fictional: (regency girl)
It's no secret to anyone who's talked to me for more than ten minutes about books, but just in case there's anyone of you to whom that doesn't apply, in my opinion Pride and Prejudice may be the most perfectly structured novel ever written. I think it is shocking in its sheer, staggering brilliance. And snark.

The P&P industry's taken a new turn though... and I gotta say, I can't wait!

Because you know what? Zombies make everything better!!

No joke: this is Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth... battle the undead!

And get a load of this: just green-lit, Pride and Predator: i.e. P&P meets TORCHWOOD.

Who's coming with me when this shit hits the screen???

Also found on the intertubes today: thoughts on polygamy from MsNBC. What do y'all make of that?
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: (academic)
...a sad commentary on the current state of my brain, forsooth. But thank goodness for [ profile] kayliemalinza who kept me in the loop!

I will say that getting an email which begins:

Fellow Doctor Who scholars,

We have a book deal.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing has accepted my proposal and is in the process of generating and mailing a book contract. So — if you’ve been putting off reworking that conference manuscript, now is the time.

is pretty squeeful. Like. YAY. =D

I've heard mixed things about Cambridge Scholars Press; founded by some scholars at Cambridge, some seem to think it has semi-vanity press associations because of its name; but others seem to think it's simply a young press, trying hard to establish itself in the humanities. But... I checked out their website, and they seem respectable.

Anyway. This means I have to expand that paper, yo. *laughs* I'll just add it to the list! At this rate, I'll sleep when I'm dead.


ETA: The abstract for the paper is here, f-locked, if you're interested. The paper's called When Worlds Continue: The Doctor's Adventures in Fandom and Metatextuality.
fictional: (doctor and jack author)
It may come as a surprise to those of you who read IHNIIHBT, which is sort of a pornographic epic, but I greatly dislike writing sex.

No, really.

I hate it a lot. Which is funny because lately, we've been doing a lot of it.

Don't get me wrong. I love that our story is so filthy and x-rated. In fact, sometimes I even think it could stand to be filthier. I like reading sex. Oh man, do I. Porn, for me, is a primarily written-word driven thing, and it was that way long before I discovered fandom and its box of erotic delights. Think reading bodice-rippers and skimming my way through Tess of the D'Urbervilles at seven, desperately (and unsuccessfully, fuck you, Thomas Hardy) searching for the dirty bits...! Flipping through the Mists of Avalon for the threesome scene, etc. etc.

But writing it? A resounding "feh!"

For one thing, it's really hard [no pun intended]. Sex is repetitive. We have a finite number of moving parts, we have a finite number of slots for those parts to fit into. We tweak, we stroke, we push, we pull, we slap, we tickle; we get wet, we get hard. It feels great, except when it doesn't. And if you add in too many adverbs and adjectives -- you run the risk of sounding like a romance novel, a bad romance novel.

I don't know about you, but I have sex in my head. If my brain isn't getting off, I can spasm all I want, but I haven't come. It's no good to me without the brainfuck. There's an internal narrative always going on -- which mirrors to varying degrees what's actually happening in the physical, corporeal world. Sometimes, the degree is zero. Things I would never do "for real", things I would find actively offensive or disturbing if I weren't in bed, and believing that the things people imagine or play at in order to find pleasure are all perfectly okay.1

Thing is, when you're writing, the characters can't have internal narratives, unrelated to what's around them, because they're already in a narrative! Hell, they are the narrative. And of what interest to the reader -- who's using your story to furnish their own fantasy about say, Jack and Ianto -- is an internal, unrelated narrative that the character might possibly be having, if they were real? My feeling is, generally speaking, probably not much. Because that's like being OOC on purpose, and no one wants to see that, right?

So there's ways around it. Hence: dirty talk, d/s, drag, s & m, 3somes -- all games that are all about the stories you tell yourself. Narratives embraced and imposed.

But. I have to wonder, what are the fantasies of fantasies? What are the stories that stories whisper to themselves in the dark, or the ones they hold tightly to themselves, too ashamed even to say out loud?

Because that? That might be hot.

