I DO take too long to realize I'm mad...

... But I'm improving.

Here is a dynamic I have encountered an astounding amount of times in the past few weeks, and man but I'm heartily sick of it.

Speaker 1: [offhand] You know, Problem X.


Speaker 1: Yes, but, talking about Problem X right now. Problem X not gone.

Speaker 2: Well yes that's true, kind of LIKE PROBLEM Y and also Z, and Q which is in the news a lot right now, and P which is talked about on college campuses a lot, and also Eleven. That I'm really awesome for being aware of, and I'm sure YOU'RE not, and I will subtly remind you of this with leading and passive-aggressive language that I am sure you will not pick up on, because I'm clever like that. And aren't you being just like the terrorists for even bringing it up?

Speaker 1: Why are you having such an intense problem with my mentioning Problem X?

Speaker 2: Oh I'm SO NOT. and here is some very brief qualification to show that I'm not indifferent about X or wouldn't be quite so indifferent if I had more time on my hands and also I lived through the 60s, and anyway maybe I'm just not relating to your point very well because my social group/city/state/country/continent/has a FAR better track record than yours on issues Omega, Gimmel, and Thorn, so nyahh but isn't M, L, and Pearblossom Soup more important? And Group 12 has Problem X too! (even if it's in a way that isn't remotely a good parallel but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN) You're not looking at the big picture!

Problem X: [quietly] :-(

I am not even kidding, it's like somebody passed out a rehearsal script for the same radio drama. The deja-vu is giving me whiplash.

Bzuh? Can more than one bad thing not exist simultaneously in the world? Can a person not be concerned with more than one issue? There is not so limited an amount of suffering in the world -- one group having some doesn't deprive anybody else of theirs.* It's not a contest. Nobody wins. There's not a blue ribbon waiting.

This is that derailing thing all the kids are talkin' about nowadays. Isn't it.

*slaps folk*

*THERE'S THAT DEJA-VU AGAIN. I'm sure I've said this, in exactly the same words, at least forty times since I've had this LJ, not to even bring up my entire life before...


Mar. 30th, 2009 01:25 pm
I hate prophecies in fiction. Hate. Despise.

See, the thing is, if you (the character) know the prophecy beforehand? It's not a PROPHECY. It's a set of INSTRUCTIONS.

And if you find out the prophecy after you've fulfilled it? It takes talent of massive proportions not to make this a big damn deus ex machina.

Addendum: Amnesty granted if no one understands the prophecy. Or if they get it wrong. Or if they fight against it (Oedipus!) and it comes to pass anyway. I'd still rather not, though.

Addendum 2: My first rule, as always, remains that anything that can be (fictionally) done can be done well. Er... by someone. Difficulty level is something else again.
Heh. My friend just sent me this.


> Sarah Michelle Gellar and her hit show Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been
> blamed for over 50,000 women leaving the Christian churches in England.
> Dr. Kristin Aune, from the University of Derby has said young women are not
> going to church because they “link it with traditional values” and they are
> into witch craft because of the show.
> She says, “In short, women are abandoning the church. Because of its focus
> on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by
> the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Young women tend to express
> egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they
> imagine are integral to the church.”
> She also believes that women feel the church denies their sexual desires and
> that work/family lives are also the reason.
> Aune got the numbers from the English Church Census while researching for
> her new book “Women and Religion in the West”

It is simply ASTOUNDING the lengths people will go to to find a single, controllable culprit for any societal trend.

Nothing about how more and more women are financially independent than ever before, which lends itself to seeking other forms of independence. Or maybe that the scientific mindset nudges people away from looking for arbitrary supernatural authority. Or reproductive freedom. Or the fact that marriage (or more and more commonly partnership) is optional and love-based instead of financially and socially necessary (for the safety net of heirs and of stable and/or influential in-laws), which makes far more people of either (any?) gender more willing to go it alone and less willing to be told what to do...

No, it's gotta be BUFFY. Get rid of that and everything will revert to the wholesome (and wholly fictional) purity and awesomeness of 1912.

(What? That's what *I* saw sending people over to Wicca and pseudoWicca back in the 90s, when mentioning Buffy love would still get you laughed at.)
Why did they need a study to determine this?

w00t!! Study Shows Black People Don't All Think in Psychic Monolithic Lockstep

Oh my god, are they SURE???? Well who knew? They better do another backup study on whites and Asians and Latinos just to check! Well, whew, at least we can rest assured the peoples of Nunavut and Oceania are still operating on a Borglike hive mind... wait, what?


(Oh wait, it's USA Today, that really progressive and intelligent newspaper that felt the need to reassure us that Koreans WERE HUMAN after VA Tech.)

(I need to be on the Internet less.)

