profile] rm, and we have plotted like whoa. Yay!
fictional: (Default)
I am chopping off my hair. At the moment it is quite long, and I intend to cut most of it off, in some sort of radical and new way. I am willing to spend as much money as necessary, but I want the place to be friendly and non-intimidating; at the same time, I want the cut to be really good. I have been going to dramaticsnyc, but while they do well enough for a trim or upkeep, I'm uncertain about their ability to do a really good cut.

Suggestions for places to go?

Thanks in advance.
fictional: (Default)
Have you ever had the following experience? You are reading a book, and you think, "I really should like this!" Suppose your favorite thing in the whole world is tea, followed closely by magical adventures, and then you discover, Lo & Behold, someone has written a book about Enchanted Lapsang Souchong, and it even has an interlude in a cabbage patch, and cabbage just happens to be your favorite vegetable. In addition, it features a feisty heroine, and a stuttering hero (and you hate to admit it, but stutters make shivers crawl up and down your spine) - and you like to think of yourself as fairly fiesty, and admiring of fiesty-ness, so that should be all right....

...and then you sit down to read, and for some reason... it's just not doing it! want it to work! You ought to like it. You are rooting for the author, in fact you are the exact opposite of the traditional hostile and suspicious audience. They had you at Enchanted Tea, for God's sake!

You keep reading as hard as you can, till the taste of ashes filles your mouth, and you can no longer battle the despair.

What does this? Why does it happen? Sometimes all the ingredients are right, but the dish just didn't fly. This feeling is even worse when you can tell that the book is well written. It's a bit like having really bad insomnia - wanting to rest so very badly, feeling the tiredness wash over you, but unable to break through the glass window that's separating you and sleep. You can see sleep from there. You just can't get to it.

What throws you out of books? Thoughts?

Doctor Who

Jun. 5th, 2008 11:57 pm
fictional: (doctor who/torchwood)
OMG. Where have you been, for like, my entire life? Seriously.

Oh, show! Have just finished series 1 of the new stuff, and oh god! I haven't felt this kind of effervescent squee for a really long time. Like, since -Buffy or Firefly. And in some ways, it's even better. I'm so in love.

Does anyone have any good Nine/Jack/Rose fic recs? I need OT3 goodness like whoa.

Roll on Series 2. And Torchwood.

fictional: (Default)
Skimming through the New York Times at this ungodly hour of the morning, and I find myself inquiring, does "love conquer literary taste" for you? I think [profile] ladypeculiar mentioned this article somewhat earlier in the day as well.

It certainly doesn't for me. In fact, I think conversely, I am unable to truly like people who don't share, in some measure at least, my literary tastes. What would we ever talk about? Writing it down baldly like that makes me feel sort of...shallow. But in many ways, it has to be said, I fall in love with people's bookshelves. first, and the people themselves, second.

I think I fell for D. in part because he wanted to be all the fictional characters I had crushes on when I was a little girl. It was a match made in mass market paperbacks.
fictional: (Default)
So I was chatting with [profile] hofnarr last night, and we got to talking about Great Fictional Love Stories. (The conversation went from my saying that I think I would enjoy meeting the kind of people who believe Dangerous Liasons to be a romantic comedy - (there's love, there's amusement - seems perfectly clear to me) and devolved into attempting to list Great love stories in book universes. (We're tripping over the plethora of them in film media, so that's excluded from my search).

What are the really seminal love stories you've read - the ones that stick out in your head, the ones that you read and thought - yes, this is Love with a capital L. They don't necessarily have to be the complete focus of the book, but they need enough time spent on them that they have a profound effect on you. [Example of something that doesn't count: Aragorn/Arwen in LotR - their love story, while taken as read, takes place solely in the appendix to RotK - and is not really explored at all in the body of the novel(s)].

I came up with surprisingly fewer than I thought, considering how much romance figures in most books, and how much I feel my way of looking at the world has been influenced by stories in print media. Here's my list so far:
Under this LJ-cut you'll find spoilers for the following universes: His Dark Materials, The Dark Tower, College of Magics, & Deverry) where the love story I mention is not in pre-existence at the beginning of the fiction. )

Richard & Alec: Swordspoint
Beatrice & Benedick: Much Ado About Nothing
Mario & Tom: The Catch-trap
Jehane bet Ishak & Ammar ibn Khairan & Roderigo Belmonte: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Elizabeth & Darcy: Pride & Prejudice
Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Lion in Winter
Shadow & Laura: American Gods
Eric & Shelly: The Crow
Nan & Kitty (or Nan & Florence, depending): Tipping the Velvet

I'm sure I've forgotten some, so this may get added to later.

Please comment, if you have some additions: I'd love to hear 'em.


fictional: (Default)

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