1That's what I tell myself anyway. Rationalizations: more important than sex. Think about it. Ever made it through a day without a rationalization? Yeah..
fictional: (star wars)
Wow. Step away from the internets to go see a play... and BOOM. It's all runes and nazis and what??? Yeah. I'll try not to be away so long next time. =D

In other news, the play: Architecting by The TEAM. [ profile] faris_nallaneen and I deeply enjoyed it, with one caveat. First of all, it was crazy in a worlds-collide-y sort of way. I read & post about race and fiction, and then go to see a play... about (among other things) race and fiction. And America and fiction, which in some ways, is the same thing. But mainly it was about so many of the questions I (and [ profile] rm, which is one of the reasons we write together) have; the obsessions that are always somehow at the heart of my fictional explorations. How one can be enchanted and revolted by something at the same time. The task of an author is to believe in contradictory facts, all of which are true. Being in love with a society that is both beautiful and wrong, and lost the war, and grieving for that loss anyway. Loving something at its end rather than at the beginning -- the sunset, instead of the sunrise, autumn rather than spring. (I'm never up early enough to see the sunrise anyway, and I love the fall. All metaphors intentional.) Burning things down in a glorious conflagration rather than having them stolen from you in increments of lost dignity and fake-ness.

"Do you miss your [dead] father?" the play asks.


"Was he a good man?"


"Would you miss him, even if he wasn't?"

And there is silence.

And so you have the American South - Atlanta, and New Orleans and Arkansas, and all its farce and tragedy and ridiculous splendour, and its chequered past - the Confederacy, and I thought of reading Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, and being enchanted and revolted and then watching Joss Whedon's Firefly, which is like the Confederacy, without that pesky slave issue1 -- and thinking, oh how nice, but you can't just TAKE THAT PART OUT, can you?

Which brings me to my caveat. It was a play about race and fiction and the American South. And I was engaged and interested and admiring except THERE WERE NO BLACK ACTORS. Not one. There was a black character though, and he was played by a white guy.

Um, what??? It was like a visual aid to [ profile] deepad's post, about voices being appropriated and removed entirely from the discourse. I was so distracted by it, and really fucking disturbed.

We had several theories for why this might be the case:

1) (in my opinion the most disturbing) They think that white is race-neutral, and so thought casting poc's as any of the parts would distract from the language-specific discussion of race.
2) (in E's opinion the most disturbing) They had no intentionality, and just didn't think about it as an issue.
3) None of the TEAM (who collaboratively write and perform their shows) are black, so they didn't think it would be troubling. (But it really, really was.)

The sad thing is that aside from this, and the length (it dragged a bit with an inexplicable dance number towards the end), it was stunning. And (especially) for something written collaboratively by performers, its language was complex and erudite and interesting. It ended with this line, which was the subjectline of this post: when spirits give up their ghosts and put on flesh.

And I thought of stories and entrances and imaginary worlds. How we call them to us. How they become real. Even if they're not true.

Then I came home, and discovered that Ricardo Montalban has died. Khaaaaaaan!! That's another shout of my childhood there... and a Mexican playing an Indian who is one of the greatest villains of all time. Those ear bug things! *shivers*

All those worlds. All those stories. Flesh.

1But with a billion more Invisible Asians. Oh Joss, I love you anyway.
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: (doctor traveling)
Thank you all for your words of encouragement! I am feeling a bit better, and slightly less like an extremely angsty seventeen. Which is good. I don't know how teenagers make it through adolescence without killing themselves or being killed by others. I appreciate it muchly, and will endeavor to be a little less classic lj-whiny in future - but I make no promises. *grin*

I watched the Children in Need charity thing. First of all, it was pretty budget, wasn't it? I mean just the first two mins of the Christmas special? CHEAP. And also, *sniff* it was sad. Two minutes less of absolutely new Ten material. I really want my Seven Doctors story. Now that would've encouraged me to donate!

At some point soon, I've got to post pictures of the Chicago thing, and [ profile] magnetgirl's and my incredibly underappreciated halloween costumes. And the regency ball photo essay! I see I have a lot of fiddling with pictures in my near future.