(I definitely need to never read comments boards on this sort of crap again.)
Or, "Reifying Race"
(A little something I wrote last year. It stewed, became relevant again, and embiggened. ~__^)

I am not a monad: I'm not indivisible; I'm not a single faceless interchangeable part of a homogeneous greater whole; I am more than the sum of my concrete, measurable parts. And I will not be subsumed; I will not disappear.

This post is written from a U.S.-centric point of view.

My senior year of college, in literary theory class, I was taught the term "reification." It means, simply, "to make real." To take an abstract and to treat it like a solid, to take the theoretical and treat it as though it were tangible (in order to make it discussable at all). Also important -- to recognize that the intangible view of the thing is not necessarily less valid than the tangible, but that to fail to differentiate can be disastrous.

Example. "Democracy." Nice word. Positive connotations. Millions of people feeling warm and fuzzy when they hear it (a tangible result, come to think of it -- this is chemical, and therefore physically measurable ~__^).

Democracy is not an object. It cannot be bottled, or held in the hands, or studied in a lab. People cannot even agree on what it is. In the cantons of Switzerland, people go out and vote individually on issues. (It takes a while.) In the U.S., citizens hold popularity contests vote to choose representatives who will pack up and go to a small city that is not actually affiliated with any State and has no representation in Congress to go and vote on issues. (Still takes a while, actually.) In, what, ancient Athens or whatever, voting on issues happened, but only amongst a small elite group of resident men of a certain income. All of these places do/did describe what they were doing as "democracy."

It's fluid, it's abstract, it's subject to interpretation, and yet people refer to it as something that can be "spread" or "shared" or even "owned." We call it "living" and "vibrant" and add to it anthropomorphic and other traits that it may or may not have, but does not necessarily have by definition. Universality, desirability to all people, inherent moral value. We use the phrase "our democracy" (generally just a heartwarming little example of synecdoche in which "democracy" stands in for "nation," but sometimes as an actual possession) -- it is a very, very malleable and esoteric thing, but it would take a prime idiot *coughGARYKAMYIAcough* a really, really specific sort of intractable and nonempathetic mind-set to conclude that this sort of thing therefore did not exist*.

Just because something is not dissectible or viewable under a microscope does not mean 1. That it has no existence as a concept or 2. That is has no quantifiable effect on the lives of real people or 3. That it doesn't matter.

Democracy. Different sorts of "-isms." "Rights." "Citizenship."

(Er, has anybody seen a quark yet? I'm not a physicist. ^______^)

How far you wanna go? "Ethnicity"? "Language?" (Heck, Swedes and Norwegians understand each other quite well, and I've heard tell that some small subsets of Lithuanians are supposed to be able to muddle through Sanskrit. Difference between Hindi and Urdu? Nearly purely political. And when exactly does a pidgin graduate to a patois, or a creole to a bona fide language?)


How fluid are these things, and who gets to define them, and how different are the things they bring to mind for different people? (Emphasis on the word "DIFFERENT." Which is not a dirty word.)

Since they're vague, since they don't "exist" in any consistently, uniformly, universally quantifiable form, shall we put the kibosh on mention of all these things? Shall we deem them irrelevant? And go the rest of our days gingerly talking around them?

How 'bout "race?"

Especially U.S.-centric bits coming up now )

Next-day edit after being COMPLETELY unable to let this go to an extent that scares me a bit:

I was gonna lj-cut that, but eh.

In light of the following, people need to be pretty effing circumspect when telling other people how to refer to themselves, I think.

1. Language was the first thing that enslaved Africans in the "New World" were deprived of in order to make them easier to control -- same-tribe/same-language people were separated at every opportunity.

2. Native Americans, same thing. In many learning institutions geared toward assimilating children speaking anything but the "target tongue" would result in corporal punishment. (Not even getting into the whole evangelism and rooting-out-of-previous-belief-system business.)

3. Gaelic languages have nearly disappeared because of this same thing. Really, it's an established technique across the board, I'd think.

4. 20th-century Japanese occupation of Korea, same deal.

5. Heh. As a kid, my dad sat up in his Port Antonio, Jamaica, elementary school singing "When I was an apprentice in fair Lincolnshire." Never set foot in England in his life. Okay, that one just makes me (and my family) giggle. I needed a giggle there. Shaddup. ^_________^

6. Groups of people who have managed to maintain a cohesive identity throughout exile, oppression and dispersion did it primarily through language. Retaining the language enabled them to retain major, vital aspects of their culture. I'm thinking of Jewish people, Koreans in China, Haitians in New York City, Cajuns ...the folk of Bretagne, to an extent...

7. I am wrong, aren't I, in thinking this "oooh, don't talk in terms of race" nonsense only comes up when it's an Obama or a Tan talking about how who they are affected how they grew up and developed their sense of self, and not when a Watson is all "anyone who has had black employees knows how blame stupid they are amIrite" -- right? It's because of the nature of the things I tend to read, right? SOMEONE must have used that argument against Watson. Right? RIGHT? *is plead-y* (It's still a crap argument, but it's far less infuriating when deployed against the vile. No fair, I know, I know...)

