Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Mini Carnival Of Links

Here is a collection of linked essays. Too often I hear that if it's not on Blogger or WP, if it's specifically on Livejournal and now more recently Dreamwidth, then it's a tempest in a teapot.

Here is discussion on aversive racism and the creative process that is likely being missed because of such attitudes.

It's Just A Story, from Aesc @ Livejournal.

War of the Worlds was one of many stories that H.G. Wells churned out in the infancy of modern science fiction, and one of many adaptations done for the Mercury Theater program, one that ran without much distinction (or much sponsorship). Yet this "just a story" famously incited deep anxiety across the United States, if not the outright panic and violence tradition attributes to its broadcast: people weren't running riot in the streets, but their fear was enough to be noted by newspapers across the country and the world. The adaptation of Wells's ridiculous alien novella, just a story, has a place next to the announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a historically significant radio broadcast--not for its facticity, but because of the fact that its narrative worked on a population so powerfully the nation had to notice. To this day, its legacy endures not only because of its status as part of H.G. Wells's canon, or Orson Welles's, but because of what it, in and of itself, did.

Some years later, J.K. Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books, a series of insigificant just-stories. It's been read by millions upon millions of people, in god knows how many languages, by kids and adults. Yet at the same time it's been banned in some US public and school (both public and private) libraries, evangelicals have spoken virulently against it for promoting witchcraft, and Pope Benedict XVI has condemned it. It's easy for agnostics, atheists, and religious individuals who don't adhere strictly to the orders of their authorities to say these are the attitudes of people who are sorely out of touch with reality, but it also suggests that the story is not just a story, that there is, in fact, something there, that the content is not devoid of meaning(s), nor is the content divorced from the world that both produces and receives it. This "just a story" (or, I guess, just seven stories) got kids to read and elated educators who worried about a generation more obssessed with TV and video games.

Another just-story, The Lord of the Rings became part of 1960s and 70s counterculture. The massive collection of notebooks that produced it, and the letters J.R.R Tolkien exchanged with friends and fans, speak to Tolkien's desire to create a distinctly British mythos, his desire to preserve nature from the march of industrialization and depersonalization, that myth would survive even as empiricism threatened to strip romance out of the world.

So, my question is, why "it's just a story" exists, given overwhelming evidence of the fact that stories aren't "just" anything. A related question is why people think "it's just a story" is actually a defensible argument.


Oh, the hue and the cry!... from Ephemere @ Dreamwidth.
But there are times when one has to speak, because silence is damning. I am in a place where there are so many things I wish to say, but cannot; these times when I can speak are precious to me, and rare, and all the more deserving of being seized and grasped and held on to because of that. I'm tired of the silence, tired of gentleness, tired of courtesy, because sometimes when a person is harrowing up old wounds and creating fresh ones in my heart it's such an effort to bite my tongue and smile and say, I have nothing against you, but please don't do that.

Let me say, then: how dare you try to silence us, how dare you try to bind our hands yet again as we strike at the system. How dare you dismiss our anger. How dare you.


On Nation Language, Gibberish and Why Both Aren't The Same from JazzyPom @ Dreamwidth.
"To speak a language is to take on a world, a culture." Fanon says, and the implicit notion that to put away a language is to bury a world and culture, which is what colonalisation and learning the culturally accepted language demands you to do. In Australia, they did one better, by taking the indigenous children away from their communities, and the first thing to go (after the bonds, and culture) was the chance of learning their nation language (L1).

Which brings me back to... the notion of dismissing Haiti's nation language as gibberish, it hit me hard, because of the reasons detailed above. For most colonised areas, you didn't learn English, or Spanish or French because it pleased you, but to survive and get ahead, especially if you weren't white.


How could they? How could anyone? from Facetofcathy @ Dreamwidth.
I absolutely believe that the author did not know this story was offensive. I absolutely believe that the author did not know they wrote racist depictions of Haitian people. I absolutely believe the artist did not realize that using pictures of Haitian people was offensive. I absolutely believe that the artist did not know that was a racist act. I just don't think any of that matters.


Now, I know some people will say 'This is a bunch of discussion about fanfic and is thus unimportant'. But what it is, is a part of the long conversation of which Racefail09 was just a little part - a part of a conversation some people finally paid attention to. And the listed essays here is showing who's still thinking about that, working through it, making it relevant.

If there's been an instance of published writers calling out other published writers (since '09), showing as a community that they're still thinking about these topics and checking themselves and trying to learn and grow and rectify - email me and point me to it.

Because I'm fairly certain the same thing as happened with the prompt for these discussions happens in the professionally published writer's world; beta readers = writing groups and editors and friends and family. And often they see nothing wrong with the stereotypes being presented or if they do they say nothing (or get ignored as they try to bring it up)

And then we're left with phrases like: prepare the land for human habitation. Oh Patricia Wrede, how I'll never forget you.

These are not quite the conversations I want to have - but they're conversations I don't mind having, when people are up to speed and engaged.