Today I taught "The Last Battle" and Neil Gaiman's "The Problem of Susan." Susan was always my favorite; she had long black hair, as opposed to Lucy's golden curls, she was a wicked shot with a bow, and could swim, and I loved her. "The Last Battle" broke my heart. What do y'all think about the problem of Susan? I don't know why being an outcast from an undesirable redemption filled me with so much woe, but it did. Also, the Stable at the end of the Last Battle? Lewis says it's "bigger on the inside than it is on the outside." [ profile] faris_nallaneen accuses me of seeing everything with TARDIS colored glasses. Probably true.

If it's wrong, I don't want to be right.
fictional: (Default)
Reading [profile] mistful's autobiography book review post, I was thinking about how we take these accusations of falsehood way more seriously than we used to. I got into an argument with my office-mates at the College Which Must Not Be Named about this very subject, when I suggested that the whole trope of AUTHENTIC IT REALLY HAPPENED JUST THAT WAY memoir was a virtual impossibility, and at that, an undesirable result. Good story, well researched, well written? Who cares if it happened to you, your next door neighbor, or some dude the next interdimensional bypass over? I really don't get it. It's like those folks who watch "reality"-t.v. and then are like, shock, horror: "OMG it was staged?! You mean, it's not, you know...true?" Um. yeah. Of course it's staged, and p.s. who cares??

If it didn't happen that way, should have. And I can respect that.

It's the truth-shoppers I just don't understand. The American Dream for the past few years has been based on these ridiculous, "we were lied to" disclaimers. Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Fools and Liars Edition. We expect our govt. to tell us the truth? Please. [for the record, what I object to in that whole episode was not that "we were lied to" but that a) we were lied to so poorly! and b) that now other politicians were either too stupid to see that they were being lied to, or c) are now lying poorly about being convinced by other politicians' crappy lies. What the hell. Dear Guys-In-Charge-Of-Stuff: Spin a better, more interesting story, people. No love, Kali. Ahem. anyway.]

So I was thinking about all of that, and also remembering that I had heard of C.S. Forrester long before I ever sailed the seas with Captain Hornblower. Why? Kid-lit ppl in my audience may remember the episode that Roald Dahl recounts in "My Lucky Break" in which he tells a story about his plane crashing in Libya to a Mr. Forrester who has been sent to interview him for the Saturday Evening Post.  Forrester was so impressed by the tale which he had been meant to turn into a "real" story (assuming that this random soldier wouldn't be able to tell a story in a writerly fashion) that he insisted on its publication verbatim. In googling the episode, I turned up THE REAL STORY.

But who cares? "A Piece of Cake" is a great tale; and Forrester obviously really liked "Shot Down In Libya."

And Roald Dahl was a great writer, and I loved him. Should we revoke his writing license? No more "Danny the Champion of the World" because he told a story that was more good than true?

If it didn't happen that should have.
fictional: (Default)
A few days ago I read something - can't quite remember what, as it was a day filled and fueled by procrastination, so this was one in a long line of clicks- which said something like the following: Did there ever exist at any time, any girl for whom Jo was not their favorite character? The reference, which I apologize for mangling and vaguing and ungrammaticalling - went on to suggest that surely any red blooded girl, certainly one who wanted to be a writer, of course wanted to be Jo, and had no time for any of the other girls - housewifely, prim Meg, saintly Beth, and spoilt, vain, petulant Amy.  Naturally Jo, who wanted to be a boy, and was boisterous and adventurous and daring was the one to emulate.

I liked Jo fine, but I didn't want to be her. I liked Amy best. I cheered when Amy and Laurie got together; I thought they made a great couple. And in many ways I thought Amy's story far more tragic than any of the other girls. How terrible to desire greatness, and then graciously resign yourself to your own mediocrity. I thought she was great. Not pretty, perhaps - but none of the girls were really supposed to be, except Meg. Her juno-esque figure, her blonde hair, her blue eyes never made me crave them. But I liked her. I thought she was clever and funny and I adored her method of catching flies with honey, and her sharp tongue, and her aplomb.