8. One of my UCL classmates was a Swedish girl who told me that because she had learned lit-crit in English, she could not do any of her assignments in Swedish -- she had trouble even thinking about her literary theory courses in her native tongue. She lacked the vocabulary. (Luckily -- as UCL is an English institution, I think I can safely call it that? predominantly English-language at least -- this conversation was pretty theoretical.)

9. Language matters.
I'm gonna just come out and say some stuff, because I am sick of prefacing all my opinions on this topic with disclaimers and apologies. Because I'm not sorry.

So. People who know me well already know that my feelings are very fatalistic if not downright nihilistic. I feel that I and my fellow citizens are the subjects of some massively ill-timed social experimentation and idealism. I find what the Democratic party has been pulling to be kind of admirable, in its way, but also mind-bogglingly fanciful (oh, let me just say it -- and fucking stupid).

Still, I am constantly surprised by how this is turning out. The amount of people who still sincerely believe that the next president will be a Democrat and there's no WAY it could turn out otherwise -- that the candidates we are have are actually viable -- I'm surprised. And while I am still filled with so much doubt, I'm not nearly as bitter with it as I was. I have definite opinions on what the United States is and is not ready for and what it will and will not accept, but this view is getting challenged more and more each day, which I think is a good thing, and although I am too afraid of disappointment to let go of my cynicism, I am seriously liking a lot of what I'm discovering about my country.

(Dammit. Was that a disclaimer?)

I've got plenty of other sources of disappointment, anyway:

Bill? )

Andrew Young? )

Geraldine Ferraro? )

Wrote my friend, J. (who is white, female, a professional, and over fifty, and actively involved in Dem politics local and national since the '70s -- prime demographic material, yo) in an open letter:

>> If you had been genuinely engaged in a comparison between the handicaps
>> caused by racism and sexism, and your comments had been taken out of
>> context, the appropriate response would be to say you were misquoted and
>> explain the true context, not to attack Barack Obama's campaign for
>> calling transparently racist comments racist. Instead you say: "every
>> time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racism." And
>> with that reaction, you not only give quarter to the begrudging bigots
>> of this country, but you set back feminism, giving aid and comfort to
>> every man who uses that same sort of statement to defend or dismiss
>> sexist behavior.
>> These are the tactics of the Reagans, Bushes and Carl Roves of the
>> world. I expect them in a general election, from Republicans--not from
>> a Democrat's campaign, and certainly not from you whom I have, until
>> now, respected.

I couldn't possibly put it better than that.

And Hillary Clinton. )

God. Hillary, I so loved it when you trounced Guilianni and wiped the floor with the other little dude whose name eludes me because it is unimportant, because you made it so. I have talked you up at home and abroad; I have defended you from criticisms from quarters I never saw coming. Inasmuch as I, one woman, one American, am allowed to speak such a general opinion -- you need to quit proving me wrong. You need to shuck this garbage. Aloud and in words, you need to disclaim this crap, Ms. Clinton. At the moment, reflexively, I'm still holding you aloof from your so-called supporters. But if you don't...

Well then you're not a Democrat, Ms. Clinton. And that has fuck-all to do with your gender.

I feel betrayed by these people. That's the main thing.

I am furious at the whole party for letting it all come to this. The British parliamentary system -- where you vote for a PARTY that puts forth a PLATFORM of ISSUES and IDEAS, and then the ministers themselves appoint a prime minister -- is looking better and better to me by the second.

With many of my colleagues I kind of long for the days of the smoky back room.


(This whole post is extremely likely to be dismissed by some -- some of whom I could name, some of whom I actually love -- as "you're obsessed with race" or "you see everything through a lens, don't you." All I could possibly say in response to that would... be really impolite. Really. But know that I'm thinking it. Hard.)
Sometimes it seems the world is just so unreasonably disgusting, which is sad, because there are so many valid reasons to be a shrieking harpy bitch. For example:

What is it with this headline:

"Bad News for Women: Men Are Living Longer"
BAD NEWS? 'Widowhood on the decline"??? BAD NEWS?? When did widowhood become an inherently desirable state?

In what corner of the multiverse could that be considered bad news for women? Why the leap? Why are people (THE MEDIA) so fuckng childish??

Now, if there had been any attempt at intelligent debate here, it might have touched on some important topics, like the future of Social Security and Medicare and the upside-down age pyramid structure that we're going to have to deal with in about ten years.

But no. "Bad News for Women." ALL women. Like it's some kind of goddamned playground score we're keeping here.

"Bad News..." God Almighty.

I guess my mother should have danced??



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