It's odd because normally, I never like best the character that the author wants you to. I almost always root for the bad guy. Because if the author is God - and God loves you the most, you'll always be a little more blessed. The book will always give you the benefit of the doubt. That's why they need me, those bad guys. They don't have God on their side, so instead - they get me. I'm a firm believer in toppling the Kingdom of Heaven and forming a republic.

But - for books like Little Women, and Little House on the Prairie (both incidentally based on the authors' real families), this didn't happen. I liked Amy best, and I loved older sister, prissy Mary who always wanted to be reading and sewing, and WHO WENT BLIND and then could do neither (until college, but even then it wasn't the same...). And in both these books, I'm convinced both independent Louisa and adventuresome Laura wanted me to. These writers were writing about sisters whom they adored. Surely they wanted us to love and know them as they did. If they hadn't; if they gave their own fictional counterparts the god-dispensed "benefit of the doubt" that other, completely fictional characters often get, the books would have read like the worst kind of Mary Sue fic! But they don't.

So why are readers who happily go along with the author's judgement in other cases, so unwilling to do so [and even unwilling to believe that anyone else might do so] here? The Kingdom may have fallen, but Cromwell's already formed his parliamentary dictatorship. You're supposed to like the author-projection best, say generations of readers! Because? Well...They are tomboyish and devil-may-care! They have agency! They are rapscallions!

It reminds me of nothing more than the whole school of feminism which states that women have to be as man-like as possible in order to be treated equally, and any woman who does not follow this law should be ejected from the sisterhood. Or the kind of queer community that thinks there's not room in one lesbian relationship for two femmes - 'cause we all know the only way to do it, is to reproduce heteronormative norms as closely as possible. Or the kind of s/m folks who look down on submissives because they think they are weak (and not in a fun way).

There's nothing wrong with being a tomboy. I was never one, but I knew them, and thought they they were fun, and admired them (and probably thought they were hot.) I wasn't particularly successful at being a girly-girl either (too lazy and uninformed and self loathing).

But I reject utterly the idea that you have to be one to be worthwhile.

Amy/Laurie OTP!!!
fictional: (Default)
i have approx. 2 paragraphs left to go, and they're just not coming out. :-( :-(
on the other hand, with all the procrastination that i HATE MYSELF FOR FOREVER AND EVER BECAUSE I SUCK MORE THAN HUMANS HAVE EVER SUCKED BEFORE at least i never worry about whether my stuff is good before i get it back bc I'M JUST SO THRILLED TO SEE THE END OF IT.

this is not a good plan for life. must revise.

ETA: finished. word count, right. page count, short. wtf??? whatever, don't care. off to school now.

ETA the second: actually do care, am simply too frazzled to fix. Whatever.

ETA son of ETA: my kingdom for a stapler.
fictional: (full face)
So, it's been a while...

But I just had to post tonight. [ profile] hofnarr, [ profile] magnetgirl, [ profile] farisnallaneen and I went to the Neil Gaiman event at FIT - he was being interviewed by John Hodgman from the Daily Show...and it was seriously awesome. Even John Hodgman, who is (and was this evening) incredibly hilarious, dropped his persona for quite a while, and instead just seemed touched and moved and fannishly awestruck like the rest of us. Despite the preponderence of some of the scary!fans [which included the remnants of one of the bands at my high school - called Lack Thereof, and rightfully so!], it was really lovely. Like really lovely. I'm not usually fangirly about real people - more about fictional ones. But with a writer, especially one that I've been following for so long - it feels different. Personal. Somehow those dimly lit 3 o'clocks of the morning filled with the Endless, the tears at The Kindly Ones and the Wake; enspelled by Neverwhere, being enchanted by Stardust and finding for the first time, the magic of America in American Gods, the way his novels always seemed to magically mirror shifts in my own personal aesthetics; his language, and the stories, above all the stories - without a doubt, I think, he is the writer I would most like to be like, beautiful and witty and fey all at the same time.

I know him, not in the way of a friend or a lover or a real person, but in the way that stories meet and collide in some Elsewhere, I know him. And I think he knows me too. And maybe you as well, if you've read the stories, and they mean something to you. I always thought he must understand, and then I read Anansi Boys and I knew for sure - because the dedication reads: "You know how it is, you pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you. Not this time. Because we haven't yet met/have only a glancing accquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven't seen each other in much too long/ are in some way related/ will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other...This one's for you. With you know what, and you probably know why."

Cheap, they might say. But they wouldn't have been there, that day, where he was, and I was, and Edie was [and about 1000 other fans - he didn't leave that day till he talked to every one.] That day, the very last time I was in the World Trade Center - the first time I met him, if you can call it that. I remember going up to meet him, and seriously thinking my heart might explode, it was pounding so hard. Edie was with me, and held my hand, and I did not burst. But I got up there and handed him the little post-it with my name on it, and he looked at it, and said, "Kali? I put you into American Gods," and smiled. And I gibbered, and choked out something maudlin, about his stories and how they got me through nights that I thought would never end, and he smiled again and said they did the same for him.

I got a copy of Neverwhere signed for Daniel too, I remember - and then much later, last summer in fact, Daniel gave me the best present ever - from his second road odyssey - a ticket from the House on the Rock, signed to me by Neil. Those who call that dedication a stunt, wouldn't have been there on that day either, when Daniel got that ticket signed, and told him it was for me, and re-told him the story about that day in the WTC Borders, and he stopped, and added three kisses to the bottom of his signature for me. I'm looking at it now, and it still makes me shiver.

And they wouldn't have been there today either, when he changed my opinion about his poetry, which I used to think was quite terrible, but today was actually charmed by, and when he signed the copy of Fragile Things that Daniel and I bought together to both of us, and smiled when I told him we'd been sending signed things of his across the country for years, and now finally we could get one signed together in the same place. And he stopped signing, and took my hand and did not let go for several incredibly long moments when I said that I had nothing clever on offer, so all I could say was thank you. And we looked in the book, and it had a little message - "Fragile wishes" [everyone else just got butterflies].

And hey, when asked the inevitable question about fanfiction, he said, go thou, and write with my blessing - but he had to say that his mind was not meant to encompass such things as the RPS fic about him and Terry Pratchett. He suggested instead that we "go back to making the nice boys in Harry Potter mate," to which I say, thank you, Neil. And I will.
fictional: (full face)
Why have I never heard about this before?

...McGann suggested that Walter Scott's famous romance fiction Ivanhoe contained within itself many alternative narrative possibilities, and he added that this kind of thing was characteristic of imaginative works in general. Scott's book epitomizes this situation in the many continuations it spawned throughout the nineteenth-century - versions in different genres as well as other kinds of responses, textual, pictorial, musical. For example, when many Victorian readers complained about Scott's decision to marry Ivanhoe to Rowena and not Rebecca, they were clearly responding to one of the book's underdeveloped possibilities. In our own day readers often react to other unresolved tensions in the book - for example, to the complex ways it handles, and mishandles, the subject of anti-Semitism. "Everyone knows that an anti-Semitic strain runs through the novel," he said. "The question is: 'What are you prepared to DO about it? Victorians rewrote and reimagined the book. Why are we so hesitant about doing the same thing?'"

The concept of criticism as "a doing", as action and intervention, is a founding principle of IVANHOE.

Fanfiction as criticism! Two great tastes...
fictional: (Default)
I just finished my last paper of this semester. It is approximately 7:30am - I have been awake forever, and I am sad. Not because the paper is done, but I just re-read it and didn't like it. I'm hoping that this is just late night - early morning heebie jeebies -
but that part of me that just generally believes I suck in every bad way imaginable - is refusing to shut the fuck up. So okay.

I've got a resolve on to work harder - and looking back at this semester, I can see all the ways that I could have - mostly involving doing work when I say I'm going to, and not just reading fanfic, or day-dreaming instead. But in other ways, I feel like I gave up so many things I wanted to do, so I could study, or work, or whatever. And then instead, I just frittered away my time.

No more. I have so many things I want to do. Two people have taken up residence in my head, and I'm so happy to have them, and eventually I hope they'll say some stuff to me that screams to be written down, and I will stop what I'm doing and do just that. There'll never be a better time to start then now.


fictional: (Default)

August 2009

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